Friday, January 06, 2017

Movie Review: La La Land - or, why I love movies

It's been so long since I have written a movie review, it would take something of a small miracle for me to get back into the swing of things. That small miracle came in the form of La La Land, from a director I knew nothing about, but actors people pretty much know everything about. La La Land is a musical, but more than an earnest plea for artistry or a social commentary...It is a musical for the pure joy of celebrating music. It is flashy, spectacular, sad, infuriating, beautiful, messy and joyous all in parts. It brazen acceptance of itself as entertainment is what a movie going experience should be, rather than what we have come to expect with are super-sized CG samplings of destruction.

La La Land is the same story of all other great musicals, boy meets girl, fall in love despite all obstacles and sing their way through the ups and downs of a technicolor relationship. Ryan Gosling (boy) and Emma Stone (girl) are not the best dancers, singers or actors, but the way they approach their roles with such gusto and all out abandonment kept me enraptured the entire time. Literally, I was sitting forward in my seat watching the chemistry these two had in parts of the film. This film is truly the sum of the parts is way greater than their individual contributions. Stone's "my eyes convey way more than anything I say" stare will win her some acting awards for this and Gosling proves he is just as good a musician and awkward romantic as he is the cool heartbreaker.

But I have given away the icing on this cake. The film is a nod to everything I love about film. The sound design and choreography are the weakest parts and were still better than anything I have seen in the past decade. The cinematography reminded me of the Douglas Sirk melodramas and saturated tones of Hitchcock's Vertigo. The location was not happenstance and all the nods to Hollywood, the good, bad and magical almost made me tear up (especially everything going on in my old stomping ground on the Warner Bros back lot).

Above all, the pacing was masterful...moving from 5-minute continuous dance shots to quick staccato emotional montages that told a fictional masterpiece story. I was dumbfounded that I could be smiling so big in a film while simultaneously crying my eyes out. That's the best way to describe this film, a contradiction of expectation.  So if you are willing to forgo a film that uses special effects, sex, celebrity, superheroes or space to bombard your senses, try La La Land. Reward yourself with a modern gem of a film that will leave you thanking the filmmakers for relying on story and entertainment to give you something way more satisfying for a change.

Final Consensus:
See it now!!!!
See it in theaters!!!
Rent it on DVD/BluRay!!
Wait for it on TV!
Don’t Bother
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