Getting Lost in La La Land

Getting Lost in La La Land

Yes, IT IS that good!

If you have not seen the film "La La Land", do yourself a favor and watch it right now. Go buy it, rent it, Redbox it, whatever you have to do to get that movie projecting to your eyeballs. I was always very interested in the movie, as a huge fan of musicals and the Hollywood culture and the legendary Ryan Gosling, it seemed to be right up my alley. For some reason I just never got into a theater to see it, and following the Academy Awards my hype was at an all time high. Still however, La La Land evaded me. Finally a couple weeks ago it was released on Blu-Ray and I finally got to sit down and watch it with my girlfriend. My initial impressions was that it was a fantastic, fun, and emotional movie, but it didn't blow me away. It wasn't until just 48 hours later that I started to listening to the soundtrack that I really fell in love with the film. Almost a week later, both my girlfriend and I cannot stop talking, listening, and thinking about it. I believe it to be one of the best films made recently, and definitely one of my all time favorites.

With all of that said, let's dive in.

The Soundtrack

I'm not sure why, but after my initial viewing of La La Land, it felt like something was missing, like one tiny gear in the colossal machine that is the film was not quite turning. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, was I expecting something that didn't happen? Did the ending turn me off? Was it over hyped? I wasn't prepared to surrender. The next day I popped the soundtrack on Spotify and gave it a listen, then again the next day, and the next. Suddenly I obsessed with it. I don't think a day has gone by where I haven't listened to the whole thing at least once. Not only is the music beautifully crafted by Justin Hurwtiz, but it adds so much to the movie. From the traditional musical songs like "Another Day of Sun" and "Someone in the Crowd" to the witty back and forth of "A Lovely Night" to John Legend's "Start a Fire" it's all so diverse and so good. The subtle piano cues and theme's played all throughout the soundtrack have emotional weight to them, so much so that I refuse to listen to one song because it's ending actually makes me sad. Once you've experience the movie, the music corresponds so well and the more you listen to it the more you understand and fully enjoy everything La La Land has to offer.

Gosling and Stone Shine

I gotta say, I wasn't sure how this combo was going to work out. I don't think I've ever actually seen Ryan Gosling smile ever in a movie before, and I didn't know if Emma Stone would have the singing chops for a big budget Hollywood musical movie. Boy did they shut me the hell up. The pair work so incredibly well together they pull you right into the movie. And while neither are going to win a Grammy for their vocal work, their singing feels entirely natural for their characters and it in no way is bad. It's more about their performance and what they're saying than how impressive their vocals are. If you don't fall in love with these characters, you have no heart.

Also, extra shout out to the Gos for learning how to play improv jazz piano (to a frighteningly impressive degree) and tap dance. I legitimately wonder if there is anything Ryan Gosling can't do.

John Legend

I honestly really didn't know what La La Land was about, I knew it had the Gos and Stone and they fell in love and there was music and that's about it. It obviously turns out to be much more than that (and not in a way), but halfway through the movie out of nowhere John Legend shows up as 'Keith.' He's from a band Sebastian (Gosling's character) used to play with and he wants him to come back and play. I don't want to spoil much here, but at one point we see the band on stage while on tour and they play an entirely original jazz-pop song co-written by Hurwitz and Legend. The song (Start a Fire) is actually pretty great and very catchy and it could totally be a pop hit outside of the movie (it actually hit #1 in the UK charts when the soundtrack was released). It was a very awesome surprise and if you're a fan of Legend at all you should check him out in this movie.

The Jazz

Gosling's character Sebastian is a man set on bringing back traditional jazz in to today's music scene. His dream is to open his own Jazz Club just like they used to be back in the old days. So obviously there's lots of Jazz to be heard throughout the movie, whether it's scenes in a club, Sebastian's improv piano playing, or the movie's soundtrack (try listening to the Summer Montage song and NOT want to dance around outside in the sun). With today's radio inundated with crappy pop hits that all sound exactly the same, it's incredibly refreshing to hear a whole genre of music that seems to be mostly lost to history to younger generations.

The Ending


I don't want to spoil the ending here, because I imagine some people reading haven't seen the movie. I'll probably pen something up on the actual story of La La Land later, but the ending left a profound effect on me. At first you might feel a little betrayed by it, but the more you think about it, and the more you understand the movie and the characters you eventually come around to know the ending was the most perfect way that movie could have ended. Just thinking about it makes me emotional. I'm gonna stop there, because you need to experience it on your own.

Well that's all I got. If you have any inkling of interest you NEED to do yourself a service a watch this movie. It's such a refreshing change of pace from the horde of superhero and action movies coming out today, and you won't regret it. Excuse me while I go listen to it some more.

Cover Image Credit: The Atlantic Transmission

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A Playlist From The iPod Of A Middle Schooler In 2007

I will always love you, Akon.

Something happened today that I never thought in a million years would happen. I opened up a drawer at my parents' house and I found my pink, 4th generation iPod Nano. I had not seen this thing since I graduated from the 8th grade, and the headphones have not left my ears since I pulled it out of that drawer. It's funny to me how music can take you back. You listen to a song and suddenly you're wearing a pair of gauchos, sitting on the bleachers in a gym somewhere, avoiding boys at all cost at your seventh grade dance. So if you were around in 2007 and feel like reminiscing, here is a playlist straight from the iPod of a middle schooler in 2007.

