2017 has arrived, bringing with it snow, bitingly cold winds, and, of course, awards season. This past Sunday, NBC broadcast the annual Golden Globes, bringing with it a cavalcade of celebrities, and high hopes to win one of the entertainment industry’s highest honors. In particular, a little film by the name of La La Land, a musical romp reminiscent of the Golden Age movie musicals of the mid-20th century, had high hopes to bring home a record number of wins.
La La Land, starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, was nominated for a grand total of seven categories, including Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy, Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, Best Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Director. By the end of the evening, the film had swept the awards and won all seven of the categories for which it was nominated. Prior to Sunday, the record for most Golden Globe wins by a film was shared by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) and Midnight Express (1978), each with six wins that year. Needless to say, that record was shattered this year.
This reviewer has heard a number of people discussing whether or not these wins were well-deserved – after all, how could a romantic musical win out for best screenplay over a powerhouse film like Moonlight? And how could Emma Stone win Best Actress over Meryl Streep? In some ways, La La Land’s sweeping victory doesn’t make a lot of sense.
After two viewings of the film (one on Christmas Day, one the day after New Years), this reviewer can honestly say that not only are those wins well-deserved, they say something about the state of film and our society’s relationship to entertainment and to the ways in which we consume media.
During the golden age of movie musicals (think Singin’ in the Rain, Easter Parade, and White Christmas), movie audiences craved escape and romance, acrobatic dance routines, hummable music, and, of course, a happy ending. Stars like Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Audrey Hepburn, Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Debbie Reynolds sang, danced, and romanced their ways into audiences’ hearts, and everyone went home happy. But the 1960′s brought widespread home television viewing and rock and roll into the forefront of public consciousness in a highly immediate and visual way. Showtunes and choreography fell by the wayside in favour of mop-topped teenagers with guitars and the Ed Sullivan Show. The movie musical as we knew it retreated to a distant corner of the public consciousness. In past years, it surfaced in the form of movies like Footloose, Yentl, and the ever-loved animated Disney films of the 80′s and 90′s – and more recently in movies like Once. But our dear old movie musical never achieved its former glory – even in Enchanted, which used music to make fun of the old golden age tropes, rather than uplifting them.
La La Land stands out because not only does it bring back the big production numbers, romance, and seemingly spontaneous, flawless dance routines of yesteryear, it transforms them into a work of art that is at once nostalgic and forward-thinking.
The story: a classic show-biz routine. Starry-eyed young actress meets and falls in love with a sardonic, passionate jazz musician. Both are down on their luck, but find new inspiration in one another. They talk, they sing, they dance. They are, in many ways, perfect for one another. BUT their story is not all rose petals and sunshine. Rather than committing fully to the age-old paradigm of the fluffy, happy love story, the two young protagonist’s relationship has very real difficulties, and reflects far more the reality of modern love, rather than another generation’s fantasy.
The music: at once classic Broadway and modern masterpiece. Composer Justin Hurwitz teamed up with Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who wrote the lyrics for the film. Pasek and Paul are Off-Broadway and now Broadway veterans, and are the minds that gave us shows like Dogfight and Dear Evan Hansen, which has just moved to Broadway. The old Broadway sensibility is there – but so is a modern outlook. There is a depth and earnestness to the music that has developed over time in the Broadway sphere since the late 1960′s – far more aware of itself and aware of the underlying humanity. “City of Stars,” which won Best Original Song, is the perfect example of this. It could almost be a modern radio hit – and yet it calls upon influences from the music of composers like Cole Porter and Irving Berlin for a decidedly nostalgic flair. A near-perfect hybrid.
The performances: decidedly modern. As opposed to the old style of movie musical acting (big laughs, big fun, not a lot of subtext or character development), La La Land throws two powerful acting talents (Stone and Gosling) into an older format and asks them to do what they do best. Occasionally while singing and dancing. The result is enchanting, though in a way that makes one very aware that you are watching something different than anything you’ve seen before. Exquisitely nuanced and deeply felt, Stone and Gosling’s performances lend an incredible richness and humanity to a story that, if handled only slightly less carefully, would have been heavy-handed and insincere. (My only complaint: the singing was only so-so. Is it so hard to find actors with that kind of emotional gravity and heart that can really sing? Several alternatives come to mind…)
Overall: a stunning film. Richly visual, highly dynamic, funny, poignant, well-paced (it clocks in at 2 hours and 8 minutes, but feels like far less), and a wonderful leap into the future, rooted in a shared past. The magic of La La Land is in its deft handling of an older genre (which has a power in and of itself) within a modern context, with modern actors, creatives, and technology. We may not see another like La La Land for a long time, but the film points the way into the future – not in the sense that every film from here on out should be a musical, but in the sense that there is something to be said for listening to the past, taking what works, and taking real care in making it a work of art for the modern audience.
Join 400+ guests at the Chicago Cultural Center tomorrow evening at the IronHorse Ball to raise money for ALS research. Channel 7′s weekend sports anchor, Dionne Miller will host and emcee the event. Michael Hutchins, pianist and vocalist will play Sinatra during cocktails and Stitely’s own DJ John Norman will get the crowd dancing after the dinner and awards. Tickets are still available.
Join John Sabal at Cetta’s on Taylor Street for drinks and great music.
