La La Land is not good. Actually it’s bad. It’s going to win a bunch of Oscars because it has Ryan Gosling in it, and Ryan Gosling is a handsome man who is understood to choose good roles in ambitious awards-y movies, and then to not make many facial expressions in those movies, in a style of acting that we are meant to understand is “understated,” for which you’re then meant to signal your appreciation as a way of indicating refined appreciation for refined things. I am fed up with this! It’s time for some Ryan Gosling Truth.
He dances and sings in La La Land—not well, mind you, but you’re supposed to think that’s actually what’s good about it, because it’s vulnerable or relatable or whatever. Actually it’s just crappy!
Another Ryan Gosling movie that many people like is The Nice Guys, an intermittently funny and charming hour-long comedy about a couple of hapless losers padded out with like 72 boring hours of static scenes of people firing pistols back and forth at each other, in service of a mystery that never gets within a light-year of becoming interesting or compelling. The Nice Guys is not a good movie, but a mediocre one; if not for the broadly shared sense that Ryan Gosling, writer-director Shane Black, and pudgy self-deprecating Russell Crowe are indicators of good taste, it would have gotten “Jeez, this movie is kind of a mess” reviews from critics. Instead, it has a 92-percent favorable score on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s crud! The Nice Guys is not 92-percent good! It’s like 70-percent good. Maybe less!
And then there’s Drive. In Drive, Ryan Gosling drives around a bunch, and wears driving gloves like a weirdo. These are fine behaviors for the protagonist of an unexceptional cheeseball B-movie—which is what Drive is—but because Ryan Gosling does no actual acting in Drive, but rather spends the entire time making an Easter Island statue face, you are supposed to understand that his performance is restrained, and therefore suggestive of hidden depths of meaning, and therefore that this dumb action movie in which Ryan Gosling drives around wearing driving gloves is Art. No way, dammit! No goddamn way!
Blue Valentine is empty misery porn for people who want to believe that sitting through aggressively unenjoyable dirges means that they are art lovers. Lars and the Real Girl is tedious hokum about nothing. The Notebook is saccharine soap-opera shit that centers its love story on two awful people who deserve to be fed to wild dogs, but you’re supposed to switch off your critical thinking cap because of the framing device in which the more repulsive of the two has sad dementia and the less repulsive of the two feels very sad about it. Get the fuck out of my face with Half Nelson.
I haven’t seen The Big Short but people say it’s good. Probably they’re just being nice to Ryan Gosling! I’m sick of this shit.