Top 10 Twin Peaks Characters NOT in The Return. 

We’ve all been losing our mind over Twin Peaks: The Return this summer. So, as Mark Frost and David Lynch’s oddessy into terror, hilarity and the surreal heads towards its conclusion, I’m taking a look at some of the best Twin Peaks characters who haven’t returned. 

This is, of course, a personal list, but if you think I’ve missed anyone or you disagree with my reasons, leave me a comment below or find me on twitter! BOB isn’t on the list as despite Frank Silva having died in 1995, his character and likeness have made it onto The Return, similar to Major Briggs, played by the late Don S Davis. 

Obviously this will include spoilers for the original two seasons and Fire Walk With Me

Also. Let’s get some business out of the way, my podcast recently had a Twin Peaks themed episode featuring an in-depth conversation with David Patrick Kelly, who plays Jerry Horne. David even played the Twin Peaks theme on the mandolin to open our interview. It’s truly breathtaking and something I am very proud of . If you use apple devices you can search iTunes for Supernerds UK or if you’re on Android just click here

Let’s Rock. 

10. Catherine Martell 

Piper Laurie’s Catherine Martell was the source of a lot of the soap opera storylines in the original series, shouting abuse at her long suffering husband Pete, conducting shady business deals and having illicit trysts with Benjamin Horne. Well. Until she died. Then there was the reveal that she was actually alive and posing as the secretive Japanese businessman Mr Tojamura. Because of course she was. 

Which leads me nicely to 

9. Pete Martell 

The late Jack Nance, who sadly passed away in 1996 in strange circumstances, fitting of a Twin Peaks storyline, played Pete Martell. Jack was a long time Lynch collaborator, appearing in most of his films, even being the iconic star of Eraserhead. Arguably the show’s everyman and its heart, Pete was the fisherman who found Laura Palmer’s body, in that legendary first scene. 
 “She’s dead, wrapped in plastic!” 

Nance’s offbeat persona gave Pete life and he was a delight to watch. Whether butting up against Catherine, trying to look after Josie Packard or accusing the Log Lady of stealing his car, he always raised a smile. 


8. Josie Packard. 

Sticking with characters associated with the Mill is the beautiful and mysterious (I feel I will need to thesaurus another word for mysterious soon) Josie. The wife of Andrew Martell, Catherine’s dead brother and the heir to his fortune. Romantically involved with town Sheriff Harry S Truman, Josie was often swept up in other people’s greed. She ended up as Catherine’s maid at one point, then was the subject of a business rivalry between the no longer dead Andrew and Thomas Eckhardt. Oh and she was the one who shot Coop in the season one finale. 

Her final fate is pretty terrifying.  Josie, about to be arrested, suddenly stiffens and dies. As Harry cradles her body, Coop sees BOB, appearing from nowhere, taunting him about Jose’s death. Then the Man From Another Place appears, dancing on the bed. Jose’s spirit seemingly ended up trapped in a draw knob, but more likely trapped in The Great Northern Hotel for eternity. 

7.  Donna Hayward 

A curious omission from the new season was Donna Hayward. Laura Palmer’s best friend and James Hurley’s true love, Donna was a key part of the original show. Her father is the town doctor and her involvement with James and Maddy is at the forefront of the season one mystery. Played by Lara Flynn Boyle in the original series, Donna was smoldering intensity buried beneath a small town girl next door. Boyle refused to return for Fire Walk With Me, the role recast with Moira Kelly. I’m not sure whether this show of disloyalty prompted Lynch and Frost to leave the character out this time round or with no real focus on Laura, they simply just didn’t find room for Donna. 


6. Annie Blackburn
 

Heather Graham’s Annie wasn’t in our beloved Pacific northwest portal to insanity for very long, but she made a big impact. Cooper quickly fell for the lovely Annie, who was as wholesome and optimistic as him. Unfortunately the diabolical Windom Earle decided to insert himself into their relationship and exact his twisted revenge by taking her into the Black Lodge. Despite a time-disjointed Annie appearing to Laura in Fire Walk With Me, I think she’s firmly dead and not returning.
“HOW’S ANNIE!?!” 


