“La La Land” twirls the hearts of moviegoers

HEIDI SPECK

Editor In Chief

La La Land, the nostalgic film directed by Damien Chazelle, has taken the movie industry by storm. The film is still being praised for its greatness since its release back in December. However, the film’s resilience in box offices has not gone unrewarded. Making Golden Globe history, the film won seven awards, breaking the record of the six awards One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest once held. The film follows the intertwining lives of two artists living in Los Angeles; Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) who is a jazz pianist, and Mia (Emma Stone) an unrecognized actress. The movie navigates their romance through the four seasons while inserting grand music numbers that are nostalgic of classic Hollywood.

The film starts in packed traffic on a sweltering day in Los Angeles. A women, unrelated to the plot as a whole, bursts into song. She reminiscences of the time she left her home and her boyfriend to live in La La Land, as Los Angeles is referred. The number launches the movie into a swirling musical number with Los Angeles bystanders bounding from cars into a sincere dance and song number. The movie continues to weave in and out of the struggles of the two artists through charismatic songs and dances. Viewers will see Mia’s frustrating ribbon of auditions, fruitless to her career and will follow the arc of Seb’s (as he is occasionally known as) jazz career.

Mia and Sebastian’s love story rivals any Nicholas Sparks movie, bringing a charming sense of fantasy into a modern relationship while still maintaining a very important sense of realism, brought on by both of the characters efforts to move their creative careers forward. At the climax, like any good romantic story, the two are separated by their own personal conflicts. The musical numbers go from extravagant and wistful to pragmatic and hopeful. Many of the songs act as precursors to conflicts that will occur in the future, so cleverly brought into play by director Chezelle.

He [Damien Chezelle] memorably pushed ‘Whiplash’ to a complex and thrilling musical climax,” said The New York Times on La La Land.  “…he outdoes himself in the last 20 minutes of ‘La La Land,’ and outdoes just about every other director of his generation, wrapping intense and delicate emotions in sheer, intoxicating cinematic bliss.”

Cinematically, the movie is gorgeous. Not only does the director tiptoe down memory lane with certain shots, but also draws the audience in by including contemporary color palettes and more modern styles of filming. There will be scenes shot entirely in one shot, one camera just following the characters through the entire scene as they move while others will jump back and forth like the Hollywood classics from the 1950s. The tone and colors used parallel to those set by the music numbers, creating a unified work altogether.

As much as I would love to say that La La Land is complete perfection, I cannot, even though it comes fairly close. Moviegoers also argue that Sebastian, a white traditionalist, is a misrepresentation of African American Jazz culture, a culture that took pride in progression forward. When the movie addresses this issue when Sebastian goes into 21 century styles of jazz, the film almost patronizes the issue, saying that jazz should remain stagnant and pure. Some would argue that the plot dissolves into the lengthy dance interludes, interrupting the stream of thought. But for those who are

As La La Land swallows the hearts of viewers who loved Singing In the Rain, Moulin Rouge and Casa Blanca, it continues to wow even the most critical of audiences. This rapturous piece is a swirling time capsule of cinematic wonder that has set film culture on its head.

photo courtesy: Lionsgate

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