Monday, January 16, 2017

La La Land: A Movie for People who Love Movies

(Haven't blogged in a long ass time. Hope this is like riding a bike.)

I'm about to saying something incredibly pretentious and douchey, but bare with me, cuz it needs to be said. I apologize about this ahead of time. Now let's roll.

There are two kinds of movie fans: those who love movies and those who love THE movies. Folks in the first camp enjoy the spectacle of superhero daring do, melodramatic love stories or fiery action shootouts. They love the escapism and the storytelling Far less common are those who love everything about the movies: their history, the personalities behind them and the technical processes that allow movies to be put together. It's to this second group of people that I say: Get your asses to see La La Land as soon as humanly possible.

La La Land is a throwback to the musicals produced during the 1950s. It's romantic, colorful and just a wee bit campy. It features complex song-and-dance numbers captured in sweeping long takes. The way the camera moves makes it another character in the movie.

The story is pretty simple: Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) keeps crossing paths with Mia (Emma Stone), and before too long, romance blossoms between the two of them. They chase their dreams, life takes its twists and turns and we get carried along for the ride.

Gosling and Stone are fun to watch together, and they play appealing characters that would probably be fun to hang out with and talk to. You can't help but pull for Sebastian and Mia.Gosling and Stone acquit themselves pretty well in their singing and dancing, and Gosling actually plays the hell out of the piano. I could watch these characters all day long.

Director Damien Chazelle captures the story in sweep camera moves and brightly-colored compositions and his script drips with love of music and love for his characters. What Mia and  Sebastian want and why they do what they do completely makes sense. The dialogue is witty, wry and provokes easy laughter. There's a scene where Sebastian plays in a cover band that made my side ache from laughing. And I was happy about it, too.

My favorite thing about La La Land is the way it played my emotions. I laughed. I smiled. I swooned, cuz Stone has the biggest, bluest eyes ever. And that Ryan Gosling... he's a dreamy dreamboat, too. I don't want to spoiler everything, so consider this a spoiler warning: but La La Land has my favorite kind of end. It's not overly happy, but it is bittersweet and hopeful.

So much of what I loved about La La Land came out of my love of movies. The way this flick hearkens back to musicals past, like Singing in the Rain. The virtuoso long takes, and paying special attention to the shots to see where Chazelle could have hidden cuts. The bright color palette that sticks out like sore thumb next to the cool monochromatic color schemes of today's big budget tentpole flicks. If stuff like this gets you excited, you'd probably love La La Land, too.

You don't have to be super into film history or movie making techniques to get something out of La La Land. You can enjoy the music and the love story. You can enjoy watching Stone and Gosling bounce off one another. You can chuckle along and be completely content. But if you love the history and the whys and hows of film making, you owe it to yourself to see this movie ASAP!

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