Thursday, December 29, 2016

La La Land Review

La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast Headliners: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone
Original Release Date: December 9th, 2016 (Seen Later in Month)  

   Damien Chazelle astounded the world with his intense, jazz infused Whiplash in 2014. That film was as infused with as many great soundtrack and visual moments a it was with powerful performances. Chazelle has a touch of directorial gold, and so when he makes a film at the head one should pay attention. He turns his attention to a classic style Hollywood(both in setting and style) musical in La La Land. It is every bit as a treat as the praise makes it out to be.
While evoking the great musical flicks of yesteryear, the setting is in modern times LA. This allows it to take a jest, positive and critical, at SoCal lifestyle which will resonate with those who have any familiarity with the area. Soon after an incredibly bright, rousing opening number we meet our two leads.
The narrative is essentially a standard romantic drama / comedy. The two main leads are Mia(Emma Stone) who is an aspiring actress and Sebastian(Ryan Gosling) who is an aspiring musician. The plot unfolds across seasons and circumstances through their romance. There's other character's besides them but none get much focus aside from the effective use of side characters in musical numbers. Chazelle makes a reunion with JK Simmons to play an effectively humorous jerk of a restaurant owner in Bill. Real musician John Legend (with a kind of different part bringing one of his songs in tow) shows up in a sincere role as Keith who is important to the plot.
The two ones who will stick out are Gosling and Stone. Their rapport, chemistry, and dialogue between each other is great. Both traverse a range of emotional feels, and delight the audience to laugh, feel romance, or cry in their various situations. They both are great singers, dancers, all giving their best. Emma Stone in particular gives a fantastic performance and getrs much of the narrative focus. Her singing as well will leave one with chills.
That is because the music, both instrumental and the frequent (but not overbearing) musical numbers are astoundingly, amazingly gorgeously composed. The soundtrack by Justin Hurwitz will leave one humming forever, dancing forever. From joyous horns, to the frequent use of jazz styles(important to the narrative), to strings and lyrics and more it's both very classic Hollywood and modern artistic flair.

Damien Chazelle also in a way is a musician in his visual style. Even more than Whiplash, La La Land is a work of visual art. Each shot has great cinematography and close-camera-care. The use of colors, sunny LA, set design is all wonderful especially in a key end scene. It is at times surreal and magical, dancing in the stars and so on. These moments make La La Land truly special. While it can be a bit long and typical, it will leave an impact to the viewer through its candy of visuals and music and charm. That's what good movies do. 8.8 out of 10

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