Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone – City of Stars

It’s a day at the movies! And where better to start than the darling of the Golden Globes?


Micha Cavaseno: Somebody get the shepherd’s cane.

Edward Okulicz: I haven’t actually seen La La Land, but everything about it I’ve come across deeply irritates me: that horrible font they use for the title, that horrible still where Ryan and Emma have one hand on each other and the other outstretched like two moronic birds trying to dance, and the adequate-at-best singing in this incredibly dull song. Sing out of your goddamned mouths, people! Some homage to the classics this is.

Katie Gill: I’ve only heard one song from La La Land before this one: “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)”, which was a generic version of “Cabaret” with everything good and interesting removed. “City of Stars” is a generic version of any song you’d hear in a Fred Astaire movie with everything good and interesting replaced with Ryan Gosling’s mumbly vocals and Emma Stone trying her hardest to remind all of Hollywood how quirky and interesting she is. How can a song from a major motion picture that has a worrying chance of winning the Best Song Oscar sound so fucking boring?

Lilly Gray: You need presence and a recognizable voice to sell a skeletal arrangement like this, and neither one of this otherwise charming duo has anything resembling the undefinable, head-turning quality like that which Fred Astaire demanded from Judy Garland. This sounds more like the first rehearsal of the number than the main event, complete with gaps where the director will go back after a juice break and give a note for “more sincerity.”

Jonathan Bradley: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both eminently likable screen presences, but Stone better translates her conviviality to song: her phrasing suggests hints of character, whereas Gosling’s is as immaculately immovable as his good looks. None of their shared glances and exchanged murmurs has the blue intrigue of the titular city of stars, though. That sense of possibility — and that wandering piano line — hints that it could tell far more involving stories than the one related here.

Alfred Soto: I can imagine Stephin Merritt or one of his minions doing a better job than Ryan Gosling, and while I’d rather see him in fitted suits or imagine him nude, he sings like the inspired amateur he’s supposed to be. Emma Stone, blankly affecting, dissolves in laughter — a mark of arrogance or a wink to the audience? I suspect I’ve more tolerance for the average and overlong La La Land than my colleagues, but I disdain the practice of releasing songs from musicals, Disney or otherwise, that haven’t already sent audiences humming from the theater.

Mo Kim: White privilege is not bothering to write a love story around Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, having them chortle their way through a piano rehearsal, then collecting tons of film awards anyway. It’s okay! The audience will read whatever you didn’t bother to write into your performance into their dreamboat’s swooning blue eyes. And petty though it may be, I can’t swallow anything about “City of Stars” past the arrogance of a love song that speaks for everybody in the most insipid truisms: city of stars, you never shined so white-ly.

Katherine St Asaph: I adored the quiet intimacy of Once when it came out, but after “Falling Slowly” won the Oscar and Broadway came calling, it deteriorated fast into shabby-chic-flickification. A decade later, its influence has dissolved into this: an underwritten after-school chorus jape of a piano line (that evokes a better Lisa Hannigan song), two non-singers using laughter to disguise their vocal inabilities, and the miraculous feat of leaching all the danger, glamour and sleaze out of LA. What would Lana Del Rey think?

Dorian Sinclair: “City of Stars” feels like a weird funhouse distortion of a theatre song, which is true of much of La La Land‘s music. It’s like Justin Hurwitz has heard of musicals but never actually seen or listened to one. The performances only reinforce this impression — I don’t expect Gosling & Stone to be classically-trained vocalists (indeed, many of my favourite musical theatre performers are not), but their complete lack of conviction when they sing robs the piece of what charm it might otherwise possess. Stone, at least, can sing better (and does in the last major song of the film), and I’m baffled as to why for most of the movie she sounds like she’s at the bottom of a well.

Claire Biddles: I haven’t seen La La Land (I have too much real-life experience of an ex explaining jazz to me to seek it out in my leisure time) but the low-key sweetness of this translates outside the film’s narrative context. However, like stumbling across a voicemail from a lost love, hearing Ryan Gosling’s lazy, melancholy drawl over a spare piano backing just makes me think sadly about what once was, and what I can never have again.

Will Adams: For all of La La Land‘s exaltation of old Hollywood, for all its efforts to frame jazz as the correct art form worthy of preservation and pop as the wrong, selly-outy one, for all its incessant back-patting and “look at what we’ve made, isn’t it beautiful!”, the actual contributions of Ryan Gosling’s insufferable character amount to little more than the world’s worst Regina Spektor song and this. “City of Stars” is a dud in its own right, a half-baked iPhone recording by two people who can’t really sing but warble out their fake-deep musings on ~the city’s promise~ anyway. A film that posits itself as a beacon to the “dreamers” while also valuing its own ideas above others’ reeks of hypocrisy, especially when these ideas turn out to be so glib and lifeless. 

Reader average: [5.54] (11 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

One Response to “Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone – City of Stars”

  1. this is synchronicity.