La La Land: Now, That’s A Great Movie!

The answer was staring me in the face, but it took a while before registering with me. There I was the other day, pawing through the nooks and crannies of my mind in search of the next topic for my blog. I was in the mood to write another of the impressionistic, ruminating pieces that have been rolling off the assembly line pretty regularly the past few months. Trouble is I hadn’t had any mini-adventures of late that I could wrap any impressionistic ruminations around. That’s when I turned my thoughts in a different direction, a cinematic one. My wife Sandy and I had taken a trip recently to a local theater where we sat close to the screen, figuring that doing so would help us become one with the movie’s charms if what we were about to see turned out to be as good as we were hoping it would.

img_1260Which is a longwinded introduction to my announcing that I have some thoughts to impart about La La Land, a musical that came out at the tail end of 2016 and now is in wide release throughout the States. This, to me, is a great movie. An example of near-perfection. An alluring and enticing creation that deserves the viewership of all who have good hearts and soft spots therein.

Yeah, I’m prone to gushing. That’s OK. There are worse ways to be. And when it comes to La La Land I’m not the only gusher by a long shot. I don’t read a lot of movie reviews, but the reviewers whose words I took a look at fell hard for this one. Sandy, who is more tuned in than I to a lot of things, confirmed that seemingly everyone carrying the title of critic had pointed their thumbs upward after watching La La Land.

What, then, do we have here? La La Land is a girl-meets-boy story. And, when well done, that template is boffo, isn’t it? Hey, I hear a few of you in the back of the room murmuring “nah.” Get out! Class is dismissed for you.

img_1334La La Land’s girl is Mia (Emma Stone), an aspriring actress caught up in the confidence-squashing eddies of the audition mill. The boy is Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a sensitive-fingered jazz pianist scrambling to make a living while dreaming of the day he opens his own jazz club. Mia and Sebastian first cross paths on a Los Angeles freeway. The freeway, witness to a traffic jam from Hell, becomes the stage for the movie’s opening sequence, a lilting and athletic song and dance routine unfurled by scores of traffic stuckees who exit their vehicles to sing and jump and prance giddily on car roofs and hoods, making the best of what normally would be a real bad situation. Finally, the tangle of metal and tires begins to ease up. But Mia, slow to gun her engine, becomes the victim of relentless horn blasting from someone in a car behind hers. Sebastian. To which she responds by flipping the bird at him as he pulls out and breezes by. Take that. fella!

Needless to say, things become better between Mia and Sebastian when, as fate absolutely would have it, they unexpectedly meet again and again in The City Of Angels and realize that they are meant for each other and destined to fall in love. Which they do. But will love endure? La La Land, though bright and frothy much of the time, isn’t that way all of the time, so the answer to the question is far from a given. Damien Chazell, La La Land’s writer and director, throws more than a few dollops of darkness and pain into the mix. La La Land is a colorful, romantic bonbon laced with the realities of life.

img_1337It didn’t take long for me to fall under La La Land’s spell. Stone and Gosling possess the type of feels-right screen chemistry that often is elusive. Their Mia and Sebastian banter easily with one another, before the day arrives when cracks open in their relationship, and the two stars sing and dance in a sweet and natural manner. The songs (music by Justin Hurwitz, lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul) that they and others emit are strong and tuneful. And sometimes piercing, as is the case with the stream of consciousness-like Audition (The Fools Who Dream), sung by Mia/Stone at a, natch, movie audition. And La La Land is filled with sequences so gorgeously done I felt honored to be watching the flick. Especially when Mia and Sebastian, at Los Angeles’ Griffith Observatory, take each others’ hands and begin to dance, soon lifting from the floor to merge with the cosmos projected on the observatory dome’s underside.

You don’t see a whole lot of original movie musicals, which La La Land is, anymore. Or musicals based on stage productions either, for that matter. Both varieties used to be a staple of the film industry, but that was eons ago as measured in cinematic years. Don’t know why they’ve faded away. I mean, who doesn’t love The Wizard Of Oz, Singin’ In The Rain, An American In Paris, Cabaret . . . ? In any case, I left the theater thinking that La La Land is up there with those titans. You have to give it to Chazelle, who also scripted and directed 2014’s Whiplash, a nerve-wracking, music-themed opus that decidedly isn’t a musical. The guy has immense guts to have attempted La La Land, not to mention the vision and skills to pull it off. And he’s only 32. My God, when I was his age I hadn’t even mastered tying my shoes yet. Come to think of it, I still haven’t.

Well, I could go on but I won’t. You get the idea. If you haven’t already seen La La Land, make a date.

 

(Don’t be shy about sharing this article or about adding your comments. Thanks)

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35 thoughts on “La La Land: Now, That’s A Great Movie!

