Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land (2016)

La La Land: A Bittersweet Love Letter to Old Hollywood

Since its premiere at Venice Film Festival, La La Land has been everywhere, and for good reason. Directed by Damien Chazelle (of the Oscar-winning Whiplash), La La Land is like a giant love letter to Old Hollywood musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and An American in Paris. With fantastic original music, tributes to classic films from the 1940s-1960s, and a charming duo with great chemistry, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that La La Land has been nominated for Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards—and I have no doubt we’ll see it at the 89th Academy Awards, too. Continue reading “La La Land: A Bittersweet Love Letter to Old Hollywood”

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling star in The Nice Guys, an action comedy from Shane Black -- a writer-director who's long shown a fondness for sending up L.A. noir

The Nice Guys: Crowe and Gosling Are a Hilarious Combo

Shane Black films have a similar structure—neo-noir thriller mixed with “odd couple” comedy. Think Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon, Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans in The Last Boy Scout, or Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, all of which written and/or directed by Black. Basically, if you liked those movies, you’re going to enjoy The Nice Guys. Continue reading “The Nice Guys: Crowe and Gosling Are a Hilarious Combo”

Christian Bale in The Big Short

The Big Short: Educational or Condescending?

“Is this trying to be educational or condescending?” is what I kept asking myself during The Big Short. Because it’s got this weird (to borrow the term from A.V. Club) edu-tainment way of storytelling. Think heist-like comedy of going against “the man” mixed with docudrama exposing Wall Street for its shitty ways. I think that’s where a lot of my issues stem from with this movie. I can’t tell if it’s being informative or talking down to me. Continue reading “The Big Short: Educational or Condescending?”