1. "Bad Day" — Daniel Powter

2. "Hips Don't Lie" — Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean

SEE ALSO: 23 Iconic Disney Channel Moments We Will Never Forget

3. "Unwritten" — Natasha Bedingfield

4. "Run It!" — Chris Brown

5. "Girlfriend" — Avril Lavigne

6. "Move Along" — All-American Rejects

7. "Fergalicious" — Fergie

8. "Every Time We Touch" — Cascada

9. "Ms. New Booty" — Bubba Sparxxx

10. "Chain Hang Low" — Jibbs

11. "Smack That" — Akon ft. Eminem

12. "Waiting on the World to Change" — John Mayer

13. "Stupid Girls" — Pink

14. "Irreplaceable" — Beyonce

15. "Umbrella" — Rihanna ft. Jay-Z

16. "Don't Matter" — Akon

17. "Party Like A Rockstar" — Shop Boyz

18. "This Is Why I'm Hot" — Mims

19. "Beautiful Girls" — Sean Kingston

20. "Bartender" — T-Pain

21. "Pop, Lock and Drop It" — Huey

22. "Wait For You" — Elliot Yamin

23. "Lips Of An Angel" — Hinder

24. "Face Down" — Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

25. "Chasing Cars" — Snow Patrol

26. "No One" — Alicia Keys

27. "Cyclone" — Baby Bash ft. T-Pain

28. "Crank That" — Soulja Boy

29. "Kiss Kiss" — Chris Brown

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30. "Lip Gloss" — Lil' Mama

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#MeToo Has Ravaged Our Industries, But Let's Not Let It Destroy The Integrity Of The Writing Community

Not separating an artist from their work is different when translated into the writing community: Ideas are inherently separate.


This article is a response to the New York Times' piece, "Must Writers Be Moral? Their Contracts May Require It."

Here's another spark to the debate of whether artists' private lives should be separated from their work or not. The dispute has affected multiple industries within the entertainment sector, the most notably being film, after prominent figures like director Harvey Weinstein and former House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey were blacklisted by the #MeToo movement. Calls for boycotting the work of those accused of sexual misconduct quickly flooded social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram. Outrage machines hosted on those platforms have caused men to risk losing their jobs over accusations, a theme most appropriately summarized by Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his arduous confirmation hearing process.

However, adults are not the only ones involved with the cleansing of industries. Just last year, the same argument was revisited by youths criticizing the pedophilic and homophobic acts of a popular rapper's death. Our obsession with how much weight the author should hold with their work only seems to be growing — stretching its tendrils into other industries.

Judith Shulevitz' piece in the New York Times reminded me how members of the writing community aren't immune to this fight. Similar to how corporations had the right to remove Kevin Spacey from the "House of Cards" cast, publishers are starting to follow suit with "morality clauses" in their contracts. Companies like Penguin Random House have begun reserving the right to pull work from the shelves if:

"Past or future conduct of the author inconsistent with the author's reputation at the time this agreement is executed comes to light and results in sustained, widespread public condemnation of the author that materially diminishes the sales potential of the work."

At the surface, clauses such as these are seemingly innocuous. However, it sets a dangerous precedent, as opinionated writers may find themselves unable to share their beliefs without fear of having their work pulled off the shelves. Of course, in a free market society, the product is entirely dependent on the support of the consumers. It's this type of attitude that has led to accused men like Louis C.K not being able to perform as frequently as before. It's also the logical premise for boycotting: a lack of support for their art will lead to the demise of the artist.

But writing is a sector I'm willing to defend as unique in relation to consumer support. In order to increase the amount of ideas spread through writing, writing must be as available as possible. Popularity of the work is the factor we should depend on to measure its rise and fall within consumerism. Support of the consumer can still be expressed through commendations such as the positions on the NYT Bestseller List or the stamp of approval of Oprah's Book Club.

But under the threat of complete removal, as someone interested in pursuing writing as a career, I simply cannot stand idle.

Because of recent attacks directed towards the media, certain members of the print press, journalists like Maggie Haberman, have recently joined the ranks of journalists who share the title of public figures — a club formerly exclusive to broadcast journalists, such as Anderson Cooper. And because they are now exposed to the public eye as opinionated humans with popular Twitter accounts, they leave themselves to be torn apart by online mobs.

It's these same mobs that get people fired without probable cause. It's these allegations that cause storms online that crowds are willing to jump on. It's the phenomenon called doxxing, where figures like Kathy Griffin call for personal information of the Covington students to be released.

#MeToo allows this doxxing attitude to blacklist authors for causing controversy, and like philosophers in 17th century Spain, they find themselves swarmed by the majority that refuses to let their work be spread.

This isn't a unique scenario, simply uncharacteristically energized. What's different because of the introduction of "morality clauses" are the financial liabilities of controversial writing that writers now face.

In the past, it was easy to brave opposition. After all, opinionated writing has always had its enemies. But when these enemies can use platforms like Twitter to their advantage and start mobs to cause outrage over writing in order to cause a termination of a contract, that is when the line is crossed.

It used to be that if there was uproar, the publisher could deal with the matter internally. However, with "uproar clauses," it gives publishers an advantage by legally allowing them to drop their clients at the behest of digital mobs while still maintaining finances.

This doesn't mean that we shouldn't report allegations concerning authors. It means that just because they spark controversy, their books shouldn't be taken off the shelves.

This policy is dangerous to the writing community, as writers may feel discouraged to express controversial opinions, whether in their writing or on their social media platforms. It's a shame that the art versus artist argument had to extend this far into a unique profession. While it may be acceptable to cancel notable actors for homophobic tweets, it's unacceptable to let the bubble of free thought shrink in the name of consumerism.

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