January 28th 2017
Today I watched La La Land at The Regal cinema in Evesham. The Regal is an antiquated art-deco theatre that doubles as a cinema.
Instead of standard tiered rows of seating like you’d get in an Empire or a Cineworld, The Regal is separated into the balcony – where rows of seating are tiered, and the stall, where there are 40 tables, each with 4 chairs around them.
It’s a different cinema experience, for sure. We were sat perhaps too close to the front, and there wasn’t really enough room on the table for four people who all ordered food. The other two people on our table were technically sat in our seats – I’d specifically booked seats that face the stage with the table in front so that we could easily eat without having to keep turning around to the table. Of course, I didn’t have the balls to ask them to move, so we made do with the food being behind us.
It did feel different, watching a film whilst kind of out in the open. I felt exposed, and the separation between the chairs made it so that made it impossible for Alice and I to talk during the film – not that we’d want to sit and have a chat whilst the film was on, but it’s nice to be able to lean over and comment on different parts of the film whilst we’re watching it.
La La Land seems to polarise opinion. Some people say it’s the best film they’ve seen in years, and will sweep up at the Oscars, and others were disappointed in it.
I was somewhere in between. I’ve mentioned this before, but as a rule I don’t like musicals. The reason I watch movies is for the story, and I don’t find song a particularly engaging or efficient method of visual storytelling. I don’t really pay attention to the lyrics of the songs and they’re often quite important so I end up lost in the plot.
However, La La Land found a nice balance between song and story, and the songs progressed the plot more through mood than through lyrics.
I enjoyed the story, and it’s unconventionally imperfect ending, but I had one issue with the plot.
At the beginning we’re introduced to Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian. We learn that he’s a jazz musician who is struggling in the dying industry because he’s a jazz purist, he gets by by doing his own thing and he stalwartly refuses to conform or sell out.
And then he sells out.
I get that the plot needs conflict to keep interest, but he just changes his entire belief system in about 25 seconds of screen time. We see him refuse to join John Legend’s band because he thinks that would classify as selling out, and losing his musical integrity. But then he looks at this patch of mould on his ceiling and gives John a ring and tells him he’s gonna be in his band after all.
I don’t have a problem with him changing his mind, because I get that at some point realism has to overcome fantasy – and the film frequently flirts with the fantastical. However, he changed his mind with such brevity that it was unbelievable.
One second he has morals, then he has mould, then he has no morals.
I think if that mood change was deeper and more explored the film would’ve landed better – but it’s going to win four Oscars, so what do I know?
Also, they continually set-up this ‘chicken on a stick’ gag, but it never paid off. To be fair, it wouldn’t’ve fitted in the tone of the last act, but I kept expecting the pay-off to come and it never did.
Until tomorrow, I guess I’ll see you in the movies.