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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays Week 40 La La Land

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Mia and Seb definitely attain their goals, but I wouldn’t call it, as Fister did, a “Success Story” because there’s no sense of fulfillment. It would be like calling Citizen Kane a success story. Contrast either of these movies with something like Rocky - which I would consider a success story - where the character faces insurmountable odds, doesn’t win the fight, but finds peace within himself.

Mia seems very fulfilled at the end of the movie. I don't think her not ending up with Seb detracts from that. Seb is probably less so because he didn't end up with Mia, and that's what I keep circling back to with the dream ballet being his fantasy and not hers. He thinks about what life with Mia would have been like, but she seemingly has a pretty great life without him.

 

I came inches from picking The Last Five Years this time around, but I love the stage musical so much and I have heard the film isn't as effective (full disclosure: I haven't seen it yet). I'm not convinced that the way that Jamie and Kathy grow apart over their five years matches the way that Seb and Mia do: the cathartic "I'll always love you" moment before Mia goes to Paris is one of my favorite parts. I can see the connection in terms of rising success, but Jamie's a publishing superstar and Kathy's a failed actress, so it's a tenuous connection, I'd say.

Seb becomes a rather popular musician while Mia is still struggling. I think the main difference as far as success goes is that Cathy never finds success and is bitter about it, while Mia obviously does and is more hurt by the lack of support she gets from her partner (she obviously never gets her version of "The Schmuel Song"). There are other things that are way different in terms of their relationship

(e.g., Seb never cheats on her)

, but the way the TLFY portrays the Cathy's struggle to become an actress works so much better. I like the montage of Mia reading (badly) for the various roles, but I think "Climbing Uphill" does the same thing but better. There are obviously structural things about the two movies where it doesn't make sense to compare them as a straight 1:1, but in terms of both movies' exploration of career success, I think you can draw a pretty strong connection. It's just that the characters end up in different places by the end (or...beginning?). I see Cathy and Mia as almost alternate universe versions of each other.

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CakeBug, I legit almost picked The Last Five Years last time as well. It's been sitting in my Netflix queue for quite some time but I've been waiting to watch it for the first time with all y'all. But then Fister made that wild review of J&TP and my decision was made lmao.

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I must also admit as somebody that does like jazz and owns albums by Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, etc. I much prefer Seb's kind of jazz to John Legend's. While I appreciate his efforts to modernize it and make it more acceptable and relatable to the modern audience I'd still rather go to Seb's and listen to his music.

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Ah I see now. Yeah I believe you're correct. It's hard to understand which "he" it is when you're talking about 2 dudes lol.

Apologies. I will try and make my ramblings clearer in the future. :-)

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Apologies. I will try and make my ramblings clearer in the future. :-)

Oh it's all good! This certainly wouldn't be the first time I misinterpreted a post lol!

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I must also admit as somebody that does like jazz and owns albums by Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, etc. I much prefer Seb's kind of jazz to John Legend's. While I appreciate his efforts to modernize it and make it more acceptable and relatable to the modern audience I'd still rather go to Seb's and listen to his music.

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The face of fulfillment:

 

ending1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think the moody, blue lighting really highlights her sense of contentment - lol

 

I mean, you guys seem really sold on the whole Shades relationship. I'll tell you what, if any of you can tell me his character's name (without looking it up on IMDb), I'll buy that she's madly in love with him. Like I said before, I feel like she probably has a lot of affection for Shades, but I don't believe she has passion for him. I keep going back to the scene in When Harry Met Sally where they are arguing about the ending of Casablanca and Meg Ryan is saying that Ingrid Bergman is happier being with Claude Raines.

 

Here's the thing, the last things Mia and Seb say to one another is "I will always love you."

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I must also admit as somebody that does like jazz and owns albums by Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, John Coltrane, etc. I much prefer Seb's kind of jazz to John Legend's. While I appreciate his efforts to modernize it and make it more acceptable and relatable to the modern audience I'd still rather go to Seb's and listen to his music.

As someone who likes jazz as well, I'd maybe argue John Legend's group isn't playing jazz. We don't hear vey much of it. So, I can't properly judge it but it doesn't look like much improvisation is going on which is a fundamental of jazz. Its kind of hard to have choreographed dancing over improvisation.

