UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘La La Land’ (2016)

What lies ahead is an unedited jumble of words, thrown onto a blank sheet of paper late at night after seeing a movie. Enjoy at your own risk.

I just got home from seeing the film that will win Best Picture at the Academy Awards in two-and-a-half months time.

I don’t care that there are still several worthy films still to come (or, rather, films that think they’re worthy, like what I imagine Ben Affleck’s Live By Night thinks of itself, so it pushes for a limited release on Christmas 2016, but isn’t released wide until January 13, 2017, so it obviously cares but like, sorry, Ben, you already got your Oscar and you have yet to prove you deserve another one so moving on…). La La Land will win Best Picture. You can quote me. You can etch that quote into my grave stone if you want. There’s no way a film that is this dazzling and grand, while also playing to the Old Guard so well through its musical numbers and interest in exploring Hollywood culture itself doesn’t win.

It’s just too bad I think it’s only just a good movie.

(hit CONTINUE READING to read about some problems, and also some good stuff) Continue reading “UNFILTERED THOUGHTS: ‘La La Land’ (2016)”

Academy Awards Preview: Best Picture Nominee ‘Whiplash’

With the Academy Awards upcoming on February 22nd, ‘More Critical’ hopes to review the 8 films nominated for Best Picture. We will look more closely at why each particular movie might not be deserving of film’s highest credential.


In the past few weeks, it’s fair to say J.K. Simmons has done well for himself as he heads into Sunday’s ceremony the favorite to collect another Best Supporting Actor award. Simmons terrifies as Terrence Fletcher in Whiplash, an over-zealous and aggressive jazz professor; the character envelopes him, as his shiny, bald head and veiny, throbbing arms add to the menacing effect. Miles Teller also performs admirably in the lead role of Andrew Neiman, bloody hands wrapped around drumsticks and all. The film cleans up in a timely 106 minutes, looks good and explores a world infrequently visited, intertwining it with the suspense of a gripping teacher versus pupil rivalry.

Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons star in ‘Whiplash’

Unfortunately, throughout, the film feels as if a looming deadline forced director and writer Damien Chazelle to call it quits on an unpolished screenplay. The script’s problems are easily mendable. For one, Fletcher pours his heart out to Andrew near the film’s end in a monologue that would have helped define the character and aided the film if it had been present in the movie’s first 20 minutes. A viewer can reasonably assume that Fletcher pushes his students only because he wants the best from them, but revealing a softer side to the character helps the audience understand him more and thus creates more drama in the end when events go awry. In no way should Fletcher become palatable, but relatable and palatable are not the same. Continue reading “Academy Awards Preview: Best Picture Nominee ‘Whiplash’”