La La Land ***
A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.
Charming, infectious musical romance for the digital age that owes more than a whisper to Jacques Demy. It has a little more up its sleeve than one might expect, developing into a composed acknowledgement on the everyday trivialities that affect one’s aspirations. Those frustrated by its lack of new aesthetic ideas should be persuaded by its fierce commitment to bygone ones.
wd – Damien Chazelle
ph – Linus Sandgren
pd – David Wasco
m – Justin Hurwitz
ly – Benj Pasek, Justin Paul
ed – Tom Cross
cos – Mary Zophres
p – Fred Berger, Gary Gilbert, Jordan Horowitz, Marc Platt
Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, JK Simmons, Finn Wittrock, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Tom Everett Scott
The Fits **
While training at the gym, an 11-year-old tomboy becomes entranced with a dance troupe. But the group begins to suffer from something rather strange.
Allegory on female maturity delivered with terse control by its first-time director, who here displays an enormous amount of rhythmic and compositional talent. But her ambiguous plot is pretty bloated, even at 72 minutes.
wd – Anna Rose Holmer
ph – Paul Yee
pd – Charlotte Royer
m – Danny Bensi, Saunder Jurriaans
ed – Saela Davis
cos – Zachary Sheets
p – Anna Rose Holmer, Lisa Kjerulff
Cast: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Makyla Burnam, Da'Sean Minor, Inayah Rodgers, Antonio A.B. Grant Jr, Lauren Gibson
Things to Come **
A philosophy teacher soldiers through the death of her mother, getting fired from her job, and dealing with a husband who is cheating on her.
The most assured work yet by a filmmaker whom I have never been 100% sold on. Her quotidian narrative here, though not terribly subtle thematically, is formerly superb and intelligently rattles against any kind of standard structure in its depiction of the kind of involuntary freedom that can upend someone’s life. Spotless rather than flawless.
wd – Mia Hansen-Løve
ph – Denis Lenoir
pd – Anna Falguères
ed – Marion Monnier
cos – Rachel Raoult
p – Charles Gillibert
Cast: Isabelle Huppert, André Marcon, Edith Scob, Roman Kolinka, Sarah Le Picard
Office Christmas Party
When his uptight CEO sister threatens to shut down his branch, the branch manager throws an epic Christmas party in order to land a big client and save the day.
A Christmas comedy with more writers than laughs; unless one considers a character getting hit with something while everyone else exclaims “Oh”! to be the height of hilarity.
d – Josh Gordon, Will Speck
w – Justin Malen, Laura Solon, Dan Mazer, Jon Lucas, Scott Moore, Timothy Dowling
ph – Jeff Cutter
pd – Andrew Laws
m – Theodore Shapiro
ed – Jeff Groth, Evan Henke
p – Guymon Casady, Daniel Rappaport, Scott Stuber
Cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, TJ Miller, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Vanessa Bayer, Courtney B. Vance, Rob Corddry, Abbey Lee, Sam Richardson, Jamie Chung, Randall Park