Tag Archives: Ryan Gossling

FILM REVIEW: La La Land (Chazelle, 2016): USA

Viewed by Larry Gleeson at Venice Film Festival.

Film Director Damien Chazelle’s La La Land comes on the heels of his Oscar nominated screenplay adaptation for 2015’s Whiplash, where a highly intense music teacher molds a young, dedicated student. J.K. Simmons performance as the teacher garnered him an Oscar for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role.

Chazelle, an avid music lover, had wanted to do a musical spectacle in the manner of Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort and The Umbrellas of Chambourg  while mixing in a splash of Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s Singing in the Rain. Moreover, Chazelle wanted a realism mixed into the story. Having resided in Los Angeles for the last ten years and having had a love affair with the city, Chazelle chose the City of Angels to set his Hollywood success-seeker film.

The film opens without much fanfare in a typical Los Angeles morning traffic jam. A young woman, Mia, played by Emma Stone, in a white Prius, is having an issue with her phone and misses an opportunity to move forward as the traffic jam has freed up somewhat. The young man behind her in a late 1980’s maroon-colored, Buick Riviera convertible, Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, lets her know with a blare of his horn and a not-so-friendly “good morning to you” gesture. Soon traffic slows again. This time, however, as radio are being dialed in, drivers begin exiting their vehicles and break into to an energetic, six-minute song and dance number, “Another Day of Sun,” staged on the 110 freeway overlooking downtown Los Angeles. As the song concludes, the title is flashed across the screen and the film is off and running with a start reminiscent of Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret in Viva Las Vegas.

La La Land is more about relationship and the life-changing experience two young lovers gain from each other. Mia is an aspiring actress mired in her real job as a barista juxtaposed against a series of failed acting auditions where she is continually interrupted. Sebastian, on the other hand, is a coarse, die-hard classical jazz pianist who doesn’t believe in compromising his convictions for anything or anyone. As their paths begin to cross Sebastian brushes off Mia as someone who will never understand his plight – until she does. When their paths finally converge, the harsh realities of life begin to set in and the two unknowingly turn to each other in raw emotional exchanges and thereby find the strength each needs to reach the stars.

In a powerful denouement in the city full of optimism and broken dreams, the story concludes with a Mick Jagger and Rolling Stones truism echoed faintly at first only to be finished with an exclamation point:

“You can’t always get what you want

But if you try sometime you find

You get what you need!”

And if the story isn’t enough in itself, the catchy musical numbers credited to Chazelle’s long-time friend and co-collaborator, Justin Hurwitz, will keep almost any music aficionado’s attention. If not, then the roving camera movement of cinematographer Linus Sandgren is bound to keep eyes in the scene. And, if that’s not enough, then the supercharged production numbers from choreographer Mandy Moore will keep you riveted as they sync in timing with Sandgren’s camera movement allowing the actors seemingly the ability to levitate. And in vein with Chazelle’s vision and outright homage to the musicals of the 50’s and 60’s, Production Designer David Wasco keeps the screen illuminated with a bright vision of reds, yellows, pinks, pastel greens and sky blues, aided wonderfully by Mary Zophres’ costuming, while the filming locations could very well serve as a Los Angeles pop culture tour.

If there’s only one film you can see this year – make it La La Land! Highest recommendation.

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Why the Venice Film Fest Matters More to Oscar (Sorry, Toronto)

Posted by Larry Gleeson

By Ariston Anderson

After premiering three major Academy Award winners in a row, the world’s oldest film fest is once again Hollywood’s awards-season launchpad.

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The past few years, while Toronto bickered with Telluride over which festival could screen which premiere when and where, Venice — after some decidedly lackluster editions — took the high road and worked on improving. The result? It’s back on top after a scorecard that saw successful Oscar wins for Venice premieres three years in a row: Gravity, Birdman and, last year, Spotlight. Hollywood has taken notice. The festival is filled with studio titles this year, which means the red carpet will be filled with A-list talent. The four premieres that already are garnering awards buzz:

La La Land’s Oscar Launch

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With Venice proving to be a good luck charm at the Oscars, one young contender seems to be taking the hint. Damien Chazelle is following up his 2014 best picture nominee Whiplash with festival opener La La Land. The musical stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Emma Stone). The Venice committee, after watching the film, immediately offered Lionsgate the opening slot. “I was so honored to get the invitation to open Venice,” says Chazelle. “It’s the kind of place that seems to belong in a dream. That’s the feeling I wanted to capture with this movie: the way things look and sound in a dream, the magic and the romance of it all.”

