La La Land

La La Land gets the honor of most anticipated film of 2016. Yes, it even beats Doctor Strange, which I have been waiting for years.

I was told Damien Chazelle (who just gave us Whiplash), plus musical, plus two wonderful stars and I knew I just had to see it. And then it got pushed back! Several times, to the wonderful Oscar seasons, meaning more waiting and more desire.

The good review hype just made my train go even stronger. If anything, by the time I saw it, I was disappointed it wasn’t a four hour long movie.

And now that I have seen it, my hype has immediately switched to next years Christmas release of The Greatest Showman starring Hugh Jackman.

Dance Dance
I just really like dancing and musicals, get over it.

Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a great pianist, lover of jazz, and a dreamer. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress, not successful, former writer kind of, and hey, a dreamer.

So of course they meet in one warm winter, LA evening and things go, well, they don’t go. But then they meet again later and something starts to flicker on between them. Romance, hopes, dreams. And hey, a song and dance number.

Sebastian wants to open up his own jazz club, at a historic location, to bring the genre back to the public, but he also might sell out his skills to make money in the mean time with an old (poppy) friend (John Legend). Mia is tired of going to auditions against girls prettier and more experienced than her, getting her no where, so she puts more of her focus towards creating a play that she can star in herself, to get her name out.

And then there is romance, hopes, and more romance.

But love can’t be the only thing in a relationship. Can they even last a year with their goals, or more?

Also featuring Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, and Finn Wittrock.

Dance
The only pictures from this movie involve dancing, and hey, even they are getting over it now.

This has been a very hard review to write. First off, I didn’t really want to watch it until I could listen to the soundtrack in its entirety, and thankfully that came out December 9th. The soundtrack isn’t actually that long, and quite a few songs are instrumental only. But the music is something special and for most of the soundtrack, just sitting down and hearing the music is a wonderful thing. Jazz heavily influences the soundtrack, which should not come to a surprise given the director’s previous film and the subject matter. Let’s start at the beginning.

The opening song is what appears to be one long shot, for minutes, involving dozens of extras, cars, and hijacking the LA Freeway at some point for presumably days to practice and get it all right. It gets you in the mood and sets you up. The second song, a bit stranger, but ends on a strong note and really gets the message going. And those two songs are our “classic” musical songs, for the most part. They ooze out nostalgia from the 1940’s and 50’s, with dancing, color and more.

This does continue into A Lovely Night, which gives a modern sarcastic feel to it all, finally including our main two leads fully, and a huge (once again long take) dance number. It is truly a wonder to watch and it made me annoyed that I was in a theater and couldn’t just rewind and see it again and again.

Eventually we get to the main theme of City of Stars, which is hauntingly beautiful and won’t annoy you the many times it comes up, humming, singing or otherwise. City of Stars and The Fools Who Dream are the emotional pinnacle points of the film and are reasons why this film is having so much buzz.

La La Land is about acting, dreamers, with a shit ton of nostalgia and classic feel. I ignored the fact that I saw cell phones early on and assumed it was set in the 50’s until the Prius joke brought me back down from my cloud. La La Land is an experience that deserves the big screen, deserves multiple viewings and will be a musical staple for some time to come. The actors relationship feels real, their love and their arguments. This is the third time Gosling/Stone have been together in a film, after Crazy, Stupid, Love and Gangster Squad (which was a travesty).

Go see one of the best films of the year. The hype is real. Go dream or go home.

4 out of 4.

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