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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Eurovision 2015

Music

Hello!

Some of you may know that I live in Europe, so this post shouldn’t come as a shocker, although, now you can live in Australia and be a part of Europe. Anyway, I am a huge Eurovision fan, I have always watched it as a kid, but I remember 2005 being the year that peaked my interest the most and that interest never diminished. You want proof – read last year’s coverage of Eurovision 2014.

To begin with, I believe that Eurovision allowed me to get to know so many artists that I wouldn’t have know otherwise,. I listen to pretty much only US and UK musicians, so Eurovision broadens my musical taste and cultural perspective.

This years contest, to my mind, was the best of the decade song wise. I have never had so many favorites. So, my top 7 songs were from:

  1. Sweden 
  2. Belgium
  3. Estonia
  4. Latvia
  5. Russia
  6. Denmark (they weren’t in the final)
  7. Australia

Other countries which had good songs were Romania, Georgia, The Netherlands, Greece, Belarus, Hungary, Austria, Norway, Israel, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Poland. – I warned you, I had a lot of favorites:) This year also had a variety of different types of songs: some were really fun and happy while others spoke about serious issues.

The inclusion of Australia, in honor of this being the 60th Eurovision and because of the fact that Eurovision is very popular in Australia, was a very nice touch.

The winner was Sweden and that’s one of a few times when my favorite song wins. The last time this happened was in 2012 when Loreen won -also from Sweden.

My own country finished in the 18th place, despite quite an extensive media coverage on my country’s representatives. The 3 kisses didn’t help and they just sparked a lot of fights in the comment section of a variety of articles. However, our song This Time was definitely the best entry we ever had. I was really happy that other Baltic States did so well – Latvia and Estonia finished in 6th and 7th place respectively.

Austria  did a great job as a host country.The stage looked unbelievably great. I am just sad that they didn’t got any points and finished in the last place together with Germany. The motto Building Bridges was also a cool one.

Eurovision being a political contest as much as it is a musical contest, the voting didn’t surprise but infuriated me. When are we going to stop voting for our neighbors and when are we actually going to vote for the songs and not for the countries? With all the developments with Russia and Ukraine, I am shocked that Russia did so well. The song definitely deserved the 2nd place, but I have no idea how it got it.

To sum up, Eurovision Song Contest 2015 was a fairly good one. Nothing really surprised me, except the quality of the songs. I got a chance to add some new songs to my playlist, refreshing it before summer starts. Rate 4/5

Have a great week!

Loreen concert

Music

Hello!

Welcome to another blog post covering the topic of live music! I will link all the similar post down bellow but now, let’s get on with my latest musical experience!

On Friday night (24th of April), I went to Swedish singer’s Loreen concert in my native city of Kaunas. Loreen isn’t a huge global start, I believe that European audiences are more well antiquated with her than the rest of the world. The reason for this is the fact that Loreen won the Eurovision Song Contest 3 years ago – in 2012 and since Eurovision isn’t really popular anywhere outside of Europe (well, maybe except Australia), consequently, Loreen isn’t poplar internationally too.

I’ve never really listened to her music much. I knew only her Eurovison winning song Euphoria by heart because I and my girlfriends used to sing it on road trips but that was pretty much it. She had a hit in my country called We Got the Power but I, personally, didn’t listen to it much. However, since the tickets to her concert were quite cheap (definitely the cheapest ones out of every concert I’ve ever attended), I decided to give her music another chance.

Before going to the live show, I’ve listened to her album Heal from 2013 a couple of times and really enjoyed a few songs. These would be Crying Out Your Name, Every time and Breaking Robot. She also released a single Paper-light in 2014 and the revisited version of it in 2015 – I enjoyed that one quite a lot too!

Anyway, enough of me rambling about stuff that nobody cares about. How was the concert? IT WAS AMAZING. Her voice is magical! I have never heard any singer sound so good while singing live. Her voice is so strong and the things she could do with it: go high, drop low and then go back to high again. Her stage presence is also unbelievable: she dances, jumps, goes crazy and completely frees herself and still manages to communicate with the crowd and find connection with the every single member of the audience. Her energy is contagious!!

I was standing in a front row, so I had a perfect view of the stage! Only around 3000 people were attending the concert, though, when she came out on stage for the 3rd time to sing Euphoria one more time, the first few rows, consisting mainly of young adults, were screaming  and singing so loudly that it sounded like at least 5000 people were in attendance.

I am really happy that I chose to attend her concert ! I had a wonderful time and would definitely be present at her concert again. Videos from the show: my favorite song – Crying Out Your Name and Eurovision winner – Euphoria (2nd performance of it).

Oh, one last note: the opening act of the show was Lithuanian singer Vaidas Baumila. I am not a fan of his because I don’t listen to practically any Lithuanian singers but his warm-up act was quote nice. Moreover, Baumila will represent Lithuania in this year’s Eurovision so it was only appropriate that he would open for Loreen.

