Movie review: La La Land

Movie reviews

Hello!

Today, I had a chance to see the current awards front-runner – the film La La Land – so let’s review it! I have read a lot of emotional (both positive and negative) tweets about it in my feed these past few weeks, but, as usual, I decided to make up my own mind by watching it.

IMDb summary: A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

I would like to begin by saying that La La Land is very much an indie picture – it won’t please the majority of the mainstream audiences and it certainly didn’t appeal to the majority of the people at my screening, who were complaining throughout the whole runtime. Despite their actions, I took La La Land for what it was – a niche musical about Hollywood – and had a great time watching it.

Writing

La La Land was written by Damien Chazelle, who also directed the picture. Chazelle is best known for directing and writing 2014’s awards winner Whiplash, but he also wrote the recent 10 Cloverfield Lane. I, personally, found La La Land’s story to be interesting. It wasn’t the most original but it was executed quite well. I, as a fan of cinema, have always enjoyed movies set in LA and Hollywood. Musicals have also always been my guilty pleasure genre. La La Land combined both of these things in a more successful way than Hail, Caesar – another recent film about Hollywood that featured some musical numbers. Lastly, I loved all the homages in La La Land, especially, the Rebel Without a Cause recreation.

Thematically, the film was also quite good. The character development was great as well – the two leads appeared as fully rounded and real characters. I saw some complaints saying that the lead female character was really unlikeable. To my mind, firstly, the characters don’t necessarily have to be likable to interesting. Secondly, I thought that not only the female lead but the male lead had some qualities that made them unlikeable. Besides, real people aren’t always likable too, so why should then the movie characters be over-idealized versions of us? I though that the main pair’s relationship had its ups and downs and that both individuals involved were damaged as well as rewarded by it. She might not have gotten to fulfill her dreams without him but neither would he have reached his goals without her. Not surprisingly, one of my favorite scenes from the writing perspective was their argument over dinner – it had great timing and a lot of emotional weight. Overall, I did enjoy the message of the film, so dream big because somebody has to.

Directing

For the most part, I really enjoyed La La Land’s directing. I loved the mixture of the long tracking shots and the speedy montages. I liked the upbeat energy of it, the dreamy atmosphere, the colorful pallet as well as the beautiful settings and the whole mise-en-scene. However, I think that the picture’s pace was a bit uneven and that the film was a tiny bit too long.

My biggest problem with La La Land was the fact that the movie was confused about its genre. Maybe this was an intentional decision and if so, I don’t think that this particular blend of genres worked. La La Land, at times, was a realistic, grounded, quite modern film, close to a drama. However, a few scenes later, it would very much remind of a filmed theater performance – the levels of overdramatization would go through the roof. This would happen a lot during the musical numbers, which sometimes made the movie seem like a live TV special, like Grease: Live! and Hairspray: Live! I wish the filmmakers would have picked one direction and followed it: either make La La Land into a fully modern or a fully traditional musical.

So, even though La La Land didn’t reach the quality of Singing in the Rain, it still had some pretty enjoyable sequences. A couple of my favorites were all the times when Ryan Gosling’s character played the main theme of the film. I also really like Gosling’s and Stone’s interaction during the ‘I ran’ performance. The dream sequence was also lovely and looked visually stunning. I liked The Messengers’ gig scene too. However, my favorite sequence was the dance with the city’s skyline in the background. 

Music

Justin Hurwitz was responsible for the soundtrack and I think he did a neat job. Although I’m not the biggest fan of jazz, I did appreciate its tunes and all the nostalgia surrounding them in this film. Other songs were beautiful as well but not catchy in that pop-music kinda way. Nevertheless, City of Stars is a magnificent song.

Acting

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone made for a great lead duo. Their chemistry was amazing as usual, as this was not the first time they worked together – they have also started in Crazy, Stupid, Love (one of my favorite romantic comedies) and a passable thriller Gangster Squad. Both of the actors did a good job with their singing – theirs were not the best singing performances I’ve seen in a film but they weren’t the worst either. I absolutely loved the dancing, though. I don’t know if the two of them are going to win any big awards in the acting category but I could definitely spot a few scenes that were included in their awards reels. For Gosling, it could have been any of the piano playing scenes, while for Stone it was most likely the audition storytelling/singing sequence.

A few of my favorite Stone’s film are Easy A, Magic in the Moonlight, Irrational Man, and Birdman. Going forward, she has a sport’s comedy Battle of the Sexes listed for next year. Gosling’s best film are Blue Valentine, Drive, The Big Shortand The Nice Guys. He will star in the Blade Runner sequel next year.

The film’s supporting cast didn’t have much to do in the film, but I’d like to mention two individuals who stood out. First one was, of course, well-known singer John Legend – has was great. The second one – J.K.Simmons – it was nice of him to cameo in a different movie by Chazelle as Whiplash earned Simmons an Academy Award and it was nice of Chazelle to include him in the film for the same reason.