5. Windom Earle
 

When we’re told Dale Cooper’s former partner has escaped from prison early on in Season two, I don’t think many people would have expected where that would lead us to. Initially appearing as a disguise wearing,  hammy villain, Windom kidnaps Leo Johnson, freshly woken from his comatose state. Clearly relishing his performance, Kenneth Welsh is the villain we didn’t know we  needed, adding urgency and pace to the second season. Windom,  we realise has been driven insane, both with his desire for revenge on Coop and his obsession with the Black Lodge. Meeting a truly awful end at the hands of BOB, I’m fairly certain Windom isn’t coming back, but who knows?! 


4.  Leo Johnson

A terrifying figure in Season one due to his abuse of his wife Shelly and his possible involvement in Laura’s death, Eric Da Re as Leo should have been a huge part of season 2 and beyond. Unfortunately for him, he ends up comatose in a wheelchair wearing a party hat. Later, freshly woken and acting as Windom Earle’s pawn, Leo was last seen in a precarious situation, trapped in a cabin, having to hold a rope with his teeth to stop spiders dropping on his face. Sadly, he’s probably still there. 


3. Dick Tremayne. 

I get that this may not be a great choice for a lot of people, but I truly don’t care. Ian Buchanan as heelish menswear salesman Dick Tremayne was a slimy, awful character and that’s why I loved him. Lucy’s one time love interest and possible father to her unborn child, Tremayne gets a fair amount of screen time in season two and thoroughly chews the scenery. 

His scenes with Andy were pure comedy gold, both of them competing to be the best potential father. At one point the two of them end up looking after an increasingly mischievous child named Nicky, who Dick eventually thinks may be the devil. 

Dick is a hilarious addition to the cast and fits in marvellously, antagonising some of our most  beloved characters. Probably best not to mention Pine Weasels though.


2. The Man From Another Place 

“! kcor s’teL” 

Michael J Anderson’s backwards talking Black Lodge inhabitant is arguably the most iconic Twin Peaks character ever, possibly only topped by a plate of Cherry Pie. 

His appearances were few and far between, but every time he’s on-screen, he’s electric and you just can’t take your eyes off him. His red suit and reversed  dancing were simply unlike anything ever seen before.  Sadly, after Anderson waasnt offered enough money for his liking to return, he decided to slander Lynch with some truly bizarre and libellous claims and was replaced onscreen by a talking, monstrous tree.  


1. Sheriff Harry S Truman 

The town Sheriff, leader of the Bookhouse Boys and Cooper’s new best friend, Sheriff Truman is one of the only characters in the whole of Twin Peaks not to be bizarre or surrreal. A straight laced officer of the law who only has everyone’s best intentions at heart. Michael Ontkean had second billing on the credits too, reflecting his importance to the show. 

Truman’s stoic nature and sly humour endeared him to the audience just as much as it did Cooper. His reaction to Coop disappearing into the trees and the Black Lodge at the end of season 2 finally gave him a “What the hell?” realisation of just how crazy this town really is. 

Michael Ontkean has now retired from acting and lives in Hawaii, clearly preferring the sun and tropical island to the rainy Pacific Northwest. His part was not recast, instead Robert Forster plays Sheriff Frank Truman, Harry’s brother. A welcome addition but not a replacement.

 

So that’s the list! As I said at the start, leave a comment or tweet me if I missed anyone you would have added. 

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this list please check out my articles on the original series, the feature film Fire Walk With Me and my reviews of Episodes 1&2 and 3&4 of the Twin Peaks: The Return. 

Sharknado 5 : Global Swarming (2017)

Every summer, director Anthony C Ferrante treats us to the new installment in SyFy’s now legendary Sharknado franchise. If you’re unfamiliar with these films you’ve been seriously deprived of some wonderful entertainment.

