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A Film Is Watched: “A Star Is Born” Movie Review

You know you’ve seen way too much superhero films when you come into a movie theatre expecting something positive– a happy ending, a proper resolution, a plot that doesn’t remind you of reality.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite what I got when I went to see “A Star Is Born”.

A remake of a remake of a musical, the film tells the story of  an almost washed up rockstar Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) and the talented ingenue he sees, meets and falls for, Ally (Lady Gaga). 2018’s remake moves at a quick, almost blinding pace, taking the viewer through a story that’s been told before but modernized to some degree (was pretty surprised myself with this ‘modernized’ aspect because the movie’s colors and costuming reminded me a whole lot of Almost Famous, which is set in the 1970s).

Bradley Cooper is a long way from his days as the snobby antagonist in Wedding Crashers. In this film, it’s as if he’s been possessed by someone right out of Woodstock, and maybe that’s a good thing. One of the happier aspects of this movie was watching Lady Gaga shine. The lady’s a sensational talent– and seeing her strip away the pomp of makeup and big hair to step into the role felt special. Yeah, sure, she’ll probably get the excuse of ‘oh look, actress plays an actress’ a la Emma Stone in La La Land, but hey, she’s great. Seeing her in the role made some parts feel almost autobiographical, and having her play the part made the story feel meaningful.

This brings me to what makes this movie: the music. Sure the plot felt cliche and moved a little too blindly for my taste, but it was the film’s songs that tied everything together. A Star Is Born did its job by allowing the scenes with music to push everything forward and evoke the strongest emotions. The scenes did their job, and needless to say, the performers did too.

The movie musical revival is here. It isn’t the greatest start (sorry, La La Land, Greatest Showman), but it’s on its way… we’ll get there.

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‘Crazy, Rich, (But Not Representative Of All) Asians’: A CRA Review

When thought pieces (and pieces with not so much thought) spring up left and right about a movie, you know it’s a big deal.

It’s been less than a month since the release of Crazy Rich Asians, and needless to say, the movie has taken the world by storm. CRA is a breakthrough for Asian representation, and has been a source of pride for the Asian community.

On Plot

Crazy Rich Asians tells the love story of Economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend, fellow professor Nick Young (Henry Golding, in his feature film debut). The two have a seemingly normal (and happy) relationship, until they decide to travel back to Nick’s home country of Singapore in order to attend his best friend Colin (Chris Pang)’s wedding. It is there that Rachel discovers her relationship to Nick is more complicated than expected– it turns out he’s filthy rich, very eligible and his mother Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) isn’t too fond of her.

On the surface, the plot has a number of known romantic comedy elements– the enigmatic boyfriend, the disapproving mother, the obstacle filled relationship. However, it is the movie’s ability to tell a universal story with genuine Asian flair that truly makes it special.

On Stars

Needless to say, there is more to this cast than being ‘all Asian’. They are a talented bunch composed of first time film stars (Henry Goulding), current trailblazers (Constance Wu), talented comedic actors (Ken Jeong, the Daily Show’s Ronny Chieng, the absolutely awesome Awkwafina) to screen vets (Michelle Yeoh and Lisa Lu) and everyone in between.

Wu and Goulding shine bright at the movie’s modern day leads, and play off their strong supporting cast quite well. Constance Wu and Awkwafina are hilarious together, and their scenes with Ken Jeong as Peik Lin (Awkwafina)’s dad are some of the movie’s funniest. Michelle Yeoh exudes real and relatable as Nick’s mother Eleanor– reminding us all of our own strong moms in the process.

On Sound

From bold, modern takes on the same Chinese folk songs that bored Asian kids like myself back in elementary school to Chinese covers of popular songs like “Yellow”, Crazy Rich Asians’ distinct sound gives the movie even more life.

It’s most well known track is the Chinese cover of Coldplay’s “Yellow”– which plays at a pivotal part of the movie. Another favorite is the hauntingly beautiful cover of “Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” by artist and YouTuber Kina Grannis, that plays during the movie’s absolutely stunning wedding scene.

On Representation: In Detail

I initially came out of the film with the mentality that it was ‘a step in the right direction’, and it is. Seeing Asian faces onscreen in roles normally reserved for non-Asians proved to be vastly empowering. Seeing Asian characters as modern, everyday individuals getting happy endings (not that kind of happy ending, mind you) was great. Seeing Asian actors as dashing leads with actual sex appeal (which they do have, mind you), and not just as comedic sidekicks– was especially awesome.

