Review: La La Land

Review: La La Land

have you seen la la land

it’s the movie everyone’s talking about








i passed a family on a walk yesterday

they were singing all of them

the music from the opening sequence

‘another day of sun’

another film of fun


i entered the cinema with high expectations

and over priced popcorn

sat hidden in the dark  with my thoughts racing


ryan gosling plays seb

a jazz musician

also plays the piano


practises by playing improvisations along with

this record of thelonious monk

(a little strange)




the story of jazz

to mia (emma stone’s role)

with no reference to black history



jazz just happened

it’s a natural phenomenon


he speaks over the black musicians

in the jazz club he’s brought her to

he doesn’t tell her that you can trace

monk’s lineage back four generations

to slavery in north carolina

(while his own ancestors ate apple pie)

he doesn’t tell her

that jazz was born of struggle (not his)


he wants ‘pure’ jazz

and only he knows how to save it

never mind

that jazz started a struggle against

the white imperialism

that tells him he can appropriate and ameliorate


there’s john legend, he’s keith

the only black musician in the movie with a voice

what a shame he doesn’t understand jazz

doesn’t know seb’s struggle

how dare he take control of his own music

by allowing it to develop organically into

something new

while seb would ossify


into passionless elevator music:

city of stars


to enjoy this film you must be

born a certain person

immune to erasure


like the colgate you would need

to brush your teeth from the sugared soundtrack


oh nostalgia furs, obscures  

like mould or cholesterol

nostalgia for a history that never existed

days of sun only for those who could walk freely

but that’s who this movie is for


dangerous game

to play for fame

representation traded

for eleven bafta nominations

in an america where

at least two hundred and fifty eight black people were killed

by the police in 2016

where today an elected man is trying to enforce

a human ban

criticised by the film’s director

from inside his own la la land


Fatima Lahham is a recorder player who studied at Oxford University and the Royal College of Music in London. She has performed at venues in the UK and abroad such as London's Wigmore Hall, the Holywell Music Room in Oxford, and the Styriarte Festival in Graz, Austria. Fatima teaches privately and at several schools and is a keen workshop leader, as well as teaching her own course at the Royal College of Music this term.  She has written articles for Stanford University's Avicenna Journal, the online magazine Noise & Silence, and the next issue of OUP's Early Music journal as well as having her poetry published in the International Times and in the forthcoming print edition of the A3 Review, after winning first prize in their poetry contest. In November 2016 Fatima launched Revoice! Magazine. Aside from music and writing, Fatima's interests range from Arab food to rare sheep breeds and training for this year's London Marathon.

Meet...Team Recorder on YouTube with Sarah Jeffery!

Meet...Team Recorder on YouTube with Sarah Jeffery!