La La Land

Steph got this movie from her mother for Christmas and I’ve been begging her to watch it, and thank you snow because a snow day was the perfect excuse! I had heard raving reviews from the people i read and look up to in the journalistic world, then in contrast the general public feel i perceived on the movie is that it’s overrated crap. Of course i was very interested to find out whom was right…

To begin with, i was thoroughly confused. The intro to this movie had me thinking “What is this?” because it was shot on a normal everyday backdrop that i could totally connect to, then everyone burst out into song to music from nowhere in an amazing choreographed routine and like that they lost me.

Is this a musical, is it a film drama, is it a theatrical comedy! I just had to watch as after the intro i was jarred back into the reality of peak time traffic and assholes with horns and then the drama began to slowly set in. Straight away i can see why people would be annoyed with this movie as it doesn’t give you any clues as where your going or what kind of experience your going to have until about a quarter of the way in. I would totally understand anyone turning off their DVD player before this point annoyed at their confusion.

But here is why you shouldn’t.

First off, the film is spectacular viewing. The costumes, lightning and stage setting is just beautiful to the eye all the way through. This movie portrays a very personal feel throughout its core for its two main characters and despite being in an open world setting, you barley remember the sets and props as your focus is always on the situation, emotions and reactions of either Mia (Emma Stone) or Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). You are drawn thorough the screen into their story, no small part thanks to the skill of these two immensely talented actors.

The story itself is packed with drama! The classic of two people lost in a city and in themselves trying to achieve their dreams, finding each other and falling in love, it’s just such a classic predictable, but enjoyable thing to see… and Damien Chazelle knew this, so he put in a very not classic but very realistic twist.

The direction and writing in this movie has to be applauded. We follow Mia and Seb’s journey on a relationship together and chasing their dreams through the seasons of a year, reflecting in the emotions of those seasons always. Then there’s all the nostalgia.

This is a movie your grandparents would approve of. This movie carries the weight of the great old classics on its shoulders as it idolizes them in stage setting, lighting, the dance choreography and even some of the spoken dialect. This movie is trying to be kin to those golden greats, “Made like they use to” is the feel throughout. This dedication to emulating the past is everywhere your eye is drawn to, in every detail on screen, and then it isn’t.

Going back to the original question of the start of the movie: What is this? Well, it isn’t really anything like we’ve had before. It describes itself as a comedy drama but i think that sells it short. This movie has that and so much more in bucket loads. It’s not so much a film as it is a  performance for theater shot as a movie, overflowing with classic character wrapped up in a modern world full of real problems with hard solutions and serious consequences.

Unfortunately being something new doesn’t lift it above criticism. My biggest problem with the film was the musical numbers as they were clearly intended to give us an insight into the characters emotional state at the time, but i felt more connected to them in the story moments gaining the emotions from the actors and writing. To this end the musical aspect of the movie fell flat.

Another serious issue was the musical intervals between the dramatic moments of the film, where music and little non-moments were employed to fill gaps between the important stuff, and it was always upbeat in contrast to however serious the situation it was leaving or flowing into was. This may have been a dramatic imposition to the attitude of the sun always shins on the silver screen attitude of the classics. Regardless, it didn’t work.

However the film itself, in all it’s twists and turns, trials and tribulations was fantastic; in particular the dance scene at the bench overlooking LA was stunning! So, i can see why the critics worldwide have praised this film and why it has achieved so highly at the BAFTAS and 6 academy awards. It is so good at reflecting the golden age of cinema with a modern twist, it oozes the charisma that reviewers drink up like nectar. Now not to sound like a film snob but i can totally see how if you didn’t get the references or were confused by the musical numbers being in their how this wouldn’t be the film for you. The problem i have is people on this basis saying its crap… this film masterpiece is certainly not crap, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is complicated to understand.

Overall this film has missed on a few aims and the music is key to the film, but there could have been less of it. I know i prefer movies over musicals but i was bought up on Disney, i know where a song fits in a movie and the ones here were not used as well as they could have been: Like their’s Mumma mia, then theirs Frozen, then their is this. However i thoroughly enjoyed watching it and would do so again whenever i feel the need for a little sun in my life.



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