Julia: Hey friends. Welcome to Pop Culture Makes Me Jealous. I’m your host, Julia and today’s guest is Mario of Movies with Mario and we are talking Lala land and
Julia: critics had a lot to say about Lala land when it first landed in theaters on December 25th, 2016, Justin time to be a contender for the academy awards. In Elle, Taylor’s article An old-school Hollywood Musical That’s in love with Hollywood. She wrote for NPR “or NPR wrote, “La La Land, a frankly commercial but rapturous ode to art, love, and my much-maligned home town of Los Angeles, grows more organically out of Chazelle’s charming 2009 debut, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench…. La La Land is a full-service throwback to the Golden Age musical, transposed with lashings of romantic melancholy to a contemporary Los Angeles decked out in primary-colored plumage. Since we seem to have lost the habit of big-screen glamour, the extravagance is welcome.”
Julia: Since we seem to have lost the habit of big screen glamour, the extravagance is welcome. Largely dubbed an ode to the golden era of Hollywood. It wasn’t too long after the films released that serious criticism started trickling in. But we will get into that in a moment. First, I want to introduce you to our guest.
Julia: Mario Melo is a movie lover of all genres and often drops movie and television reviews on Instagram. You may remember him from our Emmy show listeners. So Mario, welcome back to this.
Mario: Hey Julia, how are you doing well. Okay, good. You good?
Julia: I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad. You’re.
Mario: Always excited to be here. I’m very excited to talk La La Land and yeah. I love musicals. So while La La land is up there for me, but so yeah, I’m ready to dive deep in it.
Julia: Um, when we were prepping and like getting to know each other a little bit better to have you as a guest on the show, you commented about Funko pops and you have a lot of them. So I need you to elaborate, please. Like what exactly is a lot, like how many do you actually own?
Mario: For me? It’s a lot, I guess there’s people that have. Probably thousands of them. I’m only at like probably almost 200.
Julia: That’s still.
Mario: It’s still a lot. Yeah. Cause I mean you figure, you know, every time I think about it, I’m like, dang, I spent a lot of money on pops, but they’re so cool. They’re so cute, little mini size figurines of like things for my favorite movies or TV shows I’m just like I’m just like, ah, I have to get it. It’s so cool. Um, but yeah. So my absolute favorite one is ghost face from the movie Scream. That was actually my very first pop I ever bought. And I only bought it because I loved the movie and I found it on Amazon for super cheap. And it’s actually a surprisingly it’s my most, um, money worth pop. Like, because now they have an app to where like, uh, it shows you how much they are. Like if you were to sell them, like how much they’re worth. I mean, he’s not that much. Compared to some other ones. Like, he’s not that he’s not worth that much, but in my collection he’s like worth the most, but I’m like, I’d never, I’d never part with him. Cause he’s just so cool. And it’s just, it was the start of my collection. And like, and you know, what’s funny is when I first started collecting them, I didn’t even know they were that big. Like I, I didn’t, they, they used to just release some like limited edition and I didn’t realize that. And then now they’re more common. So you can find a lot more.
Julia: I’m seeing them in the bookstore.
Mario: Yes, but yeah. So now it’s just this big, old thing. It’s part of the pop culture now. So they have a, you know, they have a gigantic Funko store in Hollywood, which is yes. If you ever get down to Hollywood, it’s a whole story. And they have like, it’s picture Instagram, like galore in there.
Mario: Cause they are giant ones. You can take pictures with, you can build your own. So I recently just built my own to make me look like me. So that’s kind of cool.
Julia: That’s fun. You mentioned Scream. Scream’s having their 25th anniversary.
Mario: Oh my gosh. I’m so excited.
Julia: We had a very strict ratings rule in our house for the most part. So it wasn’t allowed to watch Scream. So my friend had a sleepover for her birthday and she’s like, oh, we rented Scream. Is that okay? Your parents can be okay with that. And I was like in the phone, yes, they will be. No, they wouldn’t have been.
Julia: So I watched it in like a contraband kind of way. And I haven’t been the same since.
Mario: The same. It was, uh, my parents were very strict on stuff, so I ended up watching it at a friend’s house too. And I just, I think that’s why I loved it so much because I felt like I was like, I’m getting away with something great. I’m seeing rated R movies. You know, it’s still, it’s still one of my favorite franchises.
Mario: I love them all. Um, even number three, which I know it gets a lot of slack, but it’s like, if you, if you realize what they’re trying to do, like you love it and I’m a big Wes Craven fan. So to see, you know, to see that he left that legacy of that franchise, and I’m super excited for the new one, because it’s done by the tree, the, um, the directors of Ready Or Not.
Mario: I don’t know if you saw that. Yeah. So they’re, they’re, they’re rebooting it. Yeah. They said it’s kind of like a spiritual sequel, but not a full reboot. So I’m super excited because everyone’s coming back again. So…
Julia: Oh, that’s exciting. Cause you know, Courtney Cox made that movie, I mean, and I love to Skeet Ulrich oh my God. I had the biggest crush on Skeet Ulrich back then.
Mario: Yeah. It’s so funny because I’ll watch Friends all the time. So it’s like funny to see her be like a Monica, but then when you go and watch Scream, like she’s like Gail Weathers and she’s total opposite of what she usually is. So it’s super funny, but yeah, so super excited about that.
Mario: Um, I’m, I’m going to be like first in line to watch that movie. I’m like, if I’m working, I’m taking that day off or calling in sick because I’ve been waiting for awhile.
Julia: I mean, it basically defined every the generation of everybody who was like old enough to watch it. At that point, right? Like anybody alive in 1996, who was old enough to see this film, it looked like I don’t answer the phone unless I know the number. I’m like, I’m not answering this, but this can be the murderer. I’m not doing this. I’m not walking into a garage by myself. Like, there’s just so many things lights are on in the rooms. I’m not walking into a dark room. Like, no,
Mario: I still get spam calls and say unknown. And I just like kind of giggled to ourselves, I’m like, I wonder, but I don’t know, but
Julia: That’s funny. Okay.
Mario: Yes. So back to LA Land.
Julia: Yes, let’s. Now let’s like, now let’s get into it. So before we dive into the discussion, let’s do a quick summary of Lala Land for our friends who are listening and, and friends, I have to warn you I got this off of the iTunes library, so it’s not that great. Sorry. iTunes.