 The story of Fin Shephard (Ian Zeiring) and his estranged wife April (Tara Reid) accompanied by a multitude of amazing cameos as they all bid to save the world from random tornados, somehow filled with ravenous sharks. Sharknado is pure, glorious trash with awful special effects. Cheap and cheesey and never po-faced, the Sharknado series is just about having fun and seeing which C-Lister is gonna be eaten next. 

Which brings us to Sharknado 5: Global Swarming.  Opening simultaneously with both an Indiana Jones inspired tomb-raid under StoneHenge and a Sharknado attack on London,  you get the feeling that this is a lot more over the top than you were expecting. Which, for a series that put sharks in space and turned Tara Reid into a robot superhero is saying a lot. 

This fifth movie uses the Sharknado’s new found power of teleportation (yep, I’m serious) to enable closely shot, inexpensive action scenes all around the world. Visiting London, Rome, Sydney and Tokyo, we see each country and their respective terrible local celebrities. Representing the UK we get Sam Fox, Katie Price, Jedward,  Louis Spence and for some reason, Brett Michaels. Yikes. Australia fares slightly better with Olivia Newton-John.

The plot is completely bloody ridiculous, Fin and April’s son has been taken into a Sharknado and they have to chase it around the world to get him back. Fan favourite character Nova ( the stunning Cassie Scerbo) returns as part of a secret sisterhood of the Sharknado, who at one point transform the Sydney Opera House into a flying battle station. Look out for the cameo of Fabio as the Pope, an especially odd scene that I didn’t think would be topped. Well. Until the final scene melted my brain. 

I love these movies. Each year we get the gift of a trash masterpiece surely to go down in history as a camp classic. 

Look, I’m not going to pretend it’s a high budget masterpiece. I’m not even going to pretend it’s art. It is however, genuinely hilarious and totally over the top entertainment. All five of these movies just want to make you smile and laugh and judging by the latest cliffhanger ending, Sharknado 6 will be even more insane and fun.  I can’t wait. 

10/10 (it couldn’t be any lower) 

For Fans Of: 

Jaws 4

Twister 

Shark Night 3D

Scary Movie 4

Baby Driver (2017)

In a summer full of franchise movies and mediocre sequels, Baby Driver is nothing short of genius, a hyper kinetic, music-infused, symphony of destruction. Edgar Wright has assembled an all star cast and strewn them across a beautifully stylised heist thriller. 

 
Ansel Elgort’s Baby is our almost silent protagonist. Orphaned in car crash as a child, Baby listens to music constantly to drown out his tinnitus. After stealing a car he shouldn’t, Baby is forced into getaway driving for bank jobs, by Doc, a mysterious criminal (Kevin Spacey). 

Baby spends his time between jobs creating songs mixed with secretly recorded audio clips  from his criminal work and dancing, oblivious throug the world around him.  Oh and falling in love with a beautiful waitress named Debora. Or is it Jonathan? Either way she’s played by Lily James channelling Madchen Amick, uncanny how much she looks like Amick’s Twin Peaks’ waitress Shelly Johnston . James is charming and her relationship with Baby is pure Hollywood and I loved it. 



Like a mix of both Ryan Gosling in Drive and Kevin Bacon in Footloose , Baby owns the screen and Elgort really steals the show. When you’re acting alongside Kevin Spacey, John Hamm and Jamie Foxx, that’s pretty good going. 

The mix tapes are a handy metaphor for the movie. You’ve seen it all before, but never chopped up and mixed like this. Every bullet hits the beat of a song, every door slams to a drum, Wright using his trademark editing to stunning effect. Remember in Wright’s own Spaced how drugged up bicycle courier Tires would dance to music made from everyday sounds? It’s like that, but to the Nth degree. It’s truly breathtaking. The soundtrack is chosen masterfully, Wright combining the right song for the right scene perfectly every time. 

The ensemble cast adds a level of pedigree and weight that makes Baby Driver just feel solid. It’s Baby’s story but everyone else has enough quirkiness or depth to be memorable. Its a world I’d liked to have spent more time in, so hopefully we will get some prequel comics or blu ray extras. Wright did this with Shaun of the Dead so fingers crossed. 