Chazelle adds that it was a natural choice to follow up his critically acclaimed Whiplash with the challenging genre of the musical. “The thing I love about musicals is that everything is possible. You can combine all the arts — music, dance, painting, theater —  to collectively produce an emotion that can’t be conveyed by words,” he says. “I wanted to try and make a film that told an honest, intimate story but also allowed for that kind of big-screen moviemaking.”

Festival director Alberto Barbera believes that the film, a tribute to old Hollywood musicals, is a natural candidate for the Oscars. “It has all the elements,” he says. “It’s a wonderful story, a classic film. It’s extremely well done with two outstanding lead performances. You have to go back to the ’60s and ’70s to see something that is similar to those performances. It has beautiful music, beautiful dance performances. Everything in the film is definitely outstanding.”

While Lionsgate is planning a big launch at the festival, unfortunately Gosling will not be present, as he couldn’t escape filming duties for Blade Runner 2. Stone will be back in Venice after her 2014 success with Birdman led her to an Oscar nomination.

Mel’s Big Comeback

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After a public meltdown of epic proportions, Mel Gibson retreated from the spotlight, putting his work behind the camera on hold. Now Venice is premiering his first directorial effort since Apocalypto (2006). Never one to retreat from challenging topics, Gibson explores the true story of Desmond Doss (Andrew Garfield), the first conscientious objector awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, in the World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge.

“The movie is special,” says Stuart Ford, CEO of IM Global, which co-financed the film, putting up approximately half of the budget. “Audiences can look forward to a picture that is both an old-school, action-packed wartime epic and also an intelligent and very moving present day statement on the nature of conflict and forgiveness.”

Barbera firmly believes the film marks Gibson’s comeback. “There is a high expectation of course after the previous films and all the issues around his bizarre attitude. I didn’t know what I was going to say when I saw the film,” he says. “I was quite surprised because it is a beautiful, classic war film about a courageous hero and the capability to put one’s own life before others. I think it’s proved that he’s a really great director and I hope that it will forgive some mistakes that he did and some unacceptable behaviors in the past.”

Paolo Sorrentino’s TV Debut

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It’s not just films that are having their moment in Venice. HBO’s launch of Olive Kitteridge in Venice led it to pick up eight Emmy awards last year. As more and more acclaimed cinema directors make the leap into longform TV, all eyes will be on Oscar winner Paolo Sorrentino’s TV debut The Young Pope, starring Jude Law as a fictional American pope who is conservative, politically conniving, and incredibly self-reflective. The production is a joint effort of HBO, Sky and Canal Plus.

The Young Pope is a 10-part series but at the same time is a collection of 10 movies, each of them with Sorrentino’s unique flair and enthusiasm in innovating visual storytelling, featuring an inimitable top-notch technical and quality style and starring an outstanding international cast,” says Andrea Scrosati, executive vp programming of Sky Italia says. “So there could not be a more suitable venue than the Venice Film Festival to premiere the first two episodes of this show, and this choice confirms, if any additional proof were needed, that the distinction between cinema and television no longer exists: It all comes down to storytelling.”

FremantleMedia International, which is handling sales, has, not surprisingly, already begun closing deals ahead of the Venice launch. “Jude Law plays a hyper-contemporary and conservative pope, revolutionary, a fundamentalist who goes through life with an absolute faith and devotion to God,” says Lorenzo Mieli, CEO of FremantleMedia Italy. “And all the while he continuously poses to himself and to us the question we are all compelled to ask at least once in our lives: What do we mean exactly when we talk about faith and God? Stories and themes like these inevitably involve a wide audience from each country.”

