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La La Land: Movie Review

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Go. See. This. Film.

lalaland-posterLa La Land has been one of the most hyped and raved about films this season, and for good reason. It is an absolutely epic romantic and gut wrenching musical, but not the kind you’re used to. The film does contain some typical aspects of classic musicals and love stories, but they are completely turned upside down, and injected with more realism and subtle humor than ever before. While general audiences may not be keen on watching a musical these days, I believe this movie will even reach that audience and leave them adoring this film. I highly suggest dragging any skeptics to this.

With La La Land, writer/director Damien Chazelle once again gives us raw insight into the true world of artists pursuing their dreams against all odds. His previous work in Whiplash proves that he is a filmmaker devoted to portraying the artist’s journey brutally honestly. Whereas Whiplash kept us in the grimy and cutthroat world of a prestigious New York music school, La La Land plops us into current day Los Angeles where of course, there’s a traffic jam, and two reluctant lovers. But with music and dancing.

la-la-land-2We follow Mia, played by Emma Stone, one of countless struggling and aspiring actresses in LA, who is continuously running into Sebastian, a down and out jazz musician, played by Ryan Gosling. The two are absolutely opposed to having anything to do with one another, yet the averse pair eventually fall for one another, and join each other in pursuing their dreams. I can’t imagine two other actors fitting into these roles so seamlessly. It is hard to decipher how much of the characters were already on the page for Gosling and Stone, as they are seemingly playing themselves since the humor and chemistry is so natural.

la-la-land-4La La Land is an ode to artists, a nod to the dreamers and those struggling to make it. Chazelle knows it’s not enough to dream, and his films show the truth behind someone undertaking the pursuit of a dream. The film is also absolutely an ode to LA; it’s famous sights, beautiful locales, historic and now underappreciated spots, as well as it’s darker and grungy parts. We constantly witness the duality of life, of LA, and of a dream. Chazelle shows us success and failure, love and disdain, beautiful sights and grimy alleys. Chazelle utilizes the city as an additional storyteller; when the characters are joyful, we see LA’s beauty, when the characters are down on their luck, we are there with them in the gutters.

This film marks another work that proves that musicals are once again in demand. I recall a small trend of this when Moulin Rouge, Chicago, Rent, and Phantom of the Opera came out awhile back, however this time around there are no reboots. We are seeing original and updated works like Netflix’s The Get Down, and CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. These, like La La Land, will attract a new generation of audiences and provide an appreciation for musicals and for the theatre, but most importantly, appreciation for artists.

la-la-land-5La La Land reminded me of the golden age of cinema, it had aspects from classic musicals such as Signin’ in the Rain but the impact would not have been the same had it not been made for today. You could feel a love for old cinema permeating throughout the film; its wondrous sets, magical numbers, vibrant costumes and the entire production design, reignite a love for filmmaking and an appreciation for music. Its subtle editing and surreal lighting made me feel as though I could be watching all of this in a theatre. The production caliber is just out of this world.

Throughout the film, you are enveloped by its beauty and spark, then it unexpectedly totally wrenches your gut and knocks the wind out of you. It is an amazing filmmaking endeavor and inspiration.

It was all truly artistic #goals.

La La Land (2016)
Director:   Damien Chazelle
Studio:  Lionsgate and Summit Entertainment
Genre:  Comedy, Drama, Musical
MPAA:  PG-13
Release Date:  December 16th, 2016 (Wide Release)
Author:  Roxy DeLaRosa

Roxy de la Rosa Roxy and her dogs are San Diego natives all hailing from Baja. She is a graduate of SDSU with a bachelor's degree in Television, Film, and New Media Production. Roxy is a huge comedy film and sitcom fan who hopes to become a TV writer, but for now she spends her time "researching" Netflix when she should be writing.

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