Julia: Okay. So here’s the summary, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star is Mia and Sebastian and actress, and a jazz musician pursuing their Hollywood dreams and finding each other in a vibrant celebration of hope, dreams, and love. And so Mario, you and I both love musicals and, you know, This Hollywood, we love movies. So let’s get into the cinematic style and it’s homage to old Hollywood. I grew up on old Hollywood.
Julia: So what did you think of the overall style of the film? And did you feel it like, it truly did embody that old Hollywood style in a modern setting?
Mario: Uh, so I got to, yes. I agree that it did that. I did it. I think it did what it was supposed to do. I just rewatched it a couple of days ago. Actually stood out to me this time around was the colors like the, like the color, like when the girls, um, her and the roommates are dancing out to go to the party, like their dresses are so bright and they stand out like to the, to like, almost like a faint background, I guess. So it’s like they pop and I, and I remember like old school Hollywood, like they would have specific colors and musicals to like, you know, these people are important or this is important. So like pay attention to this color. Um, even in like the opening scene where they’re doing the, uh, on the freeway, the dance, the dance number, like all the dresses and the suits and stuff are very vibrant and bright and it just popped to me. And I was like, okay. Yeah, I can see the modern it’s modern take. Cause obviously it’s on a LA freeway or, you know, it’s in downtown LA and stuff, but yet we’re kind of, um, referring back to the old school classic musical, which I was like, oh, that’s amazing.
Julia: There was a lot of yellow. I don’t, I didn’t notice it the first couple of times. How many scenes do we have our girls who were in yellow dresses? Not that I’m complaining, but damn. Is this a favorite color? The costume like, and I don’t know if you noticed, but the gal in the yellow dress in that first scene, when you first meet, like her roommates, the gal in the yellow dress is in Crazy Rich Asians. She plays. Best friend, best friend or whatever.
Mario: Yeah. You know, I noticed that, um, way back when, when I watched Crazy Rich Asians I’m like, I know it’s just familiar
Julia: and Google and your like, oh ya. Um, one of the things that I loved about it, about the style was. Is it, I don’t know what it’s tech the technical term is, but that single pan, right? It doesn’t look like there’s any cuts. Like every dance scene is one shot is one single shot and they go through the whole thing. So, you know, you don’t want to be the dancer who fucks up because then you have to reset and start from the top. Cause they’re not cutting it.
Mario: Yes. and you know it was funny. It’s like I saw, I watched a lot of behind the scenes stuff and on any movie. I remember coming in, when that came out, I was like, well, I want to know how they do these dance numbers. Cause it took a lot. And a lot of, they did a lot of single shots. Um, a majority of them, the freeway scene and the Somewhere in the Crowd, the party scene was a lot of single shots. Um, so yeah. The here I was, the director is saying that it took so many like, takes because they had to get it right every time.
Mario: Like one, but it was just really cool to see how they did it. Cause they use, they let use like the old school, crane cameras and stuff to get some of those shots, um,
Julia: and it has that feel to it. Like it doesn’t feel like, cause you know, they were a lot of the guys where the camera’s now on those packs. Like I keep trying to get work to buy me one so I can just walk around with it on.
Julia: So I don’t have to like, and I’m okay. It has that feel? So when you, when you watch like earlier Hollywood films, it’s very theatrical, right? Like there’s a lot of theater involved, like theater feel involved to it because they’re still trying to figure out what is Hollywood, like, what is this medium? And so I think that he did capture that. Use, like, that’s good to know that he used like the cranes and stuff, because it makes it feel authentic to the, to the, to the era.
Mario: Yes. So I totally agree with the old modern setting. Um, just even some of the dance numbers reminiscent um, like, uh, Singing in the Rain, like when they’re dancing on in Griffin park, like just stuff like that just reminded me of that. Um, but yeah, no, I, I totally agree with, uh, what, what’s the, how it looks. I really feel like he didn’t…Hit the mark on that.
Julia: Yeah. Whether he like built a team to help him get that feel, or if he’s just somebody who’s an appreciator himself, I think you’re right. He nailed it on the head in terms of style. And I think that’s why I was so drawn to it because I’ve talked to a lot of people who are like, oh, I hate this movie. It’s not good. And I’m like, you don’t like music.
Julia: What kind of human are you? How do you not like musicals? What’s wrong with you? It always breaks my heart when someone’s like, I’m not really in a musical and I’m just like what?
Mario: They’re singing and dancing. They’re having fun, like yeah.
Julia: Who doesn’t dream of just breaking out in a dance and song number when they’re like in the middle of it. I don’t know the grocery store that like sounds like fun to me.
Mario: Remember when we had that whole Renaissance of flash mobs. I was like, I always want to be a part of one. Cause it was like, that’s exactly what I dream of one day. It’s just going to break out into song and dance and tell my life story, you know?
Julia: And then you can convey your emotions without being truly vulnerable, but they’re still there. It’s the best. I do think that the, the freeway scene watching it this time, I was like, that sucks because I mean, for the people who live in Holl- in LA and have to like, have to deal with however long, it took them to shoot that scene and shut down the highway. Cause like
Mario: Two days it took them two days. Yeah. They, I was, I watched that behind the scene just recently to get prepared for this interview and yeah, it took them two days. They shut down part of the freeway. Um, And then they said it was like one of the hottest days too. So they had like umbrellas and water and all this stuff. And they, like they said, the dancers were just like, oh, it was horrible. But like, just to see the end result was amazing because it’s like, they put so much work into it. But it’s funny because when they trained, when they were practicing, they were in like an empty parking lot. And Damien Chazelle was, uh, filming with his iPhone. So like, if you go on YouTube and watch the behind the scenes for that one, it shows like the iPhone version of the dance number and then scale, it will compare it to like the camera version, which is kind of cool, like how much they changed or how similar it was.
