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Thoughts on "La La Land"?


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#1 bradley hayman

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 01:01 AM

Just came from the theater and was overall impressed.  Some of the musical numbers seemed a little forced but solid acting, good music, original ideas.  Especially notable was the cinematography, although it was perhaps too notable. Almost every shot featured bright red or blue lights filling up faces.  Very nice to look at but I was wondering what you guys think of something like that.  Is it a little ostentatious?  Should EVERY shot have beautiful sunsets and red neon?   

 

Just curious...


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#2 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 01:55 AM

Know what you mean.. I think if it actually helps the story/mood/feel then its a style for a reason..which I think it does in this film.. if its endless chocolate box shots just because they could hang around till magic hour .. but for no reason script/story wise.. its BS in my opinion .. and the film is in alot of trouble.. the camerawork should never over power the film .. but serve it.. IMHO..


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#3 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 02:09 AM

Musicals are about heightened emotions expressed through song and dance, so the rich colors match the romantic mood -- there isn't really a need to be subtle or visually austere in that situation.  In fact, it's hard to be too visually expressive with light and color in those moments as people sing, dance, and the camera flies through the air reflecting the energy and passions of the moment.


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#4 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 05:01 AM

Twas beautiful, twas fantastic, loved every minute. They did a great job and I believe it could win best picture as I don't know anything so unanimously loved.

Was it overly perfect coloring wise? Yes... it was done by one of the best colorists around and she did a bang up job. Shot well, lit well, colored well. Couldn't ask for more!
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#5 John Holland

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 06:47 AM

So was it the colorist not the cinematographer who was responsible for the "look" ?


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#6 Michael Rodin

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 11:22 AM

Hardly. When the "look" is completely done in color timing, it's called amateur filmmaking. 


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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 11:51 AM

Obviously a lot of the colors, the shooting at dusk, etc. were done in camera and then enhanced with the post as usual with all movies, mainly for matching, but the cinematographer and director have specifically said that the look wasn't "created" in post because that can look too artificial. The colorist in the ICG Magazine article stated that the color-correction work was more like a photochemical one in terms of the coloring.  They worked very hard to get this look in camera but I wouldn't discount the work of their colorist either.  I'm sure that when they shot that dance at twilight in the hilltops above Los Angeles, they used typical color-correction tools to get the color of the sky consistent over the course of two days of dusk.  And apparently they used some green on their lights so that the sky could be shifted towards the pink, a trick that could be done in photochemical timing too.


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#8 bradley hayman

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 08:02 PM

Musicals are about heightened emotions expressed through song and dance, so the rich colors match the romantic mood -- there isn't really a need to be subtle or visually austere in that situation.  In fact, it's hard to be too visually expressive with light and color in those moments as people sing, dance, and the camera flies through the air reflecting the energy and passions of the moment.

 

that's a good point.  I'm still digesting the movie I think and ultimately I don't want to sound too critical because I was very impressed by a lot of things in it.  


Edited by bradley hayman, 26 December 2016 - 08:09 PM.

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#9 bradley hayman

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 08:17 PM

I think if it actually helps the story/mood/feel then its a style for a reason..which I think it does in this film.. if its endless chocolate box shots just because they could hang around till magic hour .. 

makes me think of Heaven's Gate.  Vilmos did some fantastic work for that movie, but the story/script were a complete mess and the movie was doomed.  So "chocolate box shots" rendered meaningless due to bad direction I think.  That movie was an extreme example of that and thankfully La La is light years better of course...


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#10 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 26 December 2016 - 10:49 PM

makes me think of Heaven's Gate.  Vilmos did some fantastic work for that movie, but the story/script were a complete mess and the movie was doomed.  So "chocolate box shots" rendered meaningless due to bad direction I think.  That movie was an extreme example of that and thankfully La La is light years better of course...

 

 

Well some people think that film was a master piece .. each to their own.. but I think for all films thats true.. a great film has all the ducks lined up.. but a film can have one of the best DP,s in the world on board and still be a total crock of shite.. and there have been quite a few.. but there have been many very good films that haven't necessarily had the worlds best camerawork or time and money for great locations,big lights etc.. but have a great script and actors.. its a visual medium for sure .. but camera work alone is not going to save a bad script.. IMHO.. I agree with Tyler LaLa is a great film.. Im sure there are alot of other head aches involved but it must be great for a DP ,to shoot a musical with a decent budget.. all lighting logic sources out the window . Chicago  had great camerawork too.. 


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#11 Byron Karl

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 09:47 PM

Watching La La Land, I was distracted by the visible "smearing" that occurred when the camera movement was quick. It was most noticeable in the opening sequence. Everything looked sharp, but then when the camera did a quick pan or crane the whole image went out of focus, in a sort of blur.

 

Surely this can't be someone ignorant of shutter angles, or panning speeds. Is it possible the projection could have introduced this issue? It kept popping up whenever there seemed to be an adventurous camera move.

 

Also, I did notice tons of soft focus on tracking shots that would loose the subject and then snap back in focus. Wondering if something was just off, as this film seems like the kind that would catch issues like that. Let me know if I'm the only one noticing this and I'll chalk it up to the theater.


Edited by Byron Karl, 30 December 2016 - 09:48 PM.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 December 2016 - 09:52 PM

I saw the film in the theater and it looked like normal motion strobing from fast pans when shooting at 24 fps -- some of those fast pans were done to hide cuts.

 

I also saw some focus buzzes, nothing unusual for something shot on film using anamorphic lenses with the camera moving all the time on a remote head or Steadicam, i.e. there is no operator looking through the optical viewfinder to judge focus, so focus-pulling is mostly dependent on tape measurements and experienced guesswork.  It's not like shooting in HD where you have this big sharp monitor image to judge focus.


