My election notes. E-Day – 24
by Pseud O'Nym
**WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOTH ‘LA LA LAND’ AND ‘WITHNAIL & I’.
AND OH, BY THE WAY IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN ‘WITHNAIL & I’ BY NOW, YOU’RE A DEMENTED WRONGCOCK**
I thought it time to wrestle my thoughts away from the grubby world of things tenuously related to the General Election, and what could be more celebratory, more life affirming, more uplifting and more…well everything than the release today on DVD of ‘La La Land’
From the spectacular opening musical number ‘Another Day Of Sun’ – expertly choreographed on a traffic jam on a Los Angles’ flyover and edited to look as if it was done in one take – it’s as if the film is saying to the audience ‘Sit back, strap on and enjoy the ride, because we’re going to entertain you.’ And unashamedly, it does just that. Rarely does a film deliver on the breathtaking potential that cinema can offer. Rarely does a film not only make you feel better for having seen it, but also have that feeling stay with you for days. The last film I saw that had a similar effect was ‘Strictly Ballroom’ where the audience burst into spontaneous applause at the end. It’s a musical but neither Ryan Gosling or Emma Stone are excellent singers and neither are they excellent dancers. And that’s the point.
Don’t get me wrong, they’re very good but not in a typical musical way. The songs are both witty and poignant. Indeed, the lyrics of ‘Another Day of Sun’ foreshadows the ending. That how often to achieve ones dreams sacrifices have to be made. And the ending is logically consistent with everything that’s happened up until that point. They both get what they’ve always wanted but at the cost of not getting each other. It may not be the typical Hollywood happy ever after ending, but that what makes an otherwise great film, truly excellent.
It’s an ending that – and bear with me here – that reminds me of the ending of ‘Withnail & I’. It is, as I’m sure you’re well aware, one of the funniest films ever made. It’s got great characters – especially the comic and ultimately honourable Uncle Monty – some great one-liners – “We’ve gone on holiday by mistake.” – and some proper swearing. But it’s the ending, with Withnail giving the ‘What piece of work is a man’ speech from Hamlet to a pack of wolves in London Zoo that elevates it from simply being great into truly excellent. In this speech, Withnail reveals his abundant talent, but ironically his alcoholism and drug taking will always prevent him from proving it.
Both films are very different but in their endings they reveal the tragedy of thwarted ambition.