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Writer/Director Damien Chazelle, who already had a nice career going
for him, explodes into the Bigtime with this delightful, mesmerizing,
and completely unexpected ode to Tinseltown.
The opening sequence (satirized on the Golden Globes) really does not do the rest of the film justice. It is as if the cast from the FAME remake grew up, had children of their own, and then those children hijacked the Santa Monica freeway to do a 10 minute flash-mob dance sequence.
From that point on, the film is hypnotic.
We segue to a love story as pure as anything since the great dramas of the 1940s. If the film had been in B&W, you would almost have expected to see Bette Davis in a 3-hankie tear jerker.
Except for the musical interludes, of course, which are pitch perfect and totally wonderful.
Gosling is surprising as a leading man expected to do song and dance, but he delivers the goods.
Stone, who was supposed to be "the next big thing" after Easy A (2010), steals the film and possibly the hearts of the audience as well. The awards should flow like water, and she will deserve every one.
As I said, deep in the DNA this is an ode to Hollywood. The film industry has always had issues with endings -- back in the day they would film several different endings per picture -- and then decide at the last minute which to use. Here Chazelle pays homage to that by giving us an alternate ending, along with the "real" ending, along with a closing sequence designed to remind everyone that nothing in Hollywood is actually real, but everything still can be really fun.
Destined to be a classic. Recommended.
The last time, I felt like this, in a cinema, I was six years old and I
was watching Star Wars. I never imagined, I would ever find that
feeling again in a cinema. That sense of being transported to another
The opening sequence took my breath away and I never got it back. Not even at the end - which left my head spinning. It is a beautiful film with soul, wit, charm, style and love. It is simply outrageous! Bold and fantastic and fantastical.
I am a straight man but my love for Ryan Gosling could change all that. He's a melancholy genius and Emma Stone is our muse.
This film defies genre. It is a masterpiece. I urge you to see it. I was lucky enough to see it at the BFI London Film Festvial.
It has been five days since I saw La La Land and I am still thinking about it and singing the haunting refrain that plays with your soul. I mean it gets in there - that music - the music of the firmament. Flying still, dreaming still... thank you Damien.
I was interested in seeing this film because not only am I a sucker for
a good musical, but I'll admit to being a big fan of Ryan Gosling and I
was intrigued to see what the director of Whiplash would do with a
musical picture to make it fresh and unique. So when I had the chance
to see a late-planned viewing at the London Film Festival, I jumped at
the chance (FYI, Ryan Gosling came to the screening as a surprise post-
film Q&A attendee despite not appearing at the Headline Gala the night
before so I was chuffed!)
The premise of the story is that Stone is a young actress who has moved to LA to wait tables while auditioning to try and 'make it', while Gosling is a jazz purist ("Anyone who doesn't like jazz just doesn't have the right...context", he insists) who plays the piano in bars to make a living and dreams of opening his own Jazz bar. Or to put it succinctly - "Two young artists meet and fall in love while chasing their dreams". The musical flows thematically from first love to heartbreak and every other emotion between, with great music throughout.
The most impressive thing about the film, for me, is just how daringly it dances between the old-fashioned "Singing' In The Rain" style of musical, and a bolder, modern style. The song numbers are great (the opening number received a round of applause in my viewing) and are an undoubted homage to classic musicals - a thoughtful mixture of old school dance numbers you'd expect from a musical in the 50s, and emotionally-wrenching ballads that hit you where it hurts; there is one particular sequence toward the end of the film which is a real gut-punch.
Stylistically the film skirts this same line; the film again looks and acts like a classic musical but frequently we see low-key reminders that this is modern day; actresses using their iPhones, a video being seen on Youtube, etc to remind us that this is set in the present day. If we didn't have these reminders, the visuals would almost have you thinking that this is the 1950s. The cinematography is beautiful and overall the film is visually stunning. There is also no doubt that it is wonderfully directed, with the same masterful control of pace and tension that we come to expect from Damien Chazelle thanks to Whiplash.
