Reel-View Ratings: The Bigger The Beard, The Better The Movie
LA LA LAND
A musical in the old tradition (that is to say, the MGM way) about modern Hollywood waxing nostalgic about Old Hollywood, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone — sounds like a winning formula, no? And it mostly is, with a lot of whimsical songs about making it big, glossy production values and a lot of luminous, big-eyed pining from Stone. The songs aren’t quite earbugs, but they keep your attention. But the magic of those Gene Kelly-esque musicals is hard to recapture in the modern, cynical present, which, in fairness, La La Land incorporates into its very plot about a gal and guy trying to make it big in Tinsel Town. In the end, it’s a wonderful diversion from modern cinema, but it’s a self-conscious reminder that nostalgia is hard to recreate by definition.
Opens Dec. 16 in wide release
Jake and Tony are two teenagers in New York, both eager to make it in the world as actors and artists. But their easy, all-consuming friendship is threatened when their parents butt heads — Jake’s landlord family needs to triple the meager rent Tony’s mother is paying on a dress shop to make ends meet, thus leaving her in a bind, too. This movie is really two, and one is better than the other. Though the two boys come off as natural, warm and delicately suggestive of something less platonic, their parents are stilted and stiffly written, their real-world problems left to stagnate without overly much analysis. Inevitably all harmony is ended by strife, and the movie falls just short of greatness.
Plays at 11 a.m., 2:15, 5:30 and 8:45 p.m. Dec. 19 at the Movie Museum
POSTMAN TO HEAVEN
Korean pop superstar Jae-joong Kim serves as a supernatural postman, of sorts — people write letters to the dead, and his job is to help them negotiate their grief. It’s not explained in incredible detail. Just roll with it. Anyway, he meets a girl (Hyo-joo Han) struggling to resolve her feelings for her not-so-nice ex, they help a bunch of other people and eventually fall in star-crossed love. The simple story isn’t especially deep or emotionally touching. The slice-of-life storytelling isn’t quite well suited for film, either. But the actors are pretty, if a bit stiff. It’s a lot of nice to look at, but not much to remember.
Plays at 11:15 a.m., 3 and 6:45 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Movie Museum