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  • La La Land – a 1940s Musical in Modern Los Angeles

    Posted on January 24th, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto 1 comment

    la-la-land-poster“La La Land”, Written and Directed by Damien Chazelle. Released Summer, 2016

    It was announced today that “La La Land” has been nominated for an astounding 14 Oscar awards, including best directing, best picture and best original screenplay. Stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling both received best acting nominations. Oh, and don’t forget the seven Gold Globes the movie won.

    If you haven’t seen it, you’re probably thinking, “So what’s all the fuss about?”

    Answer: Beautiful cinematography, great story, fantastic acting and direction, incredible music; From the moody jazz clubs to the brightly-costumed dance numbers, everything about this movie screams the things we love. Fred and Ginger would have been right at home making this picture.la-la-land-dancing

    As my title says, this is a story set in modern-day LA, but is really a 1940s-1950s style musical, complete with traditional-sounding show tunes, dancing, and vintage décor. The music is incredible, featuring big band sounds, traditional jazz and modern influences blended together like a perfect musical cocktail.

    La La Land-piano

    Then there is the cinematography. Oh, how beautifully and carefully this atmospheric movie is filmed, each shot creating a specific mood while maintaining the vintage-esque feel throughout. Dreamy and cool, there’s a touch of magic…just as a 1940s musical should have. (For example, they say every jazz piece tells a story; in this movie, the jazz piano piece literally tells a story. Very cool.)

    Beyond the music, the acting and the story are fantastic. Stone and Gosling effortlessly take characters who should be un-relatable to most people (an aspiring young actress and a bohemian jazz musician) and make them warm and inviting, even with their faults. The blossoming romance is real, corny, and magical all at the same time.la-la-land-gosling-stone=stars

    For people who dig vintage and mid-century fun, this a movie that is right up your alley.

    The film has an overall Art Deco, Vintage & Mid-Century look and feel. Sets and locations are all about the past, including the Angels Flight Funicular Railway, The Colorado Street Bridge, and the very famous Griffith Observatory (the Planetarium in “Rebel Without A Cause”).

    Griffith Observatory (Planetarium)

    Griffith Observatory (Planetarium)

     

    The tap dancing and jazz numbers (Gosling learned jazz piano for this role) take you back to the decades of the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, perfectly choreographed and played for this vintage musical style. The music was scored for a 90-piece orchestra on the same stage as “Singin’ in the Rain”.

     

     

    ryan-gosling-Riviera-in-la-la-land

    Gosling in an early 1980s Buick Riviera, a classic-styled throwback to the 1930s.

    Gosling’s character, Sebastian, is a jazz transplant from the late 1950s, right down to his thin ties and choice of classic style cars (an early 1980s Rivera convertible at first, a 1980 Cadillac Eldorado convertible near the end). He is the symbol of tradition, of the past, to a fault – his career as a jazz musician is hampered by his unwillingness to change with the times. Once he begrudgingly evolves musically, opportunities begin to open for him.

    Stone’s character, Mia, is a modern woman who seems at odds in the modern world (even though she doesn’t realize it). She has problems with modern electronics and doesn’t do well in scenes that involve her Prius. Yet she seems most at home in the vintage settings she discovers (the jazz clubs, period piece performances) and with the vintage-style man she keeps running into. It’s only when she embraces the past that she becomes successful.

    Together, these marvelous characters both sing and dance though life in the style that made Fred and Ginger famous.La La Land-piano

    Personally, I think Fred and Ginger would love it.
    And I think you will too.

    -Tiki Chris reporting from the screening room at Tiki Lounge Talk

     

     

  • Remembering Buddy Greco, The King of Lounge

    Posted on January 11th, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    RIP Buddy Greco, August 14, 1926 – January 10, 2017

    The first time I ever heard Buddy Greco was on the radio. It was in the early 1980s, and I used to listen to a “nostalgia” station, WRDR, FM 105 out of Egg Harbor City in New Jersey. After the commercial break, his trademark intro to “The Lady Is A Tramp” swung out in glorious stereo, and I was hooked.

    A few days later I heard what was to become my favorite Greco tune, “Around the World”.

    Sinatra, Steve and Edie, Sammy Davis Jr, Martin, Prima…all pioneers of the swingin’ style that would eventually be associated with Vegas lounge & showroom acts. But Buddy Greco took it to the next level, and held it there just at the brink of being overdone. Whenever someone today spoofs or tosses fun at the lounge acts of mid-century Vegas, it’s not really Sinatra they’re imitating…it’s Greco, and they can’t come close to his stylistic perfection.

    Even his ballads were well swung.

    Buddy was also and accomplished jazz/lounge pianist, who would have been as at home in smokey bar as a concert hall. Here’s Misty:

    And though his music spanned 80 years and several genres including county and pop, what I think we’ll miss most about my fellow Philadelphian is his vibrant, energetic, original swinging vocals and on-stage attitude that makes him, in my book, the all time King of Lounge.

    Later, Buddy. Catch you on the flip side.

    Tiki Chris, reporting from the Hi Fi Lounge at Tiki Lounge Talk

  • Happy New Year from Tiki Lounge Talk!

    Posted on January 3rd, 2017 "Tiki Chris" Pinto No comments

    Happy Tiki New Year!

    Hope you have lots of fun stuff planned for 2017. Here’s a look back to New Year’s from 1957-58 with Guy Lombardo!