Gosling in particular is absolutely terrific, with a typically sardonic wit throughout. At the start of the film when his sister says she's worried about him as life seems to have him on the ropes, he responds "I wanna be on the ropes. I'm just letting life think it has me and then before you know it - BAM. It's a classic rope-a-dope". His delivery of these sorts of lines can't be matched, and it's easy to see why the producers said in the post-film Q&A that he was the person they wanted for the role in their wildest dreams. It's a role made for him with tons more of the above kind of lines. But more than that, Gosling captures a real emotional intensity at the film's emotional breaking points, more specifically in the sequence towards the end of the film that I mentioned earlier. He manages to convey such convincing emotion without so much as a word.
I'd feel bad if I didn't also praise Emma Stone, who has probably never been better. She has wonderful emotional range, from the ecstatic highs of love to the tearful, painful lows.
In terms of the Gosling/Stone films, this is by far the best. Their undoubted chemistry is given the full spotlight in this film with freedom to explore said chemistry without restriction.
The film is ultimately everything it had the potential to be - an unashamedly romantic musical, infused not only with great song and dance numbers but with intense emotion and charisma from Gosling/Stone, wonderful visuals and a unique pacing and tension from Chazelle. Oh, and it's hilarious throughout too. A genuine achievement - must be one of the best films I've seen in a long while. I'm annoyed I'll have to wait so long to see it again, frankly.
Will surely win multiple Oscars and other awards.
An observatory, a boulevard, a bridge, a downtown trolley, all make up
filming locations of the new film "La La Land". These locations are
iconic, yet remain unnamed throughout the film. The sum of these
locations create the city of Los Angeles. Any meaningful production is
a sum of its cast members and in the case of "La La Land" there is no
difference. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) come together
to create a wonderful production, but a lesser known yet ever present
cast member is the city itself. Throughout the epic musical sequences,
the city in its whole is either visible or represented by its historic
street lights. Some might argue that the city is a backdrop to the
songs and dancing of Sebastian and Mia but the city itself takes center
stage with the vibrancy of a leading man. It lends its beauty to be
danced upon by Sebastian and Mia without relinquishing its hold as
being the center of attention.
Mia being a minor actress in Hollywood goes to casting calls where those auditioning look the same. This image of Hollywood conformity lends itself to the character of Sebastian who has to change his performance identity much in the same way Mia has done in order to fit in and make a living in the beast that is Hollywood. With this being said the performances of Mia and Sebastian are one of a kind, lending itself to a sort of fantasy adaptation of falling in love. The imagery of the film stops at nothing to convey the idea of love and the concept of a soulmate, while the business aspects of Hollywood coupled with the necessity of survival keeps the two characters at odds. The film represents a city, a city that often times is at odds with itself; a city that identifies talent based on familiarity rather than the unique and often overlooked aspects that create it. Ultimately "La La Land" is a story about conforming and not conforming and the gains that can be had in between. LA is marketed as the land of dreams, yet is often overlooked and stacked on a pile of dreams that will never come to fruition.
The film explores the idea of "what if", and tackles the idea of a working Hollywood versus a Hollywood where the idea of art is paramount. "La La Land" focuses on the idea of money versus art, and shows that nobel aspects of creativity are often ignored to focus on the monetary aspects of the industry while leaving behind the very art that drove them in the first place. The movie is very much paced in the realm of Hollywood where the cadence of the film is action packed with all the fervor of a young person entering Hollywood for the first time, yet as Mia and Sebastian learn the inter-workings of Hollywood the film slows down to reflect the realities that are faced when having to juggle income and art.