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As someone who likes jazz as well, I'd maybe argue John Legend's group isn't playing jazz. We don't hear vey much of it. So, I can't properly judge it but it doesn't look like much improvisation is going on which is a fundamental of jazz. Its kind of hard to have choreographed dancing over improvisation.

It may be a fundamental but this was a concert, not a typical jazz show. I'm sure all those jazz greats back in the day still had songs they performed each time once they started making records.

 

And I'd argue that John never did say they were a jazz band. I'd probably classify them more as funk because you can tell that while he does take inspiration from old jazz, he's also taking some clear inspiration from 70s funk, 80s synth pop, and putting a modern spin onto all of it.

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It seems like Another Day of Sun was done in maybe one or two long takes. The only place I can see for an edit was after the band plays in the van. The camera does a quick whip-around and the skateboarder drops and starts going around the cars. If so that's quite impressive.

 

Also see: "Someone in The Crowd"

 

So, did anyone like this movie? ;)

 

I loved it the first time I watched it, but then the luster started to fade on subsequent rewatches (yeah, I watched it more than twice, so sue me). Maybe because I started watching a lot of the classic musicals that inspired La La Land and to me, the line between homage and ripoff started to get blurred. So really, I blame Musical Mondays for making me fall out of love with La La Land. If anything, I will listen to the soundtrack more than I revisit the film (spoiler alert: I have).

 

And guys, we have to keep the opening number/song because it's a big chunk of the Epilogue (aka the dream fantasy sequence at the end). Without it, we wouldn't get to see JK Simmons being all delightful with the head bopping and finger snapping.

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The face of fulfillment:

 

ending1.jpg

 

I think the moody, blue lighting really highlights her sense of contentment - lol

You could just as easily take a random frame of her face from the previous few minutes of the movie where it's showing her life and make the opposite point.

I mean, you guys seem really sold on the whole Shades relationship. I'll tell you what, if any of you can tell me his character's name (without looking it up on IMDb), I'll buy that she's madly in love with him. Like I said before, I feel like she probably has a lot of affection for Shades, but I don't believe she has passion for him. I keep going back to the scene in When Harry Met Sally where they are arguing about the ending of Casablanca and Meg Ryan is saying that Ingrid Bergman is happier being with Claude Raines.

 

Here's the thing, the last things Mia and Seb say to one another is "I will always love you."

I don't get why any of that has anything to do with whether or not she has found success or fulfillment. It doesn't matter who the guy is; she's moved on and is enjoying her life. We don't see much of their relationship because it doesn't matter. What matters is that she's in a different place in her life and has a new family.

 

You can still love someone and realize that being together isn't the best thing for you. That doesn't mean your life isn't fulfilled because you can't be with that one person. Even if you buy that Mia is sad or regretful when she sees Seb, it doesn't mean you aren't sometimes wistful when you think about what might have been (even though you know that that "what might have been" is a lie). Her whole happiness doesn't rest with Seb.

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As someone who likes jazz as well, I'd maybe argue John Legend's group isn't playing jazz. We don't hear vey much of it. So, I can't properly judge it but it doesn't look like much improvisation is going on which is a fundamental of jazz. Its kind of hard to have choreographed dancing over improvisation.

 

What are you even talking about? Seb's solo was "improv."

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It may be a fundamental but this was a concert, not a typical jazz show. I'm sure all those jazz greats back in the day still had songs they performed each time once they started making records.

 

And I'd argue that John never did say they were a jazz band. I'd probably classify them more as funk because you can tell that while he does take inspiration from old jazz, he's also taking some clear inspiration from 70s funk, 80s synth pop, and putting a modern spin onto all of it.

You're right. John Legend never said they were jazz but I got the feeling he wanted be jazzier pop/rock or something. We're also looking at the first 30 seconds of the show. So, we can't really say what genre it is.

 

But maybe I just have a bunch of traditionalist views holding back jazz like Seb. So, whatever.

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And guys, we have to keep the opening number/song because it's a big chunk of the Epilogue (aka the dream fantasy sequence at the end). Without it, we wouldn't get to see JK Simmons being all delightful with the head bopping and finger snapping.

But have you seen him disco?

 

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What are you even talking about? Seb's solo was "improv."

