Sunday, December 18, 2016

12 Days of Christmas Catch Up, day 5: My love letter to Chazelle's; La La Land & resolutions

La La Land

Yesterday I saw "La La Land." The final piece in the frontrunner for Best Picture puzzle, written and directed by Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash")

I had seen "Manchester By the Sea" back in early November at Indie Memphis and "Moonlight" a few weeks after that. "Moonlight" has stayed with me ever since, and I can't wait to watch it again. Probably closer to the Oscars themselves. "Manchester" has been a bit more of a slow burn on my psyche. Especially Michelle Williams. I was impressed, but not feeling she had a shot at the win until recently (although I still feel it's Viola's to lose).

Expectations for "La La Land" were stratospheric for me.  My fear of being let down as well as a few comments from a select/vocal number of critics about the screenplay had me apprehensive about what I was going to see. As the film opens in traffic on a Los Angeles freeway...with a brilliant song/dance number from director Chazelle, composer/songwriter Justin Hurwitz and choreography by Mandy Moore...I was tense, holding back.  Even into the first couple of numbers I wasn't prepared to let go, afraid to love or even criticize what I was seeing. I don't think it was until perspective shifted to Ryan Gosling's Sebastian, and with it a sense of grounding and realism, that I relaxed, eventually and completely falling under the film's spell.

"La La Land" tells the story of Mia, an aspiring actress and Sebastian, a jazz musician whose chance encounters and ensuing romance bring into question their dreams and desires, told through song and dance. Chazelle and cinematographer Linus Sandgren give us these remarkable long wide takes that expose everything--Los Angeles, the talents of Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, the genius of Mandy Moore...and on and on.

"La La Land" is a modern day, throwback-yet utterly current-movie musical masterpiece.  Every cog in the wheel is perfection. The screenplay in conjunction with the choreography, the editing, production design, cinematography, direction and of course the performances, when added together give us what may be the best film of the year.

The last act of the film is a powerhouse. When Emma Stone sings "Audition" I began to weep--for her, for myself, and especially for Seb and Mia--as I began to fear what it might take for one or both of them to continue their dreams. After the audition, Mia and Sebastian have the best scene in the film. "Where are we?" Mia asks. It is an answer the two of them as well as the audience is waiting desperately, excitedly and terrified for. It is so honestly/beautifully written, delicately directed and perfectly acted. What follows it an incredible final sequence, one that I'm still processing and certainly won't spoil here.

I connected to this story on a deep level. I can relate so much to both characters. When Mia questions whether or not her desire to be an actor was only a pipe dream, I felt that deeply. When Seb tells Mia that it's time to get serious and stop fooling around...I felt that in my soul.

Another big fear of mine about "La La Land" was that the "regular folk" wouldn't fall in love with it. But I am not alone.  After it was over, my friend who went with me admitted that he had expected the film to be terrible. His proclamation after the credits began to roll? He had not been that emotionally invested in something since the "Battle of the Bastards" episode of "Game of Thrones." John is not the target audience for this film. That says something! This film defies genre. It is a good film. And that's what it takes to win Best Picture.

A good friend on Facebook was posting that she chooses a mantra for the year each year. Which had me thinking about resolutions. I love making resolutions, and I've often kept them for several months and sometimes through the year. Today, many of my past resolutions have actually come to fruition. I eat well, don't drink, exercise, take my vitamins. I have begun work on my long gestating short film passion project. I'm blogging. All good stuff.

My immediate thought when I saw my friend's post in relation to my own life was that I needed to disconnect from social media. As soon as I began to explore that though all these other crazy thoughts went through my head.

Well, I can't disconnect from all social media! I would definitely have to keep Instagram. And what about my pictures on FB? I couldn't possibly do it until after the Oscars, cause how would I stay relevant!? Maybe I could just take the apps off my phone. 

It was a sick, sick, sick defense of my NEED for social media bouncing around in my head.  It is something I am going to meditate on for a while. I know that an "only on the weekends" mentality hasn't quite worked for me in the past. But I also know this about 2017 and my life. I don't want to be a person who is only connected to the world through a device. I want to be present.

More will be revealed.

Must sees (12 Days of Christmas Catch Up)
Closet Monster
Hail Caeser
Rogue One
Toni Erdmann 
Maggie's Plan
La La Land
Hell or High Water 
Nocturnal Animals
The Witch
The Red Turtle
The Lobster

2nd tier
American Honey
The Eagle Huntress
Captain Fantastic
Miss You Already
Knight of Cups
Other People

Probably not happening....
20th Century Women
Land of Mine
Finding Dory 
X Men Apocalypse
Suicide Squad
Batman v/s Superman
The Meddler
Miles Ahead
The Hollars
Don't Think Twice

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