"La La Land" reignites a fire that has been lost from a Hollywood that is so focused on relaunches and reboots. It's refreshing to see a totally unique film, especially one that grasps the nature of Hollywood and Los Angeles in such an unconventional way. The singing, the dancing and cinematography move in perfect concert to give the appearance of something larger than life. The long musical sequences often border on the surreal, taking the shape of a wonderful dream with dance numbers in the clouds and in the stars. Yet at times the pacing of the film seems to trail off to a point of being boring, this is quickly remedied, but remains an aspect that should be looked at in editing.
Watching "La La Land" is like being awake during a wondrous dream, there is something unique and magical about the chemistry between Mia and Sebastian as well as the visuals of Los Angeles that surround them. As he sits at his piano, Sebastian sweetly and softly sings Mia a love song, a powerful couple of lines that represent love, art and life. "City of Stars, are you shining just for me, City of Stars there so much that I can see, Who knows is this the start of something wonderful and new, Or one more dream that I cannot make true." With "La La Land" a dream has come true, and made its way onto the big screen.
La La Land is a triumph on so many levels. It hooks you from the
beginning with its big opening number on the highway and has your heart
fluttering in the club at the end. Damien Chazelle has proved himself
to be one of the most talented directors/screenwriters in film right
The film gets you with its charm. It flows from the dialogue like poetry. The chemistry between Stone and Gosling makes the film livelier. Stone has slowly shown herself as a force to be reckon with in Hollywood and now Gosling has join the ranks after his stellar performance as the jazz pianist who's main dream is watch jazz live on. Stone is a wanna be actress who can't find her way. Together, they thrive off each other's love and support as they try to accomplish their goals together. Each have a chance at their first Oscar gold.
What else helps is a beautiful score and extremely well written songs. I found myself humming "City of Stars" all night long, already saving the soundtrack on every music platform I could. The music and dance numbers are a perfect blend of Gene Kelly musicals and more contemporary stuff like Chicago. The production design helps with this with bright, vivid colors abound from the walls of a passing building to Emma Stone's dress. A charming film only works when all cylinders click. This one was clockwork.
Like Whiplash, the editing is superb, timing well with the score, making it very appealing to the eye. But the cinematography was mind blowing. Able to capture those big production numbers with long swift cuts made it very astonishing. Not a moment seemed overlooked or underdeveloped. Each scene was extremely well thought out to cause the biggest "awe" effect, or to provide strong symbolism.
But the ending is what can really make or break a movie. This one makes it 10x better. It goes away from the predictable musical ending while wrapping up the movie in fellow swoop, opening the audiences' eyes to the entire meaning of the story, beyond the theme of follow your dreams. The idea that dreams are possible when you are willing to strive for them, but life isn't your own la la land. Everything does not end perfectly.
When combining all these elements together, you get one of, if not the best film of the year. In a year where things became bitter, this really ends the year on a high note. Cheers to the dreamers, the men and women behind the making of this musical classic.
When I first saw the trailer for La La Land my expectations were set high. The excellent cast, the music and an exciting new director/writer were enough to get me in the door. I'm always a bit hesitant when it comes to filmed musicals.. Will it be stagy, stilted and awkward? Not in this case. Damien Chazelle has made a wonderfully cinematic and loving ode to the dreamers and artists of the world. Having lived in LA and worked on both sides of the camera I can relate to much of this film's endearing observations, trials and tribulations; but anyone who's ever yearned for what seems impossible and searched for true love will also easily connect with this film's gargantuan heart. I'm a self proclaimed total movie snob not easily pleased by much of what I see, but La La Land gave me all the feels and more. I cannot recommend this film enough. It's the kind of film you leave and you don't want the buzz, the tickle, the movie-high to end. I can't wait to see it again when it's in wide release. The artist in me is inspired again.
You know when you're watching a film that you just don't want to end,
and when it does end you feel as if you could watch it all over again
right there and then? I had that feeling with La La Land, the new film
from Damien Chazelle, who blew us all away with Whiplash a few years
With La La Land, Chazelle has made an irresistible musical comedy-drama that serves up a real delight for the eyes and ears. If you haven't heard of this film yet (where have you been?), I'm sure you will do in the coming months.