 

However, it was after I checked out this video that I gained some awareness of how other Asians perceived CRA’s take on representation. On the one hand, yes, Crazy Rich Asians is a breakthrough film with regard to Asians onscreen– but even it has its share of representation issues. That is– if we’re going to be particular about things.

For one, Nick Young is supposed to be Singaporean– but he’s played by an actor of Malaysian descent. Michelle Yeoh is also Malaysian but she plays a Singaporean character. The video above also touches on stereotypes (the film’s decision to portray Filipinos solely as housemaids, Asians being portrayed as mean). These were some reasons cited as to why the movie has its share of Asian detractors.

I have to say that I agree with one of the issues brought up by the video– the idea that the film may be used to perpetuate the stereotype that ALL Asians are scheming and mean. This was a similar issue I had when I first saw Mano Po. The film’s story was very Filipino Chinese, but its use of stereotypical characteristics– like being filthy rich and wearing red to birthdays, wearing cheongsams to signify ‘hey, we’re of Chinese descent!’ annoyed the heck out of me. I remember thinking that ‘hey, not all of us are this way!’. The same seems to go for some viewers of Crazy Rich Asians.

At the end of the day, the film is not perfect. It’s not like it was going to be in the first place, and that’s okay. What matters is that it has opened the door for viewers to be critical about what they see onscreen, and to be brave enough to fight for people that look like them to be onscreen in the first place. The film empowered and encouraged viewers to want people that look, speak and act like them to be portrayed in a positive light on a major stage.

Crazy Rich Asians has opened the door for that, and that’s awesome. We should all be proud of that. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Thought Bubbles & Cake Slices aka Hey, 3AM

I’m starting to think that I’ve forgotten what a paragraph looks like. Yes, it has been THAT long since I’ve found time (and inspiration) to actually visit the blogosphere for the perennial verbal rant on the world today. Luckily, I have FINALLY found that time. Yay. 

Transpo- nation, transportation 

The Gist: Uber, Grab and the LTFRB: A saga of regulation, rule-breaking, inconvenience and missing application forms.

Verdict: Oh, transportation– a perennial issue that plagued me a lot especially during my college days. I’ve been fortunate to not have more dastardly traveling experiences but I have my share of ehh moments (especially when I commuted on a regular basis). However, with the bad comes some equally pleasant moments– those small little instances that reminded me greatly of the good that still exists in the PH.

A favorite story of mine is when I was heading home at a rather late hour and was lucky enough to have ridden with a taxi driver who happened to be the father of four girls. He was awesome enough to tell me about the shady operators who were behind taxis involved in scary incidents of attempted kidnapping and rape. He also gave me tips on how to protect myself when commuting– especially when riding taxis. I was so thankful for the help that evening, and even more thankful that I got home safe.

So where am I going with this?

First of all, nobody’s perfect– Uber, Grab, taxi operators, and especially the LTFRB. Both Uber and Grab and the LTFRB made their share of mistakes in resolving the issue and that’s just not okay. Taxi operators in the country are also problematic and have been for years (almost decades) now. There’s a reason why Uber and Grab have become popular modes of transportation for commuters– they feel safe because the applications give them that security– something that taxi operators have not been able to. These applications have become popular to the point that they’ve actually become legitimate threats to operators not under Grab or Uber— thus the push for Grab/Uber accredited vehicles to also be regulated the same way that regular operators are.

In light of the issue at hand, here are my points:

  • Stop the demonizing. As mentioned in the previous paragraph, all parties have made mistakes– but all parties have one common goal: to provide transportation to the riding public. Also, both parties have their share of good guys and bad eggs (you’ve seen the facebook stories). Keep that goal in mind and get out of the {wrestling} ring.
  • See the bigger picture. This goes beyond the issue of regulation and ride-sharing versus operators. This is our transportation system rearing its ugly, error-filled head right at us, and we need to take notice. We need to think forward and see how the common goal of providing safe, reasonably priced, quality transportation can be met by all stakeholders for the benefit of everyone. Transportation is a major issue that has repercussions on how our economy goes forward– we NEED to care.

 

Nazis,  In Living Color 

The Gist: The dumpster fire that is the Trump presidency rolls on with the tragic weekend that was seen all over the world from Charlottesville.

