Review: La La Land

Review: La La Land

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dazzle in a tale of modern day Los Angeles love, told as an homage to the golden age of film making and musicals.

Mia (Emma Stone) is a young, aspiring actress making do as a barista in a coffee shop on the Warner Brothers lot. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a struggling musician with a great appreciation and talent for Jazz. Both trying to get their big break, these two characters struggle with rejection and self-expression in the highly competitive world of L.A and Hollywood. La La Land tells the story of these two characters as they cross each other’s paths and a romance begins to blossom.

The story is utterly charming and this is down to, in no small part, the fantastic acting on show from Stone and Gosling. Stone is a joy to watch on screen, bringing a youthful energy to a character who is a fantastic balance of delicate and resilient. Gosling is equally excellent as he breathes life into a character who is more arrogant and blunt but equally charismatic. But it’s when the two are on screen together that La La Land is at its best. The two actors create a dynamic and relationship that feels genuine and instantly relatable. Their emotional highs and lows together become more and more emotionally intense as their onscreen connection builds to its climax.

But La La Land’s story is also a product of its presentation and that too is exceptional. Each scene of the film flows together with clinical precision, transitions from one period of time to another are beautifully handled and as a result the audience are kept sucked in to the story for, nearly, the entire running time. The other aspect that makes La La Land’s presentation so fantastic is how well balanced the story is. Both main characters receive the same amount of development, and though their stories are very different, they are equally well told. This balance extends to the music as well, the film is full of excellent, catchy musical numbers, at no point do they overwhelm the story but at no point does the story overwhelm the music either. The songs stand on their own, in memorable and stunning sequences, but are also vital to the telling of the story. It’s another example of the balance of La La Land being masterful.

But above everything else La La Land is a film built of incredibly beautiful cinematography. Every scene is a painting and every painting is as different and vivid as the last. Vibrant colours dominate scenes and move with the scene as it progresses. Movement is also key to the gorgeous cinematography. Rather than cut from shot to shot the camera lingers, making entire sequences play out in stunning examples of single shot choreography, the camera floats from one composition to another with minimal cuts. All of this comes together to present the perfect homage to 50’s cinema; shots are composed perfectly, with beautiful, striking use of colours and an incredible sense of authentic scale. La La Land is not a cover version of an era past, it is the golden age captured in a lens and let loose on the screen once more.

La La Land is a perfect example of how to make a film that is both a homage to the past and a step in to the future. The film’s portrayal of a hopeful and yet realistic Los Angeles fills you with optimism for Hollywood going forward. The film has a few forgettable minutes here and there towards the beginning of the third act. But every other second of this film is charming, beautiful, genuine and stunningly constructed. If you have even a sliver of interest in the movie industry then La La Land is a must see.


La La Land scored a 9.8/10.

 


This review was edited by Joanna Hollins, for more of her work click here: Joanna Hollins.

The Best Of October’s Releases.

The Best Of October’s Releases.

Green Day: Revolution Radio.

Bang Bang was one of the heaviest, meatiest first singles Green Day have released since 2004’s American Idiot, it was full to the brim with Acid and fire and it was the perfect way for the band to introduce Revolution Radio, because acid and fire are what this record is made of. Revolution Radio is full to the brim with all the things that make Green Day great. Biting lyrics penetrate every track whether it’s the rousing chorus of “I put the riot in patriot” from opening track Somewhere Now, all the way to the more personal but still punchy “fuck you, I’m from Oakland” of Youngblood. With the current state of society at large many were looking to Green Day for American Idiot 2, a reprise of their political anger, another groundbreaker for a generation of political lost souls to rally around. Does it break that new ground? No, but it doesn’t really need to, as once again with a guitar, a bass, a drum kit and three of the most talented musicians in punk; Green Day have recaptured the fighting spirit that put them on such a pedestal over a decade ago and made it relevant for a generation of people who are growing up with Social Media, right wing fanaticism and Trump Campaigns as a part of their daily lives. The record itself says it best: “we live in troubled times”.


Enter Shikari: Hoodwinker

Take To The Skies; Shikari’s first record is barely ten years old. Which is a pretty difficult fact to swallow when you consider that, since then, Enter Shikari have put out 3 other studio albums, 2 compilation albums, more live recordings then you can shake a chaos pad at and many many one off singles. Hoodwinker fit’s in to that last category, a one off single to keep your taste buds flowing whilst Shikari hibernate in a distant studio coming up with Album number 5, and blimey, what a track it is. Heavy doesn’t even come close to describing this behemoth of a song. Beginning with a pounding bass guitar and drums combo it leads quickly to Rou Reynolds bellowing “This is the voice of god” in the lowest register he’s been heard screaming at in years. Shikari always know how to leave your earlobes wanting more and Hoodwinker is no exception, from its thundering intro to its playful ending Hoodwinker is another example of Shikari demonstrating how they are very much the kings of the UK’s heavy music scene.


