La La Land (2016)

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Monkey status: There are no monkeys featured in this film

2016 was a year of looking backward. Make something or other great again was the rallying cry of an awoken mass, clinging to rose-coloured visions of a past that they probably weren’t around for.

It seems like Damien Chazelle, the director of La La Land, was doing much the same thing. His film is a journey back through the decades to a time before the postmodern and the cool and the great second wave of deconstruction in 2002. Damien Chazelle watched Casablanca instead of Saturday morning cartoons, and then he made

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No paparazzi for this overlooked celeb

this film.

And it must have hit a nerve because it was huge. It was nearly the winner of the Oscar for the Best Picture – it was probably the closest any film has ever gotten to that spot without ever getting it, in a the most awkward way possible. I’m talking of course about when the crew behind the film got up on stage only to be informed that the wrong name had been read out.

So everyone was along for the ride down memory lane and casting Hollywood in this lovely nostalgic violet hue. For the most part, Chazelle and his lead actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone catch the past zeitgeist of the Hollywood hopeful and the story of actors and entertainers trying to fight their way onto the silver screen.

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The progression of the overlooked ape figures in Hollywood

But there were no monkeys. Again the story of the furrier end of the casting room queue have been left out of Hollywood’s history. We get all kinds of tributes to old past and dusty things like Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and James Dean – but where is the fellow who played the original King Kong? Where is Bonzo? Where is the famed statue of Mighty Joe Young outside the La Brea Tar Pits?

Characters sing and dance down Sunset Boulevard, over the hands and feet of Charlie Chaplin and Shirley Temple. But where are the attempting opposable little hands of Crystal the Capuchin? She is the top of the monkey A-list but she hasn’t even had a little square outside of Mann’s Chinese Theatre set aside for her.

As you can tell the whole thing drives me bananas. Chazelle has made a fine film if you like watching people sing and dance and like watching strange beige coloured hairless primates balance precariously on two legs and wear clothing and eat foods other than those that we can forage from shrubs and trees – I could go on.

When will the day come when Hollywood will honour its monkey heritage. We will be there ready on that day.

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