That was 15 seconds then the band joined him and went into a clearly not improvised song. I'm not asking for free jazz but I also don't consider every single guitar solo jazz either.

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That was 15 seconds then the band joined him and went into a clearly not improvised song. I'm not asking for free jazz but I also don't consider every single guitar solo jazz either.

 

Improv doesn't have a set amount of bars. A solo can be 4 bars or 40 bars. Seb's solo was supposed to be "improv."

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You can still love someone and realize that being together isn't the best thing for you. That doesn't mean your life isn't fulfilled because you can't be with that one person. Even if you buy that Mia is sad or regretful when she sees Seb, it doesn't mean you aren't sometimes wistful when you think about what might have been (even though you know that that "what might have been" is a lie). Her whole happiness doesn't rest with Seb.

 

I think this is the point they are trying to make, but also where the movie fails a little bit as compared to its obvious inspiration, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. That movie shows you much more of the "other woman" who the leading man winds up building a comfortable family life with, so you understand why he might be content with that choice. La La Land rushes it a little bit and gives you very little of Shades. I can intellectually extrapolate from this situation and conclude that Mia could be happy/content with her current partner, but what's shown on screen is still heavily devoted to the Mia-Seb stuff.

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Okay gonna turn the topic onto Seb thinking he was the one that could "save" jazz. When I first saw it I immediately felt a little like "oh really white boy from LA you're the one who's gonna save jazz?" but I think this article by Ira Madison III speaks for this whole thing.

 

At one point in the film, Gosling grouses over the fact that no one understands what real jazz music is and that he’d feel like a sellout playing in Legend’s band. He understands so much that he doesn’t bother to pay his bills; he’d rather play vinyl in his apartment and throw away the increasing stack of mail. Legend tells Gosling that jazz was innovative in its time, so if he refuses to reinvent jazz in the present, then he’s really not living up to the spirit of the genre. Gosling agrees, until he doesn’t, and eventually opens up his own jazz club that’s wildly successful and gains him a black apprentice who’s pretty good on the piano himself, but not too good, otherwise he’d own Gosling’s club himself! The nightclub audience laughs at this joke, but in the film audience, it lands with a thud, because you know what? If you’re gonna make a film about an artist staying true to the roots of jazz against the odds and against modern reinventions of the genre (from white musicians like, say, Mayer Hawthorne), you'd think that artist would be black.

 

So something I had been thinking about a lot since I first saw this was what if John Legend and Ryan Gosling had switched parts. Let's take out the star factor from Ryan and the fact that we're not totally sure John can act well enough to carry a movie and basically just focus on what the movie would be like if a black man had played Seb.

 

According to Variety, Chazelle spoke to Michael B. Jordan about portraying Gosling’s role at one point, but that possibility imagines Lionsgate either producing an Oscar-contending film about two black people struggling through the world of jazz music rather than slavery or Jordan courting a white actress for a modern update of Save the Last Dance. Both scenarios seem implausible.

 

I absolutely would have probably liked this 100% more if MBJ was playing Seb. And that's from someone who does in fact love Ryan Gosling. But MBJ? *whistles* that man is a whole nother level, y'all.

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In that sense, during the Dream Ballet sequence, why are the rowdy jazz crowd so reverentially silent as Seb plunks out his 'Mia and Sebastian's Theme' after he sees Mia? Maybe he shows off the intricacies of the later parts of the theme like he does in the Christmas restaurant, but after the detailed jazz that we've just seen, it feels like it's everyone indulging the owner of the club picking out a few notes on the keyboard...

 

Talking during a set was frowned upon at every club I've been to. When you have to shell out $65 to see an artist, plus x-drink minimum, you bet you're gonna stfu and listen.

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Improv doesn't have a set amount of bars. A solo can be 4 bars or 40 bars. Seb's solo was supposed to be "improv."

I understand that and I get that this bit was probably improv. So, technically, I dont really have a defense. But I also don't think anyone really looks at the rest of what we see at the concert and call that jazz music.

 

That's why I brought up a guitar solo. If Jimmy Page wings a guitar solo, Led Zeppelin is stilll a blues rock band (primarily). They aren't now playing jazz. John Legend's group sounds like pop/rock/funk. Seb playing a couple bars of improv doesn't change the entire genre.

