I'll respond to the rest later when I have time.
Originally Posted by zerkalo
MOONLIGHT IS FUCKING AMAZING IM STILL MINDBLOWN...probably one of the best films i have seen in my life. next im going to see certain women
Moonlight is a five-star movie, but I didn't have a large emotional reaction to it unfortunately. It's just very well done.
I saw Certain Women. The middle section with Michelle Williams is my least favorite, although it's not bad; it just kind of doesn't go many places, and deals more with more proactive woman dealing with men. Laura Dern has the right amount of exasperated weariness dealing with her client and it's the funniest segment. I was kind of surprised with the fact that the best performance in the movie was not from an established actress; that last segment is pretty interesting.
The movie's biggest weakness is simply that the three stories aren't really connected (aside from a few tenuous threads of plot), so they have trouble reinforcing each other. Still, they deal with every-day female experiences without getting preachy about it, and I could identity with some of the experiences. It's a nice movie. That last segment just kind of lingers with me, which is lovely -- there are periods without dialogue, and if I try to describe it, it doesn't do the experience of it justice.
I typically try to take a film on its own terms. So why I might have a personal response to a particular philosophy espoused by a film, that doesn't necessarily make it a bad film; it might "just be what it is," just like people are often just who they are.
there's no real question that the relationship between drummer and teacher was emotionally (and nearly physically) abusive. Certainly lots of physical self-abuse. This is more of a question of how badly two people can feed off each other in pursuit of their own goals and end up both getting what they want in the end and maybe even achieving something that transcends their own personal shit. They are both very flawed people, and obsessive people, and demanding people. There was nothing Fletcher demanded, though, that Andrew didn't demand of himself, and vice versa. They were both hellbent on this particular road and had given up everything else for it, even Andrew ditching his girlfriend for his drumming; I totally saw the logic in everything he said to Nicole, and yet I just wanted to slap the fucker across the face for being so damn cold about it and for maybe not seeing life as bigger than his own obsession. Yet again, if he wanted to be that good... it would demand everything from him, potentially.
In this sense, Andrew's father (Paul Reiser) is the nurturing figure who is both a consolation AND a hindrance to Andrew's progression. He's the balance to Fletcher. At what point does affirmation become a hindrance to progress? This is a typical struggle for every person as we move from childhood to adulthood and try to learn how to suffer pain in order to achieve goals of value.
The ending was great mainly in its audacity and how it flips expectations in the audience. We think "the game" is over; but it isn't. Do they both rise to the challenge? As I noted a moment ago, the beautiful part is that someone all of this stupid shit they did to each other gets lost because they start creating actual music and maybe achieve what they hoped to achieve at long last -- you can see it change from hatred and competition of each other to something more pure and real until they are working together in synergy. Their pettiness shifts to an unbridled joy, all their ugliness is forgotten, they've transcended it.
If I had any gripe about Whiplash, it's more about premise. Did Charlie Parker really almost get his head knocked off by a cymbal? (I read the anecdote was hyperbolized.) And is abusing your students actually the best way to make them better musicians? Is having them fearful of making mistakes actually going to perfect them, or is it going to discourage them? The premise thus is debatable and potentially deceitful.
there was actually a decent amount of Jazz in "La La Land," but it's more when there's jazz performances going on in the clubs (such as the ending), not the bulk of the movie's music which is more the winsome or happy stuff harkening back to old song and dance movies or the stuff that John Legend was doing. It was also undermined by the fact that Gosling and Stone are not great singers (Gosling's pretty bad, Stone is okay when the instrumentation isn't covering up the nice parts of her voice); they are far better actors; still, I read Gosling did all his own piano work just as Teller did his own drumming in Whiplash, and he did much better on the keys than his singing.
Some of the story and movie didn't feel as strong, and there was a weird imbalance in the relationship that is so typical in gendered culture -- Sebastian never really came to see her at all, while Mia saw many of Seb's performances, he seemed to compartmentalize his life far more (he's with Mia or he's with his music, while for Mia, she's with Seb AND his music and wanting him to be part of her art).
Still, there are some good moments, and you start to realize the movie has some similarities to Whiplash -- it's about the cost of dreams. You might have these glossy brightly colored dreams, but the reality of getting there is about a lot of slog and discouragement and then what you are willing to sacrifice along the way. This is why the ending left me in tears (something Moonlight didn't do, although I think Moonlight is a more consistent movie)... you get a glimpse of the Might-Have-Been's of life, the hopes and flashy colorful fantasies we all indulge ourselves with... and then are left comparing them to the reality of achieving our dreams. What does success even look like? It doesn't compare with our fantasy success. It's kind of a wake-up call.