Only in LaLa land at the Oscars could LaLa Land best picture announced, could it turn out to be LaLa Land winner and LaLa Land loser, all within five minutes. It wasn’t Best Picture. But was it a good picture?
Not bad. I’m not really into music. Put it this way, the director of Singin’ in the Rain Stanley Donen died and tributes poured in. Singin’ in the Rain in 1952 was a classic of the Hollywood musical genre. You’d Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers that could do everything that Astaire did but backwards and in six inch heels. Then you’d Gene Kelly that could do everything Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers could do and he really could sing and act the bejesus off everybody else. You even had Debbie Reynolds and Danny Kaye, as fall woman and fall guy. Where do you stop in LaLa Land?
Well, the plot is much the same in every boy meet girl movie. Sebastian ( Ryan Gosling) loves Mia (Emma Stone) Mia love Sebastian. All you need is the set up. Stuck in a traffic jam, he toots his horn, she gives him the finger. She works in a coffee shop, he plays piano for pennies (or tips) Christmas background music in a restaurant.
But she wants to be an actress and continually goes for auditions only to be turned down because she’s not pretty enough or not quite what they’re looking for. Mia isn’t Hollywood pretty, she’s not Debbie Reynold’s pretty and certainly not Audrey Hepburn beautiful, but she has nice big eyes and I like ginger hair. So she’s cute, rather than pretty. But she’s dressed in primary colours, often green which suits her complexion. And she’s meant to be every-woman.
This being a musical, she also needs to sing. Well, they famously dubbed over Audrey Hepburn in Pygmalion and My Fair Lady. Julie Andrews, of The Sound of Music saving MGM and ‘Climb Every Mountain’ fame game, stepped into her shoes. Mia can’t really hold a tune to the level of Audrey, but god and Hollywood loves a trier.
Sebastian is the more be-pop of the two a jazz aficionado. Yeh, I don’t know what that mean either. Sebastian can’t sing or dance any better than Mia. Being a leading man is not the same as being the leading lady. He doesn’t have to be achingly beautiful. He can just play it cool. He says early in the film he couldn’t love anybody that didn’t love jazz. He wants to open a nightclub that would take jazz back to its roots and away from the mainstream. Mia, of course, says she hates jazz.
Then as she falls for Sebastian she falls for jazz too. The rest is schmaltz with a sliding door moment of what if. As a budding writer I’m better-versed than most in the LaLa propaganda that if you hope for something enough your dream will come true. We ain’t all Singin’ in the Rain, some of us keep our brain running. The exception to the rule rule never fails to generate a happy ending. Now we’re talking Pretty in Pink and Molly Ringwald another red head, but without the best picture nomination. Oh dear, the one that got away.