Mario: So, but yeah, that’s probably one of my favorite scenes is the freeway scene. Just cause it’s like, it’s a freeway, like, think about that. And it’s like, that’s everyday life in LA. It’s like, you’re stuck on the freeway. Like just sitting there. So it’s like, whenever I’m in LA now I’m just like, oh, so we’re going to break out and dance. Standing here, like might as well, like we’re not moving like
Julia: My friend when my friend first moved to LA and I went to visit her. She’s like, oh yeah, we’re going to go to this bar just around the corner. I was like, oh, okay, cool. And you know, in Modesto around the corner literally means around the corner, like, right. So we get in the car and we get on the freeway. And I was like I said, we’re going to the bar on the corner. She’s like, yeah, we totally are. It’s like… couple of freeways, not around the corner.
Mario: And a 10 minute drive ends up it becoming like 45 minutes. You know.
Julia: We took two freeways, this part, I mean, it was worth it. It was a great, the ambiance is great and the drinks were good. And like, the vibe was cool, but two freeways it’s like, oh, this feels very much like what I thought LA would be, I guess. I don’t know. I think that’s smart that they rehearsed on, um, in a parking lot because blacktop is. Like..
Julia: Scorching hot. If you don’t train for that, that’s you’re dropping like flies.
Mario: Right?Julia: Well, we can’t sidestep the criticism of Lala Land and there was a lot. Once the joy of the modern day musical that felt nostalgic yet still feeling current in some ways the glaring reality for me was this: jazz being saved by a white dude, like really I mean granted like Ryan. I mean, who doesn’t want to look at Ryan Gosling? I mean, some people don’t, but in, you know, in the world in which we live a lot of people do. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar which everyone knows is a famous basketball player, but he’s not just a basketball player. If you ever have the chance to watch the episode of celebrity Jeopardy he’s on, he crushed it. He is so freaking smart. It was like, all right. Kareem Respect like get it girl. I mean, he’s not a girl, but you know what I mean? Anyway, he wrote an article for the Hollywood Reporter, stating, “There are few elements that warrant closer examination, particularly regarding its portrayal of jazz romance and people of color. In fact, the better a work of art is the more we must dissect it because now we’re not just measuring Rotten Tomatoes popularity, or Boffo box office. We’re assessing its proper place in our cultural cannon.” He continues on by stating that it’s fair to question Chazelle’s color wheel when it comes to discussing certain historical events. In this case, jazz, we can all admit Jazz’s origins are unique to the African-American experience. Jabar also acknowledges the upset he feels when the only major black character played by John legend is viewed as a sellout by Sebastian, a jazz purist.
Julia: Other critics have argued that Seb’s love for jazz appears to stop before the civil rights movement takes a major hold in America .In a review by The Guardian writer, Noah Gotel adds, “It’s noteworthy, then that the jazz musicians, Sebastian most reveres is Charlie Parker who died in 1955 before the movement really got started. None of this is to suggest that the film is exactly racist. Sebastian romanticizes Parker simply because he lived and died before jazz started to change for the first time. But it’s impossible to separate jazz from Black history and it’s downright foolish to do so in a film by, for and largely about white people.”
Julia: So for me, jazz is it is equal to my grandparents. And it was really, if we put jazz on, it was honestly the only type of music that would get them to open up about their young lives, which mostly consisted about stories about various jazz scenes they experienced. And just for context for our listeners, my grandparents were, would have been in their twenties and thirties in the 1940s. So it’s their generation’s music. So when we look at this film on a deeper level, taking into consideration Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s comments in the Hollywood Reporter, do we think Damien Chazelle was naive when it comes to the world of jazz and the film he’s created?
Mario: Yeah. I don’t know if he’s, I mean, I guess he’d be naive in a sense. Um, I think movies have definitely changed from when this came out. This was what five, six years ago now. I cause I did notice, like in the beginning of the film, you see so much diversity, especially in like the freeway scene. There’s like people of all sorts of colors
Julia: And different styles of dance in different styles of dance
Mario: outfit, it’s all that stuff. So it shows like it was a diverse cast. And then once you get into the center of the story, yes, we’re just talking, we’re following two white people, like the whole time. And besides John Legend, there really isn’t any other. Um, person of color in the rest of the movie, which I get. And nowadays it’s like you, I feel like that’s not the world we live in now.
Mario: It’s like you, you kind of have to include people of color in all aspects of the film because that’s the world we live in. And I think, I think nowadays movies are finally starting to kind of get that. Um, I don’t think he was naive and I think it was just, he was trying to tell a story and at that time, Critics might argue, like if you were to put a black person in the lead, like would have made that much money or what it would. And I think at that time, I mean, we’ll go onto this later, but another movie at that same time did have black leads and stuff and ended up winning a bunch of awards as well. So I mean, it shows that there is an audience for it, and I think it’s just, he’s, he’s got to learn. And I think he is learning because, I mean, cause he did whiplash right after.
Julia: Whiplash was before I think
Mario: Was it before, before, and, um, that still had, you know, white leads and still had to do with some jazz and stuff as well.
Julia: I think too, it comes from that perspective. Like he’s telling me we’re as writers we’re told all the time, write what you know, and yeah. I thought he was coming from a perspective of he’s writing what he knows. And if his world of jazz doesn’t encompass Black people well, number one, I need you to go to different clubs, Damian Chazelle because they’re everywhere. Like this is, you know, universally known that this is my people’s music.
Julia: But two, you know, he’s coming from a perspective of he’s coming from his perspective and he clearly has respect and passion for the genre, which I think comes across very clearly. And, and so when the criticisms first started to coming out, I was like, wait, what? Like, cause it didn’t read that way too, to me. Like I didn’t take that. I didn’t get that takeaway. And I don’t know if that’s because my life was, so I have this white world I live in and then I have this black world I live in.
Julia: And so like the two sort of collide. I don’t know if that’s why, but. Now I’m just like, boy, I was just writing from what he knew. And maybe didn’t ask questions beyond that.
Mario: And as a filmmaker nowadays, I feel like you do have to ask those questions. So it’s like, so I think he’s, I think he’s learning. I definitely mean, I know he’s writing another, um, I forget what the movie is called, but I know his cast is a little more diverse this time around. Um, so I think he is learning, um, But yeah, no, I totally agree with you. I think he was just, at that time, he was like, all right, I know this. And I do love jazz and stuff. And like you said, who wants to, who doesn’t like looking at Ryan Gosling and then, but I mean, I know, I mean, even Emma Stone though, she’s she’s she’s um, She’s gotten criticism for taking some roles too. Like, uh, what was that movie? Aloha supposed to be played by an Asian, but then she ended up playing that character. And I remember her getting a lot of criticism for that too. So it’s like, I don’t know, necessarily falls directly on the director. I mean, yes, he’s in charge of the movie and all that stuff, but you got producers. I mean, you’ve got actors, you got writers.
