At the end of the film, Manchester-by- the Sea, silence and sniffles could be heard in the theater. This touching story centers on the inner turmoil of Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) who is a very pent-up janitor that lives in the Boston area.
It is unclear what plagues him but he just seems to go through his life as an empty and hollow man. He receives a call to learn that his older brother, Joe (Kyle Chandler) has passed away. Through flashbacks, we find that there had been warning signs of his brother’s heart condition.
However, when the will is read, he hears that he will gain custody of his teen-aged nephew, Patrick (Lucas Hedges) and Lee is quite overwhelmed by the responsibility. Patrick does not seem to be that much of a burden, but as the story continually unfolds, we learn that his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea holds entirely too much grief for him to bear.
Lee’s former wife (Michelle Williams) is now carrying a child with her new husband and she comes to his brother’s funeral. He handles it fairly well but he later sees her with the newborn boy and it is a highly uncomfortable encounter. The audience discovers through flashbacks that he and his former wife had lost all three of their children in an unfortunate accident.
Lee is adamant about not staying in Manchester-by-the-Sea permanently because he probably could not survive that setting. He does, however, stay there for months so that he can get his nephew settled. They end up fishing together which indicates that there will be future visits between them though he entrusts his nephew to another family’s care.
La La Land, on the other hand, was likeable though it is categorized as a musical. There is a lot of dialogue so that makes the singing and dancing more entertaining and the acts are highly creative.
Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) abruptly meet on two or three different occasions before they actually connect. They become friends, partners and then lovers. The scenes of them dancing in parts of Los Angeles are breathtaking as they build a relationship. She is an aspiring actress and he wants to own a jazz club.
Sebastian gets sidetracked when he joins a band with Keith played by John Legend. His tours and travels create a distance between them and he and Mia begin to drift apart. She is busy writing and acting as he builds his revenue for his big dream. Eventually, she gets an offer to go the Paris and he stays behind in LA to work on his personal goals.
Five years pass and they meet again but the ending is a big surprise, yet it mirrors real life. The choreography, the cinematography, the clothes, the music, the colors and designs are all captivating and provide a great way to visit the beautiful sights and sounds of Los Angeles.
Both movies deserve the nods and nominations and are well worth a trip to the cinema!
Lynn M. February 4, 2017