Telltale’s Batman: Episode 3.

Telltale are indisputably some of the best video game story tellers in recent memory, their episodic formula is well known to produce tense and emotionally driven stories where player’s join the dots to make the experience even more personal, and as a result of this, even more harrowing and Episode 3 of Telltale’s Batman is no exception. One of the things that makes Telltale’s stories so good is their ability to write characters who are varying shades of grey. Who’s morality and trustability is hard to nail down and who, as a result, are far more human and far harder to decide between. Episode 3: New World Order, picks up after one of the toughest early decisions in any of Telltale’s games to date and over the next few hours players watch as Batman and Bruce Wayne’s world is torn down from around them. Doing all the running you can to stay in the same place is a very unpleasant feeling but Telltale always manage to keep the carrot dangled close enough to the players face that they want to keep pushing forward. It’s interesting to see this dark brooding hero be put in such a powerless position and it’s a dynamic that works perfectly with Telltale’s bleak approach to storytelling. If you have any connection to the world of Batman you will undoubtedly love this series and the tense situations it puts you in as both the playboy billionaire and the caped crusader.


Did you enjoy anything on this list or think I missed something off it? Feel free to leave a comment on this article or get in touch with me. I hope you’ll look forward to the next list in this series, at the end of November/beginning of December. Thanks for reading!

The Best of July’s Releases

The Best of July’s Releases

July, for the first time in a while, was a month full of good releases, narrowing it down this month was a tough task but without further ado here are the best releases of July:


Overwatch: Ana Amari

Ana Amari is the first piece of post Launch DLC for Overwatch. As such a lot of pressure rested on her head, would she play into the pre-existing delicate balance of Overwatch? Who would she counter and who would counter her? Luckily Ana fits in to the roster perfectly. She adds to the variety of characters and brings a new element of game play to the support category  for those who didn’t feel comfortable within it already.

For a deeper look into what makes Ana Amari great take a look of Games Up’s review of Ana Amari.


Good Charlotte: Youth Authority.

I ran outside to see/it’s not 2003” sings one half of the Madden brothers on one of this album’s singles “40 oz dream” and yet it is. This album is as 2003 as possible because for the first time in over a decade Good Charlotte have re-embraced the genre that made them: Pop Punk. But this band are not young anymore, let’s not forget that Good Charlotte are 21 years old and still mostly made up of its original members. Youth Authority is a homecoming parade from a band who are playing better than they ever have, the drums are on point, the guitars are in sync and the structures and mixing are as good (if not better) than any previous album from this band. Good Charlotte have always been a bit of a musical underdog, never quite receiving the praise they deserve. They’re frequently seen as the poster boys of a laughed at genre, but albums like this show that Good Charlotte are still some of the best musicians in the business and they deserve your attention now more than ever.


Bojack Horseman: Season 3.

Animated comedy is something that will be considered a viewing staple for certain generations thanks to innovators like Matt Groening and Seth MacFarlane. But creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg has made something that stands apart from its cartoon peers. Bojack Horseman found it’s home on Netflix only 2 years ago but it’s gone from strength to strength. It’s brilliantly funny as a biting satire of American celebrity culture, and it’s attention to detail makes every single one of its major jokes feel impactful to the shows future. It’s a genuine pleasure watching such an A list cast make a mockery of Hollywoo (and no that’s not a spelling mistake). But what sets Bojack Horseman apart is its ability to experiment with its own formula and tie in genuine tragedy to its acidic comedy. The fourth episode of it’s third season, for example, is set entirely underwater and this setting effects everything from the story to the music and dialogue. This kind of experimentation mixed with its genuine feeling of bleak tragedy makes Bojack Horseman one of the most interesting animated comedies in recent years. It won’t deliver a laugh a minute but it will leave an impact on you and that’s very special.


Did you enjoy anything on this list or think I missed something off it? Feel free to leave a comment on this article or get in touch with me. I hope you’ll look forward to the next list in this series, at the end of August/begining of September. Thanks for reading!

The Best of June’s Releases

The Best of June’s Releases

The biggest month of the year for gaming has come and gone and so here is a look back at the best releases of June 2016.


