Friday, 27 January 2017

LA LA LAND film review

Went to see this film on Wednesday evening with my husband at the Leeds/Bradford Odeon.

IMDB says: A jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles.

In this Damien Chazelle (Whiplash, 10 Cloverfield Lane) written and directed film, Ryan Gosling (Drive, The Big Short) stars as Sebastian, the jazz musician who falls in love with Mia (Emma Stone: The Help, Easy A) who is a struggling actress. They live in a world where she has to serve lattes to actresses she wishes she can be and auditions where most of the time she is lucky if they are even listening to her and he tries to keep the purity of jazz alive, but is fighting a losing battle when all his gigs seem to want elevator jazz or Christmas tunes.  His efforts to change this results in him losing his jobs, notably by Bill, played be the excellent J. K. Simmons (Spider-man, The Closer), a club manager.

As you can imagine, there is some fantastic music and a soundtrack is available which has been nominated for a best original score Oscar that features Stone, Gosling, John Legend (who had to learn to play guitar for the role) and Justin Hurwitz.  The film has already won 7 Golden Globes.

For me, Emma Stone steals the movie and deserves all the accolades coming her way.  The chemistry between Stone and Gosling works well and apparently their night-time sequence, atop the canyon with the view of Los Angeles, was shot in one take during the magic hour, the playful musical number reminiscent of Singing in the Rain yet giving it a bold modern twist.

Trivia: According to composer Justin Hurwitz, all the piano performance featured in the film was first recorded by pianist Randy Kerber during pre-production. Ryan Gosling then spent two hours a day, six days a week in piano lessons learning the music by heart. By the time filming had begun, Gosling was able to play all the piano sequences seen in the film without the use of a hand double or CGI. Emma Watson turned down the role of Mia due to scheduling conflicts with Beauty and the Beast (2017), while Ryan Gosling turned down the role of the Beast in that film to appear in this one. Coincidentally, both are musicals. The audition scene, where the casting director interrupts Mia's emotional performance to take a phone call, was actually inspired by one of Ryan Gosling's auditions in real life.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone in La La Land (2016)

From the first scene with the most happy traffic jam in the world, you are whisked away into the lives of Mia and Sebastian.  Vibrant colours and uplifting songs paired with the harsh realities of a life scraping by in the pursuit of your dream, the dance routines and duality of the actors pull you in and keep you firmly enmeshed in a bygone time that is strangely anchored in the here and now. 

One of my favourite scenes was the one in the observatory as to me falling in love is perfectly visualised here and the alternate endings sequence is genius, showing us that things can end very differently depending upon our choices, even whilst echoing the old Tinseltown way of ending movies like this.

The film evokes a more carefree era and is truly a masterful colourful and happy film which deals with the most important thing in life, love.  Not the candy-box version either, the complicated, life gets in the way truth of it, yet it recognises that in each other we can find the things that really matter to us.  In this post-Brexit/Trump world, this is just what we need, to concentrate on the simple value of love.  To stop thinking of our differences and of real or imagined slights, but to help one another to find the joy in this world and dare to try to achieve our dreams.

This film may be in the marmite category, but I like marmite and the quirkiness of this movie gives it a bite that may not be to everyone's taste, but it won't be something you forget.

Tagline:  Here's to the fools who dream.                                                         9/10


#LALALAND  #EmmaStone  #emmastoneandryangosling #ryangosling  #Odeon  #JKSimmons  #JohnLegend

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