Bellow you will find a few photos from the event taken by me!

Bye!

My concert coverage: Kylie Minogue | OneRepublic | Enrique Iglesias | Ed Sheeran | Eurovision 2014 

              

Ed Sheeran concert| Vilnius Siemens Arena, Lithuania| February 15th, 2015

Music

Hi!

I feel like I am starting all of my blog posts with an apology. Yes, I said I would blog daily and failed again. Yes, I’m sorry. Yes, I will try to fix my time management issues and will post more. Someday. Anyway, let’s move on, shall we?

So, last Sunday (February 15th), I traveled to Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, once again to attend another concert! This time I went to Ed Sheeran’s acoustic performance! The only acoustic show I have ever been to before this one was Lana Del Rey’s concert a few years ago. I had a great time back then and even better time now!

A couple of hours before the arena was due to open its doors, there had already been a massive line of people! I came at around 5 pm., the doors opened at 6.30 pm and the concert started at about 7.30 pm. I usually stand much closer to the stage than at Ed’s concert. I guess he has bigger fans than me;) although, I still stood in line for almost 2 hours, then for 2 hours inside the venue and for almost 3 hours during the live performance. Best workout ever.

But back to the concert: firstly, Ryan Keen took to the stage to open the show. His songs were really nice and interested me to get to know more about him. Ryan communicated with the crowd nicely too. I especially liked his last song, the cover of Bruno Mars’s Uptown Funk (I have a personal connection to this song because it brings warm memories of my senior prom). Video of the performance.

At around 9pm Ed Sheeran started his set-list. I don’t know how can he sound better live than when recorded.! Ed sang both his older hits from + and newest songs from X. He also did Stevie Wonder’s and Iggy Azalea’s covers. Talk about versatility!
Probably my favorite song of his is Drunk (video of the performance). But I also love Sing, I See Fire (I also love The Hobbit series and that song was featured in the movie), One, and The Lego House (video).

I was quite sad that he didn’t perform All of the Stars from TFIOS. Nonetheless, I had a superb time and would definitely like to attend his concert one more time in the future.

Of course, I bought a poster to commemorate this event on my bedroom walls. Picture of it bellow:

IMG_3658Next concert I am thinking about attending is Swedish singer’s and 2012 Eurovision winner’s Loreen concert in my hometown during the month of April. Until next time. Bye!

P.S. Posts about my other concert experiences: Kylie Minogue| OneRepublic| Enrique Iglesias

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Enrique Iglesias: Sex and Love Tour 2014 in Lithuania, Kaunas

Music

Hello!

Sorry for not posting for a few weeks. I was extremely busy with the preparations for the IELTS exam and, frankly, I didn’t have any interesting stuff to blog about. I didn’t want to publish posts which I wasn’t 100% behind.

Anyway, on Tuesday, December 2nd I went to Enrique Iglesias concert! I didn’t plan to attend it, however, a few weeks back I had my friend over and we were watching MTV all night and Enrique’s songs would come up constantly, so, after this, I decided that I needed to be at that show! I had been a huge fan of Iglesias when I was like 9 to 13 years old. Tired of Being Sorry was my jam and go-to song for a couple of years . I was really pleased when he performed it live. We also listened to hits like Hero, Escape, Taking Back My Love, Bailamos and new songs from his 10th studio album Sex and Love.

The show was really amazing, although, Enrique was late for hour and a half. But the songs and the energy he put into the performance exceeded my expectations! He communicated with fans, asked to sing with him, invited one lucky guy from the audience to join him on stage and even jumped into the crowd! I had a great time and even saw him from a 1 meter distance. In order to get a spot that close to the stage, I had to spend 3 hours waiting in line. But it’s not the first time that I queue in line for hours to be in the front, so I have gotten used to it.

Overall, I hope that Enrique will be back soon because I would really like to see him in concert once again. He visited Lithuania for the first time in 2007 and this was his second time performing in my country. He also uploaded a photo from that night’s show with the caption: best show of the tour so far!! Both he and 1R think that LT crowds are wild, loving and grateful! I have bought a poster as usually and commemorated this event on my bedroom wall.
What concerts have you attended recently!? Bye!!

Bellow you will find a few photos that I’ve taken.
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Sightseeing: Turkey

Sightseeing

Hello!

I hope that you are having a great Monday wherever you live. Currently, it is Monday evening in Lithuania and I am relaxing after a long hard day at school. The school stuff wasn’t really that hard but I am also sick, I have a cold and terrible headache so that certainly didn’t add anything nice to my day.

But enough of my ranting, let’s get on with a blog post. Today, I am going to tell you about my holidays in Turkey from October 2013.Since it was almost a year ago, I am sorry if I don’t remember all the details.