E3 2016

Whilst not technically a single release E3 spans the entire medium of video games, it brings giant announcements, giant releases and some of the biggest “wow” moments that the games industry has to offer. That’s why for this month’s biggest releases E3 get’s it own spot. With announcements for everything from a new Spider-man game to an entirely new console E3 had a lot of surprises this year and as ever it was great fun gathering around with our friends and gasping as the shocks came out. If you’re interested in seeing how Games Up reacted to this year’s E3 you can find a handy playlist of our E3 2016 content right here.


The Red Hot Chilli Peppers: Dark Necessities (Music Video):

Dark Necessities is not a traditional Red Hot Chili’s song, that is until the second few bars when Flea’s bassline drops and the funk is turned all the way up to 11. The song is catchy but has a mature, slow, chilled out vibe to it. It’s a song impressive of any band never mind a band that’s made it to their 11th album. But if the song on its own is enjoyable, the song coupled with the music video is something else. Directed by Olivia Wilde (star of Tron Legacy, Vinyl and much more) the video feels reminiscent of a video from the 90’s or early 2000’s. Lush locations, smooth action shots and lighting that Hollywood would be jealous of. It captures the feel of the track and the band perfectly and it’s wonderful to see a music video getting the kind of investment that has clearly gone in to this.


Twenty One Pilots: Heathens.

RHCP are on their 11th album and still making the best of list, which spells good things for this next band, who are very easily the Red Hot Chilli Peppers for a new generation. Combining elements of Rock, rap, punk and much more leads to Twenty One Pilots being the leaders of a brand new generation of pop-punk-rap-rock. And it is stunning! This band have yet to make a misstep and Heathens is no different. Dark, Brooding and insanely catchy, heathens is the promo song for upcoming Superhero movie(?) Suicide Squad and Twenty One Pilots are the perfect band for the job. Their unique sound, mixed with their grasp of accessible but dark sounds is exactly what a Suicide Squad song needs. If you haven’t listened to them yet this is a perfect way to start and it comes highly recommended.

Did you enjoy anything on this list or think I missed something off it? Feel free to leave a comment on this article or get in touch with me. I hope you’ll look forward to the next list in this series, at the end of july/begining of august. Thanks for reading

The Best Of May’s Releases

The Best Of May’s Releases

As we now sit a week into this month, it’s time we look back on the best releases of the month just past, so without further ado, here are the best releases of June.

Sing Street:

Sing Street is a movie that tells the story of a boy in 1980s who joins a new school and forms a band in a attempt to gain popularity and get the girl. It’s a plot we’ve seen before but Sing street nails its delivery. it’s a movie of genuine characters telling an engaging story. It’s best asset, though, is its grasp and use of live sound. The movie absolutely nails the feeling and sound of a live concert and  the use of this atmosphere really adds to the movie’s sense of authenticity. If you get the chance you should defiantly try to catch it in a cinema, or an environment where that live sound will be done justice.


Busted: Coming Home.

That’s right, the second recommendation on this list is famous, love to hate ’em, pop punk band Busted. The original line up of the band has reformed and returned with the first single off of a new album but this time round the band sound different, years away from each other exploring and maturing in their musical ability has done this band a lot of good. Now the sound of grating guitar is replaced with fuzzy electronics as the bands improved sense of harmonies takes a much more centre role in this song. But perhaps the strongest aspect of the song is the drumming. Cobus Potgieter takes the role of drummer here and his talent is immediately noticeable, the beats themselves are minimally complex but they sound effortless and come with enough understated flair that it makes you wonder what the album might have in store from this rhythm aficionado. Perhaps it won’t be too long until we find out.


Overwatch.

To not mention Overwatch on this list would be to not understand what a great game is. Overwatch is a genius work of imagination, balance and flair. A wide range of heroes, in a number of different classes take to the battle field in various objective based game types. The characters complement each other fantastically and picking who to play as at any time feels more like a feast than a buffet. There isn’t a single class that doesn’t feel fun, not a single map that feels out of place, and even though it’s not bursting with content, it’s easy to get hours and hours of enjoyment from this game. Summing up Overwatch in one word is easy, fun. It’s fun to play, but its more than that, the characters are fun, the weapons are fun, the environments are fun, everything about this game is fun, and there’s no better reason to recommend a game than that.


Did you enjoy anything on this list or think I missed something off it? Feel free to leave a comment on this article or get in touch with me. I hope you’ll look forward to the next list in this series, at the end of May. Thanks for reading

The Best Of March’s Releases

The Best Of March’s Releases

Sorry for the slight delay on this one, we’re a fair few days clear but none the less here are some of the best things that were released in the month of March.


