Movie Review: La La Land (2016)

Confession time: I am not a big fan of musicals. At least not live action musicals, Disney animated musicals I have no real problem with. It’s easy for me to believe that a cartoon would burst into song and dance. A real person, not so much. So even when a musical has a lot of buzz around it, I go into them mildly skeptical. I’m not saying that I’m against musicals, just that they’re my least favorite kind of movie.

Ladies and gentlemen… “La La Land”.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, struggling to get parts in movies. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist not getting a lot of great gigs. Both live in Los Angeles, and after they run into each other a couple times they start dating. And we follow them as they through the ups and downs of their relationship and respective careers. And I thought the plot here was quite good. It follows a lot of familiar beats that we’ve seen in other romance movies, but it does it in such a charming and well written way that I don’t mind the familiar aspects of the story. It also has a very inspiring message about going for what you want and achieving your dreams. It really is a love letter to the dreamers out there in the world. And I liked that. It is overall a good plot.

The characters here are likable, charming, and fairly interesting. Mia, like I said, is an aspriring actress who wants to get her big break, but struggles to even get any part in various movies she’s auditioning for. But she keeps going even if she sometimes doubts herself. And Emma stone is great in the role. Sebastian is man who’s passionate about jazz, wanting to play it to people even though he isn’t always allowed. And Ryan Gosling is great in the role. I also want to mention that Stone and Gosling share some really good chemistry, they were really likable together. We also get musician John Legend in a supporting role here, and he actually did a good job. J.K. Simmons also shows up briefly in the movie, and while he doesn’t do a lot I’d still say that he’s great… come on, he’s J.K. fucking Simmons, he’s always great. And yeah, it’s an overall well acted movie.

The score for the movie was composed by Justin Hurwitz, and the stuff he made here was great. It’s charming, it’s fun, it’s dramatic, it’s beautiful, and it just overall fits the movie very well. And I guess we should talk about the sung songs since this is a musical. They are incredibly catchy, and compared to a lot of other musicals, are very well inserted into the movie. In a lot of musicals there’s no good flow between normal scene and song/dance number, the stuff just happens suddenly. But “La La Land” is one of those rare cases that has good flow between scenes and songs, which I really appreciate. It also helps that the songs are great and just fun to listen to. So yeah, the music here is great.

This movie was written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the man behind the excellently excellent “Whiplash”. And he really shows what a talented director he is here. Everything has a lot of energy to it and it flows very nicely, making for an interesting watch. I do also think Linus Sandgren’s cinematography helps it out. Also, WOW look at all the colors! If you think about it, a lot of popular movies these days have a pretty drab color palette. But “La La Land” puts in a lot of color, making for one of the most pleasant viewing experiences in recent years. I also love the retro vibe that this movie has, despite it being set in modern day. The opening titles, retro. The clothing, retro. The overall style of the movie, retro. The movie is such a delight in terms of style.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 92% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 93/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 8,2/10 and is ranked #134 on the “Top 250” list. The movie won 6 Oscars in the categories of Best actress (Stone), Best director, Best cinematography, Best original score, Best original song, and Best production design. It was also nominated for an additional 8 (wow!) Oscars in the categories of Best picture, Best actor (Gosling), Best original screenplay, Best film editing, Best costume design, Best sound mixing, Best sound editing, and Best original song. 

“La La Land” is a really solid musical dramedy. It has a really good plot, really good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing/cinematography. Time for my final score. *La La LAAAAAAAA*. My final score for “La La Land” is a 9,77/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “La La Land” is now completed.

That was delightful… which is the exact opposite of “Whiplash”.

Great Music #25

Hello there, my friends! Remember this series of mine? I don’t blame you if you don’t, seeing as it’s been dead for months. Anyway, I found a reason to bring it back, so here we go!

So the song we’re talking about today is one I’m super excited about. The song we’re talking about today is “Gone Gone Gone” by American rock band Styx. And while I’ve been a fan of them for a while and could’ve shared any of their songs, I have a very specific reason for sharing this one: It’s new… ish. It came out a couple of weeks back, which I missed. Oh well, better late than never! “Gone Gone Gone” comes from “The Mission”, the band’s first album in 14 years… and man, what a return it is! Once again they’ve given us a great prog-rock album. I could talk about the album in general for a while here, but I’m not going to. But we’re still talking a bit about “Gone Gone Gone”, a fast-paced, fun, and exciting rock song. The instrumentals, the vocals, it is all perfect… I fucking love it. Man, Styx is back!
Have a good one and enjoy!

