Once in awhile a film comes out and astonishes everyone who sees it. Star Wars, Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Amadeus––all transcended what movies could and will be. A movie like La La Land did exactly that--it was bold, beautiful and magnificent.
Filled with vibrant colors, it was reminiscent of the good old days of musical films. If I were old enough, I’d call it nostalgic.
I’m talking about musicals like Singin’ in the Rain starring Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Made back in 1952, this is one of the most watched musicals ever made. When I watched it for the first time, it made me feel good. It made me remember why I even watch movies.
What La La Land did was exactly that--it gave me hope for the future of film--a reminder that maybe I don’t have to only watch stupid Avenger movies or a Jason Bourne remake or some lewd and crude comedy like Sausage Party or The Night Before.
The movie starts off with one of my favorite songs “Another Day of Sun.” A perfect opener, it set the mood right from the start––both exciting and ordinary at the same time.
The very first scene takes place in a traffic jam on a freeway outside of Los Angeles. The first song and dance scene doesn’t even introduce our characters, which seemed to show how unimportant our characters would be to us in real life.
My next favorite song from this movie would have to be “City of Stars,” a duet with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone). This piano duet didn’t ask for much--just for the viewer to lean in and listen.
The movie showcased Stone’s talent. Along with her outstanding acting in this movie, she was also a surprisingly good dancer and singer.
While her voice may have cracked a bit, it could be argued as purposeful. I had only seen her in movies like Easy A, Superbad, or Spider Man. After this movie I respect her more for her acting.
Stone has often been cast as shy, timid, and a little quirky, and that’s what she played in this movie.
She continues to be magnificent at it however, and in this film we really get to see her character’s evolution throughout the movie because of that.
This is the third time she and Gosling have worked together. They starred opposite one another in both 2011’s Crazy, Stupid, Love and 2013’s Gangster Squad.
Gosling gave a great performance and it was an even better one with Stone.
Both are good actors by themselves, but when they’re onscreen together, they improve drastically.
Like Stone, Gosling has a casting pattern: he’s usually typecast as a charming, clever guy looking for love.
I already knew he could dance and sing, but I didn’t know he played piano; and let me tell you he plays some great piano. At a press event for the movie, director Damien Chazelle notes that the piano playing is all his--not one double was used.
The colors of La La Land popped and the costume design intrigued me. It’s full of bright purples, oranges, reds, blues, yellows, and tans. Everything felt over-the-top, but not in a cheesy way--more of a dreamlike, surreal, you’ve got-to-see-it-to-believe-it-Techinicolor-world sort of way.
With each major event in the timeline of the movie, a new season occurred. I liked that about the movie; it was simple and effective. With each season the audience sees how the characters’ hopes and dreams change and how they give up on some things to pursue others. It reinforces one of the greater themes of the movie: “What we do to achieve our hopes and dreams.”
The story didn’t seem to have the proper ending it should have, but at the same time it reinforced the theme above. If they didn’t stop the movie where it ended, it would’ve went on for another hour or two and it was already two hours.
Maybe that was the director and writer’s point, to keep the audience wanting––wanting to know what happened to Mia and Sebastian. I guess we’ll never know.
This movie was nominated for seven Golden Globes this year and won all of them. I think by far this was the best movie that came out in 2016-17.
La La Land left me with hope that movies will be better in the future.