The young writer-director Damien Chazelle has followed his Oscar-winning drama 'Whiplash' with another entirely novel film steeped in the world of music. His soaring, romantic, extremely stylish and endlessly inventive 'La La Land' is that rare beast: a grown-up movie musical that's not kitschy, a joke or a Bollywood film. Instead, it's a swooning, beautifully crafted ode to the likes of Jacques Demy's 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg' and Stanley Donen's 'Singin' in the Rain' that plays out in the semi-dream world of Los Angeles and manages to condense the ups and downs of romantic love into a very Tinseltown toe-tapping fable.
BY: DAVE CALHOUN
This delightful animated feature from the studio behind the Minions movies takes a tired-sounding idea – a comedy set around a talent contest – and turns it into something winning and witty. ‘Sing’ is fast and frenetic, dashing from character to character, song to song. Our hero is a koala, Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey), a throwback theatre owner-cum-producer down on his luck. With the help of his ageing female assistant, a lizard (voiced by the film’s writer-director Garth Jennings), Buster initiates a singing contest in an attempt to save his crumbling theatre. But a clerical error bumps the prize money up from $1000 to $100,000, and suddenly every singing beast in town is queueing at his door for a chance of winning the cash.
BY: DAVE CALHOUN
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s take on the old Gaston Leroux chiller blunders ludicrously between every possible stool.
One of the stage musical’s strengths was the sheer theatricality of overcoming stage limitations. On film nothing’s impossible so it’s correspondingly hard to make an audience gasp. It’s not so hard to make them laugh, though: even a sympathetic preview house sniggered when the hideously deformed phantom’s mask was torn from his face to reveal – gasp! – a case of nettle rash and a broadish nose of the type considered endearing on an adolescent Hayley Mills.