Every character has a cool code name, Hamm is Buddy, Foxx is Bats, Spacey is Doc, Eliza Gonzalez is Darlin’. Randomly, Flea, bassist with Red Hot Chili Peppers pops up as Eddie No-Nose, formerly Eddie The Nose. There are a few great gags during Doc’s heist meetings that I wouldn’t want to spoil, but those scenes are all hilarious and must have been a joy to shoot. Tons of room for improv. 

A film about driving has to have some excellent  car stunts right? Of course.  The stunt team did an amazing job, Wright saying in a pre-film intro that they used as much practical driving as possible and no CGI. It shows. It feels gritty and rough and real. 

The soundtrack is as much of a character as anyone.  Baby’s multitude of ipods, each one for a different mood, filled with killer tracks. From the opening scene set to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion track Bellbottoms, you get the sense of how Baby’s hearing and love of music will shape the flow of the film. I noticed a lot of heads bopping in the audience during the movie and one guy even tapping his leg as he strutted down the aisle to go to the bathroom during the movie. 

It’s almost like a musical in some ways, the songs driving the pace of the film. Wright has always had an ear for perfectly fitting songs and Baby Driver is the product of that.

Whilst not being the most original story you’ll ever see, Baby Driver is a beautifully made film that will surely stand the test of time, or at least the next few years. For me, it was like if Tarantino had grown up in the ipod generation. Snappy, quotable, violent and funny. 

It’s been a while since we’ve had a film that was just this cool. 

9.5/10


For Fans Of: 

Hot Fuzz 

Footloose 

True Romance 

Horrible Bosses 

The Mummy (2017)

Shared movie universes are all the rage these days. Well, since Marvel gave themselves a license to print money, anyway. DC Comics,Transformers, the Fox X Men films and many more are all in development so it’s only natural that Universal Studios who practically invented this concept with their monster movies, back in the 30s and 40s have decided to throw their hat back in the ring. 

The first entry in Univeral’s Dark Universe, their new series of shared universe horror films, is The Mummy. Starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella, The Mummy has been savaged by critics and flopped theatrically and I’m not quite sure why. Maybe people expected too much, but I enjoyed The Mummy for what it was, an action packed, horror-tinged adventure film. A mash of genres and full of excitement, even if it never manages to be truly scary, The Mummy nonetheless maintains tension and pulls the viewer along at a fast pace. The film only ever slows down when introducing the shared universe stuff, even then, never becoming boring. 


Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, a sleazy army officer more concerned with stealing artifacts along with his pal Vail,  played by Jurassic World’s Jake Johnson. While attempting to loot a tomb in Iraq, Nick encounters Jenny (Annabelle Wallis) An archaeologist he has some history with and together they accidentally unleash something ancient and evil. Sofia Boutella plays Ahmanet, a vengeful Egyptian Princess sentenced to be mummified alive for murdering her father and his son. Along they way she also tried to summon Set, the God of Death and control the world. Basically, if you’ve seen the Brendan Fraser version, she’s Imhotep and Tom Cruise is Rachel Weisz. 


Packed with awesome effects, some big laughs and loads of violence, The Mummy is a great romp. I kept waiting for it to get bad, but it never did. Sure, Cruise is not giving it his best, but it never dips into being unwatchable. If you’re into cheesey horror adventures, you’ll love it. This one has a huge budget and TOM FUCKING CRUISE in it.

One scene that absolutely wowed me was the plane crash, as heavily shown in all of the trailers. What a dizzying, thrilling set piece that is! Breathlessly shot and very tense, it creates a sense of dread and Cruise sells the whole thing. Like a spooky Mission Impossible stunt. 

Sadly, I can’t say The Mummy is Oscar worthy or even massively original. In fact you can play “spot the influence” all the way through. Personally, I found a huge John Landis influence, the zombies had a Thriller vibe and the ghostly apparition of a dead friend warning of trouble was straight out of  An American Werewolf in London. It had that typically Landis darkly comedic tone all the way though, the main character cursed, yet seeing the funny side. It also felt at times like the Uncharted games, very quippy and dry, with a similar desert setting. Cruise was actually dressed a little like Nathan Drake too. 