Julia: Somebody needs to say, like, somebody didn’t say something, right? Like they’re fostering an environment where someone can’t doesn’t feel like they can speak up and be like, maybe this girl shouldn’t be this person.
Mario: Yeah. So, but I mean, yeah. I don’t think he intentionally did it. I don’t think he’s racist at all. I don’t think the movie intends to be racist. I think like you said, it is a love story to the old school Hollywood stuff. And I think. To him. Jazz is something that is important because we’ve seen it in other, his other works as well. So I think it’s just, he’s got to learn how to incorporate more. If he’s going to tell a modern world story, it needs to include the more modern actor, I guess.
Julia: Yeah. And, and to add to that and recognize too, that this isn’t. Yes. Thank you for loving jazz. Damien Chazelle we appreciate that, but also don’t. Don’t ignore the fact that it’s, you know, a very specific grouping of people who should always be attributed to the genre. Like, so incorporating that in some way. I do personally. I also love Charlie Parker. My favorite jazz musician is John Coltrane, but there’s just a lot of,… like the jazz fusion band that John Keith, John Legend’s character that they ended up being in later, I was like, yeah, this is garbage. So it’s so for me, I was like, Seb I get you because that band is trash.
Julia: No, I don’t want to listen to this jazz fusion shit you’ve just started like, what is this? And then the dancers come out on stage and I’m just like, no. Okay. Yeah. Like give me a smoky club underneath a building with like dimly litted room and a bar and like sticky floor, like that’s and maybe I’m being idealistic too. I don’t know. But it was just kinda like. Yeah, John Legend. You’re a sellout.
Julia: I’m not here for this.
Mario: I I, and that was one of the things that he did have a gripe about, the film was like, you’re going to put John Legend, your film, use them a little more too, because I like, felt like he wasn’t in that much. And like, he was there to just kind of like sway the character a little bit, but it’s like, you got John Legend, you got a lot of. Talent right there. And a lot of fans, I feel like would flocked that because they’re like, they love John legend. I am a John legend fan. So like, and to have him like, even just do a, like you said, the song that he ended up seeing the film wasn’t that great because it was a fusion of stuff, but it’s like, give me some of his piano playing and all that stuff.
Mario: Come on. That’s what he’s known for. Like use him, like use him like that. So that was.
Julia: Sorry, this is going to interrupt all the time. It actually would be interesting to see John Legend in that lead role because when they introduced his character was like, I did actually think because I saw it in the theater, of course. And in the theater, yeah. Was like John Legend is like a known piano player. I could see him being Seb. And then I started creating this whole narrative for them. Right. Like, so he Seb, but the difference is, is he comes from generational musicians. And so he grew up hearing stories about his grandfather playing with Charlie Parker and all these things.
Julia: And that’s why he’s so angry about this transition of jazz into this, whatever it is. Turning these clubs into Samba Tapas bars and being so irate about that. You know, so that’s kind of where my mind went. It’s not a missed opportunity obviously, cause that’s not the point of the movie, but it would be interesting to see something like that where you do have a Black character whose family is like clearly stayed in the roots of, you know, started in the roots of jazz and stayed with it to kind of take on that mantle of selling out and rudeness, and this is not fusion. Fusion’s not okay.
Mario: Yeah. No, I’d feel it. Yeah. But I do have to say like, because like, I wasn’t very familiar with jazz, like to me, like I wasn’t around that music. So like, to me, jazz was like elevator music to me. Like I would hear jazz in the elevator, like, you know,
Mario: Which they touch on in the movie.
Mario: Yes. And so it was like, when I did watch this movie, I was like, Ooh, I actually do kind of like the jazz, like they’re playing so it did make me do some research. Cause it was like, I didn’t know who Charlie Parker was at the time and just to listen to some other genres and stuff too, which was like really cool. So it did open me up to that and like kind of get me digging into a little more about jazz and it’s funny and like, When last year, when I worked at a school, one of our, our music teacher actually introduced jazz to our fourth graders because we did different genres of music. So it was cool. Cause I was like, oh, I learned something new or I did hear about that or something.
Mario: So it was like, I was learning too. So yeah, one thing that film did for me was actually I, you know, piqued my curiosity a little bit. So I do appreciate that fact and I hope maybe, yeah. That did, uh, you know, piqued other people’s curiosity too, of like, Ooh, this is a cool song or who I want to learn about this more or something,
Julia: you got to start somewhere, right? Like, cause this, this type of film, style of genre, you know, this big Hollywood musical type of film hadn’t been done in 40 years, 50 times. So it was an experiment in that can this movie actually make money? And then it totally made its way through the award circuit too.
Julia: So it was like, yes, we can. So I kind of actually agree a little bit with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and the sense of like, we can’t just leave it to Rotten Tomato. We have to actually now dissect it. So that way, the next time somebody wants to do a big musical type number that includes something that’s very unique to a specific population of people we need to be mindful about it, but I think it showed this film was like, Hey Hollywood, we can totally get away with doing movies like this. It’s a thing that we can start doing again, which of course hasn’t happened, but I would be here for it if it did.
Mario: I feel it.
Julia: What’s your favorite musical? This isn’t in the script. So I’m going off.
Mario: That’s a hard one. Um,
Julia: Like the toughest decision in the world. Right?
Mario: Right. Um, I really love Sound of Music. I look all the time. Right. I know. I, yeah. I know all the songs there. Um.
Julia: And Christopher Plumber he’s so good. Oh my gosh.
Mario: But like, I like the old school ones, like Mary Poppins is great. Like I love, I have a Julie Andrews fan too. So like anything with Julie Andrews.
Julia: I watched The princess diaries last night.
Mario: Like always a classic. I always watched the when it’s on. West Side Story is a great one. I love that one. I mean.
Julia: That’s actually my favorite.