Verdict: I won’t lie, I feel a bit guilty that I seem to have been spending more time following the issues going on in America when the Philippines is having its own ‘series of unfortunate events’. I blame the late night segments and their genius mix of comedy with facts (see: John Oliver, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert). I’m still holding out hope that one day  we find a way to deliver news in the Philippines in a similar manner– fun, yet highly informative. (* crosses fingers *)

Anyways, here are the points:

  • WHY? Why are there still people who think this way? Hay. A thought that often crosses my mind when ruminating about people who hold old world views– and a thought that rings true in this context.
  • HOW? How is this guy still president? Is this their own version of ‘tiis ganda’? They don’t seem to be getting anything done– and they jump from one controversy to another. Sad.
  • The Power of Being Permissive. One frightening image from the Charlottesville protests was that of “white nationalists” walking around in the same uniform worn by Trump to his golfing trips. Another scary instance? when David Duke claims ‘they are fulfilling Trump’s promises’ through their protest.

Needless to say, folks– that’s scary as shit. If in America the words and rhetoric of a           president preaching hate can be used to encourage negative behavior, can the same           happen in the Philippines? I wouldn’t be surprised if it could.

This is exactly WHY Duterte’s words matter– and why somebody in his administration needs to drill that idea into his head. Words, when said from a platform of power, become more powerful– they begin to matter more. A joke may seem like a joke to our president but the underlying implications are there. Jokes about rape, words about murder or cussing may all seem like the hallmarks of Duterte but now that he’s mayor no more and the leader of an entire country– that behavior becomes example. It becomes a possible model for the Filipinos of tomorrow.

Forget about your complaints that you don’t like this job or that you’re ‘not a diplomat’ because guess what pal, you are. Multiple resignation threats later and you’re still here, in this position– leader of THIS country. People see you as that and you need to BE an example of positive behavior to all Filipinos– whether they support you or not.

Don’t get me wrong, though- I’m not saying that a neo-Nazi/ white supremacist type group will emerge if Duterte continues to act the way he does. He has his issues but he is not as bad as Trump. What I am trying to say is that if he does continue to display hallmarks of negative behavior (which he does)… there goes your excuse for a shift in Pinoy culture: the propagation of rape culture, a negative attitude toward women, etc.

TL;DR: Watch your words, watch your behavior– you’re in a position of power that can be used to influence. Push that you influence for the good instead of the bad. Please.

 

 

 

Raunchy, Raucous, Righteous: A “Riverdale” Review

It took a few days and a number of hours, but I’ve finally collected myself enough to compose this impromptu review of the hot new mystery show with equally hot (and iconic) source material: Riverdale.

Although I did hear of this remake last year, I haven’t gotten a chance to check this show out at all. Can’t say I was too eager to either, especially considering my disdain for try hard reboots of my favorite childhood shows/ books etc.

And yet here I am, six episodes later– desensitized, a bit shocked and intrigued. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Riverdale is, in essence, a dark twist on the iconic comic book heroes of the Archie series. The first season of the show seems to center on the mysterious death of Jason Blossom,  but as the episodes unfold you come to realize that there’s more to this show than its teen drama/ murder mystery tale.

On the Characters

Riverdale features all of the original characters of Archie lore– Archie himself, Betty Cooper, Veronica Lodge, Jughead Jones and everyone in between. However, the show interprets them, and their families, in a very different light.

First of all, let’s start with Archie. A lot of his telling characteristics are still there– fire red hair, letterman jacket with the Riverdale R, penchant for music, his dad, his friendship with Betty… aaand that’s about it. Our favorite ginger exchanges his happy comic home for a one-parent household, a sexual affair with one Geraldine Grundy (yes, you’ve read that right) and issues that are mundane in comparison to the scandalous storylines and problematic parents that seem to populate this ‘once innocent’ small town.

Perhaps this could be explained by Archie having, despite a broken household, the only remotely decent parent in the entire town. For some strange reason the central characters are the offspring of a problematic group of parentals whose personal issues take no time in pouring into the lives of their unfortunate offspring.

Unlike Archie’s almost cartoonish red hair (he reminds me of Ariana Grande circa Victorious), bubbly blonde Betty Cooper is an almost perfect version of her comic self– complete with blonde ponytail, blue eyes and a penchant for pink. Yet in this iteration even she hides secrets far worse than that of her domineering mother (a step up from her comic self, to be honest), and submissive yet scary father. In the comics Betty’s absentee elder sister is the ‘perfect sibling’: a successful broadcaster whose fast-paced New York life is one that Betty aspires to have. In this series, however, she’s become the unlikely black sheep hidden away as Betty is molded to her mother’s specifications, albeit against her will.