Movie Review: The Lego Batman Movie (2017)

“The Lego Movie” is one of the most surprising movies ever. The idea of having a feature length movie about Lego just sounds like the most blatant piece of product placement ever… which it still technically was. But it actually had great writing, direction, and acting, so it turned out to be kind of awesome. So let’s see if the second movie in the (not officially titled) Lego Cinematic Universe is any good.

Ladies and gents… “The Lego Batman Movie”.

The many villains of Gotham are out to once again wreak havoc, and it’s up to Batman (Will Arnett) to stop them! But it’s not just another “Bats stopping bad guys” story, as we also follow him as he goes through some family issues after he accidentally adopts Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). So now we have our family-friendly adventure. And the plot here wasn’t just a silly and fun adventure, as it shows a surprising emotional core in the Batman family issues side of things. Because of what happened to Bruce in the past, he is afraid to get attached to anyone in case of him potentially losing them, but he’s too proud to show it. So you get a fun and fast-paced Batventure combined with a surprisingly investing family story, filled with lots of heart.

The characters in this are fun, entertaining, and relaly interesting. Will Arnett reprises his role as Batman/Bruce Wayne from “The Lego Movie” and he just kills it! This version of Batman is very self-centered, with an ego the size of Norta Dakota. He always talks about how awesome he is, but he also goes through a pretty surprising character arc. And really, I just can’t stress enough how awesome Will Arnett is as Batman. Michael Cera plays Robin in this movie, and from the trailers he almsot seemed like he could get a little too much based on how energetic and excitable he was. But he was actually a really fun and endearing character that I found myself caring about, and Cera was great in the role. Ralph Fiennes plays Alfred in this, and he jsut nails it as the character. There’s nothing unique about him compared to other Alfred’s we’ve seen before, but the lines he’s given and his deadpan delivery is just great. Rosario Dawson plays Barbara Gordon and what is there to say, really? She’s tough, she’s smart, she’s Rosario Awesome. Zach Galifianakis plays Joker in this and I think he’s good in the role. The character has a fun and important role in the story, and he was overall fun, but it’s mainly his voice that didn’t sit that well with me. I like Galifianakis, and I get that there’s only one Mark Hamill, but I feel like the voice here was a bit too… normal to work for the Joker. Again, Galifianakis was overall good in the role. And then there’s… I don’t exactly want to spoil it, and I can’t sit here and list every character that pops up, so I’m just gonna list some of the people doing voices here, because there are plenty of great names here. Though I will mention, Two-Face is played by Billy Dee Williams, and if you don’t get the significance of that… then you should go back and watch the 1989 “Batman” movie. Anyway, here’s the cast list: Zoë Kravitz, Conan O’Brien, Jenny Slate, Jason Mantzoukas, Eddie Izzard, Doug Benson, Kate Micucci, Riki Lindholme, Seth Green, Jemaine Clement, Ellie Kemper, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Adam Devine, Hector Elizondo… and more.

The score for the movie was composed by Lorne Balfe and it was great. It was big, bombastic, epic, and just badass. It’s the perfect type of music for a “Batman” movie as it takes elements of the scores from various “Batman” movies. And I liked that. There’s also some new songs created for this movie that were quite fun. None as catchy as “Everything is Awesome”, but I feel like none of them would get on my nerves as easily as that one. Then there’s also a bunch of licensed tracks that are used very well throughout.

This movie, unlike “The Lego Movie”, was not directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Instead it was directed by Chris McKay who is currently slated to direct the live action “Nightwing” movie. And I think McKay did an excellent job with the direction. This movie is so fast-paced and filled with energy that I never felt bored or out of it at any point. There was something interesting happening every second, and that kept me invested and energized. And the animation, mother of god, it is fucking amazing. It is of course done in the same stop motion-esque style that “The Lego Movie” was done in, and it is just so fun to look at. The animation especially shines in the action scenes, something there’s plenty of, keeping any kiddos watching interested. And seeing as this is a comedy, let’s talk about the humor. I laughed a lot in this movie, there’s joke after joke after joke here, rarely giving you time to breathe between them. For the most part it uses the humor to oke fun at Batman’s history, but not in a “HA, this is dumb!” kind of way. It’s a sort of loving tribute to the Caped Crusader and his many iterations, done in the way of satire/spoof. And it’s all funny, at various levels of laughter. There are also references to other pieces of pop culture, and those are really fun too.

This movie has been very well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 90% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 75/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,4/10.

“The Lego Batman” movie is an incredibly fun animated movie with loads of heart. It has a great plot, great characters, great performances, great music, fantastic directing/animation, and great humor. Time for my final score. *I’M BATMAN!*. My final score for “The Lego Batman Movie” is a 9,78/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “The Lego Batman Movie” is now completed.

DARKNESS, NO PARENTS, CONTINUED DARKNESS.