La La Land: I smell an Oscar or Four

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Written my Nelson Cumming

La La Land is absolutely fantastic. It is worth all the hype it is getting. At the Venice Film Festival last year where La La Land premiered the audience gave it a standing ovation. That did not sell the film to me as standing ovations at film festivals are not uncommon. Now that I have seen it I see why it would get a standing ovation anywhere.

I think the only reason it did not happen at my screening (It was packed) was because no one was brave enough to start it. Myself included. La La Land is a movie with high ambition that cleared every bar it sets out to achieve in spades.

The film is a story about Mia (Emma Stone) who is an aspiring actress and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who is a jazz enthusiast. They develop a relationship which is tested by their own carriers as they life in the glamor of the Hollywood.

Because of how La La Land is shot, it is easy to be swept away. Director Damien Chazelle went for unrestrained romanticism with a ton of upbeat energy. This style can become easily tiresome but it works because I have not seen anything quite like La La Land. He must have spent ages perfecting the movie’s tone.

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The overall tone of La La La. There is a ton more colour to the film than this. Hopefully this will give you a rough idea.

The only movie from 2016 that La La Land reminds me of is Woody Allen’s Cafe Society. I liked Cafe Society, but La La Land is on a whole new level.

Not only can I find anything bad about it. I don’t want to find anything bad about it because it looks so picture perfect. From the opening shot which is an entire music number set on the motorway during traffic to the final montage is so colorful and vibrant that it blew my mind.

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That is what my eye looked like after seeing La La Land

La La Land is the kind of gem that it’s impossible to pinpoint the best scene as you are watching it. The movie always seems to trump itself. I thought the second scene “Somewhere in the Crowd” was going to be the best scene. There were about six scenes that were better (especially the finale). It is rare for any movie to have one great scene. La La Land was one great scene after another and it feels like one long stupendous sequence.

The chemistry between Stone and Gosling is so charming it is nuts. The amount of talent that radiates between them separately is enough, let alone the two together. They have so much class and talent. Gosling knows how to play the piano and stone knows how to sing and tap dance. The both, with their talents, created a story that gave a new meaning to an old ending.

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Gosling trying to convince Stone that jazz is not dead. If I had a significant other, I would try to convince my future significant other that pro wrestling is not dead. Gosling manages to persuade Stone on his passion. But I am no Gosling. I am much better than Gosling.

There are dozens of other things to praise La La Land for such as the colorful costumes, the seamless camerawork, the songs and the camaraderie which helped make an old story feel brand new.

Chezelle has achieved something magnificent here. He has shown the glitz and glamor of old school Hollywood and makes it look like the focal point of La La Land when it reality it is about the struggles of success and realizing that life is not as perfect as the exterior he masterfully presents.

Damien Chezelle’s face. See it, remember it. Given this and Whiplash, he will be in many acclaimed movies to come.

Chezelle is like the antihero of his generation of filmmakers that has gained mainstream acceptance. He is against the grain but has cleverly made his way into the minds the major film studio executives. He won’t change their minds, but he was in the picture after Whiplash. Now they would have wholly accepted him after La La Land.

Judging from his movies, Chezelle has a huge artistic vision that can now be easily funded and executed. He is guaranteed to make whatever he wants for his next effort, have a lot of artistic freedom and easily get millions of dollars to support it. Something most directors only dream about. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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The Accountant Review

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I’m not going to lie, The Accountant disappointed me. It disappointed me because, after movies like Argo and The Town, I thought The Accountant would be another Ben Affleck thriller that’s as good as those two. Not only was The Accountant not as good, but it was well under the bar in it’s storytelling and overall quality.

The premise itself is a bit laughable. Affleck plays Christian Wolff, a natural at accounting who does financial dealings with some of the worst corrupt criminals around the world. He is also an excellent marksman and combat fighter. Oh and he is autistic as well. Wolfe is told to work at a legal business called “Living Robotics” to keep a low profile from the CIA. While there, he meets Dana Cummings (Anna Kendrick) and as they both find a gaping hole in “Living Robitics” accounting system the action kicks in. The premise wouldn’t be laughable if the movie tackled it’s themes head-on but it doesn’t.

Ben Affleck: Good but Cringe Inducing

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Affleck really shows emotional depth in his performance

The problem is not Ben Affleck’s performance but the character that he has to play. Because Affleck’s character is autistic, Affleck deliberately plays him in an antisocial manner. He is stone-faced expressionless throughout the whole movie (even when he is fighting and killing) crosses his arms a lot and speaks in a forced monotone.

Imagine Good Will Hunting meets Jason Bourne and you have Christian Wolff. Aside from his performances with Anna Kendrick, I was detached from his performance.

I really did not get much out of watching The Accountant. Especially when there are no narrative stakes because Affleck can easily kill bad guys without a struggle or an expression from his expressionless face. Aside from scenes from Affleck and Kendrick (which weren’t that many) and the flashback of Affleck’s character as a child, there was nothing I enjoyed.

Subplots and Twists that Never Add Up

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Unfortunately J.K. Simmons and Cynthia Addai-Robinson play in the first of many subplots that don’t work in The Accountant.

The second problem is the movie’s scattershot layout with threads of subplots that don’t meet up. The subplots don’t gel well with the main story and they are convoluted messes that don’t add up. One of the subplots involves police detective Ray King (JK Simmons) who blackmails an analyst to help him with the case of finding who “The Accountant” is. This investigation cost countless lives and SPOILER ALERT at the end King reveals the investigation was all a test. I was just stunned. END OF SPOILERS

Maybe I am the autistic kid watching the movie because I heard from other reviewers as the one’s I heard said it was funny because it was deliberately bad. I saw no humor in it whatsoever. It was played out as a serious film with a confusing plot that slows down by act two so I then was confused and board.

What was really bewildering were the final reveals. Jesus Christ, they were godawful. They were jaw-dropping for all the wrong reasons. Not only did they not add up and not only were they overly cliched but they were fantastically stupid. I swear to God it is more unbelievable than the twist in The Tourist with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie. It’s that bad.

The cliff notes in closing: Ben Affleck is a good actor but his role is horrible; Affleck is good with Kendrick and that’s it; The story is confusing and the twists are god-awfully dumb and the momentum is screeched to a halt halfway through. The likable elements to the film were not enough for me to recommend it. It was really disappointing for me to watch expecting so much but getting so little. *1/2