Parking Lot Notes: First Man

Damien Chazelle’s First Man is an intimate portrait of the first man on the moon and not necessarily of his times; in absolute essence it is the tale of focus and realization. Look for the number of times the camera stays on the eyes of Ryan Gosling and then cuts to the solitary moon.

Unnaturally too for a space biography film which could have made us of the expanse, the camera lurks close to the astronaut and their families, but the emotions that come with the families are not not effective and as with most real lives do not readily lend themselves to drama.

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Ryan Gosling is fantastic as an distant archer with eyes always on target but using the moonshot as a way to get over his daughter’s death results leads to a contained movie.

This leads me to a question on the nature of bio-pics themselves; to establish the greatness of a person or in other words for a person to warrant a bio-pic shouldn’t the impact and hence the setting be also part of the story telling? Chazelle doesn’t seem to think so, but maybe he is right; everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon; here it is more about carrying the weight of ambition.

The Apollo Moon Landings is a very important moment in American history, it reestablished them as ‘the greatest country in the world’ and the ones who reached for the stars (to quote that monologue from the Newsroom) and to see a film that does not harp on this fact is a bit unnerving.

Probably greatness is incidental and that makes making greatness as the main goal pointless. To be the best versions of ourselves, space and time permitting seems a more fulfilling goal.

 

PS: The 2 biggies in the theatres currently (First Man & A Star Is Born) were both first optioned by Clint Eastwood; both were finished by others.

La La Land

la-la-land-pic-2048x1152Having seen hundreds of films in which actors routinely break into song for no reason, the musical is a genre something I could slip right into, only that in La La Land there is always some reason for the music.

La La Land operates in multiple dualities, the real city and the virtual city, the earth and the stars, the famous and those without a face, the past and the present, and more importantly how dreams push reality and how ruthlessly dreams are pushed back by this reality.

Yes and all this is told through the lives of two.

Mia and Seb.

The film keeps religiously hinting at the co-existence of real and dream states, where even a phone ringtone brings you back to drab daily life and the sight of an old movie theatre could push the leads into the clouds.

Not falling into the trap of grandness, Damien Chazelle shows meditative concentration on his leads, shot in the ultimate film maker’s wet dream of a format: cinemascope, when the screen is filled with Emma Stone’s crystal green eyes or Ryan Gosling’s timely nod, even the best of nature’s landscape would concede defeat.

I wouldn’t want to limit La La Land as a love story of two struggling artists in a big city, but it does brilliantly work solely as a love story, beyond the romance, has there been any film that uses the yearning for the past and aspirations to come and yet stay contemporary? Questions are a plenty and these gently push the film along, without being conscious and feeling self important about handing these questions.

La La Land is a film that flushes out all emotions, moments to cry into crumpled hankies are interrupted with moments to beam with happiness at what La La Land throws at us, but not for a moment it looks constructed or organised.

La la land doesn’t want to be brilliant, but it cannot help itself from being so.

Great films aren’t necessarily great because they utilize the finest of techniques or technicians, it is great because of their ability to bring out emotions that other great films too invariably bring out, something like a Casablanca, something like a Sagara Sangamam.

Maybe it is a mixture of all that.

A complete film which takes all from Old Hollywood but yet comes out as its own, the flourishes of which will be enjoyed for years.

To all those quick to use the phrase “they dont make them like that any more”,

they just did.

 

PS : It is only providence that I got to see a film divided into parts namely winter, spring, summer , fall and winter again in a theatre called seasons.

DESPARATELY SEEKING SOUL MATES

Crazy, Stupid Love a wonderfully carved and wholesome title about something which we are yet to understand begins with the proximity of legs.

At the end a series of leg nudging, we see two parallel legs. The legs along with the bodies are stuck in a marriage falling apart due to boredom after twenty five years. Steve Carell slips into once again, the shoes of an everyman lost in his time. It is something he does with panache, ironically playing the loser with a sense of humor, while Julianne Moore compliments him as a woman who is yet to come off on her own.

Ryan Gosling on the other hand plays a debonair bar inhabitant cum girl hunter who erases himself in order to bed them and there is the teenage babysitter crush and a boy who uses deviant means to attain his soul mate. In fact, everybody in the movie is in meditation of ways to find their soul mate

Apart from all this, Crazy Stupid Love is a comedy and achieves more laughs than anything on screen for the past year, barring Delhi Belly (to my knowledge).

It also takes time in inserting in-jokes. When Moore’s character leaves Carell, it rains and he says, “OH, what a cliché!”  

Brilliant. Everybody loves a comedy even if it is crazy and stupid.But only love is crazy and stupid,not the film.