We started our journey in Vilnius airport. There, on a cold Monday morning we boarded a Small planet travel agency plane which took us to Antalya – one of the biggest resort cities in Turkey. Turkey’s culture is so different than Lithuania’s: there are people everywhere, they are selling stuff just on the street and they are shouting really loudly. Everything is colorful and the smells of fresh fruits are mixing with traffic fumes. It was a lot to take in at first. I wasn’t staying in Antalya. My hotel – La Mer Art – was in Goynuk – a small village near Kemer. A short bus trip took me and my parents there and when we finally got checked into a hotel it was already dinner time.

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The food was amazing. You could choose form several different cuisines, diet or vegetarian tables. And the sweets! They are so sweet, even too sweet for my taste. The same evening we wondered around for a bit and went to the beach to see how the moon was hovering above the Mediterranean Sea.

The next morning, after a very late and filling breakfast we went to the beach, sunbathed, swam and went diving until lunch. After lunch we were laying by the pool and just relaxing after yesterday’s flight. Around 4-5 o’clock when it have already gotten pretty cold (The sun would go over the mountains and the temperature would fall down about 10 degrees Celsius) me and my dad would go to the gym and exercise for a few hours (Work out until all the calories of those sweets are burned) and then go to the tennis court for a quick match. My mom would go enjoy the hotel’s spa or read a book by the pool.

After dinner, my family and another family of our friends which we were travelling with would sit in a bar or in lounge area which was filled with Russian tourists mostly. The animation team of the hotel was amazing; there were always something to do or an interesting performance to watch in the evening.

I pretty much spent all my week the same way I spent my first day. But we also visited nearby Kemer city and walked around for a bit, bought some national Turkey sweets – Turkish delight (lokum) to bring home and I also bought some commemorative postcards (photo below). (Be careful while shopping in Turkey – they like to sell a lot of fake designers’ stuff!) Plus, we also visited the Goynuk village where our hotel was situated, tasted some traditional Turkish kebab. One morning we woke up really early and went to see how the sun was rising from the sea. We also went on a water motorbike ride which was super fun and exciting.

The surrounding nature and view was astonishing. We stayed near Taurus Mountains, so you would walk out into hotel’s garden and see the sea on one side and mountains on the other side. There were also a lot of palm trees and colorful flowers as well.

I was really sad to leave Turkey. It was the best holiday’s I ever had and I definitely want to come back there again.

MTV Video Music Awards 2014

Music

A while ago, I did a short review of MTV Movie Awards and decided to do the same for VMAS 2014. I was planning to do review of Teen Choice Awards 2014 but there was just too much drama surrounding TCAs and Team Internet and I thought that my blog post would just turn into an angry rant.

I wasn’t amazed by this award show, I don’t say it was bad but I still had a lot of problems with it. First of all, there was nothing new – they are saying that they will shock us but it is the same show every year. Might be that I have seen just too many shows like this and I am not easily surprised.

Second of all, I had a huge problem with the outfits of all stars and overall image that they are creating. Man and women are putting so much on sexiness that it turns into raunchiness. Females in particular present themselves as these over sexualized beings that think that nudity equals sexiness. (Not just in performance outfits but in red carpet dresses as well) Beyoncé, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea are just a few of them. Even Ariana Grande, who used to be this cutesy good girl, now turned into …I don’t even know what to call her. Her red carpet look seemed very tacky and not classy at all. At least the signature pony tail is still there. However, I agree that in this way all of these stars are showing their confidence and encouraging young women to dress however they like and be proud of who they are. Nonetheless, I believe that there are other ways to do that. You don’t need to walk around almost naked to feel confident and love yourself.

Favorite performance – Taylor Swift’s first live performance of her new song –Shake it off. At first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the song but now it grew on me. I will probably be blasting it out loud half of autumn. I also liked Beyoncé’s performance because she is freakin’ Beyoncé, that why. But I wish she would put less attention to sexiness as well. Her whole new album is about that, except Pretty Hurts – that is the song with an amazing message. I loved how Jay Z brought Blue Ivy on stage and presented Beyoncé with an award – it was heartbreaking in a good way to see Beyoncé tear up on stage from joy of that moment.

Also, did you see Nicki Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction? She did not have enough time to change from that jungle outfit into black dress and had to use her hands to cover herself. I wish she would have put that black dress on properly because I wanted to see it whole– it looked kinda nice to me, sexy but not too much.

I also like to mention that I love that they are including Team Internet more and more. Some youtubers are working on the red carpet (Tyler Oakley and Ingrid Nelson) and others are also attending.

Miley Cyrus also did a good job with her acceptance speech. Huge difference since last year’s VMAs.

Best dressed:

Females: I liked the looks of Becky G, Holland Roden and Kesha – stylish but not too revealing.

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Males: I liked the style of Greg Sulkin (can’t wait for Faking It to be back) and my queen Tyler Oakley.

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Also – did you see Katy Perry’s nod to the past? It was super fun to see her embracing the denim

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I am sorry that this post is so long, I guessed I had a lot to say. Have a great last week of summer wherever you are!