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#13 joshua gallegos

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:11 PM

Saw the film today, as it barely opened yesterday in Houston, and I thought it was a lovely love letter to cinema. If you really think about it, it's Casablanca the musical, the melody that Gosling plays in his club, and the reference to Paris and Ingrid Bergman. The cinematography reminded me so much of Robert Elswit, also a lot of heavy references to Vincente Minnelli - particularly 'The Band Wagon', and of course Meet Me in St. Louis with the changing seasons and color outfits. You can tell Ryan Gosling was watching a lot of Gene Kelly, his dance routines were suave and catchy. I don't like the pacing in terms of how they easily break into song. It was Gene Kelly who once said that a character only sings, when words can no longer express their feelings. Overall, I loved it, though I hated the happy ending where everyone succeeds and get what they want out of life. It should've been far more pessimistic. 


Edited by joshua gallegos, 06 January 2017 - 02:15 PM.

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#14 joshua gallegos

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:22 PM

Just came from the theater and was overall impressed.  Some of the musical numbers seemed a little forced but solid acting, good music, original ideas.  Especially notable was the cinematography, although it was perhaps too notable. Almost every shot featured bright red or blue lights filling up faces.  Very nice to look at but I was wondering what you guys think of something like that.  Is it a little ostentatious?  Should EVERY shot have beautiful sunsets and red neon?   

 

Just curious...

Well there are a variety of different musicals, 'La La Land' is a fantasy musical, we're not truly dealing in the real world. Think about a film like 'For Me and My Gal' with Judy Garland and Gene Kelly or Yankee Doodle Dandy, the music in those films come out of the characters, because they are actual musicians. Then there's the Vincente Minnelli type where it's a color and fantasy, as in 'Meet Me in St. Louis' or 'The Band Wagon', and that is precisely where 'La La Land' falls under. So, I thought it was a remarkable production that has reinvented the classical musical where everyone can enjoy it without shame, or feeling uncomfortable! Is it as great as 'Singin in the Rain', hell no! But, it's a wonderful ode to the musicals of the past, and it works. I loved it. 


Edited by joshua gallegos, 06 January 2017 - 02:23 PM.

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#15 bradley hayman

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:27 PM

 It should've been far more pessimistic. 

 

the ending did have a tinge of gloom since SPOILERS they had to break up to achieve what they wanted and weren't exactly happy about it.


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#16 joshua gallegos

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:28 PM

Watching the film just instantly brought memories of all the wonderful classics I've absorbed, you can see his influences right away. I think it's great there's hardly anyone around who loves these films so much, they'd want to show a new generation of clueless filmgoers the power of classic cinema!

 


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#17 joshua gallegos

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:32 PM

 

the ending did have a tinge of gloom since SPOILERS they had to break up to achieve what they wanted and weren't exactly happy about it.

true, but

 

SPOILERS AHEAD ----

 

I mean, she becomes a big movie star after everyone laughed at her play, and he opens a jazz club, and what are the chances of that happening in real life. It just seemed unnatural. There's a similar musical with Judy Garland called 'Presenting Lily Mars' with Van Heflin, and it's a similar story to the one in 'La La Land', Judy tries to achieve stardom in broadway and she pesters a successful playwright to cast her in the billing, and fails many times before she actually succeeds. What the film lacked is showing that Emma Stone had the ability to hold her own in a movie production, and 4 months of filming in Paris for a novice and inexperienced actress is a bit too much. Even someone like Audrey Hepburn needed a master filmmaker like William Wyler to get the best out of her, I just didn't believe that aspect. But still. great film. 


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#18 Richard Boddington

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:38 PM

true, but

 

SPOILERS AHEAD ----

 

I mean, she becomes a big movie star after everyone laughed at her play, and he opens a jazz club, and what are the chances of that happening in real life. It just seemed unnatural. 

 

 

If people want "real life" they can watch the news. You pay 15 bucks to watch a movie and get AWAY FROM "real life."

 

R,


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#19 joshua gallegos

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Posted 06 January 2017 - 02:50 PM

 

 

If people want "real life" they can watch the news. You pay 15 bucks to watch a movie and get AWAY FROM "real life."

 

R,

"Real life" was the wrong expression, I meant to say 'suspension of disbelief'. If you witness a character that is completely broken down after a failed play, and being mocked by some a-holes, then the confidence level will be at an all-time low. To think that a novice actress would undertake a job in a feature film and hold her own is absolutely incredulous. There just had to be a scene where we could see that she could hold her own, is all I'm saying. We saw her fail to the point of quitting, and then five years later she's magically a big movie star, there just needed to be that moment where we saw that was possible. But, yes, the film is about sacrifice, just like Casablanca, the theme of sacrifice for a greater cause/vision. 


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#20 Ravi Kiran

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Posted 07 January 2017 - 05:20 AM

"Real life" was the wrong expression, I meant to say 'suspension of disbelief'. If you witness a character that is completely broken down after a failed play, and being mocked by some a-holes, then the confidence level will be at an all-time low. To think that a novice actress would undertake a job in a feature film and hold her own is absolutely incredulous. There just had to be a scene where we could see that she could hold her own, is all I'm saying. We saw her fail to the point of quitting, and then five years later she's magically a big movie star, there just needed to be that moment where we saw that was possible. But, yes, the film is about sacrifice, just like Casablanca, the theme of sacrifice for a greater cause/vision. 

 

It's not an unreasonable metamorphosis. We can connect the dots and assume that she has it in her to become a star over the five years the film doesn't show us.


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