Mario: Grease is always fun, but yeah, no, I mean, yeah, it’s hard to choose. There’s so many good ones. And even though, even like some of the, like, even some of the bad ones, like, I don’t know if you remember the movie Nine with Daniel Day Lewis. Um, where he’s making the movies and it’s about nine women that he interacts with throughout his career it has like Nicole Kidman. Um, no, no, no. It’s it was, it was super slow and it wasn’t like that great of a plot, but there’s like two really good numbers in it that like, I’ll still listen to on my, my playlist every once in a while.
Mario: So it’s like even bad musicals. I always find like one or two songs that I liked.
Julia: Yeah. Like Mama Mia’s not that great of a musical at the soundtrack is amazing.
Mario: Exactly. Yeah. So I get you. Yeah. Musicals are great.
Julia: Ugh, the Sound of Music is so good. I’m glad you listed that because then I’d be like, this conversation is over
Mario: like, oh, okay.
Julia: We are done here sir. Um, Back to their regularly scheduled program, Vogue ran an article before the films release, titled A Feminist Reading of LA LA Land written by Julia Felsenthal. She opens her article with a statement that this film is a much needed diversion from the gritty less than buoyant real world, which fair cause it was 2016, but states, “I’m here to talk about what runs beneath the burnished surface, which seems to me a strong current of gender critique. Is Demian Chazelle channeling his inner feminist in Lala Land. I’m going to argue yes.” So to further on this, she cites events like Mia’s annoyance at Seb when he requests for her to go on the road with him, you know, Mia pouring hours into her one woman show, as sh as being elements of feminist awakening.
Julia: She also suggests that in a dream sequence Mia has… So just for the listeners, Seb gets a job with John Legend’s character and they’re touring musicians doing that jazz fusion garbage and Mia’s is working on a one woman show because she’s trying to, you know, she’s an actress, she’s trying to figure out ways to break into the industry because auditioning is soul crushing.
Julia: Um, and so at the end of the movie, spoiler alert, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s been out for five years. So, sorry, not sorry. She, Mia and her husband, who’s played by Tom Everett, Scott, who I love, eh they stumbled upon a jazz club. Turns out it’s Seb’s. He climbs on stage, Seb does, and begins to play “their” song. It’s the song that you hear throughout the film when you know, these moments happen between Mia and, and Seb and so Mia falls down this fantasy rabbit hole where she sort of sees what would have happened with her and Seb had they worked out and not had separated?
Julia: Felsenthal refers to this as a full on feminist fantasy. Mia ends up getting everything she wants in this sequence, Seb and a flourishing career. And they’re happy. What
Mario: The ending was soul crushing
Julia: The ending was soul crushing so what I love about this sequence though, is that it’s true to the musical genre, right? Like of Hollywood and the golden age, like Gene Kelly films, do this shit all the time. Like name of Gene Kelly film that doesn’t have a fantasy. What if scene.
Julia: You can’t exactly. To add to this in the article referenced before by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar he comments that “…both films might be both films, (meaning this film and Chazelle’s previous film) might be cautionary tales to warn against the single-minded pursuit of self-aggrandizing dreams.
Julia: After all Mia gets her movie career, her movie star career, but seems locked in a perfectly pleasant, but passionate marriage. Sebastian gets his jazz club, but as alone and regretful about what might have been with Mia. At the end, they smile wistfully at each other. And the lives they might’ve had. Is this film encouraging us to weigh the value of our dreams against the reality of love? Is it saying that although the sacrifice of a relationship or two is sad, it’s a small price to pay, to follow our dreams.” So I’m personally having trouble resolving these two ideas that like Chazelle’s channeling his inner feminist and like, settling for passionless love. So now we get to talk about plots and themes. So like initially, what themes did you pull from the movie? And then we’ll dive into all the others things.
Mario: Oh man.
Julia: Love mine was like, love is love. This is love. This is failed love. Like I thought that the acting career and the music club were background notes. I thought the whole thing was just about these two. This couple. That was my takeaway. Sorry, Mario, I keep cutting you off.
Mario: Yeah, no, you’re good. I, when I w when I first watched that scene too, I was like, oh, Is she really like, is this a really dream sequence with her in Seb? Like maybe this is what really happened. And we’re just, and I was like, oh no, it’s not like, dang it. Like, I was like rooting for them.
Mario: Cause it was like, they were good together.
Julia: They were so good together. And he was so supportive and so encouraging and she was so supportive and so encouraging, like it breaks my heart that they couldn’t work it out for me originally, it was just like, not all dreams come true kind of thing.
Mario: Sometimes you do have to pick and choose. And I think that is life in general. Like, are you going to do the more lists, more realistic routes? Or are you going to go and continue playing this fantasy that you think is going to work out and, and maybe it will, but you never know kind of thing. Um, that’s how I took it.
Mario: It was like, sometimes dreams just don’t work out. Um, or you can’t, or you can’t have everything, I guess it was another one was like, cause it’s like they did choose their careers over, you know, love. They both became very successful. But yeah, again, it’s like, it does suck because it’s like, they both felt like, I felt like it was, it was definitely alone and it was kind of like just working on his career and then she was in a marriage that didn’t seem very romantic at all, but she was just doing, you know, so it, yeah, it it’s hard cause it’s like, I don’t know.
Mario: No, I have, I’m always a positive person. I feel like. So it’s like to see movies that in, on kind of, I mean, not, I guess it wasn’t like a positive note, but it wasn’t like. Too negative note. I guess it was like in between to me, like it was like, so it was just like, it kind of bummed me out a little bit. Cause it was just like, oh man, like you can’t have everything.
Julia: Well and the other part for me was, okay, so she, so for listeners who haven’t seen the movie and again it’s been five years, like with it, she auditioned, she gets this big audition. And so it’s kind of a big deal. It’s at the end of the film, she’s been going through the entire film doing garbage auditions. People treating her like casting directors or whatever.
Julia: They are just sort of being complacent during her audition and Emma, Stone’s pulling out some serious acting talent and doing these auditions. And so then someone like interrupting her like, oh no, tell him I’ll call back. It’ll be like two minutes if that. And you’re just like, like that’s soul crushing.
Julia: So the point of the film before the end, she’s like her soul is crushed. She’s gone home. And then she finds out, she gets this big audition and. We find out that, you know, the character it’s going to film in Paris. So for me, when I was at that point, it was like, oh, Paris, perfect is sub can go with her because he comments in the movie and we know this is true.
