Friend Reeve is an excellent curator of culture, but he takes some counterintuitive views on critically acclaimed works of art. The much-beloved La La Land is a great example. Because he is so ornery about it, I have posted his rant.
Reeve: I think everyone should read this, and not see La La Land, which is crap. (If you skipped the link, it is about the “white man fetishizing jazz trope.”)
Elise: Since when did you become an expert on jazz?
Reeve: I’m not. And neither is anyone involved with La La Land. In fairness, if you like colors, and you don’t care that much about story or character or acting or music, you might like La La Land just fine.
Elise: I thought it was an excellent movie experience. Bittersweet at the end.
Elise: It wasn’t deep. It didn’t need to be.
Reeve: I didn’t say it needed to be deep. It would have been better if it had 1) good songs, 2) a good (enough) story, 3) a capable leading man. It was built on cliches and doesn’t make any sense.
Elise: It’s ambition vs love. Tale as old as time.
Reeve: This guy, who has been nothing but a jerk to Emma Stone, is more autistic than charming. Gets into a successful band, this band, by the way, plays the only listenable song in the entire movie. So he’s been touring with the band for a few months, making $1K/week plus a cut of merch, so more money than when he had a STAIN ON HIS CEILING, which apparently is a hardship. But he’s not rolling in dough. And she is mad that after a few month of this, he is not focusing all of his energy into opening a single jazz club. This is not drama. It is drama written by 18 year olds. It is idiotic. And that’s before your get to the fact that neither leading actor in the musical could sing particularly well. Maybe it will be to awful nails-on-the chalkboard whisper singing what O Brother Where Art Thou was to Americana music.
Elise: My god. I had no idea you felt this way.
Reeve: I also hated Manchester by the Sea if you want to change topics. I just saw La La Land yesterday, so it’s fresh. And I LOVE musicals. So it’s not like I’m anti-musical. I feel like the music in a musical should enhance the moments and emotions in what is a good story. It cannot replace or make up for a the key elements of a good story, performance, etc. Which is what they tried to do here. Even the minor points in the movie are stupid. Like — what is so incompatible about Samba and Tapas? One is a style of dance, the other is a format of serving food. It is not hard to do both. Why all the harping on this issue? Why didn’t an editor at some point say — maybe we should make this joke make more sense, like … samba and bbq. Or you know — anything. Or maybe just move on from the jazz-fetishizing white guy trope.
Elise: Is the jazz-fetishing white guy trope a thing?
Reeve: Yes. Did you read the Slate article I sent you? It has a delicious list of basically white guys mansplaining jazz to women in TV and film. Woody Allen does it a ton, though he actually does play jazz. So maybe that’s ok.