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There’s something fitting, in this 75th anniversary year for Wonder Woman, that the character’s iconic portrayer, Lynda Carter, has returned to television as the President of the United States in the “Supergirl” series. Spoiler Alert: Cinemablend discusses the twist that reveals something provocative and unexpected about the character, information that raises some telling and contemporary concerns.

The best film I saw at the Middleburg Film Festival was the lusciously romantic “La La Land,” a musical from writer/director Damien Chazelle, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.  Chazelle and Stone appeared after the film, interviewed by Middleburg Film Festival Advisory Board member John Horn.

Chazelle wrote this film before his acclaimed “Whiplash,” which won an Oscar for J.K. Simmons. But it was not until the critical and box office success of that film that he could get financing for a musical inspired in part by classic Hollywood and by the films of Jacques Demy. Music was an essential component in “Whiplash” as well. But “La La Land” is the kind of musical where people break into song and dance, even literally dancing on air. And they don’t really make films like that anymore. He wanted it to hark back to the musicals of the 40’s and 50’s but also feel modern. He wanted to cast people who had not been in a musical together before, so it would “not feel like a distanced endeavor. They can guide you through it even if you’re skeptical at first.”

What drew him to this idea was the way “your emotions can upend logic in a musical. If your emotions are powerful, a 90-piece orchestra will appear. You can make the unreal real.” It can convey “the craziness of falling in love.”

What drew Stone was two things. First, she said, was “the build to the ending. I’m a freak for endings.” Second was the passion of Chazelle’s vision. She loved the “hope and joy that can give you that last 10 minutes. It’s melancholy and heart-breaking but with hope…My favorite movies are where you find that full spectrum of emotion.”

Did you enjoy the twisty thriller “Girl on a Train?”  I’m giving away a copy of the book!  To enter, send me an email at with “Train” in the subject line and tell me a train ride you took.  Don’t forget your address!  (US addresses only)  I’ll pick a winner at random on November 1, 2016.  Good luck!

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