La La Land, Moonlight, and Hidden Figures

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First of all, I’m feeling better today. Sleep and a quiet morning does wonders.  It’s a blessing to not have a heavy coarse load this semester- especially right now when I’m juggling graduate school applications and ballroom practices.

We have a practice showing for our Winter performance on Saturday, so everyone (including me) is scrambling to get their pieces together. I have four practices today, but things are coming together.

So the best thing to do in these times of stress is to suit up and put on some blood-red lipstick (Snow White by NYX?). As Chanel said, “If you’re sad, add some more lipstick and attack.”  So I have a leather dress (so proud I zipped it up the back all by me lonesome), leather riding boots, a severe side part and low bun, and the life-affirming fragrance, Oud by Maison Francis Kurkdjian.  You know you’ve put on the right fragrance when you wake yourself up and think “Yes, that’s who I am today.”

It’s amazing I have any time to watch movies at all- and the past few days I’ll admit that I haven’t.  But since Oscar nominations came out yesterday, and in preparation of discussing them, I want to give a short catalogue of my thoughts on a few of the most buzzed about nominees.  I’ve seen a lot of other movies from 2016 (not as many as I would like) and in the Oscars post, whenever I get to it, I’ll make sure to mention the ones that didn’t get enough consideration.

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Moonlight FIRST, because I have the fewest thoughts:
Moonlight is a gorgeous and poignant film.  It’s an exploration of the human condition and spirit, the development of one man over a lifetime.  It’s not entertainment.  It was beautiful, but I wouldn’t watch it again.  It is very sad.  Mahershala Ali did a fantastic job with his role though his time onscreen was short.  Ashton Sanders, who played the teenage main character Chiron, also did an excellent job and should be getting more credit than he is.  And an unpopular opinion: I think Naomi Harris’s turn as Chiron’s crack-addict but eventually regretful mother was overacted.  Credit to the makeup department though. can’t be easy to make Naomi Harris look like a crack addict.

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Hidden Figures:
My dad needs to watch this because he loves math and space.  When I was little we used to launch model rockets together for funsies.  That is, until he launched my beautiful and beloved pink rocket into the Boston Harbor. No Dad, I will never let you live it down.
The movie is pretty excellent and I’m glad to see so much success coming to a film that has a diverse/non-white cast.  But I’m still unsatisfied.  The movie still falls into the trope of white people helping out African Americans a little too frequently, for which we can blame the all-white direction.  I get that it can be hard for white people, myself included, to refrain from congratulating their race for the few times in history they’ve not acted awful.  But that one man is a hero because he finally realizes Taraji has to go a mile to use a colored restroom after he berates her in front of his entire white male staff while she’s rain-soaked? You go, oblivious asshole who takes someone else’s humanity into account when to do otherwise would be exceedingly inefficient for you! UGH.  He’s not a hero, people! He eventually gets to be a decent human being for a few seconds (if you can call it that when his decent actions are driven by mercenary motivations) after way too long a time of being an ass.  And that’s not the only time this sort of thing happens in the movie! Like that white Holocaust survivor telling Jangle Monae she can be an engineer if she wants!  SHUT UP pseudo-inspiring white man! UGH. Anyway, not sure why Octavia Spencer is getting all of the Oscar love. She did a fantastic job but I thought Jangle Monae and Taraji P. Henson both put in better performances.

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La La Lame Land:
Oooh, am I going to be crucified?  I might.  Loving La La Land is a popular position, and I don’t want to be a hipster about it, but I find La La Land to be very over-lauded.  My main takeaway from La La Land (let’s just call it LLL from now on) was that Hollywood no longer has the infrastructure to make great musicals.  Ryan Gosling ‘tap dances’ for a few seconds. Ehh.  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone sing. Ehhh.  Choreography, not that great. Musical numbers, also not that great.  As someone who loves Old Hollywood musicals, this struck me as a musical for people who don’t actually want to watch a musical.  Which means that it left me unsatisfied and disappointed, longing for Gene Kelly and Donald O’Conner (and yes, Debbie Reynolds).  Also. It’s a musical about jazz. There is one black person and he is ‘doing jazz wrong’ according to semi-insufferable free spirit Ryan Gosling’s character with canonical white-boy name (Noah? No sorry, that was The Notebook.)  Cinematography is beautiful, the movie drags a bit in the first half hour (because the exposition musical numbers are lacking), and… well, above all it’s a Hollywood movie about two pretty young white people trying to make it in Hollywood.  It’s pretty damn self-congratulatory.  Spoiler: I appreciate that the ending isn’t happy but I don’t think it works.  It doesn’t make a lot of sense plot- or character-wise and it’s pretty self-conscious about not being your everyday happy ending.  In short, I think La La Land is a white cream puff with white filling and little substance. Perfectly good but you need to recognize it for what it is and not pretend it’s a five-course gourmet meal.

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