To conclude, La La Land was a gorgeous looking film with a nice story, lovely performances, and great music. However, I can’t recommend it as a must-watch as I think that only a very open minded audience would enjoy it. With musicals, like this one, you just have to go with everything and do not find the random bursting out into song moments awkward or uncomfortable.

Rate: 4/5

Trailer: La La Land trailer

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Movie review: Pitch Perfect 2

Movie reviews

Hello!

I’ve just came out of the theater after seeing the new Pitch Perfect 2 film, so this is going to be my review.

If you live under a rock and don’t know what Pitch Perfect is, it’s a musical comedy which came out in 2012 and became a huge sleeper hit. I really enjoyed the first film and I am also a huge Anna Kendrick fan, so I was really excited about the sequel.

IMDb Summary: After a humiliating command performance at Lincoln Center, the Barden Bellas enter an international competition that no American group has ever won in order to regain their status and right to perform.

Directing

Elizabeth Banks directed her first feature film and did a great job. I loved the visuals of all the performances, especially the finale one.

Story

The plot was slow at first and the set up seemed a bit weak. However, the movie really found its pace by the end of it, the same way the Bellas found their harmony.

The jokes sometimes were really awkward but that good kind of awkward. The kind of awkward that I am very familiar in my own personal life.

The emotions hit me hard 2 times. When the Bellas sang When I’m Gone by the fire and during the finale Flashlight performance of the generations. They really emphasized the importance of friendship in this film. Also, I liked how they dealt with the issue of saying goodbye and moving on. This theme is very close to me currently, because I am graduating from high school and probably moving abroad next year.

Youtubers

I really loved that they included some #TeamInternet talent. Flula was amazing in the film and I also really loved that Pentatonix cameo. If you want to know more about my love for YouTube, click here and here.

Acting

Everybody did a great job. I loved Anna Kendrick’s and Skylar Astin’s performances as always. Though, I loved that this time they focused on another couple, played by Adam Devine and Rebel Wilson. They were so quirky and perfectly imperfect. The newcomer Hailee Steinfeld also was a nice addition, I loved how they introduced the legacy of Bellas through the new bee. Hailee’s and Ben Platt’s characters’ relationship was super sweet too.

The Danish actress Birgitte Hjort Sorensen and the whole Das Sound Machine were epic. Though, their professionalism will never beat out the emotional appeal of the Bellas.

I love that the creators of the film found a way to bring back the Treblemakers – they are always welcomed.

Songs

I was surprised by how many songs I didn’t actually know. My favorite was probably the one playing during the end credits – Crazy Youngsters by Ester Deanvideo.

Setting

I enjoyed the fact that the World Championships were held in Copenhagen, Denmark. Often, when characters of the US movies travel to Europe, they only seem to know where London is.

Adds

The sneaky The Voice add during the end credits was a surpassing but tastefully touch. The first performance of the DSM at that car show was also the best product placement I have ever seen. Good job, Volkswagen!

To sum up, I really enjoyed this film and really hope that they make another sequel. Pitch Perfect 2 was the perfect relaxation device that I needed after my Writing Exam.

Rate 4/5

Trailer: Pitch Perfect 2 trailer

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Current favorite actor: Miles Teller

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Recently, I have been watching a lot of movies starting American actor Miles Teller and it gave me an idea to stars a new series of blog posts in which I will tell you about celebrities (actors, actresses, singers, models and etc.) which I currently like.

As it happens, the first star that I am going to talk about is Miles Teller. Miles is 27 year old actor who has been acting since 2004 but just recently started to get recognition for his work and consequently – more roles in movies. I have first seen him in Divergent and later in That Awkward Moment and have been blown away by his performance, so, I decided to see more movies starring him. I watched The Spectacular Now and Footloose (2011). The first one is an amazing coming of age drama (Miles won The Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting at the Sundance film festival in 2013 for his role in this movie) and the second – a fun remake of an 80s movie. He also had a minor role in Project X – found footage movie about a crazy party.

I admire Miles ability to be serious in one moment and funny the next. He is not a huge movie star for now but I believe that he has a long and successful career ahead of him. I can’t wait to for Insurgent (the second movie in the Divergent series) where he stars as Peter – main antagonist of the series. However, I believe that his ticket to stardom is Fantastic Four reboot which will come out in 2015 (next summer in particular). Miles is going to play Mr.Fantastic – leader of the pack. There hasn’t been much news about the film but as a die-hard Marvel fan I am really excited about it. I hope Fox doesn’t mess up this series as they did with the X-men (but they kind of fixed it with Days of Future Past so I am starting to have faith in them).

Before these two movies come out I am planning to check out Miles’ performance in comedy 21&Over, Two Night Stand, Get a Job (2015) and drama Whiplash and I invite you to do the same. He will also be in the next Divergent movie – Insurgent comes out in March 2015.

UPDATE: I’ve already watched two
comedies from that small list (21&Over and Two Night Stand). I laughed a lot during them and really enjoyed the performance of both casts. (In the first one, Miles was joined by Skylar Astin, Justin Chon and Jonathan Keltz. In the second, the cast included Analeigh Tipton (ANTM cycle 11) and Jessica Szohr).

