From this weekend's Mark Steyn Show, here's a video edition of our Mark at the Movies department, in which The New York Post's Kyle Smith joins me with a remembrance of Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, and we discuss this year's supposed Oscar shoo-in, La La Land:
As for that cryptic Debbie Reynolds exit line, that leads into our musical finale.
As for my kids, their biggest disappointment was that it wasn't a musical, only a half-hearted semi-musical. There was an opening number, then a second number, and then, gradually, the songs petered out, until in the second half there were barely any at all. As my beloved daughter observed, "They didn't commit to the concept."
To which Scott King responds:
I basically agree with your technical analysis of the music in LaLa Land, but I found the movie to be an artistic success. As their situation decayed, music disappeared because their dazzling hopes were crushed. The payoff was the final 20 minutes MGM musical reliving of their relationship. I was in tears learning of her huge regrets, and then tiny but ultimate salvation that they both accept where they ended up was worth it somehow.
The bigger problem was the the compositions were mediocre. (Except for the repeated number based on his slow lefthand arpeggio.)
That's a cute rationale - that the music dries up, because their story becomes more real, and thus less like a musical, so that in the end there is no music in their lives. That has a pat logic to it, but it is not the logic of a musical; it is the logic of a director who doesn't believe in musicals. People who make musicals believe there's nothing that can happen to their characters that can't be musicalized - good, bad, happy, sad. But La La Land seems to be saying that musicals are a crock that can only handle your illusions. Whether or not that's true, it's not a premise for an effective musical.
~For more from The Mark Steyn Show, see here.