Monday, January 2, 2017

La La Land – Movie Review: Magically Grounded

A movie which pays tribute to old school Hollywood musicals but still tells a modern story, or maybe the story is timeless as well.

La La Land starring Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling and directed by Damien Chazelle who also directed the fantastic film Whiplash. La La Land is a  musical set in Los Angeles and is centered around a struggling actress, Mia played by Stone, and musician, Sebastian played by Gosling.  It’s a film about going after your dreams and all of the sacrifices and doubt which go along in pursuing them. The film is at the same time extremely magical and lighthearted but also grounded and realistic. La La Land is simply a great film which pays tribute to classic Hollywood while telling a compelling story.

First I’ll start with Damien Chazelle and how he shot the movie. I usually don’t notice shot selection or how scenes are framed in films, but it stands out in La La Land in a good way. Most if not all of the musical numbers seem to be shot in one take and it makes the sequences feel smooth and for lack of a better word, joyful. The colors and costumes Chazelle used also pop off the screen. The dance number with the three girls is just bright. Loving detail was put into every single frame of this film and it shows in how well executed everything comes across. I don’t think any filmmaker does any less while making a movie, but in La La Land the effort paid off to perfection. The entire movie is a joy to watch and this lands squarely at the feet of Chazelle in how he wrote and directed the movie.

Adding to the amazing direction are the performances by Stone and Gosling. Their chemistry is fantastic and they seem to always work extremely well together. Gosling is believable as the struggling Jazz musician who is passionate about the music’s history. I’m going to guess music has played a big role in Chazelle’s life with his films revolving around music in one form or another. The passion Gosling’s character Sebastian has for jazz jumps off the screen. You want to learn more about the music and its history after leaving the movie. Sebastian is so earnest in his passion you want him to realize his dream. Stone’s character Mia is the same, and you feel discouraged for her as she delivers some great lines and isn’t paid attention too in numerous auditions. Her character is relatable with how hard she works, and yet still can’t quite find success. The doubt she goes through about pursuing her dream is something every person faces to some degree and Stone does a remarkable job in portraying this part of the story. I wouldn’t doubt if she wins best actress for her performance in this role. She is simply stunning in every aspect.

I don’t have any big negatives for the movie. The only minor complaint is that the film might, and I stress might, have gone on for about five minutes too long. However I could have stayed and watched both of the characters for another thirty minutes. I would have happily watched another song and dance number between both of them. I can see those who might think the film should have ended at one point instead of going on, but I loved the ending and how the story played out. The film is perfectly paced and there isn’t a misused part of the story. The only reason I say it might have gone on for five minutes too long is the last little bit may have been a tad drawn out.  There really isn’t much wrong with La La Land, and I could watch it multiple times.

Since I’ve gone on and on about La La Land this one is Worth Seeing. I think just about anyone can enjoy this movie, even though it is a musical. If you are a person who doesn’t like musicals I would have you give this one a chance. There is enough story in between the musical numbers to be engaging. The musical numbers are just a big joyous plus. I loved La La Land and will look forward to watching it again. Until then I’ll just listen to its Soundtrack.

Comment and let me know what you thought of La La Land if you have seen it. If you haven’t would you be willing to give a modern musical a chance? Like share subscribe and all that fun stuff. 

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