La La Phenomenon?

The Val has come and gone! La, la, la (sing song tone). Finally, it’s over. Phew! I don’t know why we get all hot and bothered about one day in the whole year, which has three hundred and sixty something more for you to show love if you desire. All the same, much thanks to all those who showed moi some loveeee… but that doesn’t mean you get to stop showing me love for the rest of the year. Capisce!

Still in the love mood, it’s time we looked at the film that got nominated for 14 Oscars this year. Yeah, the La La phenomenon. Nominations include Best PictureBest DirectorBest Actor (Gosling), Best Actress (Stone) and two Best Original Songs, “Audition” and “City of Stars“. The film won in every category it was nominated for at the 74th Golden Globe Awards with a record-breaking seven wins. It also received eleven nominations at the 70th British Academy Film Awards, more than any other film of 2016, and won the categories of Best FilmBest Director, Best Actress in a Leading RoleBest Cinematography and Best Film Music. Huge right?

The film is La La Land. A 2016 American musical romantic comedydrama written and directed by Damien Chazelle and starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. It’s said that the film’s title refers both to the city of Los Angeles and to the idiom for being out of touch with reality (whatever that means).

In the film Stone is Mia, an aspiring actress, and Gosling, Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, both struggling to make ends meet while pursuing their dreams in a city known for destroying hopes and breaking hearts. I’m told the musical is about everyday life and explores what is more important: a once-in-a-lifetime love or the spotlight.

Chazelle wrote the screenplay in 2010, but couldn’t find a studio willing to finance the production without changes to his design. But after the success of his 2014 film Whiplash, the project was picked up by Summit Entertainment.

The opening pre-credits sequence of La La Land was filmed in a span of two days, and required over 100 dancers, and was shoot on a closed-off portion of the carpool ramp of the Los Angeles highway. Wow! Imagine closing off a part of Third Mainland Bridge to shoot a musical… Nah, can’t see that happening for now. Maybe someday in the future. Chazelle shoot the scene at the 105–110 interchange, which arcs 100 feet in the air. Production designer David Wasco was reported to have said, “I thought somebody was going to fall off and get killed.” The risks producers take to make a statement *sigh* Just glad no one did fall off. (See post A Sarah’s Timeout ).

La La Land premiered at the Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2016, and was released in the United States on December 9, 2016. So far, it has grossed $294 million worldwide against a production budget of $30 million. Not bad! Guess we love our musical.

It made $881,107 in its opening weekend, giving the film a per-theater average of $176,221, the best average of the year. And after receiving its 14 Oscar nominations, the film expanded to 3,136 theaters on January 27, 2017 (an increase of 1,271 from the week before) and grossed $12.1 million (up 43% from its previous week’s $8.4 million). Goes to show how 14 Oscar nominations can help your film make money… Just saying.

La La Land received near-universal acclaim and is regarded as one of the best films of 2016. With critics praising its screenplay, direction, performances, Justin Hurwitz‘s musical score, the musical numbers, Chazelle’s screenplay and direction, Gosling and Stone’s performances, especially the later which garnered widespread praise. Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune states “she’s reason enough to see La La Land.” Some critics weren’t so thrilled about Gosling’s dancing, but his character has been referred to as a “white savior” due to “his quest (and eventual success) to save the traditionally black musical genre from extinction, seemingly the only person who can accomplish such a goal.” Uh uh.

On Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 93%, based on 323 reviews, with an average rating of 8.7/10. The site’s critical consensus reads, “La La Land breathes new life into a bygone genre with thrillingly assured direction, powerful performances, and an irresistible excess of heart. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 93 out of 100 based on 53 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”. It was the sixth-highest scoring film released in 2016. The American Film Institute selected it as one of its ten Movies of the Year. Due to its box office success, there are talks of a possible Broadway-bound stage adaptation for La La Land.

No one’s appears to be on the negative train today, so I’m going to have to be the one to burst the bubble cos (whispering now), I really don’t see anything phenomenon about the the La La phenomenon. I mean I’ve seen better musicals with the likes of Hairspray, Chicago and Grease. The music numbers and dance choreography of La La are nowhere close to these classics to warrant 14 Academy Award nomination… in my opinion. I just think the whites are too sentimental about their musicals to be unbiased with reviews at times. 

And as for Stone’s critical acclaim acting, I’ll pick Gosling’s acting over hers, (her dancing did absolutely nothing for me). I have to say watching the two of them hopping all over place simply reinforced the belief “that white folks can’t dance.” Guess its true then, that its easier to teach a great musician to act than two great acts to sing or dance. And as for the musicals numbers, I’ve watched musicals which afterwards I downloaded and played the songs on repeat for hours on end. Pinch me! But I can’t remember a single note or beat from La La. You just can’t help but wonder what then made this film stand out, cos while La La Land was OK, it definitely wasn’t great (sensing a conspiracy here). But then what do I know… *tongue in cheek*

I’ll love to hear your take on the La La phenonmen. Is it really worth the nominations? Don’t forget voting for The 89th Jollyhood Academy Awards competition ends midnight February 25th, 2017, The individual with the highest correct predictions takes the prize. So go make your predictions now! Have a great weekend. Bye!

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