Julia: Paris has a major jazz scene. So like that you could go with her because then you could like play where all your grades played and do all this stuff. Right. So for me, that was like, I feel like you did that on fucking best because to be like, no shit, he’s not going with her. I don’t know why we don’t know why he doesn’t go with her.
Julia: And that bothers me because Paris is like a Mecca when it comes to like, I can’t even tell you Mario, how many Black creatives have fled the United States of America for Paris and have just done incredible things in Paris. Like it is an artist Mecca. And so, um, so that bothered me. The other thing that bothered me too, about what the Vogue article was.
Julia: The things that she cited as being like very feminist. I was like, I didn’t take it was on tour. And he’s like, come with me Mia, but I didn’t take it as like him saying, come with me and forget your one-woman show. I take it as, cause he makes that comment of like, oh, you can rehearse anywhere. Right? Like just rehearse with me.
Julia: Like where I am and she’s like, it doesn’t really work that way. So I didn’t take it as like him asking her to give up what she’s doing. Yeah. No, I didn’t take that either. Yeah. I felt like maybe this writer might’ve took, taken it that way because like, she’s, he’s just saying like, Hey, it was like a, Hey, we miss each other. Come with me for a couple like a week and then come back. Like, that’s what it felt like to me. Okay. And that’s what I took from it too. I totally agree with that. The other part that’s true out a little bit where it’s like, this is not enough time is when they’re like five years later. I needed it to be 10 years later.
Julia: Because she’s like, you’re trying to tell me that in five years, since she left for Paris to film her very first movie, she’s managed to meet Tom Everette Scott ,film, a bunch of other movies to become a mega movie star. Have a child who looks like she’s two or three and then, and then be like super set in Hollywood.
Julia: Like, does that happen in five years?
Mario: I think that plays on the fantasy aspect of the Hollywood modern or like the old school, modern Hollywood kind of thing. Like that’s what they, people think it is. And you know, you never know, he could have been a producer on the film and they fell in love and maybe they got pregnant before they got married. Maybe they got
Julia: all right. Fair, fair points. All right. Thanks. Shooting holes in my frustration.
Mario: I see. But see, this is how I think, I think about like, well, maybe it was this way or maybe it was that way. I don’t know, but I mean, I agree with you. I get that.
Julia: And, and here’s the other thing that is a club up and running that successfully, uh, after five years. Businesses take time.
Mario: He’s that good Julia.
Julia: It’s that fucking stool that stool brought them all the luck. You know, I love that. You just like, I love the dynamic between he and his sister. Like that was such a sibling dynamic to me. Um, and I love the actress. She’s in Mad Men. She plays, um, one of the New York mistresses and the very first season. And then she kind of comes back a little bit throughout the series, but she’s really prominent in the first season. All right. Well, let’s talk about, we love what we loved about this film and what we didn’t love about this film.
Mario: I love, I love Emma Stone. Emma Stone is always great. She’s one of my favorite actresses. And just to see her kind of like do a whole 360 with this, I mean, she was great in… Before that she did like Zombie land and Easy A and all that stuff. And so we’ve seen that comedic side of her, uh, and then just kind of see her a little more vulnerable, I guess, than this. And then to see her sing to like actually a pretty good singer to me.
Mario: Um, so to see her do that, um, I love the musical numbers. I thought they were all very. At least the first couple of ones were like big and, you know, very musical, like the group, the group numbers, even, even her last, um, even the audition song was just like heartbreaking. Cause it was just like telling the story and that’s what they wanted her to do was tell her is tell a story and she did, but it was like, you could feel the passion and you can just watch her face.
Mario: Like I was just like, yeah. That’s an Oscar right there. Just because just our facial expressions were amazing on that. But yeah, I, I mean, I love, like I said, I love the bright colors. I love the feel of the old school, um, Hollywood musical in that
Julia: Even, even the font they use the, to in the beginning, it was like, oh, that feels like old Hollywood.
Mario: Yeah. With the little orchestra on a plane. And even at the end too, they’re like, you know, it brings it down to the very end and you’re just like, It’s all good, but yeah, no. So those are my favorite things about it. How about you?
Julia: It’s a musical numbers for sure, but I’m a sucker for a good musical number, a good song and dance show. I’m here for it. I was really impressed with Emma Stones performance, because like I said, in her audition scenes and she’d get, so there’s that one, the very first one we see her in. Where, when she’s on the phone and she’s like, that’s, what did she say? That’s lunacy or whatever. And she’s like getting in it. Call clearly takes a turn and get serious and she just gets emotional and she is able to call to your tears, to her eyes and her eyes well up. And then she’s so into it. And then there’s somebody in the window with a post-it note. And then, you know, we don’t see it, but we assume that they’re called in to be like somebody on the phone.
Julia: I’ll call him back less than two minutes. Like, oh my God. First. So, but for her to be able to be like,
Mario: Stay frozen like that. And then like, wait
Julia: into that moment so easily to be emotional like that. And then just kind of, oh, I was like, girl, we knew you had it in you like you weren’t just as comedy girl and all of these, you know, not, not all the movies she was in were raunchy, but you know, like some of them you’re just like, this is not a movie I can watch with my parents.
Julia: La La Land is can totally watch it with my mom
Mario: What was your favorite musical number.
Julia: Oh, that’s tough. Um, I do love the one with the girlfriends. I thought that one was really beautiful. Yeah. And then the opening scene is just, I think came out of the gate strong with that number because being, you know, the using using cars as props, as part of your dance routine and just all of the movement that’s involved. And like we mentioned earlier, they had different styles of dance features throughout too. I mean, that’s, that was impressive. So impressive. But yeah, I think the girlfriends, when they’re in the, like, that’s probably my most favorite. I did love it when they were in. Um, when she and Ryan Gosling, you know, we referenced that one.
Julia: It was such a great scene too.
Mario: Yes. Um, and then I do like the city of stars when he’s singing by himself on the pier.
Mario: I was like, it’s just a small intimate moment. It’s just like he’s and it’s funny. Cause even in that song, Is this a, is this a dream I’m going to be able to follow? Or is it just another dream that’s going to go away kind of thing. And so it kind of, it’s almost kind of plays to the theme of the movie too, cause it’s like, what’s really going to happen. Like, are we going to get all our dreams or is it just going to be something that kind of moves on again, but that…
Julia: They do a really good job at tying that in and having that parallel throughout the entire film.
