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January 07, 2017


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Matt B

This is purely based on my observations of social media, but to me, it seems like the LA LA LAND naysayers tend to be the younger set. I read some of their objections and they just seem to want to point out that they know about Donen & Kelly, and Minnelli, and Demy, as if they're showing how well-schooled they are by rejecting Chazelle's movie and being resistant to its charms. On the other hand, I find most folks my age or older (let's say 40+) seem more likely to be taken with it. Go figure.

Of course, there's Richard Brody, and while I really enjoyed LA LA LAND, I did find much to admire in his negative review.

Matt B

I realize my comment is merely a tangent and not directly tied to what Glenn wrote, which just brought to mind other issues I've had with the LA LA LAND backlash.

Jesse Crall

I didn't even particularly like LA LA LAND but the critique Glenn highlights above is ridiculous...Of course, had Gosling's character SAVED INDIE ROCK by opening a coffee joint near UCLA, those same people would knock the movie for portraying "Shit White People Like" or something equally asinine. If a white guy digs jazz or hip hop, well, that's cultural appropriation. But if they ignore hip hop and jazz in favor of the CRYSTALLINE PRODUCTION of The Alan Parsons Project, they're perpetuating cultural segregation at the expense of black artists. See how that works?

eddie mars attacks!

It's easy to make up reasons to hate stuff, elevating yourself above a discourse that is not pure enough. So much easier than engaging with the material. Still it's just a movie. Frankly I think the Cosby show killed jazz.

Jon K

"On the other hand, I find most folks my age or older (let's say 40+) seem more likely to be taken with it. Go figure."

I've only seen it once, but I really felt the ebullient opening scene/number made promises that the rest of the film didn't (couldn't?) keep. I wanted more of the joyous, fun opening scene and felt as if its what it promised viewers, but it didn't deliver it. The melancholy ultimately offered was not lacking in redeeming qualities, but I felt the arc of the film suffered as a result of the big opener.

Jon K

Oh, and I saw that as someone 40+.

Jon K



The white saviour take on both films is clearly wrong, but I thought there was something about the casting of peripheral characters in La La Land that smelled of opportunism. I'm reminded of a short scene in The Notebook in which Ryan Gosling is introduced in wide shot, tap dancing next to a nameless, faceless, poor, black boy; the image is meant to contrast Gosling's "authentic" poorness against the snobbishness of Rachel McAdams' world. The Notebook is so nonsubtle and exploitive in general that the opportunism of trotting out a nameless, faceless black boy to lend Gosling "authenticity" is unmistakable, but I thought I got a whiff of a similar opportunism in La La Land when Gosling mingles with the older black couple on the bridge, or when he celebrates the black jazz musicians in the scene where he "mansplains" (as per R. Brody) jazz to Emma Stone. It's like, black performers are hired and put on screen to lend a certain credibility to the white lead... anyway, just a "whiff," and I'll admit that half of it might be that it's Ryan Gosling again and I couldn't help thinking of that egregious scene in The Notebook.

Anyway, I thought La La Land was fine, but I'm wondering if we'll ever again get a big, Hollywood musical that employs actors who can actually sing and dance. Also, is it just me or was the mixing of the opening number really odd? The lyrics were so low compared to the instruments that I could barely make out the words. Was it just my theater? The whole thing felt a little "off" to me.


Isn't "mansplaining" when a man talks down/condescends to a woman who already understands what he's going on about? Stone's character admitted she knew very little about the genre, and Gosling was excited to tell her more about it. He was impassioned, not being a jerk about it.

The more interesting part of this debate is the usage of the John Legend character, who has a brief conversation with Gosling about the future of jazz/how to keep it alive, claiming that it needs to be able to mutate and breathe, but is then revealed as a total sellout playing cheesy pop that has very little to do with jazz. And I think that's where a lot of people have a problem. The white guy is the keeper of the flame while the black guy is only interested in getting paid.

I don't agree with this reductive interpretation, but it's out there.


I was quoting Brody's use of the word "mansplain;" I think it's a dumb word personally, and I dunno if the people who love to use it realize they're alienating a ton of people to their cause.

I did think it was funny that the only talented performer in the film (Legend) is portrayed as the idiot who we're supposed to hate because he doesn't "get" music like Gosling, while Gosling's giving the most awkward musical performance since DDL in "Nine." But I agree that a racialized reading of their relationship is not interesting or helpful.

Tim R

Eh, just like I felt the film held Seb with some degree of skepticism, I think it also gave Legend the room to have a point, that his truth was absolutely true for him.

He advocates for his POV pretty eloquently, is then shown putting on a great show with a really good pop song, and never hurts/ betrays/ lies to anyone. He's a good and supportive friend.

The subtlety is actually appealing to me, because the conflict there isn't the accuracy/ purity of Legend's POV specifically, but more simply that it isn't what Seb wants to do with his life and he's wasting his time not chasing his dream--the film is about the virtues of romanticism, and touring with that band for Seb is the antithesis of a romantic view of experience for him.

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