Jughead Jones is brought to life by a surprisingly… perfect Cole Sprouse– whose sole nod to the comic book foodie lies in his crown beanie. And frankly, that seems to be where the similarities end– Jones is another unfortunate product of problematic parents and his iconic love for hamburgers barely makes an onscreen appearance.

Veronica Lodge has become my favorite iteration among all the characters, as it seems as though the depth given to her character actually feels… fleshed out. She actually feels more human when she isn’t fighting Betty for Archie’s affections and instead assumes the role of the supportive female friend. Although I sure do wish she gets her own romantic prospects in future seasons (IF this show lasts that long).

However, even realistic Ronnie (a mold probably aided by characters like Blair Waldorf) is not immune to the epidemic of problematic parents: her dad (a prominent parent figure in the comics), is in jail in the Riverdale world, and her mom (Hermione Lodge), has her own set of secrets as well.

The following secondary characters also make an appearance in the show: Principal Weatherbee (dude lost weight!), Ethel Muggs, Moose Mason (he’s apparently gay, not bad! But what about Midge?), Coach and Chuck Clayton (aka apparently a douche now), and the first season’s primary figures of sort: twins Cheryl and Jason Blossom.

I didn’t read much of the prominent Cheryl comics growing up but I am familiar with her character and how she was in the comics– and as for her show self, all I can say is: okaay. She’s mean but nice but broken.. ?? ehhh. At least there’s more to her here than being the notorious third choice for Archie.

One character that doesn’t seem to play a prominent role (even if he is technically a main character), is Reggie Mantle. Sure he’s been incarnated as an Asian-American fellow but why has he been reduced to a somewhat secondary character? Dude had his own comics for a while… why isn’t he more prominent?? Please let him be more than the ‘football dude’ in later seasons!

On The Plot

As mentioned earlier, season one centers on the mysterious death of golden boy/ football captain Jason Blossom– a relatively simple central plot that allows a number of stories to begin unfolding early on. These sub stories include the rivalry between the Coopers and Blossoms, the shady dealings between the Mayor and Riverdale’s local gang the Serpents, and (arguably the most interesting) subplot is the collective past shared by the parents of the main characters. Its as if the show is foreshadowing an exciting flashback episode (or two!) to give the viewers some context behind the past shared by the Riverdale parents.

There is so much more to say about the plot (especially with the rate at which the story unfolds on Riverdale), but I’ll keep it at that– all you need to know is that once you start watching, you might never stop.

Overall….

If you can set aside the very different character interpretations, and enjoy Riverdale mainly for its story, then you will be fine. Plot wise, the show unfolds pretty well, and does a suitable job of keeping viewers engaged enough that they’ll want to keep tuning in.

In case the interpretations freak you out, you may want to read up on later iterations of the Archie cannon– many of which have reworked the squeaky clean lore in order to incorporate darker plot elements that may make stomaching this show feel less “traumatizing”.

Trust me, die hard Archie fans, its not that bad. In fact, it’s rather exciting. Give it a try, and get hooked!

On Why We Probably Don’t Have Legit Food Critics in the Philippines

Disclaimer: This is not a direct response to the points presented in the Esquire article “About the Lack of Legit Food Critics in the Philippines”. Rather, it is a personal opinion on the very question posed by the piece– why are there no legit Filipino food critics? 

I’d actually like to thank the author, Mr. Yulo, for bringing this up. It’s a very interesting issue that merits discussion in the wake of the rising global popularity of Philippine food. 

Before getting into a discussion about why legitimate food critics are nonexistent in the country, we should first take a step back and reflect on how we see food in the Philippine context. What part does food play in our culture? How do we talk about food, and write about food? What are the origins and influences of our food culture?

Thanks to a number of veritable researchers and historians (Doreen Fernandez, Felice Sta. Maria, Ambeth Ocampo, Dr. Fernando Zialcita, Carmen Santiago, etc– the list goes on), we actually have a very data rich chronicle of the origins of our food culture. It is because of  these individuals that we can trace the history behind meals like the noche buena and media noche, and dishes like Pochero, Pancit Malabon, and the like. It is also thanks to the works of these individuals that we gain substantial context into the role of food (and of the meal as a whole) in the past.

But what about now?

