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La La Land

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La La Land

Image credit: La La Land, 2016

There are some things in life that you just never get over. Your first birds-and-bees talk. The cancellation of My So-Called Life after only one season. And new in 2017- the snub heard round the world, La La Land losing the Academy Award for Best Picture. Faye and Warren tried to cover for the Academy’s oversight, to no avail. It was too late. Somebody put Moonlight on that card and dashed the hopes of all the fools who dream. A year and a half later, I’m still not over it. Time to drink.

To say I love La La Land (DVD/Download) would be a gross understatement. This film encompasses everything I adore about classic movie musicals, a period of cinema when actors (not necessarily singers) were cast in these roles, and directors cared about things like mise en scene and appropriate song transitions. In using Los Angeles as a backdrop for the story of two struggling artists falling in love and struggling to make it in Hollywood, La La Land is able to take advantage of classic movie backdrops we all know and love. The Griffith Observatory; the Sunset Strip; a swanky home in the Hollywood Hills- all become touchstones within this saturated ode to moving pictures. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone make me laugh and cry with their performances, but it’s Los Angeles that makes me dream.

As a struggling jazz musician, Ryan Gosling spends a lot of time in windowless underground martini bars. Bonjour, heaven!  I love the cocktail culture that goes hand-in-hand with this music, so this week I’m using a recipe from one of my new favorite books, Booze & Vinyl by André and Tenaya Darlington.  Their cocktail accompaniment for Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, this martini-relative also pairs well with “City of Stars”.  While watching La La Land, I recommend drinking a Martinez.

Martinez

2 oz Old Tom Gin

1 oz sweet vermouth

1 tsp Maraschino liqueur

2 dashes orange bitters

Lemon twist, for garnish

Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice, and stir until combined.  Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Martinez

I think La La Land means so much to me because I really see myself in these characters.   Like them, I have dreams that have yet to be realized.  And even when that door seems like it’ll never open, and my fist gets sore from banging on it with all my strength, I still have to smile and say I’d do it all again. Because that’s what dreamers do. Cheers!

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Top Five Films of 2016

As 2016 comes to a close it’s time for my annual Top Five list.  Full disclosure, I didn’t get a chance to see everything (sorry Moonlight), but I saw a lot, even some I wished I hadn’t (lookin’ at you The Lobster).  This is always a tough list to make, but these five films were the ones that entertained me the most in 2016.  Yes Manchester By the Sea is great, but it sort of made me want to slit my wrists.  Thank heavens La La Land was around to pick up the pieces.  In ranking order, my Top Five Film picks for 2016:

1. La La Land

lala-land

Image credit: La La Land, 2016

True story- I left the theater and my cheeks ached from smiling so much.  This musical about struggling entertainers feels both timeless and fresh, and reminds me of why I love movies.  Simply stunning!

2.  Arrival

arrival

Image credit: Arrival, 2016

This intelligent sci-fi film isn’t about aliens, but rather about communication.  I’ll never look at language the same way.

3.  Hell or High Water

hell-or-highwater

Image credit: Hell or High Water, 2016

Chris Pine, where have you been??  Nobody else could make a dusty bank robber in West Texas look quite so appealing.  Quit hiding behind Star Trek and be the actor I know you can be!

4.  The Edge of Seventeen

edge-of-seventeen

Image credit: The Edge of Seventeen, 2016

Hailee Steinfeld makes my Molly Ringwald-forged heart beat once more in this homage to classic (read- good) teen films.

5.  The Nice Guys

the-nice-guys

Image Credit: The Nice Guys, 2016

Was I the only one who saw this?  If so, that’s a shame because this Ryan Gosling/Russell Crowe LA noir comedy was witty, sharp, and energetic.  I’ll watch these two together any time, any place.