La La Land

I got to the theatre to see “La La Land,” and I ended up sitting behind one of those stupid elderly couples who couldn’t stop talking.  The women kept whispering unnecessary comments.  The movie reminded me most of “Singin’ in the Rain” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” although I also thought of “Pennies From Heaven” and “New York, New York” at times.  The first number takes place in a traffic jam, which made me wonder how they filmed the scene.  It looked like traffic was flowing normally around them.  Ryan Gosling is a jazz musician named Sebastian, and he does his own piano playing, or at least it looks like he’s doing most of it.  His dream is to run his own jazz club.  He has a job playing Christmas carols until J.K. Simmons fires him, and he plays in a 1980s cover band doing “Take On Me,” and then getting together with John Legend.  Meanwhile, Emma Stone is an aspiring actress working as a barista and not being too good at that job.  She is something of the Debbie Reynolds character, although there is a huge picture of Ingrid Bergman in her room.  We see familiar Los Angeles landmarks, with references to “Rebel Without a Cause.”  The boy meets the girl, although they’re too wrapped up in pursuing their dreams to have a good chance at a lasting relationship.  How long does it take to drive from Los Angeles to that town in Nevada, anyway?  Emma Stone is everywhere these days, with her big eyes and big lips, and I thought it was Elvis who was everywhere, as in the Mojo Nixon song.  Neither Gosling nor Stone struck me as a great singer, although it is hard to match Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds.  What I really miss from those old days of musicals is the selection of instantly memorable songs.  I didn’t hear anything like “All I Do is Dream of You” or “You Were Meant for Me” in this film.  It was funny that Gosling had a cassette tape player in his car while at the same time Stone was talking on a cell phone.  The fantasy sequence at the end made me think of Jacques Demy.  There were a lot of positive qualities to this picture, although I didn’t think it quite lived up to the hype.  It was not as magical as the old days of musicals.  The old woman sitting in front of me walked out to take a long break in the lobby.  The ending with a nondescript character entering the picture seemed like not the right note.  You’ve got a bit of “A Star is Born” in the story.  You’ve also got to comb the world for songs that work.  I don’t know what happened to songwriters over the decades.  The last one I really noticed was Ron Sexsmith.  Randy Newman wrote some good songs for “Faust.”  I wouldn’t call “La La Land” the most original movie I’ve seen.  It was for musicals what “The Artist” was for silent films.  There was a bit too much Hollywood in it.  We don’t care about auditions or the movie business.  I stopped at Arinell Pizza for a pepperoni slice, and then I did my laundry.  I was drying out from Thursday’s storm.  I went into the record store and bought used CDs of Sturgill Simpson and Maria Callas.  I bought a bean and cheese burrito.  I watched the Partridge Family episode “For Whom the Bell Tolls… And Tolls… And Tolls.”  The story was about a burglar alarm system, and Arte Johnson was a guest.  Laurie sat around a lot.  In the episode I saw last week, it looked like she ate some cake.  I was done with NUMB3RS for a while, so I started to watch Breaking Bad, but I was so tired at this point that I fell asleep after watching Bryan Cranston retrieve some money from out of a swimming pool.

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