Category Archives: Oscar 2017

La La Land, Director – Damien Chazelle

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So I will start this review with a confession. I really am not a fan of musicals. Some, like An American in Paris or West Side Story get past my prejudices but most do not. I chose this film because there is lots of buzz about it and to be fair it is very well done. The other reason I chose this one is that the director also did Whiplash last year which is a very powerful film and not a musical. It was tough and polished and so I thought I would give this a chance. My verdict is that this is a very good movie, if you like musicals and romantic stories. If either or both of these are not your game stay very far away. Still, again to be fair, the two leads, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone turn in great performances. But… the somewhat twist ending really made me gag which, if you like romantic twists, will endear the film to you and have you leaving with a smile and wee tear in your eye. Yes its like that. I will say one thing. The film has some very good jazz in it and is built around the lead’s love of jazz to some extent just not nearly enough for me. Attend at your own risk unless, like I say, you love that sort of thing. Okay one more kick at the can. The film has great cinematography and set design. Use of colour is great as well and it is a real homage to the Hollywood musical of the past but moved into the 21st century film technology. The music and dancing (and it’s a musical after all) I found to be forgettable but its all about the story right?

I Am Not Your Negro, Director – Raoul Peck

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I saw this film on the same day that I saw Denial so I had a day of films about racism and how it is dealt with in our society. Both received well deserved long standing ovations from large audiences. I Am Not Your Negro however was a documentary based on the work of James Baldwin his contribution to the civil rights movement in the 60’s and his relationship with Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. It documents his reaction to their murders, and describes how he perceived his own role in the battles of the time. The director also explores the themes of the 60’s struggles with the current struggles and looks in depth at the ongoing racial struggles in the US. It is a complex film that deserves much reflection. I am not as familiar as I should be with James Baldwin’s writing and thinking and need to correct that deficit. I also want and need to see this film several more times to be sure I get a full understanding of the complexities. We had a chance for a Q and A with the director who is Haitian born. He took ten years to put this film together as he delved into archival footage and Baldwin’s own rich writing. Baldwin had proposed writing a book about the three leaders of the civil rights movement, their conflicts and friendships and their sacrifices. He never was able to complete this project himself but Peck decided his film could be the book Baldwin never wrote. I think he has succeeded and we should all see this film and come to grips with the racism of our society.