Well Oscars 20017 will remain memorable for a long time to come. For the first time in fifty years it looked like a musical would beat all. Right up until the very last minute … literally. Just as best picture was announced and the cast of ‘La La Land’ were up on stage ready to take their accolades it was announced that a serious drama had won instead. The movie that won, ‘Moonlight’, what’s more, had an all black cast. Where ‘La la Land’ is pretty ‘Moonlight’ is gritty. Fortunately, I had seen both. Let’s start with ‘La La Land’ A film very much based on the musicals of the 1950s with 1930s art deco style and 1980s cool. A veritable artists pallet of bright colours and gorgeous scenery. I saw so many of my favourite musicals being paid homage to. Mostly Gene Kelly in ‘Singing In The Rain’ and ‘American In Paris’. The influence of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire too was strong in the ballroom dancing scenes.
There were also ideas from ‘Sweet Charity’ with Shirley Maclain particularly the scene with the four girls dancing down the street in party dresses. There were also touches of ‘Rebel Without A Cause’, a fifties drama with James Dean and Natalie Wood, in there.
The opening scene on the freeway was reminiscent of the eighties blockbuster musical ‘Fame’. There were quite a few others in there too. The story was similar to a film made with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra,’Young At Heart’, in which she is a struggling singer and he is a struggling jazz musician establish himself.
This film has a little of everything and yet retains its originality. The direction and cinematography are a feast for the eyes and the chemistry between the two stars is palpable.
So great to see a return to the musical genre in all its flamboyant glory.
Now to ‘Moonlight’. A film about a black neighbourhood and the problems faced by young black Americans growing up in poverty surrounded by drug addicts. Add to the mix a gawky black kid who just happens to be gay and is bullied as a result. In fact the kid that bullies him is the same kid with whom he has just shared his first gay experience. This is a film that would never have been made in the fifties. Probably not even in the eighties. This too is a film about love but its no walk in the park. It was hard to watch. Very real. With the farce that is America at present maybe this is what they need. A dose of realism.