La La Land/An American in Paris

Yes, this is my first post.  And yes, it is about movies.  I love movies, and more specifically I love classic movies.  I want to share my knowledge and love of classic movies.

Maybe you know these films, or maybe you are hearing of them for the first time.  Either way, enjoy:

Since 1927, the Academy has been handing out awards for Best Picture.  Some of their choices have been very deserving (Godfather, 1972 and Annie Hall, 1977), while others have been okay, but ultimately forgettable (Rain Man, 1988 and American Beauty, 1999) and other choices have just been bad (The Greatest Show on Earth, 1952  and Crash, 2005). Whether movie fans like the Academy’s choices or not, their choice will forever have the Oscar-winning Best Picture designation.  After tomorrow night, La La Land will more than likely have that designation as well.

But is La La Land a great film, or even a good one?  What does that even mean and does it matter?  My answer is…not really.  When analyzing the film, I could write about the really good music, the good songs, energetic dancing, the performances of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the cinematography and so on, but I am not going to.  To me, the reason that La La Land is so popular and the frontrunner to win the Oscar is that people enjoy it.  It is a joyous, entertaining movie.  I have seen the movie three times in the theater and with every viewing my mood has improved.  If a movie’s main purpose is to entertain, then La La Land just might be the best film of the year.  It is only a matter of opinion.

La La Land is an old-fashioned musical with a standard plot.  Girl meets boy, girl and boy don’t like each other, and then they realize finally that they love each other, and they live happily ever after…sort of.  There are so many classic movies that influenced La La Land, such as 8 1/2, The Band Wagon, Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, and many others.

In today’s post, I want to focus on An American in Paris, directed by Vincente Minnelli and an uncredited Gene Kelly.  The story is pretty standard.  Jerry (Kelly) meets a young girl, Lise, played by Leslie Caron, while living in Paris.  He falls in love with her, but she resists.  Once they do realize they love each other, she goes away to America with her fiancée, only to reunite with him at the end…and they live happily ever after.  I know that I just gave the plot of the movie, but the story is not exactly groundbreaking.

Gene Kelly’s incredible dancing, some memorable Gershwin songs (I Got Rhythm) and music and the climatic ballet make the film memorable, and the ballet is an amazing feat of choreography.  Audiences in 1951 had not seen anything like it, which is one reason why it probably took the Oscar that year over A Streetcar Named Desire and A Place in the Sun.

It is this last ballet in An American in Paris, in particular, that has a fun parallel with La La Land.  The main male characters in both films imagine their life with “the girl,” entering into an impressionistic world of Paris and Los Angeles/Paris, respectively.  The sets in both movies are spare and very colorful.  Also, in both movies, you can see the joy that went into making them (Kelly said An American in Paris was his favorite musical he made).

If you love La La Land, or even just like it, you may enjoy An American in Paris.  It’s worth a look!


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