Monday, January 2, 2017

La La Land - All in...Almost

I'm all in with "La La Land." No hesitation.. almost. 

Dance and romance among the stars
You love classic film? You love a charming musical score? You love charismatic stars? You love enchantment? Go see it. "La La Land" is an all out/all in movie musical, which presented me with a surprising dilemma.

"Another Day of Sun" in a typical LA traffic jam
Director Damien Chazelle has created a musical with no ifs, ands or buts. It is an homage to great musicals (and a few non-musicals) of the past (how many can you spot?) and he clearly has a "thing" for Ingrid Bergman. "La La Land" tells the timeless Hollywood story of aspiring actress Mia Dolan (Emma Stone) and struggling jazz musician Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling). 

Mia's adorable apartment in Hollywood, shared by fellow struggling actresses
It establishes its intent with a knock-out opening musical sequence in a Los Angeles traffic jam and never changes gears. It never looks down its nose at the genre, it never tries to mask its roots with a hip, modern attitude. Mia and Sebastian struggle and follow their dreams and we root wholeheartedly for them. So why, why did I hang back for a portion of the film?
Mia and Sebastian never leave home without their two-toned tap shoes
Why are people breaking into song or a dance in the middle of a story more acceptable (to me) when filmed over a half a century ago? 

I'm all in for him!
Ryan Gosling is a revelation. His ease with the dance and the music was enchanting and he displays a real star quality that induces more than a sigh or two. 

Mia looking chic for a night out on the town
Emma Stone, while not quite as comfortable with the dance, is a winsome heroine. I finally had to admit that, to paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault lies not in the stars, but in me.

Mia and Sebastian follow their dreams and their hearts
"La La Land" had to break through my own modern defenses. Why would I not immediately buy into the story of Mia and Sebastian while willingly accept Don Lockwood and Kathy Selden's romance? It wasn't them, it was me. Would I accept "Casablanca" so completely if the very same film was made today? But, "La La Land" did not let me off easy, and eventually I surrendered to the enchantment. The scene at the Griffith Observatory where the lovers dance among the stars sealed the deal. From then on, I was all in and if felt so good to be transported on the musical magic carpet ride.

Come on - kiss!
No spoilers here, but I'll just say that this love letter to Hollywood, to musicals, to star power and to romance is, for me, a winner. I think I will have to see it again because it's great to be enchanted at the movies and not in front of the TV.

La La Land in La la Land
I'm now adding Mia and Sebastian to the endless parade of movie-mad characters whose journeys to the promised land of Hollywood sometimes end in triumph and, often, heartbreak.


12 comments:

Caftan Woman said...

"It never looks down its nose at the genre, it never tries to mask its roots with a hip, modern attitude."

That's what I wanted to hear. I had been avoiding the movie because I feared that it might "wink at the audience" and I could not bear that. I am weary of the attitude that everyone today is almost too sophisticated to live.

Inge Gregusch said...

An intelligent and literate review, with amazing photos, of an enchanting film. La La Land is hopefully the start of a Musical movie renaissance. Stellar blog post as always, FC!

Patricia Gallagher said...

I saw it recently, and left the theatre humming and dancing. It was an absolute joy. An homage to the past, but relevant to today. I found the ending to be perfect on many levels (no spoilers) and very 21st Century. By the way, I saw that today, Ryan Gosling thanked Debbie Reynolds at the Vanguard Awards. He said: "I wish I could have said this in person but I'd like to thank Debbie Reynolds for her wonderful career of work, She was an inspiration to us every day. We watched 'Singing in the Rain' every day for inspiration, a truly unparalleled talent so thank you to her for all that inspiration."

Silver Screenings said...

I was so glad to read your review. Yours is the first I've read from a classic-movie-fan perspective, and I was VERY curious to see what you thought. Your enthusiasm has me excited to see it now. I know I'll love it.

FlickChick said...

CW - Funny, but the "too sophisticated" attitude was in me, not the film. Glad to say it broke down the barrier!

FlickChick said...

Inge - Ryan Gosling is the man! I had to resist posting more dreamy pictures of just him.

FlickChick said...

Patricia - thanks so much for pointing out Ryan Gosling's comments about Debbie Reynolds. He's such a class act. And - I kept thinking how perfectly Debbie Reynolds would have fit into Emma Stone's role.

FlickChick said...

Ruth - please do see it. I love my classic film, but it feels good to get out to a theater and away from TCM and DVDs for a change.

Patricia Gallagher said...

Marsha, I too was taken by Mr. Gosling's charms, and he won me over totally with his Thank you. You are right - a class act. Here's to "La La Land" getting a bunch of Oscar nominations (they need one for editing and cinematography - FINALLY a musical that has learned (again) how to film dance!

FlickChick said...

Patricia - I hope you are right!

said...

Great! I really want to see this film... Maybe my mom agrees to go to the movies with me to watch this! And I'm glad you liked it - it's already a recommendation letter.
Kisses and happy 2017!
Le

Christian Esquevin said...


I'm glad you enjoyed the movie so much too, and as we saw last Sunday night, many others did too. Damien Chazelle went through quite an ordeal getting this movie made. But beyond that, I think the times, right now, are ripe for people to be more receptive to a musical honoring the classic musicals. Now, like during the Depression, people need to be cheered up - we don't need more dystopian movies. That wasn't Chazelle's motivation I know but that I think is what is working.
Beautiful post.