Cruise himself has had a fair bit of a critical bashing, which is undeserved. The romance angle between Nick and Jenny didn’t fully work, but it fits his character and by the end, everything does make sense. The scenes with Cruise and Jake Johnson were great, Johnson surely has to end up leading his own franchise at some point. He’d make a good Boomerang if they ever do a Superior Foes of Spider-Man movie. 

The film looked great, with each setting looking different and reflecting the tone of the scene, kind of how Bond films do it. Or maybe it’s furthering the Uncharted influence and acting like video game levels. I particularly liked the Prodigium headquarters with all the references to other monster films. 

Okay, so let’s talk Dark Universe. At the time of writing, The Mummy is getting buried at the box office, surely affecting future creative plans. I hope nothing too drastically, as what is set up here is actually very cool. I also LOVED Russell Crowe as Henry Jekyll and his old pal Eddie Hyde. As a pair of supporting characters Jekyll and Hyde will hopefully pop up in the next Dark Universe film, Bill Condon’s Bride of Frankenstein. Due to open February 2019, staring Javier Bardem and if rumours are to be believed, Angelina Jolie. Everyone’s favourite hat wearer Johnny Depp is the Invisible Man too, but where he will appear isn’t certain. All puns fully intended. 

Don’t listen to the critics, judge The Mummy on your own terms. I found a lot to like and was left wanting more from this world. Great action, effects and funny, worth the time of every horror fan. Even if it’s not truly a horror film. 
The Mummy is still in cinemas now 
7/10

For Fans Of :
The Mummy (1999)

An American Werewolf in London 

Mission Impossible 

The Relic 

John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

For some reason, I missed John Wick: Chapter 2 at the cinema. So it was an essential home video purchase, as I absolutely loved the first one. A throwback noir-action film with modern intensity and some outstanding choreography. Would the second one live up to the first?

Yes. Yes it would. 



Keanu Reeves returns as the titular John Wick, a hitman with an almost supernatural ability to kill. The first film saw John tragically lose his wife and while still reeling from her death, have his car stolen and his dog murdered by a particularly unlikeable Alfie Allen. He enacted his revenge by killing his way through hordes of bad guys, in one of the best action films this side of the 80’s. 

This movie, while largely being more of the same, expands the rich mythology introduced in the first one. the “Chapter 2” subtitle is spot on, it truly is a direct continuation as opposed to an unnecessary cash-grab sequel. Reeves takes his intensity and performance to the next level, bringing a new sense of desperation to Wick. When there’s nothing left to avenge and he’s forced back into the business, Wick’s survival instincts kick in. It’s great to see Keanu back as an action star, especially supported by such an amazing supporting cast. 

The plot is fairly simple, after a blistering, intensely violent opening gun battle, John Wick heads back to retirement. However, he owes a favour to Italian mobster Santino D’Antonio (Riccardo Scamarcio), who blows his house up and drags him instantly back out of retirement. Santino wants John to perform a hit on his own sister, Gianna (Claudia Gerini) in Rome. Shit hits the fan, as you’d expect and Wick calls upon all his skills, resources and contacts to help him survive. 

One thing I couldn’t shake while watching was the feel of a noir James Bond movie, sort of a Bond antidote in some ways. Dark, über violent and on the wrong side of the law. His visit to the tailor and gunsmith feeling like a trip to a twisted Q branch. 


Chad Stahelski
is directing solo this time, with John Wick 1 co-director David Leitch scooting off to make Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2. Not a bad trade to be fair. The two stunt performers turned directors also did the second unit work on Captain America Civil War, clearly cornering the market in big action scenes. 