Needless to say, a lot has changed about our local food landscape. Globalization has made imported ingredients and produce closer than ever. The rise of digital media has expanded the reach of food advertising to social media sites and YouTube. The local restaurant scene is booming with both local restaurants managed by veterans and up and coming talents and foreign franchises coming to set up camp in the country. A number of our best  chefs are receiving international accolades for their success and their talent. In a nutshell, the Philippines is pretty much on the fast track to becoming a food nation, and it is something to be proud and excited about.

This is what leads us straight to the research gap… where are the studies on contemporary Filipino food culture? We may have a wellspring of information on the origins of our food, but where is the data about how present advancements have changed the way we eat, talk, write and interact with food as a whole? Where is the information on how food advertising affects Pinoy consumer choices, or how the booming restaurant scene has affected the structure of the Pinoy diet? Do Pinoys still eat at the home dining table like they used to?

There are so many unanswered questions, so many paths worth taking in the field of research that is contemporary Filipino food culture. It is about time that someone dives in considering that multiple individuals have already provided us information about our food past.Perhaps it is once we are armed with that information that we can come to understand why legitimate food critics do not exist in the country. Or, why we probably don’t even need them in the first place.

Maybe we already have legitimate food critics in our midst. We have a large number of industry personalities to recruit– there are veteran chefs, up and coming chefs, successful food business owners and the like whose experience and knowledge will suffice in providing educated critique to readers.

But is that even enough? What if these people, despite their food expertise, are unable to articulate their insights in a manner that is understandable to someone outside the food industry? Most of them will probably prefer time in their kitchen to sitting down and eating at other people’s restaurants and then going home to write about these experiences. Majority of them are too busy running their own restaurants/businesses to even have the time to spend on being a ‘critic’.

So if the experienced guys don’t have the time, what now? Who else can we ask/recruit/train to become an actual legitimate food critic?

Perhaps the researchers with an interest in contemporary food will make good critics, or maybe retired chefs/food business owners. Another possible way would be to formulate actual modules on the art of critiquing and writing about food that could come in handy to train future journalists to become future critics. But then, the job of a food critic is not for everyone– the individual must have at least a basic knowledge and genuine interest in learning about food.

Now that we’ve outlined the characteristics of an ideal critic– let the search begin.

It shouldn’t be that hard. After all, as Mr. Yulo says, we are a nation of voracious eaters. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

More on “La La Land”

I loved a lot of things about “La La Land”– the acting, the music, the seamless story line. And then there were the moments that just got to me. One such instance is when Emma Stone sings the haunting “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”.a story turned power song that soon becomes her ticket to stardom.

“Here’s to the fools who dream, foolish as it may seem” sings the track, and right they are. La La Land is a love letter to these people– dreamers, those unafraid and gutsy enough to chase the most ridiculous aspirations at the cost of a stable life.

But what about those who don’t? What about those people who accept reality and choose to give up the lightness of free spirit for the sake of stability?

What about people like me?

La La Land brought back a tumult of memories for me..most of which included moments in my life when I used to be a free-spirited, highly inspired ‘writer type’ that saw scripts and short stories as my future. That moment in particular comes almost six years ago, when I had first discovered the Beatles and found myself obsessed with the color and the chaos of 1960s culture.

Needless to say a lot has changed since then. Time, place and circumstance have brought me to a point where I am inhabiting a space that seems more stable than it was six years back. But that spark… that wellspring of inspiration and shear flight, has gone. Ideas just don’t flow like they used to, and I miss that freedom dearly.

But then, perhaps I can find that again. Perhaps La La Land has guided me to reminisce about a not-so distant past that was just incredible for me.

Could I come back? Should I?…

 

 

‘La La Lovely’: A La La Land Review

I don’t even know where to begin.

I’ve been typing in full sentences and pressing backspace more than I’d to… and hopefully, this time, I actually stay with this paragraph– I actually like it. There is just so much to say, so much to process about this film that I can’t seem to really encapsulate the experience of seeing it like I normally do.

A General Thought (Or Two) 

Let me begin with the obvious: the hype is real. Is it well-deserved? Yes. But does the hype tend to get overboard? Frankly, yes.

First of all– musicals aren’t a thing of the past. They’ve been done a zillion times before, to both amazing and devastating results. La La Land is a product of influences and inspiration from multiple iconic sources– Astaire and Rogers films, Gene Kelly, Old Hollywood. If you’re as lola (read: a big fan of vintage things)  as I am than you can spot the Easter eggs a mile away– everything from the title card to the tap dancing sequences to the ethereal waltz are odes to legends who have done them first and have done them.. better.

