La La Land, Live by Night, Manchester by the Sea The Film Review

La La Land, Live by Night, Manchester by the Sea

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Hello and welcome to The Film Review on BBC News.


To take us through this week's cinema releases is Mark Kermode.


We have La La Land which everyone is talking about.


Live By Night, the new film by Ben Affleck.


And Manchester By The Sea, with the standout performance


Damien Chazelle's swooning tribute to classic old Hollywood musicals.


Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling of the star-crossed pair who meet


He is a hardcore jazz freak, she is an aspiring actress.


They hate each other when they meet but they become friends


I feel like I said negative stuff before.


You're grinning all the way through it.


I went into it thinking, the problem is everybody said


it is so good it will be a disappointment and it isn't.


Firstly, this is Damien Chazelle's second musical.


He made another one before, he made Whiplash


From the beginning, it said it was presented in CinemaScope


and the screen opens up into this glorious Cinemascope,


It is like the kids from fame but done in LA.


Then what the story does is it occupies a space between on the one


hand this nostalgic clunkiness of Woody Allen films and


In fact there is a scene where we are literally flying.


I thought the performances were terrific.


She plays somebody who has two go to an audition


A really hard thing to do! And she does it brilliantly.


I thought the song and dance numbers were well choreographed,


I loved the lyrics, I love the way in which...


People have said they are no Fred and Ginger.


Damien Chazelle said he wanted to make something that has


the magical of musicals but also had its feet on the ground.


it is not afraid to be melancholy or poignant,


it is not just everything is tied up neatly, it is...


Its strengths are in its sad streaks which makes


I thought the opening five minutes was worth


Also, we have talked about Casablanca and being remade badly,


It is a movie that is good enough to nod very explicitly


to Casablanca and not go, you blew it.


So, Ben Affleck stars in an adaptation of a novel.


He is a small-time hood in prohibition Boston and doesn't


He finds himself travelling to Florida where he becomes exactly


The interesting thing about the film is it has an extraordinary pedigree.


Chris Cooper, Elle Fanning, and Affleck himself.


I think one of the reasons it has sniffy reviews is when you have


that kind of talent, people expect something more


You said invoking Casablanca, this film invokes the Godfather


and Scarface and it is neither of those films.


It is handsome but in a way which is artificial.


But it does have a sense of its handsomeness is more


There is stuff in there to like it but at no point did


When you look at the pedigree involved in it, it just ought


Argo which Ben Affleck also directed was one of the best films


However this brings us nicely to Manchester By The Sea.


This is the third film by the playwright Kenneth Lonergan.


He did Margaret, which spent five years in the editing room.


Is he a genius or someone who cannot finish a film?


This, as his third film, made me go, actually,


I'm not going to be here much longer.


You said you left his money so he could move.


There are clogged up toilets anywhere.


I'm on the hockey team, on the basketball team.


I've got two girlfriends and I'm in a band.


What the hell do you care where you live?


So, he is a janitor in Quincy but he is called to his hometown


of Manchester-by-the-sea where he has to revisit


after his brother collapses and he finds himself having to look


The film is told in two time frames, the present in when he is going back


to the past and the flashbacks in which we actually see the past.


So much of the story is told in the way through


The scenes in Boston when he is completely withdrawn


and everything about the way he hunches his shoulders,


the way he slightly purses his lips, it is a start contrast


to the flashback scenes when he is garrilous,


We know his we will see his old life with his beloved wife


Michelle Williams and his new life where he is isolated and


somehow we are going to find out how the isolation happens.


In one of the key sequences they use Albinoni's Agagio in G


minor, that is a false move for me because it is used


It was used in Flashdance, Gallipoli.


It was used by Wendy Craig in Butterflies.


It was weird in that a film that was everything to do


with the delicate nuances, it was too obvious.


That aside, Casey Affleck is really terrific.


Kenneth Lonergan deonstrates he is actually a very good craftsman.


And to have La La Land and Manchester By The Sea,


This director has finally shown as he is worthy of the praise that


Your best of the week is A Monster Calls.


A Monster Calls came out just before Christmas.


It is about a young boy who was traumatised by his


mother's ill-health, and he starts seeing visions


of a tree monster, played by Liam Neeson,


which says I will tell you stories and you will tell me your truth.


so in a way which is beautiful and utterly heartbreaking.


I have had so many reports from people saying I knew


I was going to cry but I had no idea how much.


They are playing younger and older verges of the same


central character who is estranged from her daughter.


It does the thing that Pedro Almodovar does


best which is a passion for human stories.


This has wonderful performances, wonderful writing.


It is again heartbreaking but beautifully so.


Honestly, looking back at the selection of movies


we have looked at, that is a good selection of films.


A quick reminder before we go that you'll find more film news


and reviews from across the BBC online at -


and you can watch our previous shows on the BBC iplayer.


good evening. Things are turning milder from the West overnight


tonight with cloud and rain piling in. It is bumping into cold and


further east is a temporary so time in eastern Scotland and a


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