Mind you, saying action is all Stahelski is good for would be a huge disservice, as JW2 looks gorgeous. From the swathes of neon light to the highly stylised subtitles, the whole movie feels it’s been expertly choreographed, everything flows perfectly. 
The supporting cast, as I mentioned above, is truly phenomenonal. Outside of our leads, we have turns from Peter Stormare, Ian McShane, John Leguizamo and Common. Everyone is chewing the scenery (except for a mute Ruby Rose, who solely uses sign language). David Patrick Kelly’s Charlie was sadly relegated to the blu ray deleted scenes. My interview with David, where he talks about the John Wick movies, amongst other things, can be found here

We also get to see Laurence Fishburne and Reeves back together for the first time since The Matrix movies, and what a reunion it is. Definitely more of the Fish to come in the JW Universe. Maybe even an appearance on the spin-off TV show that’s in development, The Continental,  based around the film’s chain of hotels,where in the assassins conduct business 
I really enjoyed John Wick Chapter 2. It’s a blisteringly paced action thriller. It has genuinely great characters inhabiting the it’s world, some you feel are placed just in case they choose to pull the trigger on them, so to speak, for use in a sequel. 

8/10
For Fans Of
 :
Drive 

Skyfall 

Punisher War Zone

Robocop 

Split (2017)

M Night Shyamalan’s Split is a remarkable film. A psychological horror – thriller, darkly comic at times and frighteningly intense at others. 

The story of three girls taken captive by a man with multiple personalities, this could have been a torture porn or exploitation film in other hands, but M Night Shymalan raises the tone and crafts something special. Layering flashbacks, subplots and different characters perfectly, Split never loses track of its multiple strands, each one getting it’s time in the light. 

The unsettling opening scene sets the tone for what follows, as we see Dennis, Kevin’s bespectacled, intense personality, systemically take town three girls, whilst remaining so stoic and calm. It’s a frightening statement of intent from a writer director at the top of his game. 

Anya Taylor-Joy, star of 2016’s horror masterpiece The Witch, plays Casey, a withdrawn, damaged girl, who’s deeply upsetting backstory is revealed slowly throughout the film. One of the three girls taken by Kevin, Casey is held prisoner along with Jessica Sula as Marcia and Hayley Lu as Claire, in an unknown location. Taylor-Joy is carving out a career as a modern day horror icon, next appearing in 2018’s X Men horror film The New Mutants as Magik. 



James McAvoy, also formerly an X Man, gives the performances of his career so far here. He plays a man with 23 different identities, each one that were shown is completely distinct. I feel if this wasn’t a horror/thriller, we would be looking at an Oscar nomination for him. From Barry the fashion designer, Hedwig the dopey 9 yer old to Patricia, a stern British woman, McAvoy is unbelievable. Every single personality inside Kevin is fully realised and an individual character in it’s own right. McAvoy really gives a virtuoso performance here, showcasing his talents and proving himself as a top tier talent. What’s more, nothing ever comes across as silly. Even when he’s dressed as a woman, McAvoy commands your attention with his intensity, never appearing anything less than a fully developed character. It’s a stunning achievement. 

The rest of the cast is great too , especially Brad William Henke’s creepy uncle in the flashback scenes and veteran actress Betty Buckley as Dr Fletcher is particularly great. Dr Fletcher’s character drops lots of the information about Kevin’s disorder. Other movies would use her character for exposition dumps and not much else, but Shymalan makes her so compelling and Buckley herself has such a warmth and heart that you can’t help but feel the fear and the compassion yourself.

This being an M Night Shymalan movie, there are two things you’d always expect. One is his gratuitous cameo, and the other is a plot full of twists and turns. Both are present here. Shyamalan’s career renaissance has been impressive thus far, Split only proving his ability to shock and thrill even more. The Sixth Sense was a huge bar to set for himself, so seeing him returning to that level is nice.  It’s difficult to go into detail without spoiling a lot of what makes the movie great. I do feel that while Split’s twists are why it works, that multiple viewings would only improve the film. 

Leaving spoilers out of it, both the ending and credits scene made my jaw drop. A huge talking point for sure and the recently announced sequel sounds very interesting indeed!