  1. Janet Sunderland January 25, 2017 / 12:04 pm

    I received a DVD screener for the SAG elections and saw it. I agree. It’s a fine movie and delightful to watch. I thought the acting — and writing – in Manchester topped it, but both are really fine films.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Joyce Hamilton January 25, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    I loved la la land!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. T. Wayne January 26, 2017 / 11:11 pm

    Saw La La Land a couple weeks ago. Went in not even knowing what the movie was about. I was charmed. I really dug it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger January 27, 2017 / 7:27 am

      Hi. I rarely watch a movie more than once. But I’ll probably catch this one a second time one of these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. K E Garland January 27, 2017 / 9:19 am

    Hmmm…I hate musicals. But I loved this review. You seem very passionate about it. I loved Whiplash, though. So, I’m almost convinced to watch this film.

    Liked by 2 people

      • K E Garland January 29, 2017 / 4:45 pm

        We’ll see 😐 I did finally get around to watching Moonlight. That was excellent, though my hubby wasn’t happy after about 30 mins in lol but it was a very artistic representation of society and our issues.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. circumstance227 January 27, 2017 / 5:07 pm

    Seems like the Oscars people agree with you – didn’t this film just get a record number of nominations?

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger January 27, 2017 / 5:35 pm

      Hi. Yes, I think you’re right.

      The movies released in 2016 that I liked best are La La Land and Miles Ahead, which is a wild fantasy based on the life of Miles Davis.

      Like

  6. marilynyung January 28, 2017 / 4:59 pm

    I’ve yet to hear anything negative about this film. Will see very soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger January 28, 2017 / 5:32 pm

      Hi, Marilyn. I know people who didn’t like this movie. To me it was irresistible. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Annika Perry January 29, 2017 / 6:03 am

    I’m not often sold by the hype but this is one film I’m going to see with friends for a birthday outing next month! So glad you review was this positive and gushing…can’t wait now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger January 29, 2017 / 7:32 am

      Hi, Annika. Thanks very much for adding your thoughts. You and your friends will enjoy this movie, I’m sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Aunt Beulah January 29, 2017 / 2:18 pm

    Perfect timing on my part, Neil. Joel and I saw LaLa Land last night, and both of us left the theater feeling we’d just experienced an outstanding movie. Then you, my favorite movie critic, reinforces our reaction. I felt it was a magical movie; and my husband, who does’t like to take the same walk more than once a month, said he’d like to see it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger January 29, 2017 / 3:35 pm

      Hi, Janet. I feel the same as Joel — I wouldn’t mind seeing this movie again. It’s that good.

      Like

    • yeahanotherblogger January 29, 2017 / 3:41 pm

      Hi, Andrew.
      In one of my comments above, I mention the movie Miles Ahead. It came out last year, and it’s a wild ride inspired by the life of Miles Davis. It’s fictional, but feels as if it could be real. It was one of my very favorite flicks from 2016. If you see it, please let me know what you think of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Brian Lageose January 29, 2017 / 11:00 pm

    I’ve already learned to trust your judgment, so I will confidently move this flick from the “contemplating” to “must see” list…

    Liked by 1 person

      • Brian Lageose February 18, 2017 / 11:38 pm

        Well, we finally made it out to see the movie, and I was completely mesmerized. The inventiveness and the film-making exuberance was a joy. And the structure and editing toward the end was an admirable feat. I’m quite happy that you nudged me toward this one…

        Liked by 1 person

        • yeahanotherblogger February 19, 2017 / 7:43 am

          Hi. I watched the BAFTA awards last weekend. They are the British version of the Oscars. La La Land won best picture. Your description of LLL is right on the money.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. pjlazos January 30, 2017 / 8:38 am

    I have been humming the title song for weeks! Nice review. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger January 30, 2017 / 1:13 pm

      Thanks.
      The guy who wrote the music (other people handled the lyrics) is a longtime friend of the director. They met either in high school or college. I forget which.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. amermelstein January 31, 2017 / 5:23 pm

    I was so surprised by La La Land–not necessarily at what was delivered (which was spectacular–the cinematography, the use of sound-beyond the songs, the costuming…I could go on but I don’t need to)–but at how it felt like one of the old musicals I love so much and thought were a thing of the past. Modern musicals always feel kind of gritty, which I also appreciate, but there was a lightness and joy to this one that I so needed to feel this January. It’s what every musical should be–a perfect antidote to everyday life.

    Liked by 2 people

    • yeahanotherblogger January 31, 2017 / 6:00 pm

      Hi. Your description is right on target. This is a movie that really lifts our spirits. I keep thinking about La La Land, which probably means I should go and see it a second time.

      Like

  12. Dina February 7, 2017 / 4:30 pm

    I very much look forward this film now! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger February 7, 2017 / 5:02 pm

      Hi. Thanks for stopping by this humble site.

      This movie received a whole lot of Oscar nominations. It will be interesting to see how many Oscars it goes home with.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Kia Marie Hunt May 7, 2017 / 3:23 pm

    yes yes yes, couldn’t agree more, im really enjoying discovering and reading La La Land lover’s great WordPress articles like this 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • yeahanotherblogger May 7, 2017 / 3:50 pm

      What? You mean I’m not the only person who reviewed this movie?
      (Just kidding.)

      Thanks a lot for stopping by, Kia. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

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