Mary Morris, a third grade teacher in Strawberry Plains. Tennessee re-vamped the lyrics to Adele’s “Hello” to sing about school snow days from the teacher’s point of view. Not only are her lyrics spot on and hilarious, her voice is amazing. She originally sang the song for her fellow teachers at a school in-service day meeting. Lucky for her, she has friends in the marketing industry who created a top-notch video for the song. Check it out here:
Join Stitely Entertainment at the Metropolitan Club this Friday, January 22nd for the 7th annual Boutique Bridal show “Love At Breathtaking Heights”.
The event is from 5:30-8:00pm and guests are invited to mingle among Chicago’s elite wedding vendors while enjoying hors d’oeuvres, signature cocktails & spectacular views.
Bridal swag bags and door prizes for guests will be available for you to enjoy.
or check it out on Facebook!
On this incredibly cold Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this flawless harmonizing will warm your soul.
Stitely Entertainment is honored to have been chosen for the Couples Choice Award again in 2016. Thank you to all the couples who shared their day with us and then shared their experience with future brides and grooms.
Stitely Orchestra’s own Bill Overton has been practicing his many instruments during band rehearsals for the musical extravaganza, Louis and Keely “Live” at the Sahara, opening this week at the Royal George Theater.
Louis Prima and Keely Smith were an American musical sensation in the 50s and 60s, virtually pioneering the Lounge Act in Las Vegas. The show is an original Musical Love Story featuring many of the duo’s greatest hits including That Ol’ Black Magic, Hey Boy Hey Girl, What Is This Thing Called Love, Night Train, Ai Ai Ai, and I Can’t Believe You’re in Love With Me.
Frank Sinatra also appears in a pivotal role in this new American musical play, which features a hot seven-piece live band that is guaranteed to bring down the house.
Co-written, directed and produced by Taylor Hackford, best known for directing the movies “An Office and A Gentleman” and “Ray”. Hackford also happens to be married to actress Helen Mirren who is currently playing Elizabeth II in the Broadway run of The Audience.
Book your tickets now!
With cold weather still hanging on by a thread and wedding season just around the corner, we take a moment to look back on our favorite movie weddings. Here are our winners:
Best Wedding Music: Love Actually
This wedding was filled with surprise musicians popping up throughout the pews. Although I always wondered how no one notice some guy walking in with a trombone, this is still a sweet ceremony.
Worst (& the Most) Bridesmaids Dresses: 27 Dresses
This final scene from 27 Dresses is iconic when it comes to ridiculous bridesmaids themes and dress choices.
Most Classic: The Sound of Music
While this scene was never my favorite when I watch The Sound of Muisc as a child, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in it. Maria has found love and the beautiful cathedral combine with her massive train evokes royalty like no one but Julie Andrews could capture. (Unless you are actually royal…)
Favorite from Childhood: The Parent Trap
If you grew up during the late 90s and Early 00s, there’s no way you missed Lindsay Lohan’s breakout role in the Parent Trap. Although I was upset for a while summer when I found out she was only one person, the final wedding scene backed by Natalie Cole’s “Everlasting Love” is still a favorite of mine.
Funniest: My Big Fat Greek Wedding
If anything, this entire movie taught us that while weddings are often stressful, what really matters is the marriage, not the actual ceremony. And also that Windex cures all.
4 Weddings and A Funeral
A Walk to Remember
In today’s wedding industry, everything is optional when it comes to the old wedding industries. Couples are choosing much more non-traditional routes from the color of the dress to the order of the event. To help you decide whether or not to include these traditions, today we look at the pros and cons of including or excluding these traditions.
Bouquet & Garter Toss
For many brides, the bouquet toss is something that they have been looking forward to for quite a while. As a little girl, I was always so excited to be a part of that tradition. It’s exciting and competitive and gets you out of your seat. Now, though, as a single woman being invited to more weddings each summer, that group of bouquet catchers is getting slimmer and slimmer with every event. Be sure to keep in mind how many single ladies are on your guest list before you invite them all up to catch your bouquet. Depending on the number, it could be more embarrassing than exciting!
The manner in which you and your wedding party are introduced has also become a topic of conversation. This is one that a lot of couples don’t even think about being optional. If you and your new spouse don’t love having all the attention on you, opt for a low-key entrance, blending and conversing with the rest of your guests for the cocktail hour. Including or excluding this one really depends on the vibe you want for your party.
With so many couples going the non-traditional dessert route, official cake cuttings are becoming few and far between. If you want to include this tradition, consider having a friend or relative make you a small cake for the cutting/feeding pictures. Then provide your guests with more dessert choices, such as cake balls, pies, macarons, or ice cream!
Cocktails All Day
The timing of your cocktail hour also depends on the vibe you would like to achieve. If you’d like your guests to party all day and all night, many couples are opting to have a short cocktail time before the ceremony to loosen people up, then a more extensive one before dinner & dancing. Choosing this structure of your day may negate the seriousness of the ceremony if that’s important to you. But it may also put people at ease and create a celebratory atmosphere! Having your specific guests in mind for this one will be key.
Finally–don’t feel restricted with your dress color! While shades of white are still dominating, many brides are choosing to add colorful accents or dresses that just scream their style. Wedding color choices don’t necessarily carry the same symbolism for many as they once did–just focus on the beauty and comfort you want to possess on your big day!