Sorrentino agrees with the potential wide appeal of the series. “Beyond the interest for the Vatican, a closed and mysterious place, the series turns its attention to the Vatican’s inhabitants,” he says. “I think that the audience, regardless of where they’re from, will be captivated by the human and spiritual lives of these people.”

And with the American election coming up, Sorrentino believes that the candidates could also heed the advice of The Young Pope. “There is always danger around the corner,” he says. “The private biography of a leader can influence his choices for the collective interest of the people and that these choices could be dangerous and ineffective.”

Focus Features’ $20 Million Gamble

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Last year, Focus Features paid a reported $20 million for Nocturnal Animals, Tom Ford’s sophomore directorial effort.

Now, Focus is planning on betting a big chunk of their Oscar-campaign money on the dark romance based on Austin Wright’s novel Tony and Susan and starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal. Adams plays an art gallery owner who receives her ex-husband’s violent manuscript in the mail, which she interprets as a threatening tale of revenge and regret. It plays out as a story within a story as Isla Fisher plays Adams in novel form.

Could the L.A.-set noir finally deliver Amy Adams and/or Jake Gyllenhaal their long-awaited Oscars? Focus hopes so, with many more categories to push for. “The film will be one of the highlights of Venice,” says Barbera. “Both Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal could start an Oscar campaign from Venice, definitely.”

 

(Source:www.hollywoodreporter.com)

6 films to look out for at Venice Film Festival from La La Land to Jackie

By Larry Gleeson

by Jess Denham

Venice Film Festival opener La La Land will go head to head with new films from

Tom Ford, Denis Villeneuve and Derek Cianfrance as part of a 2016 line-up that also features two key performances from five-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams.

Fifty-six movies have been selected to premiere at the festival, including 20 in competition for the Golden Lion. Many of these, particularly those screening at the start of the prestigious event before heading to the Toronto and Telluride festivals happening at the same time, will go on to enjoy award season success.

The last two Best Picture Oscar winners, Spotlight and Birdman, both held their world premieres at Venice, as did special effects extravaganza Gravity in 2013 and last year’s Lili Elbe biopic The Danish Girl.

La La Land , the original musical, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling from Whiplash’s Damien Chazelle kickstarts proceedings while the much-hyped remake of John Sturges classic The Magnificent Seven, starring Chris Pratt and Denzel Washington, will bring the festival to a close. Mel Gibson makes his Venice debut out of competition with World War II drama Hacksaw Ridge.

Bond director Sam Mendes is president of this year’s jury, with the festival dedicated to late directors Michael Cimino and Abbas Kiarostami.

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Michael Fassbender, Alicia Vikander and Rachel Weisz lead this big screen adaptation of ML Stedman’s romantic novel helmed by The Place Beyond the Pines director Derek Cianfrance.

 

La La Land

Whiplash director, Damien Chapelle opens this year’s festival with this original musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as a couple of dreamers trying to make it big in Hollywood: she, a lonely aspiring actress; he, a cocky jazz pianist.

Jackie

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Pablo Larrain directs Oscar winner Natalie Portman as late first lady and fashion icon Jacqueline Kennedy in what he has promised will not be a “classic biopic”. Set in the days immediately after John F Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, the film sparked great excitement among distributers after a seven-minute promo screened at Cannes.

Arrival

Oscars voters’ ears will have pricked up after hearing that Academy favorite Amy Adams takes the lead in this sci-fi flick from Sicario director, Denis Villeneuve, about mysterious aliens that arrive on Earth.

Nocturnal Animals

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Designer Tom Ford has cinematic strings to his bow, as proved with 2009’s Venice premiere The Single Man. He’s back in the chair for this drama-thriller also starring Adams, this time as a divorcee whose troubled past returns to haunt her in the form of her ex’s unpublished book.

Voyage of Time

This mind-frazzling documentary about the universe, time and our existence has taken director Terrence Malick 30 years to make. It comes in two versions: one lasting 40-minutes and narrated by Brad Pitt on Imax, and the other a full-length film voiced by Cate Blanchett on 35mm.

The Venice Film Festival runs from 31 August to 10 September 2016.

(Source excerpt: www.independent.co.uk)