Mario: Yes, overall, I really enjoyed that movie. Um, it’s on my rotating playlist every once in awhile. And I, like I said, I’ll have those songs on my playlist, so I’ll just play through some times and I’m just like, oh yeah, I love the song and stuff, but yes, it’s so good. I really liked it. This is probably the conference controversies events, but still I still enjoy it.
Julia: Yeah. I think that it’s a good starting point. You know, I think that there’s always fear in Hollywood to do something that’s kind of quote, unknown. Or people assume won’t do well. Like the conversation with like, when I, when I watch a lot of like, whatever, it doesn’t matter what I watch. But the point is, is when I watch like history of stuff, there’s always this comment about like, especially with like Black films in, in the Black community, it’s always like, oh, you know, Black movies don’t do as well.
Julia: And they don’t get the same kind of budget and dah, dah, dah. And what’s really cool about the last five years is that we have all these movies that are like, no, we can totally do big budget, shit, stop kicking us around. And I feel like LA LA Land kind of helps with that conversation. Like we can do a big, big budget musical, like sure, there’s flaws, but we needed some, someone to show us that it could be done. And now for the next time we can improve upon and do better.
Julia: Okay. We can’t talk about this film without discussing in the Oscar fiasco
Julia: Listeners. If you did not know, in 2017 Lala Land not only was nominated for the most awards, they were nominated for 14 awards, it won the most Academy Awards. They won six. One of the nominations was best picture. Kay,
Julia: Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, Hollywood royalty. We’re presenting for best picture. And when they open the envelope and announced the name, they announced, La La Land, but guess what? It wasn’t LA LA Land that actually won .It was Moonlight. And so there’s this never in my life.
Julia: And I’ve been watching the Academy Awards for as long as we’ve had television in my house. Have I seen this happen before? And like,
Mario: The first thing I S I S I was at work and I had it on the background. And I remember watching that thing. And I first thought was like, Ooh, someone’s getting fired tonight. Like I was like, how do you mess that up? Like.
Julia: And I’ve heard all kinds of things since then, too, like, oh, they gave him the wrong envelope.
Mario: They did. That was what I heard.
Julia: People busy taking selfies. backstage because they were like, the accountants were like star struck and like all this stuff. Cause you know what, they make a big deal.
Julia: These are the accountants that count the numbers. And this is big deal because we hire this agency and they probably pay millions of dollars to do it, you know? And so like,
Mario: Can I get a job on that? I need a job.
Julia: I know how to count 10, but I just like jaw dropping. And so I. So I watch all award shows on pause so I can skip through the commercials.
Julia: Why don’t watch it on pause. I pause it at the top of the show so I can skip through commercials. But at this point I had caught up because eventually catch up. Yeah, Ryan Gosling spaces. It was priceless. So if anybody wants to Google what his face, like they’ve turned it into meme. Um, but like never have I ever, this has never happened in the history of award shows.
Julia: I don’t think, I think this is the first time ever.
Mario: It was a giant flub that probably shouldn’t have happened, but it happened, but it definitely, I think it definitely gave, uh, the Oscars, a boost in their ratings and gave them something to talk about.
Julia: Maybe it was a ploy to try and like, it was a publicly, it was a staged event to try and like help boost their numbers have been dropping the last couple of years, all award shows have been.
Julia: I had somebody tell me in earlier this year, Is there one in, oh, the Oscars, the Oscars of 2021. I was like I said to a work friend, who’s also movie person. I was like, oh, did you watch the Academy Awards? And he was like, no, not really. Like, it just is so political now. And, uh,
Mario: I could see where it gets political. I think at that they’ve it was more of a. Because I remember it was a D it was a controversy too, was like, they didn’t have very many Black members or like Latino members as a part of the academy. And they had, they ended up inviting, um, like I don’t, I forget like a hundred and something, more, um, members and stuff.
Mario: So, uh, it’d basically diverse, like the academy of boat. And I think. Um, that kind of helped, but yeah, I definitely agree. It is a little political because like there’s some films on there that I’m just like, how the heck did that get nominated? Or I can see why it gets nominated, but it’s like, People people, you know, people campaign to it’s a campaign as well.
Mario: So it’s like your studio has money. Of course you might win because you’re, you, you put a lot more into your campaign then. And a little indie film. I can’t afford a campaign, you know? So it’s like.
Julia: Yeah, Denzel Washington, when he won an academy award, I don’t remember if it was for Fences or for Training Day. It might’ve been Training Day, when he was like, they said to do the campaign, they said to go and shake the hands. They said to go to the lunches, they said, go and meet the people and you’ll win. And you know what? I did all those things and I won and I won. I was like,
Julia: I love you. Why didn’t you tell us behind the curtain? I didn’t need to do that. I wanted to believe in your acting ability was the, all that got you here? I mean, yes it is. But then you more to it than that, there’s more than just, I’m a good actor and I got nominated it’s.
Julia: I’m a good actor and now I have to like tell you why to vote for me.
Mario: Yeah. And I think it even goes back to like, when, remember when the Dark Night was snubbed for Best Picture. And that was like, I mean, that’s an amazing film. It’s on like the top 100 films of all time. Like, and to have that snubbed, I mean, I do get nominations. but like technical categories, but still like not to NA nominated because it was like a comic book, movie kind of thing.
Mario: Like it just, it kind of bugged me and it’s like, okay, you people are watching like the same thing we are, you guys are praising it, but you’re not gonna vote for it or even nominate it. Right. It’s a comic book movie kind of like.
Julia: Well and at the time they only were nominating five, five films for best picture and that makes
Mario: And that’s what expanded the nominations.
Julia: And it had a full 10 cents, but the way that it’s like a weighted system.
Mario: Well, yeah, cause then originally it was because then, then the next few years it was, they had to be 10. And so then you would get some random films in that day or just like, really like, okay. But then, then they changed the rules again. Okay. We can have up to 10.
Mario: And because I think the complaint was like 10 films is hard, too hard to watch, like to watch all 10 films.
Julia: Yeah. I, the, the voting versus I can watch it.
