Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Movie Monday: La La Land and City of Gold

The doom and gloom of the election is settling in like a stinky unwelcome visitor, a bit like the scent in the 2015 sea glass green Prius I purchased two weeks ago. Since most of the people I choose to surround myself with wanted Bernie as our President and are, in general, very forward thinking artistic types, the current landscape is more than troubling. I've tried to throw myself into my work, sequestered behind the locked door of the beautiful aromas and romantic decor of the perfumery. The illusion works pretty well, except for that my health is declining, bills are piling up and patience is wearing thin. I feel like at any moment, life as I know it will end, which was almost the case on Saturday afternoon when a huge Pepper tree crashed across two lanes of Canoga, just seconds after I had passed.

Life as an artist has always been challenging, whether it was getting out of ones comfort zone by calling an art director for an appointment or standing in the corner of an important gathering where networking was the goal. Now however, the razor sharp edge of where I've built my world is a bit sharper than usual.

On the bright side, militaristic, social conservative views are a hot bed for art. In the 1980's, I was attending Otis Parsons Art Institute, located in the highest crime area of the City of Angles history. To illustrate how bad the neighborhood had become, the nearby lake at MacArthur Park would get drained regularly for dead bodies. Despite the political atmosphere, we had some of the most provocative art and social political illustration of that decade. I suspect that the next few years will be another fertile period.

For todays Movie Monday post, I thought I'd share two views of a Los Angeles which I live in and am far from. On one hand we have La La Land, written and directed by Damien Chazelle the fellow behind the brilliant film Whiplash. Regardless of the buzz I was not interested in seeing this film, mainly because I don't generally like musicals and it didn't appear to have much depth. Standing alongside La La Land there is the documentary City of Gold about restaurant critic Jonathan Gold.

I went to see La La Land because my husband Greg had heard from a friend he respected that it was good. Getting out of the studio and house for a film is usually a good thing and indeed was the case, however, I'm a bit surprised by how much the critics and the academy are loving this film. The movie industry generally adores films about themselves (except for Trumbo) which may be where the source of the love fest. It's also very possible I'm missing something because I actually live in Los Angeles, have a daughter who is an actor and just don't like those darn palm trees that keep showing up in films about LA!

The documentary about Jonathan Gold was a Netflix DVD that arrived by way of my actor daughter Eve, who like most millennials, have a very discerning taste in food. Is it a coincidence that the main song in La La Land is called City of Stars, yes it is.

Although the palm trees are once again overused, the documentary does a great job at capturing the grittiness and diversity of Los Angeles while telling the story of a Pulitzer Prize winning writer who really does love this city and its rich, ethnic food culture.

Overall 2016 was a pretty dry year for great films, why exactly this is the case is still a bit of a mystery, even after discussions with friends in the industry and out. There are still a few films on my list to see like The Lobster and When A Monster Calls.

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