Split is a rare thing, a hybrid of genres and influences, ending up as strong as the sum of its parts. Rather like it’s main character. 

9/10

For Fans Of: 

Silence of the Lambs

Unbreakable 

Raising Cain 

10 Cloverfield Lane 

La La Land (2016)

Since becoming obsessed with film as a kid, I’ve always been fascinated with “old Hollywood”. The old studios and their politics, the backlots and the movie stars. Damien Chezelle’s La La Land feels very much like a throwback to that time, an unashamedly proud musical, filled with lush, vivid colours, tap dancing, fantasy sequences and some incredible songs. Why La La Land works so well, is that it grounds itself with a modern flavour while still maintaining that classic movie aesthetic. 

For some reason or another I missed La La Land at the cinema, but recently picked it up on Blu Ray. I knew very little about it going in, other than the actors and that it was a musical. I’d tried to avoid any trailers, as I feel with a musical, knowing the songs ahead of time is a bit of a spoiler. 
Exploding with a huge, colourful song and dance number, atop a freeway overpass in the middle of a traffic jam, La La Land sends a message of intent right away. “Another Day of Sun” is an uptempo, piano driven number, reminiscent of something from West Side Story, causing all the car drivers to leap out and sing and dance. I was instantly in love, before we’d even met either of our main characters. 

Emma Stone plays Mia, a coffee shop barista struggling to make it as an actress, being humiliated in auditions and overlooked by casting directors. Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian is a serious Jazz musician who wants success, but on his own terms. We’re introduced to them separately, both stories happening in parallel,until they eventually meet, when Seb is unceremoniously fired by a cameoing JK Simmons.

Telling a love story, for our time, in the style of a classic musical, yet making it work on both levels is a hell of an achievement. Whimsical, breezy and funny, it never gets cheesey, or silly which I think is down to the acting. 

Sebastian is a snarky grump, but totally sincere and real, Mia exudes desperation and frustration at her career. When they meet, the chemistry is real and heartwarming. When they argue the pain feels true and cuts like a knife. Gosling and Stone have worked together twice before and they’re probably the closest we get to the classic Hollywood “couples” of yesterday. 

The score and songs by Justin Hurwitz is note perfect. Every song works. The music cues are stunning, leaving the film feeling like a live action Disney movie or a modern Singing In The Rain. City of Stars, the opener I mentioned above Another Day of Sun and Someone In The Crowd stand out and will be in your head for weeks. Mia and Sebastian’s theme will SURELY go down in history as one of the great movie themes. Slow, mournful piano sweeping but with a classical touch and flowing into some quirky jazz, it’s breathtaking.  

Told in seasons, Mia and Seb meet in winter and spend the next year growing together as people and as artists. A very real journey juxtaposed against some very nifty tap dancing and songs. When John Legend shows up as an old colleague of Seb, wanting him to join a band and go on tour you sense the tension between our couple. Mia’s envy of Seb’s success is obvious, which is never good in any relationship. 

I’m going to refrain from ruining the last act , no matter how tempted I am to discuss it in depth! If you’ve not seen the film yet I would hate to spoil it for you. However I will say it floored me. A bold choice that paid off massively. 

The city of Los Angeles is the third main character in the film and looks like the greatest place on earth, from its sunny skies, old theaters and the beautiful Griffith Observatory. An idea we always got from the old movies. Chezelle is clearly in love with this city, showing its beauty and it’s heart. Underneath the business side, is a very real group of people who want to be artists. We all start somewhere. 
For me, La La Land is a masterpiece, full of primary colours, dancing and fantastic songs. Two stellar lead performances and some brilliant directing. Damien Chezelle is our Woody Allen, albeit with a more overtly musical sensibility. 

The last time a film grabbed me like this, it was Mad Max Fury Road, equally bright, but with a little less singing. 

10/10

For Fans Of:

Everyone Says I Love You 

Midnight in Paris 

Singing In The Rain 

Beauty and the Beast (1991)

Casablanca