Mario: All 10 cause screeners and stuff. And it was just like, I think that was one of the complaints was like to watch all 10 is super hard and with our busy schedules and stuff. So, I mean, it’s like, I don’t know if you’re, if you’re a member, I feel like you kind of have to make the time, you know, what’s coming.
Julia: Right. Like, listen, I can do it if I can do exactly. I’m like going all the time. Regal and I work full time, like, hello, Regal does the pass now where you can buy for like so much money and then you can see all 10 or all the nominated best films.
Julia: So when they started doing that, I was like, oh, my life just got easier. One-stop shop. Before it was like, I don’t know if you remember this before. It was like, they did announce the list, but the movie, some of the movies already ran. So it was like, shit. I never saw that movie because I didn’t go when it was in theater and, and it wasn’t common practice like it is now to re-release the nominated films.
Julia: So I’m really glad they’re doing that now. Cause I haven’t missed one since they started doing that, but you’re not, I mean, you’re not wrong. It’s. It’s a lot of time. And then if a movie’s nominated if it’s three hour run time, it’s like, shit.
Mario: I mean, I’ve always had opinions about the Academy Awards I love the Academy Awards, don’t get me wrong. I I’ll watch it every year, but yeah, I think it, it definitely needs a little more creative touch. I think it needs to definitely like reach out to its younger audience. Cause it’s like, like you gotta find a way to get them wanting to watch it because.
Julia: It’s very niche now. Right? Like before the Academy Awards, like we sat, like, I, I remember everyone would talk about it the next day at work or at school. And now it’s like, I’m a pea standing alone. Like, no one’s watching, unless they’re a movie and film person, like just very dedicated to this theater and movie arts or whatever you want to call it. Um, and it’s kind of like, it used to be like a cultural bond. Nationwide. And now it’s like, you gotta find your, you gotta find your people.
Julia: Like when you said that you watched the Emmy’s, I was like, oh, they found somebody that watches Emmys
Mario: I love watching. I love watching all these shows. They’re fun. I’m like one day I’ll be there on the red carpet interviewing somebody or just in the audience, you know, saying hi to all the celebrities and they
Julia: I’d love to be a seat filler
Mario: That’s the dream. Right. I don’t want that job. Yeah. Could actually apply for that job, which is like, yeah, you, can you go to, I forget. Seat filler.com or something like that. I remember reading an article about it and they’re like, yeah, you just apply for the job. You have to go through like so much security background though, which is funny.
Mario: I mean, I mean, that makes sense. Yeah. Yeah there, you just apply for the job and then they, if you get accepted, because I heard it’s very hard to get accepted, then I,
Julia: I went through a three month background check for my current job. So I’m like, bring it, I can do it. I can put up with it. Of course, all the times that I’ve talked about CA uh, my crush on Chris Evans might eliminate me from the pool of candidates publicly have gone on record.
Mario: So that kind of goes back around, um, to. How Moonlight won I I feel like because I think, yes. So yes, it was nominated for all these awards, 14 awards, which is outstanding. Um, it did win a lot of the technical words, which modern musical, like you said, it was a, it was an ode to Hollywood and Hollywood loves celebrating itself, you know? So I think he did deserve those nominations. Um, Emma Stone won for best actress. Um, I think what did hurt it in the overall winning the best picture was what we’ve been talking about is like, it wasn’t as diverse and people saw the criticism and even had the criticism of it. And I think that’s intentionally why Moonlight won, because it was like, we can make these films with a Black lead or a Black cast and it can have that recognition. That same recognition as, uh, a big Hollywood movie. And I think that’s why people tend to voted it for it, which I totally agree. It’s a great movie. It’s a. It’s very well done and the acting is superb in that film as well. So I think it did it. Yeah, definitely deserve to win Best Picture. Um, but I think I, I, I do think stuff we have been talking about did hurt Lolo, LA LA Land’s chances of winning best picture.
Mario: And I believe that’s probably the part of the reason I’m. So to look at it that way too, and it’s like, oh yeah, it does make sense that, you know.
Julia: Mahershala Ali, who is the lead in Moonlight or one of the main parties after he wants supporting actor later on, was it the next year or the year after he starred in Green Book which got a lot of… We ain’t got that kind of time, but I got a lot of thoughts and opinions about that film because Green Books were like, anyway, anyway, but Mahershala Ali is such an amazing and talented actor and it helps that he’s really attractive. He, if anyone’s going to prove that, you know, um, you can be a lead actor or a lead in a film or supporting in a film that can do well.
Julia: He’s definitely it because he’s so dedicated to it. He never plays the same guy twice.
Julia: And I love that about him. I love it when actors get out of their comfort zone and try new things, because that’s the point of acting is to embody somebody else.
Mario: And he’s Blade by the way from Marvel, which is great. I haven’t seen that. Sorry. Um,
Julia: Mario it was really great having you on this show today. Can you remind everyone where they can find you if they want to keep up with you online?
Mario: So I just started an Instagram account it’s uh, at movies with Mr. Mario. Um, so just kind of, uh, Reviewing movies and TV shows that I’m recently watching.
Mario: Um, I’m just kind of starting, so be patient with me because I’m trying to learn the format and how to do stuff, but it was just an encouragement from some friends and stuff. And like you said, I’m a big movie buff. I love watching movies. I love going to the movies. I love award shows. So, um, just to kind of another expression of my passion and I guess I’m kind of sharing with them.
Mario: Others too, because we all live in this world and movies, I feel like are a big part of the world. And I feel like there’s always a movie for somebody. And I think that’s how a lot of the world relates is being able to talk about a movie or, you know, you know, sharing. Um, our thoughts about a show that we’re all watching like that definitely, I feel like brings us together.
Mario: So, yeah. So that’s just one of my passions. So yeah. Movies with Mr. Mario. That is my Instagram. If you want to follow or comment or like, I’d appreciate it.
Julia: Nice. Yes. And we’ll share, we’ll share, um, your profile and our stories too. So that way people can find you easily as well. Can’t find you on their own, um, listeners LA LA Land is available wherever you rent or purchase movies like Apple TV, or Google play.
Julia: As always, you can find us in between episodes on Instagram at pop culture makes me jealous. Thanks for tuning in y’all until next time.-