La La Land (♦♦♦♦♦)

Mia is an aspiring actress who works as a barista at a Starbucks in a movie studio lot. Sebastian is a jazz musician with dreams of owning a jazz club. Over the course of a winter they will meet intermittently not quite realizing that, perhaps, they are meant to be. But, will realizing their individual dreams keep them together?

La La Land is the feel good movie of 2016 award season, and it has it all in a classy nicely wrapped package that will make you, as did I, fall in love with it again and again. La La Land is a musical that pays homage to old Hollywood musicals. It is a love story between a boy and a girl, but also a nostalgic look at the pursuit of dreams, and a celebration of dreams come true in the "City of Dreams".

La La Land is written and directed by Damien Chazelle, who does a great job on both counts because the script has an ethereal quality, and the direction of the movie seems effortlessly; this film relies as much on drama as it does on gorgeous, evocative music and lyrics, and almost magical cinematography. The result is a timeless film.

When the movie started and everyone burst into song and dance in the midst of a major trafficking jam in the highway, I told myself: "yes, that's exactly what I feel like doing every time I find myself in that situation", but the movie only grew from there. It got bubbly for a while; it was youthful, energetic, and then became so bittersweet at the end that I almost cried. It has a similar vibe than Woody Allen's Café Society.

For the record, I am a fan of both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. They make a beautiful on-screen couple, and I think this charming, romantic story works, precisely, because of their strong chemistry together and in spite of their rather weak singing voices. They have two other films credits as a couple (Gangster Squad, and Crazy Stupid Love). I emphasize their chemistry together because it is a movie that relies on the pair.

Emma Stone belts out the song Here's to the Fools Who Dream in a much praised scene— a-la Anne Hathaway in Les Misérables—, which cemented her place in movie history as a Best Actress in a Leading Role. Despite loving that scene, and thinking that she was amazing in it, I don't think she deserved that Oscar. If you have been following my reviews of the films that competed in the major categories, you probably know that I think the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role belonged to either Isabelle Huppert for Elle, or the snubbed actresses Jessica Chastain (for Miss Sloane) and Amy Adams (for Nocturnal Animals). Any other year Emma Stone would have won the award fair and square and I would have agreed that she deserved it, but with so many heavy duty dramas for Oscar contention, starred by the best heavyweight actress in the business, I don't think it was quite her moment yet.

Comments

  1. I am possibly the only person in the universe who did not love this movie. I am happy for you that you did. Anyway, we agree on the Best Actress win. Emma Stone is one of my favorite actresses but I felt she was underused in this one.
    The other night I saw Captain Fantastic, on your recommendation. I loved it!

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    1. You are not the only one who didn't love this movie. When Susan discussed it in her blog, it received a lot of bashing, so you could say that I was prejudiced against it before seeing it, but I loved it. Today I'm going to watch it again before my rental period expires, and that will be the third time.

      There was nothing to hate about Captain Fantastic. I'm glad you loved it.

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  2. I love this film and completely agree with your review. I loved the shout out to old musicals and the gorgeous colours used throughout. Plus I thought there was a very clever use of tracks which are quite often repeated which helps to reinforce them.
    I was also surprised about the Oscars - just not the right choice, even though I like Stone, given the other films around.
    Lynn :D

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    1. It won so many awards because it was the feel good movie of the year, and it was exceptional. But I agree that other actresses knocked the ball out of the park, like the ones I mentioned and I don't think it was fair to snub two of the most astounding female performances of the year to give the award to Emma Stone. I feel bad about saying that because I love her, but it's true.

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  3. Hi Carmen, I'm glad you liked this one! I also found it entertaining for various reasons: the actors were fun, the landmarks & homage to old Hollywood was cool, and I liked its theme of artists and dreamers of the world. I also liked the opening scene on the stopped freeway! Terrific. One of my friend's daughters is a dancer in that scene. It definitely got me in the mood for the rest of the movie.

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    1. Wow, how cool! That scene in the highway grew on me after several viewings; I wasn't a fan of it the first time I saw it.

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