Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Best Musical Based in Los Angeles Since Cop Rock

Now I know technically Cop Rock wasn't a movie and was just a television program.  But the style of the show is very similar to the film that is the subject of this blog post, La La Land.  Nominated for fourteen categories, tying Titanic and All About Eve, it won seven awards.  It won for Director, Actress, Cinematography, Original Score, Original Song and Production Design.  Oops, that's only six, it didn't win Best Picture.  Take that Faye Dunaway! 

Besides a very surreal Oscar ceremony, La La Land was expected to win Best Picture and was even considered possibly pulling off a sweep which has only happened three times.  And it was a musical too boot.  There is so much to point out about this film before reviewing it so I decided to hire a Quiz Master to challenge me and educate you about La La Land.  He should be arriving at any moment.  Oh, perfect timing, he's here.

Quiz Master
The first question is, how many films have won Best Picture that were musicals.  No peaking!

Wow, this will be tough, but I guess I can try and go off the top of my head.  There weren't that many had won, but if you count the 1960's and not The Great Ziegfeld which I'll consider as a bio pic and not a musical, so my guess is ten.

Quiz Master
WRONG!  The correct answer was Chicago.  Next question.  What as the last musical that won Best Picture?

Wait a moment, how can the answer be Chicago?  In fact that would be the answer for this question.  Fine, looks like you may have your answers mixed up, but I will say Chicago.

Quiz Master
WRONG!  The correct answer was Oliver.  Next question.  What was the previous Best Picture that was a musical that won before Chicago starting a thirty five year drought?

Time out.  It is clearly obvious that you are one off on each of your questions.  You are giving the answer of the next question you are asking.

Quiz Master
Is that your final answer?

I haven't answered anything.  You gave the answer, then asked the question!  This is turning to be out to be a bad idea.

Quiz Master
WRONG!  The correct answer was ten movies.  Let's total up your score, zero plus zero plus zero, hold on, carry the zero, and done.  Your final score is zero.  You're not very knowledgeable about movie musicals.

Actually, I got all of them right.  Doesn't matter, I'm not paying you for your services.  Hey, where are you going?  That doesn't belong to you.  Put it down.  I said put it down.  No, don't drop it!  I don't believe this, just leave.

Sorry about that readers, the Quiz Master was recommended to me by a reliable source so I though it would make the post more interesting.  I mean we're talking about La La Land so it needs all the help it can get.  Although it was a popular movie because Hollywood loves movies about themselves.

The film is a romantic comedy, but not that funny, but not that dramatic, and then doesn't seem to be a musical for awhile, and then someone starts singing.  Man meets woman, they don't get along, then they do, then their careers take off and they drift apart.  Add a few dance scenes and a super obnoxious musical opening that made me want to leave the theater.  And there you have La La Land.

But going into the Oscars, it was the front runner.  Why?  Three of the films from the decade, The Artist, Argo and Birdman, all about actors, had won Best Picture.  So going in it seemed obvious it would win and probably sweep.  Why it lost?  I think I'll cover that at a later time when I blog on the actual Best Picture winner.

Personally I am not a big fan of musicals and as such I wasn't too big of a fan of the movie.  But I will admit that it was done well.  Just as there are many classic musicals I wouldn't consider in my top films, but they are done perfectly and that makes it easier to watch.  La La Land is one of those films.  It's a musical but done in the style of the 1950's.

Being the first picture I am reviewing for 2016, obviously it is in first place. Ironically it's also in last place.  This will change as I review more of the films nominated.

And while you watch these clips of Cop Rock and the opening freeway dance scene from La La Land, I want to you take a moment and curb your initial thoughts of violence and any threats you may want to make towards me.  I want to encourage you to clear you mind and be at one with the stupid as these two over here have done.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

A Tree Grows in Kings County

Part of my new blog format has me meeting with The Academy Award Project board of directors on a regular basis.  Since they control the sponsorship and somehow have ownership of the blog, something I am still looking into, I have to go over all my proposed blog posts and get their approval.

Here is a transcript of my last meeting with them and trying to get authorization to blog about 2015 Best Picture nominee Brooklyn.

Me: Do you have to keep shining that light in my eyes.
Director 7: Fine.  Are you ready?
Me: I have been for the last twenty minutes.
Director 7: Then start.  What is the next movie?
Me: Thank you.  The next film I will be blogging about is Brooklyn.
Director 2: But weren't you born in Queens?
Me: Well, yes...
Director 1: That doesn't matter.
Director 2: Then how can he talk about a borough he didn't grow up in?
Director 4: It's about the movie Brooklyn.
Director 2: There was a movie about Brooklyn?
Director 3: There are many films about Brooklyn.
Me: Excuse me, the film is called Brooklyn.
Director 5: Is is about Brooklyn?
Me: Well, yes, most of it...
Director 2: Not many good films are made about Brooklyn.  Why would we want to hear about this one.
Director 1: It is his responsibility to blog on films nominated for Best Picture.
Director 2: I don't see him posting about Saturday Night Fever.
Me: That wasn't nominated for Best Picture.  You know The French Connection takes place in Brooklyn.
Director 2: So does Vampire in Brooklyn.
Me: Dog Day Afternoon.
Director 2: Kazaam.
Me: Ouch.  Well, okay this film is happy and cheerful.
Director 2: Like Requiem for a Dream.  Or Sophie's Choice?
Me: Wow, that's not what I was expecting to hear.  What about the classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?
Director 5: Wasn't that filmed in Los Angeles?
Director 2: And shouldn't be A Tree Grows in Kings County?
Director 1: Fine, I think we've heard enough, let's take a vote.  All in favor.  All opposed.  The board has voted five to two to allow you to do your next post on the film Kings County.
Me: The title is Brooklyn.  Oh forget it.

As you can see, meeting with the board is a very frustrating process.  Anyway, Brooklyn was nominated for three Oscars, beside Best Picture, Best Actress for Saoirse Ronan and Best Adapted Screenplay.  It takes place in the early 1950's and starts in Ireland where a young woman, played by Ronan, decides to go to America to find work.  The film shows her trials and tribulations as she becomes adjusted to American culture and her new life in Brooklyn.  She has to travel back to Ireland (don't want to spoil too much) and then has to decide will she stay in Ireland or go back to America.

Personally I loved this movie.  It is so well done.  The acting is great all around, but Saoirse Ronan is a incredibility talented actress who I look forward to seeing her in many more movies.  Most of all, the screenplay is well written.  The film moves at a steady pace and keeps you in it from start to finish.  Usually movies like this fall flat by the second act, this is one that doesn't do that thankfully.

Being the fourth film that I have seen, or half of the Best Picture nominees of 2015, I would currently rank this as the second best film of the year.  The Revenant is still the top picture and The Martian gets pushed down to third.  Mad Max is now in fourth.