Film & Water #74 – La La Land/Rogue One: A Star Wars Story



Rob welcomes our pal Luke Daab to discuss two major new films: the Ryan Gosling/Emma Stone musical LA LA LAND, followed by ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY! Plus, a special surprise guest!

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10 responses to “Film & Water #74 – La La Land/Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  1. All shows will pale after the last five minutes of this one.

    We need Shagg’s mom to tell us what she thinks of Firestorm and how she cries with every “she’s hot.”

  2. Hi Rob and Luke,

    Fun show. I had never heard of La La Land and I’m not familiar with the director, but thoroughly enjoyed your conversation. The passion in your voices almost makes me want to see it even though it doesn’t sound like the type of movie Ruth or I would like. We do enjoy musicals, but downer dramas leave us both cold and disappointed. Too much like the real world.

    Your Star Wars conversation was equally great. Ruth and I just saw the movie last night, so it was perfect today to listen to both your episode and Ryan’s episode discussing the film.

    I obviously enjoyed the film more than both of you. As you know, I really disliked the prequels and they spoiled Star Wars for me for a long time. I was hesitant about The Force Awakens, but really liked most of it. Not perfect, but very good and it gave me A New Hope for Star Wars.

    However, I felt this film exceeded it. The story is compelling and the pacing is great. The effects are terrific, but don’t overshadow the story. The actors are all great and made me care about their characters. I didn’t feel that Jyn and Cassian were emotionless downers. Instead I thought both actors gave performances that made me feel the pain they’ve lived through. Their scene on the beach at the end was poignant as they both felt a sense of release.

    I felt the movie was heavily influenced by the films of Akira Kurosawa and I felt that was more of the reason for the characterizations of Imwe and Malbus. Both characters seemed to be lifted right out of a Kurosawa film.

    Imwe was an immediate favorite of ours because we love the Zatoichi films and the character was an obvious homage to Zatoichi. The way the character moved and the way the character was filmed are just like in those classic films. Even the name Imwe sounds a little like Ichi which is what Zatoichi was often called.

    I felt Forest Whitaker’s character had a place in the story to show how Jyn survived and why she acts the way she does. Sure, it could have been handled better, but I didn’t think it was handled badly.

    Like you both, I wasn’t as impressed with the CGI characters as I expected to be. They still looked like video game characters with porcelain doll skin. However, it was still impressive and I preferred it to casting look-a-likes. I think that would have been more distracting to the story.

    Thanks to both of you for a great episode!


  3. Haven’t had a chance to get to the movies with the holidays and such. I’ll be seeing both films asap now. La La Land reminds me of The Umbrellas of Cherborg, a 1960s french musical that I discovered years ago on TCM. I never imagined I would be s0 captivated by a musical where I didn’t understand a word, Director Jacques Demy followed “Umbrellas” with “The Young Girls of Rochefort” starring Gene Kelly & Catherine Deneueve. It may not reach the heights of the earlier film, but it’s still beautiful.

    If you are looking for a nice whimsical but underrated musical I’d suggest Woody Allen’s “Everyone Says I Love You” (1996) starring Alan Alda, Julia Roberts, Goldie Hawn, Drew Barrymore, Edward Norton, Natalie Portman, & Tim Roth. All except Barrymore do their own singing and it’s a delight:

  4. Like Darrin I enjoyed the film more than Luke or Rob but I enjoyed and appreciated their conversation. All of their points were fair. I enjoyed the first part of the film. It allowed me to become emotionally invested in the characters. Luke’s points about Chirrut were on point but they didn’t occur to me at the time. Then again I am a mark for Donnie Yen and the scene where he takes on the Stormtroopers was a highlight for me.

    I don’t want to get too spoilery but I completely agree that Krennic was a great villain and the final shot of a certain character doing his thing was amazing. It brought up some weird questions about the beginning of STAR WARS but it was so awesome to see my favorite character of Star Wars do what he does and actually being a frightening figure instead of the sympathetic one Lucas gave us in the Prequels.

    Great episode. I was glad to hear another viewpoint on the film.

  5. Saw La La Land last night, perfect for our Christmas Day at the Movies tradition. I swear, our own DJ Nath had been talking about this for the past 6 months and been struggling with anxiety over whether or not we would get it as it kept getting pushed back to a 25/12 release.

    It was tremendous, I’m there with your guys, 100%.

    I wasn’t peeved about the ending because in a way, we got to have our cake and eat it too. And happy/sad is my favorite tone, and it WAS telegraphed by the Casablanca references. This isn’t a romcom, it’s a romance, which is allowed to end tragically. You both nailed it. It’s about what we’re ready to sacrifice to achieve our dreams, and whether that cost is worth it.

    Emma Stone is always tops with me as well (she absolutely devours me with her giant eyes), but I’m steadily developing a man-crush on Ryan Gosling as well. I mean, I liked him in Drive etc., but between The Big Short, The Nice Guys and now this, guy is just one of the funniest leading men we have. If they faked any of the dancing or piano, I can’t see it. VERY impressed with the long takes showing the actors’ prowess. Having JK in there was a fun surprise as well.

