Thursday, April 13, 2017

La La Land (2016)

Plot: Mia is an aspiring actress who is struggling to be cast in anything, and Sebastian is a struggling jazz pianist who wants to open his own jazz club. The two of them meet each other and get off on the wrong foot until they talk about their passions and start to form a relationship. Things are going well between them and tey eventually decide to pursue their dreams further with Mia writing a one-woman play and Sebastian performing in a jazz club

During the past couple weeks, before I saw this film, I was anticipating this movie and I got more excited whenever I heard feedback from some of my friends at the film program at my college. I didn't know the story or anything like that, all I knew was that it was a musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Finally, the opportunity came to see this film after work and of course, I had a very nice time. Is a giant masterpiece? I don't know if I would go that far, but I had a lot of fun with its story, music, and seeing both Gosling and Stone together again to entertain me.

Let's start with talking about the main characters. Gosling is enjoyable as this passionate jazz musician who's struggling to try to make his dreams come true. Some of the best scenes in the film are when he talks about the concept of jazz making it feel so special and so important makes it something to truly appreciate which also leads to an interesting conflict during the second half. Emma Stone as some of you probably already know is my all-time favorite actress and this is another film where you can see why. She is one of those few actresses that (in my opinion) constantly entertains in a way that most actors can't quite do worth spit and this film is no exception as she gives us a bit of everything that makes her my favorite actress. She's emotional, she's passionate, she's dramatic, she's funny, she's a good singer and you can get into the moments when Mia is auditioning for a role and you know that she is a great actress with a lot of variety in her, which makes it so cruel how the casting directors don't even pay attention. I'm happy that she didn't disappoint me as usual and I'm even happier that she finally got her oscar. Together they are what gives this movie so much heart as you can imagine. I have never seen Gangster Squad, but I have seen Crazy, Stupid, Love which I praise as one of my all-time favorite films and that film proved that Gosling and Stone have great chemistry and it shows even more in La La Land. They're energetic, they're passionate, and even though it's a musical they have moments where they are deep in conversation and they're getting to know one another discussing their relationships and their goals and the dialogue works in such a way where you truly believe that this is a solid relationship between two people who are falling in love.

The musical numbers are a ton of fun to watch while not an immediate grab like some of the songs in Moana - at least for me personally. It's nice to see these big dance numbers in these modern locations with these shots that make you look like it's all being done and one single solitary shot. The beginning scene alone with the song Another Day of Sun I thought was especially impressive. It's kind of a shame how it actually isn't done in one take because the way that they make it look like it was in one shot is really neat to look at. I also enjoy how some of the songs feel more like songs from musicals back in the days where movies like Singing in the Rain where they are shot in big sets and with big long dance numbers that you could probably tell it's all on a stage but it looks very nice to see. In fact, the further you get into the movie the more you can tell that this film is meant to be a love letter to those films back in that era when musicals used to be big bucks. It's even kind of fascinating how the music and the choreography and the setting give the feeling that it's very Hollywood back of that time in a modern setting. Then, of course, you have the two songs most people think of when they think of the soundtrack, City of Stars and Audition (The Fools Who Dream.) Both of them have very memorable melodies that can get into your head easily. Now I have heard some people like my brother, Tommy discredit Ryan Gosling's singing, saying that Gosling's singing is noticeably bad. I think he's serviceable throughout most of the film, but I reluctantly admit that he does fall flat on a couple of notes in City of Stars that - to be fair, do sound a little hard to hit. Audition (The Fools Who Dream) on the other hand appears to be where people knew Stone was going to get her oscar. The singing was emotional, the music was deep, and it apparently related to people who go through the things that Mia goes through in the film (or so I've heard.)

The colors in the cinematography in this movie are beautiful. The first half of the film has a number scenes where the colors of the dresses Mia nd her friends wear for example just pop. And when they're shooting a scene that you can tell they're performing in a set as a means of paying homage to musical films in the old days they look beautiful.

If there's anything I would find a flaw in the film, it would have to be the story or more specifically the plot. Now I enjoy the story as a whole. I liked the romance and I liked the conflict Sebastian encounters over what counts as jazz and the ending was very satisfying. With that said, however, you can probably figure out most of what happens pretty early on. If you have a problem with the story coming out as predictable I can understand why, but I see it as a nitpick because I think the story was supposed to be familiar to the audience. In the same way that the musical numbers are supposed to be a love letter to past musicals from decades ago, I think the story itself was supposed to be a part of the love letter. It didn't need to be nor does it necessarily have to be a film that with a particular creative storyline with a unique story structure like Room (yeah I know, I haven't review that yet) or Inglourious Basterds or something like that. It's supposed to be its own familiar simple thing to pay homage to classical musical films while still having its own unique modern twist to it.

And that's my review for La La Land. It's an enjoyable musical with some memorable songs, beautiful cinematography, and the main actors give great performances. I don't know if this will become a classic or anything like that, but I did have a good time with it and I'm happy that Emma Stone finally got her oscar.

Rating: 85%

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