Radical Face: The leaves.

The Leaves is the third and final part in a trilogy of albums by Indie Folk outfit Radical Face, as part of a project known as The Family Tree. If you’ve heard any other part of The Family Tree you know what you’re in for with this third release. Or at least you might think you do. See whilst The leaves stays true to the style of the family tree it’s also the most experimental part of the trilogy. Ben Cooper plays with structures and instrumentation to bring together an album that successfully rounds out this trilogy of efforts. Its full of melancholy, darkness and sadness but it also has an overwhelming sense of personal hope. It’s exactly what you want from a Radical Face release.


Hail, Caesar!

Hail Caesar is a great film which has been marketed badly. Almost every audience member will go in expecting a thrilling romp from the golden age of cinema when In reality it’s more of a Coen Brothers sketch show. With widely varying scenes taking places in a brilliant imitation of 1950’s Hollywood. But if you can get past what the film is not, then what it is,  is highly entertaining, beautiful down to the last shot and witty in a way that only the Coen Brothers can be. It’s packed to the brim with magnetic performances from a Clooney, Brolin, Tatum and many more. In it’s full review Hail Caesar scored a 7.4, and whilst that is somewhat under the better review on this blog, it’s a film that’s definitely worth your time, and is great fun to boot.


Dark Souls: Prepare to try. 

In Prepare To Try IGN UK challenges one member of their team to complete the original Dark Souls before the latest installment in the series (Dark Souls 3) comes out in the west. What makes this series so enjoyable is how intimidating dark souls is as a series. The games are known for being for the hardest of hardcore gamers. But watching Rory (powers, IGN UK’s News host) play the games makes it seem far more enjoyable, and far less daunting. Couple that with the great dynamic between the IGN UK team and you have a surprisingly compelling video series. Whether you’re watching the series for entertainment, or as an informal guide to the game. Prepare To Try is a great way to experience the original Dark Souls without feeling quite so overwhelmed at the challenge.


Did you enjoy anything on this list or think I missed something off it? Feel free to leave a comment on this article or get in touch with me. I hope you’ll look forward to the next list in this series, at the end of April. Thanks for reading.

The best of January’s releases.

The best of January’s releases.

Welcome to the first feature in a new series for this blog. Towards the end of every month I’m going to outline some of the best things that have recently released. Whether it be games, music, movies or whatever else, it’s my intention to create an interesting, varied list of things you might have missed. If you’ve released something recently that you think deserves a place on this blog (or you just have good suggestions) feel free to get in touch via the Contact Me page.


Arkham Knight – Crime Fighter Challenge Pack #6 DLC

DLC isn’t likely to play a major part of these features in the future but the latest batch of Arkham Knight DLC is a little special. Rather than adding to the AR missions of Arkham Knight Rocksteady have instead gone back and remastered some of the best challenge maps from the Arkham franchise’s past. Playing again in the Cobblepot Lounge, or Wayne Manor feels instantly familiar and new at the same time. It’s a welcome blast from the past and, if it truly is the last piece of Arkham content that Rocksteady are to develop, a nice way for the developer to bid farewell to the franchise they created.


Panic! At The Disco – Death Of A Bachelor.

Death Of A Bachelor is the fifth album from a band who have released some of the most interesting and unique music of the past few years. As ever this album is a mish mash of styles with Queen, Frank Sinatra, Hip Hop  and classic pop punk all fueling this eleven track powerhouse. Lyrically the album continues on from the band’s previous effort, focusing on the personal life of the, now solo, band member Brendon urie, whose vocals continue to shine. If you liked Panic! Before you’ll certainly like this and that just goes to show the kind of consistent quality that comes out of this band.


Gone Home Console Edition.

Playing through Gone Home for the first time was an absolute revelation. The Game, Developed by Portland based The  Fullbright Company, is an absolute triumph of writing, level design and storytelling. It’s use of nail biting atmosphere is extremely clever as is it’s pacing and structure. But what makes Gone Home so special is how different it is. The game shuns triple A excess in favour of a grounded story. It captures the feeling of being in your house alone, with a sense of both familiarity and nervous unease, and it does this whilst telling one of the most  human stories in gaming. At the time of its original release Gone Home undeniably pushed boundaries, and now the game has been released, along with a bunch of special features, to the current generation of consoles. Easily one of the best games of the past few years, Gone Home cannot be recommended highly enough.


Did you enjoy anything on this list or think I missed something off it? Feel free to leave a comment on this article or get in touch with me. I hope you’ll look forward to the next list in this series, at the end of February. Thanks for reading.