UPDATE no. 2: Oh, how wrong I (and everyone) was about that Fantastic Four movie. If you haven’t seen it – DO NOT WATCH IT. It’s terrible.


Photos: Google Images

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Movie review: Step Up 5: All in + a look back to a whole franchise

Movie reviews

Hello!

Another group of movie reviews. Hope you enjoy it!

I have been introduced into Step Up world when I was 9 years old. I remember at that time watching the first Step Up (2006) and falling in love with it. I have seen it countless times and it was like my favorite movie of childhood. Now, as I grow older, I understand that these movies are far from perfect: storylines are really predictable and acting is not that great. However, dancing is badass and no one can argue with that. And let’s face – it is all what we need in a good Step Up movie.

As I said before, I have first seen Step Up (2006) when I was like 9 or 10 years old, my older neighbor who was 13 at that time showed it to me and I remember dancing with her all day after watching it. I liked Channing Tatum in it and I also believe that that story was the most original of them all. Rate 4.5/5

Step Up 2: The Streets (2008) focused more on street dancing and hip hop but most importantly it introduced us to Moose played by Adam Sevani. He acts like glue to this franchise like Agent Coulson is to Marvel Cinematic Universe. He is also my favorite character.  Going back to the movie, that final dance in the rain was my favorite dance number till Step Up 3D came up. Rate 4/5

Step Up 3D (2010) is my favorite step up movie story wise. It also has some sick dance numbers but then again, every Step Up movie that comes out is better than the last one and dance numbers are more kick-ass. I also loved the fact that they brought a lot of previous cast members for the third film and I was also really excited when they decided to do that in the 5th film as well. In addition, I really liked Alyson Stoner’s and Adam Sevani’s pair, their dance number in the street was super fun. My favorite part of the movie is the montage of preparation for the final battle in that game station basement. Rate 5/5

Step Up 4: Revolution (2012) is also a really fun movie which explores the theme of fighting for what is right. It also includes flash mobs which were so hot during 2012. My favorite parts are the dance in the museum and the dance in the office. Rate 5/5

Step Up 5: All in (2014). So, two years came by and we have another Step Up movie. I went to see it on an opening night so spoilers ahead if you don’t want to know anything about this film.  I liked that they brought all the previous cast members and that the main characters were are also well know (the girl (played by Briana Evigan) is from 2nd movie and a boy (played by Ryan Guzman) is from 4th). The whole movie felt like a reunion.

The plot seemed predictable at first but I liked the twist of The Mob turning against new team and then the twist at the end that it was all a scripted reality show. The character development was also better in this movie. We got some Andie’s back story, we also got to know what happened after the events of the 4th film to the Mob, and finally, we followed up on Camille’s and Moose’s love story. 

However, I got to say that, in my opinion, they ran out of ideas when it comes to dancing. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the performances, especially that Sean’s and Andie’s dance of the carousel in the old Vegas Park and Moose’s dance in the bar but they weren’t super fresh, new or exciting. I guess I have seen too many dance movies and previous 4 Step Up films did not do any favors to the choreography of this film. Moreover, since it is Vegas, everything became more about the show and less about the dancing and techniques. Lastly, I would like to mention two little aspects of the movie which I really enjoyed: Robot love and Twin dancers! Rate 4/5

All in all, my favorite Step Up movies are 3rd and 4th, then comes the original movie from 2006 and then The Streets and 5th film are my least favorite. If they make a sequel I will probably watch it, but be less excited. Hope you have a great evening. Bye!

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Outdoor music-opera festival+#OOTD

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Hello everybody!

On July 5th, I and my parents had some nice family time at music festival. But is not your traditional Coachella type festival – it was an opera and classical music festival. Sounds boring? Well, actually it wasn’t boring at all.

I enjoyed this event particularly because I like classical music. I love contemporary pop music too, but I don’t cringe like so many youngsters do when they hear classical tones. 

This was 13th international outdoor opera festival.(Operetta festival – http://www.operetta.lt/?lang=en). The location were it was held was also really special – a historical Kaunas Castle. Around 120 artists (singers, dancers, musicians, actors) came from 6 countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Estonia, US and Lithuania) and entertained huge crowds of people (around 5000) two evenings in a row. I was so excited to hear my favorite songs from West Side Story and Sound of Music musicals come to life once again. 

Bellow I put a little video together with parts of performances from the festival.

Since it’s a fashion blog let’s speak about what I was wearing. I put on my favorite long skirt and tribal print sleeveless collar shirt. I think that this shirt is perfect for festival fashion because it has this hippy vibe, but a long skirt keeps the whole outfit classical and appropriate for opera. Shoes: floral black and light brown sling-backs. Accessories: my favorite sunglasses and rings from H&M.Also, a coin necklace from Berlin. You can practically find all these things in my favorites/must-haves post. (Posting it tomorrow).

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You will find more photos from the event in the gallery bellow: