It’s been a rough year. We lost Bowie. We lost Prince. We may have lost American democracy as we know it. The jury is still out on that one, 2016. Director Damien Chazelle couldn’t get here soon enough with the follow up to his breakout film Whiplash. It’s called La La Land, and it’s everything we need right now. It’s infectiously upbeat, idealistic, heartwarming, and joyous. Basically, it’s everything the world seems to be lacking right now. In addition to being uniquely cinematic, La La Land is the breath givingnew life to the big Hollywood musical, a genre that’s best days have been gone for 50 years. What the 2011 surprise hit The Artist did for silent films, La La Land promises to do for musicals. Both films allow Hollywood to indulge in its favorite pastime, looking back to its golden days and reminding itself of its former glory. You’ll notice The Artist didn’t lead to a boom in production of new silent films. Neither is La La Land likely to lead to a major revival of musicals. The most magical thing that both movies do is remind us that the old cliché “They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” isn’t exactly true. Sometimes they do, and it’s a rare and special enough occasion, so when it happens, we should count ourselves exceptionally lucky to witness it.
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“Who would have a box full of clowns?” That’s the question young Griffin Bowen (Kyle Catlett) asks his father, Eric (Sam Rockwell), upon discovering said box while exploring his new attic bedroom. That question begs infinitely more while watching Poltergeist, the remake of the classic 1982 horror film of the same name. By the end, only one question ultimately mattered: Why re-do such a popular and well-regarded movie if you’re going to do it with absolutely no style? I’m relatively sure no filmmaker goes into a project with that intention, but that’s the end result with this version of Poltergeist. The movie is as bland as baby food.