    And that ending is perfect. For the reasons you said, but also because it’s the very spirit of jazz. On the one hand it harks back to Seb’s comment about how jazz was originally used to communicate between people of different languages. On the other, it’s a “variation” on the “song” we just listened to, one where we recognize the melody, but is entirely different. At first, I too believed in the fake-out: What if the whole film took place in the moment when they first (well second) laid eyes on each other, like the fight inside the warriors’ minds in Hero, and having determined what could go wrong, Seb approaches her differently. But what it actually is is much more powerful and devastating.

    Glad you liked it as much as we did. A FULL entertainment with laughs, tears, music, fantasy, and truth.

  6. I’m behind on my podcasts due to Christmas Vacation (the vacation, not the movie) so I’m late to the party. I haven’t seen La-La Land, but I think I will keep this in mind if Cindy and I get one of those ultra-rare date nights. Even with that ending, it sounds like a fantastic film.

    As I mentioned with Ryan’s Rogue One review on Gimme Those Star Wars, I enjoyed the film, but the longer it’s been since I’ve seen it, the more I’m a bit critical of it. I saw TFA three times in theaters, but I think I’m good on R1. I will of course buy it on Blu-Ray, but it’s not a huge repeat viewer. Too downbeat.

    I hadn’t thought of the Asian stereotype thing until Luke brought it up, but now I can’t un-think it. We pretty much had blind Master Po from Kung Fu.

    I absolutely loved Mama Kelly keeping it real and sharing her thoughts on Star Wars.

    Great episode!!!


  7. Finally saw La La Land!
    My first cynical thought during the opening number: “did they screw up traffic for this?!?! Did this cause me gridlock?” And then I loved it. Perfect tone.

    My only criticism – it’s really hard to think anything is going to go bad for Gosling. Like when I’m watching a Tom Cruise movie, I never buy into the stakes for that character because of the actor.

  8. I was one of those people who stopped listening to this podcast so that La La Land wouldn’t be spoiled for me. Then my wife and I saw it today and I’m back to hear two guys whose opinions I trust talk to me about why they loved it, too.
    Two things that nobody else has mentioned in detail yet: First, the colors! I noticed how in the very first scene, blue t-shirt guy, green t-shirt guy, yellow dress woman, so many vibrant and colorful characters popping up in the choreography….! Awesome. Then when the four room-mates go out dancing in the streets (literally) each with a different color and style of dress. What costuming! What choreography! What flair. I watched for colors for the rest of the movie, and was not disappointed. Every scene seemed to be SO well constructed slash designed. Enchanting is definitely the word.
    Secondly, that speech that Emma Stone makes when Ryan Gosling comes to Boulder City to get her, “What if I’m just not good enough!?” That brought tears to my eyes. I do amateur theatre as well as amateur comic-making, and God knows I have thought those very same thoughts too many times to count…..
    I have recommended this film to all my old theatre friends. It spoke to me.
    Great, great film. My wife is not a musical person, but even she loved it.
    Thanks for talking about it and thus “making” us go see it.

  9. Just back from La La Land, it’s been open here a week or so. You recorded before the Golden Globes, I’m watching it it now it’s been heavily garlanded, raising my expectations further than they already were.

    I’ve said it previously, I adore musicals, have done since I was a little boy. I wish I’d love this film more. The chemistry between Stone and Gosling is indeed excellent. They’re also good enough actors they can hold my attention when not together on screen. The dramatic moments were terrific. The musical numbers, though… I wanted more.

    I don’t see this as a big old-fashioned musical. It didn’t have the confidence to go all out with most of the musical numbers, the audition piece at the end being the exception, when we saw real emotion. The party number (Someone in a Crowd), for example, was dragged out rather than building as we watched. Part of it was visually drowned out by the camera shot in the pool, which was just a blur, as if we WERE in a pool – a traditional musical would give us crystal clear shots of something IN the pool. The utterly charming bit with Gosling singing City of Stars on the pier was mere vignette, and I couldn’t see what the emotional motivation was – the best musical numbers carry the story forward. Yeah, they also tell us something about the character, but the lovely, melodic tune seemed at odds with Mr Pure Jazz. I liked the number coming back as an understated duet but I’d have loved a rendition of the whole thing, rather than about four lines, first time out, with that gorgeous coastal backdrop.

    The opening number could have been amazing, but the singing was too mumble-wispy … I just couldn’t hear enough of the words to properly enjoy it.

    The film should have ended with them on the bench, wondering if Mia would get the film part. An open ending we could project optimism into. That whole bit with Tom Everett Scott just depressed me. Yeah, they seemed happy at first but look at the body language in the bar, sitting side by side, lamp in between them – no intimacy. Then look at the Sliding Doors version, with Mia and Seb in the same seats, all over one another. It’s saying she settled, which is depressing.

    And there’s no need! Why are Mia and Seb not together? Because they said goodbye rather than try and make a go of a showbiz relationship? If she got the part it was going to be seven months in Paris, then she’s back based in LA, his home base; if they’re considered insurmountable odds against a relationship, these two really aren’t meant for one another.

    I sound like I hated this, I didn’t. I suppose it’s that all the praise had me expecting more, even tempering my expectations with the knowledge that Hollywood voters just LOVE films about Hollywood – but as that mini-genre goes, Hail Caesar was more satisfying, sheer joy. As musicals go, 2011’s The Muppets had me smiling beginning to end. With La La Land, I vote the dramatic scenes a big success, but as a musical, it’s merely middling.

    And did Seb EVER buy driving insurance?

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