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I also wanted to post this Vulture article because it brings up some modern jazz artists that are really enjoyable.

 

Today’s artists have realized that letting go of these conservative notions is best way to “save jazz.” La La Land presents these arguments in the form of Keith, the fusion artist played by John Legend in the film. Though his words sound reasonable — he asks Sebastian how he’s going to revolutionize jazz by being a traditionalist — Chazelle stacks the deck against him: Keith turns out to use a laughably ‘80s sound that’s meant to seem completely disconnected from his jazz roots. For extra measure, he also uses a cheesy stage show complete with dancers — a luxury no modern jazz artist could afford, or would even consider. It’s almost as if, well, the movie wants us to hate new jazz.

 

 

This is a vision of fusion jazz that sounds nothing like the contemporary jazz scene. Take Esperanza Spalding, a gifted musician who has brought renewed attention to the genre. One night she might go onstage with a band that mixes rock, R&B. and other influences; on another she might play with veterans Geri Allen and Terri Lyne Carrington in an all-woman trio. The same holds true for Robert Glasper, whose experimental troupe might do

or
, but who also spends time in a more traditional group, the Robert Glasper Trio. Both Spalding and Glasper are highly regarded within jazz circles, drawing sizable crowds and winning Grammys in the process. Other acts like Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, and Otis Brown III refuse to be fixed on the idea of purity; they’d rather push jazz to evolve. Despite what La La Land might have you think, the genre has already reckoned with and resolved the debate over the sanctity of jazz.
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I absolutely would have probably liked this 100% more if MBJ was playing Seb. And that's from someone who does in fact love Ryan Gosling. But MBJ? *whistles* that man is a whole nother level, y'all.

 

Oh man, I am into that. I LOVE that idea. I also love Ryan Gosling but MBJ is such an amazing actor, they still would have gotten the same Oscar buzz if he was in it (maybe that's optimistic though).

Now I just really want to see him dance.

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You could just as easily take a random frame of her face from the previous few minutes of the movie where it's showing her life and make the opposite point.

 

I don't get why any of that has anything to do with whether or not she has found success or fulfillment. It doesn't matter who the guy is; she's moved on and is enjoying her life. We don't see much of their relationship because it doesn't matter. What matters is that she's in a different place in her life and has a new family.

 

You can still love someone and realize that being together isn't the best thing for you. That doesn't mean your life isn't fulfilled because you can't be with that one person. Even if you buy that Mia is sad or regretful when she sees Seb, it doesn't mean you aren't sometimes wistful when you think about what might have been (even though you know that that "what might have been" is a lie). Her whole happiness doesn't rest with Seb.

 

That shot is from literally the last scene of the movie. Therefore, it’s the emotion the audience is left with. I was not being disingenuous. So please don’t pretend like I picked a scene at random just to make my point. I have never and would never do that. I should hope you know me better than that. I also never said her whole happiness “rests with Seb.” I don’t believe that any more than I believe Seb’s whole happiness rests with Mia. I have never suggested otherwise. After the shot above they share a wistful smile and she leaves.

 

I mean - FFS - I’m not saying either of them is suicidal. I think they are both doing “okay.” They’re doing what they want and are doing just fine. You said earlier that this was her “success story,” and I was saying that just because someone gets what they want doesn’t automatically mean everything is cool. I feel catharsis at the end, I feel happy for both of them, but I don’t feel the celebratory sense of joy you would expect from someone getting what they’ve fought for.

 

As for Shades, I’m just making my fun of the fact that you all assume their doing great and this is what she wants when there is literally no evidence of that in the movie. We do, however, through the dream ballet, have a sense that she’s not perfectly happy with the way things turned out. She can be happy with where she’s at but still be unfulfilled. That’s all I’ve been saying.

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Oh man, I am into that. I LOVE that idea. I also love Ryan Gosling but MBJ is such an amazing actor, they still would have gotten the same Oscar buzz if he was in it (maybe that's optimistic though).

Now I just really want to see him dance.

Not only is he such an amazing actor but I am going on record that MBJ is the most gorgeous man alive.

 

WHERE IS HIS AWARD PEOPLE MAGAZINE???

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