Mia Dolan (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress serving coffees to film stars while Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz pianist playing a small time bar to make ends meet. The two meet and fall in love but it's their dreams of success that soon threaten to tear them apart.
The most striking thing about La La Land is just how beautifully crafted a film it is; the story, performances, music, dance numbers and cinematography all playing their part in making this such an unforgettable cinematic experience. I genuinely can't find one single fault in this film.
Chazelle proves yet again just how mature he is for such a young filmmaker, writing and directing such a touching and often funny love story with a meticulous energy. The whole feel of the film is a throwback to the golden age of musicals, a decision a lot of filmmakers would have been too scared to make yet the pay off is massively satisfying.
The gorgeous cinematography from Linus Sandgren brings the city of Los Angeles to life, awash with colour, while his swift camera-work, including some impressive long takes, in particular through the dance numbers, immerses the audience right in the middle of this dreamlike musical.
Coming to the performances, La La Land features two superb lead performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, both giving arguably their best performance to date. Gosling has really grown on me as an actor, maturing into one of the best in the business today. He proved earlier this year that he has a knack for comedy in The Nice Guys and he proves it yet again here. Stone always manages to impress me and she is dazzling in La La Land, singing and dancing her way into our hearts. The pair share an undeniable chemistry and I would love to see them both get the recognition they deserve come awards season.
Justin Hurwitz's score and the original songs in La La Land, along with the wonderfully choreographed dance sequences, including a great opening number that sets the tone for the rest of the film, heighten the film's level of originality, maintaining that energy Chapelle's films possess.
I dare you to try and not fall in love with La La Land. I fell in love with it and I'm sure many more will do so too.
Telluride by the Sea (Portsmouth, NH) led off its 2016 weekend film festival with La La Land, a captivating film that hearkens back to the golden age of Hollywood cinema yet remains firmly embedded in present-day Los Angeles life. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling bring a startling depth and nuanced feelings to what could easily have been another trite variation on the theme of falling in and out of love. The film impressed me on so many levels, for the quality of the direction and cinematography, the seamless transition between musical song-and-dance numbers with a powerful narrative, the inventive choreography, the authenticity that Stone and Gosling brought to their portrayal of their characters, and the amplification of the intensity of their romance enacted through their singing and dancing. This film is not-to-be-missed by anyone who loves the classic Ginger Rodgers-Fred Astaire movies and who longs for a modern re- invention of this genre.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
While looking forward to seeing this film but having no real expectations, the film was excruciatingly painful to sit through and I like musicals. Being a former film student,I found this film slow, boring, uneventful and at least an hour too long with unappealing characters. At a point in the film, Ryan Gosling's character looks out over L.A. and says "not much to look at". I said to my wife, "my thoughts exactly" (referring to the film-not L.A.). This made musicals like 'Lost Horizon' and 'At Long Last Love' look like cinematic greatness (and I enjoyed those). They certainly don't make them like they used to.
What a great movie! Who would have thought anyone could bring the
original screen musical back from the dead? Yet here it is, hale and
The music is melodic but never simplistic; the lyrics are intelligent and intelligible; the script is funny, touching without ever resorting to sentimentality; the two leads are not only skillful but full of a kind of charm that I honestly thought had disappeared entirely from American movies: but here we have Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone just oozing it.
The only pebbles in this ocean of inventiveness are some routine dance routines and over-reliance on the device of lights dimming on set to isolate an actor in white light, but that's me being r-e-a-l-l-y picky. It may well be that this is the best musical written directly for the screen since SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS.
All credit to writer-director Damien Chazelle and his team - and it really feels like a team-movie - for giving us this gem. Sure it's a feelgood piece, but it creates a world which is complex, it acknowledges alternative outcomes for its characters, it connects with people's passions, and in the case of Ms Stone's big solo, "Audition", it has a bona fide classic.
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