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February 09, 2017


Anand Rao

Hello Pat, glad to see that a big movie fan like you finally watched La La Land. You wrote that you didn't understand why there's been a critical backlash against this movie. There are a couple of reasons. First, the perfectionists and purists thought it simply failed as a musical. I thought Stone and Gosling did very well with the singing and dancing, as musicals are the exception for them and not the rule. Had a pair of unknown but more talented singers/dancers been cast instead, I doubt I would have gone to see it in the theater. Chazelle had to recoup the $30 million budget he was allotted. That's business in the City of Angels.

Second, the "politically correct" crowd that perhaps isn't so prominent in Japan expressed numerous misgivings. First, they objected to a movie set in multi-racial LA featuring a pair of lily-white lead actors and mostly white supporting actors. Second, they objected to what some call the "white savior of jazz" narrative as embodied by Gosling's character's quest to keep jazz music pure and true to its roots while the black character played by John Legend seeks to modernize the music and make it more appealing to mass audiences. I've concluded that this criticism is simply inaccurate, for by the end Gosling's character hasn't so much "saved jazz" as he has saved himself. Finally, some of these people didn't like the gender imbalance that they saw, i.e. Stone's character watches her boyfriend perform numerous times but he never reciprocates and so never sees her performing on stage.

Those are the main criticisms. I thought the movie was very good but not a towering masterpiece. It was mostly escapism until the end. I thought the ending was emotionally powerful for anybody who's had to make a major tradeoff in life. Keep up the good work here on this blog! I sometimes read it and (ultimate compliment) I actually care what you think about movies and feel inclined to watch those that you recommend (e.g. Red Angel, 1966, an outstanding anti-war film). Enjoy your stay in Los Angeles.

Patrick McCoy

Hi Anand, last year when Matt was in Japan we were talking about you and he said you were off Facebook. I'm glad to see that you still follow my blog.

I agree with you about the star clout of the lead actors (and film in general) I think that the lily white complaint was over-stated since there were several minority actors throughout the film. I wasn't ware of the second complaint and can't get all worked up by it.

I'd love to hear what other films you were compelled to watch. I think Masumura is an under-rated master of film. Would love to keep the dialouge going here on the blog as well.

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