Posts Tagged ‘La La Land’

Just Enjoying the Rainbow of Flavors

March 27, 2017

I had mentioned it before but I was baffled recently by the Academy Awards. The Oscars were always something my family watched year after year, with us little kids trying to stay up to see who won Best Picture. I guess it did not matter that most nominees for that category were not movies for kids. Also, we had not seen even a quarter of the nominees because we were too young and our parents picked movie outings and controlled our Blockbuster accounts. As I grew up, I was content to just read the results in the paper the next day and then online nowadays.


This should not be a source of stress. Seriously.

I am behind on watching movies so I was largely lost when it came to a lot of the nominees. I watched La La Land after the fact recently and I really enjoyed it. Maybe it was because the central message resonated with the trajectory my life has taken. Of course, many people thought La La Land also thought La La Land was a good movie. I also heard that Moonlight was very good but I have not watched it yet. Yet, my twitter feed was filled with people frothing mad at the very idea that La La Land might “beat” Moonlight at the Oscars. Now, the Academy has its problems with race and The Other in general but that is not La La Land’s fault. The people who made La La Land tried to make a good movie and apparently succeeded.


Nobody got upset about Danny Rand in Ultimate Spider-Man. Did they?

Flash forward to last week when Iron Fist came out. People had already been upset because of the casting of a white person in a white role instead of taking a chance and recasting the role to be Asian. I can understand this but I was fine with the casting either way. I feel like this colored the opinions of people going forward and possibly tainted their opinion of the show. As I have stated, I really like Iron Fist so far (and I have since watched more episodes). It is not the best show but it is a good show, in my opinion.


I do understand that it is fun to poke fun at media. Keep it lighthearted, ok?

I love movies and television. I really, really do. I am sure you can tell from Media Update and my movie reviews. You might be able to tell from my Top 11 lists that I like some movies better than other movies. However, I have recently shifted my policy on movies and TV. For the most part, I do not say whether a movie is good or bad. Now, I usually say whether or not I enjoyed it or whether or not I would recommend it. I hate it when somebody says the movie I loved sucked because it feels like they are saying my preferences suck. It is not a crime for a movie or TV show to be not as good or different from something else that is good.


Considering my two examples, I avoid using the word ‘Vanilla’ below.

I feel like people are getting irrationally mad about things. It is like there is a kid at the ice cream shoppe and he/she/they are tired of chocolate ice cream. They ask for strawberry ice cream because strawberry ice cream tastes good but is strangely rare and supporting it is important to keep it going. Then, as they are enjoying their strawberry ice cream, they see people happily eating chocolate ice cream and that makes them mad. If they are tired of chocolate ice cream, why should anybody enjoy it? Because I like a lot of flavors of ice cream and sometimes I really get excited about chocolate ice cream because I like it. So, please do not put down my ice cream and I will not put down yours and maybe we can just enjoy things instead of making it a big problem.

Media Update 3/16/2017

March 16, 2017


La La Land

Yes, it is the movie that became controversial in comparison to another movie this year. People turned on this movie pretty quickly when the Academy said they liked it. Anyway, all of the controversy made me want to watch this movie even more than I already did. I like musicals and I like Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone so it was probably something I would eventually see anyway. The movie is kind of a throwback to musicals like Singing in The Rain and Melody of Broadway 1936. Of course, those old musicals always had a happy ending. This movie goes out of its way to tell a story where everything is not wrapped up in a little bow. As the movie started, I was not immediately impressed. The movie crept into my heart as it continued and then it set up shop. I loved the jazz score and original songs. I always love Emma Stone and she was great in this. Her depiction of the audition process for theater (and television and film) is definitely what I heard from my colleagues in the theater. The story was definitely about her but Gosling’s story was also important and he was great as a miserable jerk. Both stories were about what you put up with to achieve your dream. I definitely recommend it as it was nominated for a lot of awards for good reason.


Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I first heard about the star of this show (Rachel Bloom) when she lent her voice to a Starbomb album a while ago as the singing voice of Princess Peach. I had not heard of her before but I thought she was a great singer with a good sense of humor. Flash forward to a year and a half ago when I saw that this show was a thing. I read the premise and dismissed the show as not my thing and moved on. Recently, Kate Leth started watching the show and tweeted about it and I was intrigued and decided to try it. The show is about a top-earning lawyer who meets her ex-boyfriend from when she was fourteen and has a crisis moment where she realizes she is not happy in her life. She decides to chase her ex across the country to California. The premise sounded kind of trashy and weird but the show is very self-aware. The character realizes how crazy she may be and the show is more about more than its premise. It is also a musical comedy that likes to address the realities of being a woman in the modern world. For me, a lot of the humor comes from how deep into the crazy Bloom’s character digs and then how hard she has to work to dig out of it. The characters are both likable but also terrible people who end up being a lot of fun. I definitely recommend it.


Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Marilyn Monroe is a famous figure mostly for the worst reasons. She was an outrageous woman with real problems but also amazing victories. Until Monday, I had never actually seen her act in anything. I had heard the recording of Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend (which comes from this movie) but I had not seen her act. I had seen more parodies of her acting. In this movie, she adopts a very breathy acting style. Her character is a sweet girl who happens to be obsessed with money but is not a bad person. She comes off as dumb but is actually very intelligent when it comes to certain circumstances. Jane Russell contrasts as a very brassy woman who constantly speaks her mind and defends her ‘dumb blonde’ friend. The two of them are very funny together with consistently clever wordplay, great singing and funny line deliveries. The movie is supposed to be PG but, if you read between the lines, it flies a lot of stuff past the censors. After watching it, I can definitely see why people champion Monroe as an actress and why people kept working with her despite her difficult reputation. I definitely recommend it.

Music of the Week:
The Agonist – Business Suits and Combat Boots

Michelle Branch – Best You Ever

Meghan Trainor – Me Too

Nina Hagen – Smack Jack

Indigo Girls – Closer to Fine

Weekly Update:
– This week’s theme is “Musicals Centered on Women”
– I watched more Haven Season 5
– I watched more Blue Bloods Season 3
– I kept watching The Magicians Season 2
– I watched some more of The Crown
– I watched some old and new Conan
– I liked Amy Schumer: The Leather Special
– 3/16 says I just watched some stuff

Stage Management

March 6, 2017

I was thinking about the big snafu at the end of the Oscars recently. I did not watch the most recent Academy Awards and several of the ones before that. Awards shows generally do not interest me because I can get the same experience in a much shorter timespan by reading snippets of speeches and watching clips the next day. Of course, since I was online at the time, it was nearly impossible to avoid Oscars talk on my twitter feed. As of today, I have only seen one of the ten movies that were nominated for Best Picture and I will talk about that on Thursday. I have seen neither La La Land or Moonlight. I heard that both were good but a lot of people seemed to vilify La La Land for some reason.


The real villain in this story.

Of course, people were even angrier at the flub of announcing the wrong winner for Best Picture at the end of the night. However, never attribute to malice what you can attribute to ignorance. From what I have heard from various articles that I have read, the wrong winner was announced because the presenters of the award (Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty) were given the wrong envelope by the accountants that keep the envelopes safe. Which most likely means either the accountants or the company that prints the contents of the envelopes are to blame. It was a confusing moment to be sure but it seems like everybody eventually stumbled through it.


When the accountants froze, the stage manager leaped into action.

Who is the biggest hero in this story? As far as I can tell, it is the stage manager. They quickly realized something was wrong and informed the assembled producers of La La Land. To their credit, the La La Land crew were very professional and gracious about the mistake. Also, the crew of Moonlight was also very gracious about the mistake and even praised La La Land later on. It reminded me of all the times that I had to scramble to make something right as a stage manager during my brief career in theater. It is so important for the backstage crew to be on top of things. It is equally important for the performers to be as professional as possible.


The mantle is a heavy one.

I never became a professional stage manager. I worked as a stage manager in community theater and college. Those experiences made me want to be a professional stage manager but my first and last job in the field swiftly turned me into a designer instead. I was actually glad for it because stage managers have it rough. The worst experiences I had were when I worked with the now defunct Baltimore Opera Company. Actors are generally pretty chill individuals but opera stars can be a special kind of crazy. I once tried to wrangle a crazy Canadian who literally threw a tantrum at the end of rehearsal. I also was part of a costume meeting with a female singer who took one look at her dress and refused to wear it. Ever.


I miss these guys.

But, like I said, most performers are pretty cool. There was a French singer I worked with who did not speak English. I used a few Italian words I knew to communicate with him and he would smile and be the nicest guy in the world. I worked with a ton of interesting guys and gals in high school, college and beyond who I still remember fondly. My favorite will always be my friend Bill who unfortunately died young of cancer a few years ago. He was a bright ball of energy who listened to Christmas music all year long and was basically a living muppet. When I worked with him as a designer after college, he was something I looked forward to every day. Later, I looked forward to hanging with him and his comedy team partner Scotty.

While I left the theater a while ago, I still carry the lessons with me. It is important to stay on top of things and get along with everybody. Nobody loves to work with a diva. The collaborative work prepared me to work with others in other jobs I have had. Remember to use every experience you have had as you move forward. Oh and also don’t blame La La Land for somebody else’s silly mistake.


susanne matthews

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