What sets La La Land apart is what it does to those influences. There’s no copy pasting here, no direct reference.. Chazelle takes these nuggets of inspiration and sprinkles them into a story that is incredibly real. There’s no instant success in his Hollywood– and for most of our favorite stars, that’s how it was. You can feel the disappointment of Emma Stone’s aspiring actress Mia in every montage. You can sense the shear contempt in Gosling’s eyes as he plays a raucous Jingle Bell at his day (or should we say, night) job.

And that is what makes this film so perfect and so real, and in a league of its own. It’s no flamboyant musical– it’s no film whose every notable moment is prefaced by an over the top song– it’s one part realism, one part music and one part sweet love tale, and that is just it. It takes these multiple subplots and seamlessly puts them together in one smooth, lively, seemingly happy Hollywood film.

On Plot 

I won’t say much, but enough perhaps to keep clueless readers up to speed.

Ryan Gosling aka everyone’s bae aka forever Noah from the Notebook plays struggling jazz pianist Sebastian Wilder, who works a drudge-y day job at night to earn enough money to finance his own jazz place where he can keep the classic genre alive. Emma Stone aka precious, talented, comedic girl of the world plays Mia Dolan aka the personification of every aspiring small town girl who jets off to the city of stars to become one herself. In essence, we’re looking at struggling artists (that surprisingly DO NOT starve?).

I’ve already talked about my love for the realism in this movie but on the surface the plot seems rather… narcissistic. A Hollywood film about the struggle of being in Hollywood?! Almost felt like an biopic there. Thank the skies (and the stars) for Damien Chazelle.

On Stars 

La La Land is Ryan Gosling’s McConaughey  moment.

McConaughey Moment: Works relatively long in the business, known for a number of roles– perhaps a memorable one (or two). Makes a good job choice, does well in a well-directed film (Dallas Buyers Club)– enough to garner awards, recognition and critical acclaim. Finally gets recognized.

That’s exactly what is happening to everyone’s universal babe and it’s a welcome moment, just as it was for Mr. McConaughey a few years back. Now I’m unsure which Canadian Ryan is more well-known but it sure should be Mr. Gosling, who has been in a number of pretty good movies since his breakout film opposite Rachel McAdams.

In La La Land, he ditches the raw sex appeal and smirk for a display of incredible raw talent and an inherent charm that makes him seem so endearing. It’s also nice to see that his breakdown acting (read: acting mad acting) has gone through significant improvement.

It will be interesting to see whether Gosling’s endearing performance will be enough to jet him past his drama counterpart in the  Golden Globes (Casey Affleck, who took home the award for best actor in a drama film) to Oscar gold.

And then, there’s Emma Stone.

Again, I don’t know where to begin. I’ve seen her in everything from Easy A  to Spiderman to Birdman but I don’t think I’ve ever been this enamored with her work. On paper her role seems easy– an actor playing an actor being a struggling actor. As a once struggling actress, she’s probably had a wellspring of experience to draw from right?

But, yet again, it’s what you do with what you have that really matters in this film– and Emma does that incredibly. The realism is not just a concept here but a manifested theme used to make the characters connect with the audience, and to make the audience connect with the characters. Emma here is not just a person on the screen conveying the story but  a vessel of the story’s intended emotion that just jolts you so much that you leave the theatre feeling more moved than ever before.

That is how good she was. I’m rooting for no one else come Oscar night– this girl better take home that gold!

On Music 

From traditional flamboyance to feel-good to amazing jazz, the soundtrack of this film is as smooth as its seamless plot. I’m a big fan of how it didn’t go the Broadway route by sprinkling a full blown song for each notable moment, and chose specific sequences to inject loud, lively scores that are just a joy to listen to (perfect for getting that spring in your step every Monday morning).

I won’t lie, the signature song “City of Stars” will seem like an initial snoozefest but when enjoyed post-film, it takes on a  haunting character that everyone will come to appreciate. Real-life piano man John Legend brings in a bucketful of soul with his turn on “Start a Fire”. Looking to pierce a hole in your heart and bawl for all your unfulfilled dreams? listen to Emma Stone’s tour de force track “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” and cry, cry cry.

In Totality…

A work sprinkled with odes, yet all its own.

Performances of incredible caliber, songs of diverse emotion– classic movie escapism at its finest, and, hopefully, the film that does usher in the revival of the Hollywood musical. These are trying times, my friends… and there’s nothing better than a dance in the sky and a tap tap twosome on the street to make everything fly slowly away… even just for a moment (or two).

In short: definitely worth watching.