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Though it's set in present-day Los Angeles, the comedy-drama "La La Land" (Lionsgate) takes a spirited stab at reviving the musicals of Hollywood's golden age. Writer-director Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash") dreams big in this over-the-top fantasy where drivers exit their cars on a freeway overpass and burst into song, and lovers float in the air amid the projected stars in a planetarium. Beautifully shot in widescreen CinemaScope, "La La Land" is a unique and self-indulgent film, to say the least. But it tends to lose its way when song and dance take over. Fortunately, that's largely made up for by Chazelle's engaging script, a cast of first-rate actors, and superb jazz music.Click here to read the full reviewJanuary 5th, 2017 · Details
La La Land features just enough content to merit its PG-13 rating and to remind us that we're living in the 21st century. But apart from a handful of harsh profanities and a cohabitating couple, this song-filled, cynicism-free romance is about as old-fashioned as it gets these days. Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) sing and dance, laugh and cry, then sing and dance some more. Their romance, which is always in tension with their individual dreams, dazzles and delights. A happily-ever-after ending of sorts eventually emerges, but not before we're reminded of the potential relational costs of prioritizing our vocational dreams above all else. The story, while not particularly deep, doesn't rely on shock-and-awe special effects or shock-and-awe gross-out gags. Instead, director Damien Chazelle unleashes an old-school, tour de force musical, proving that that original, Oscar-worthy moviemaking—without R-rated gratuity—is actually still possible in Tinseltown.Click here to read the full review
What Works? La La Land is both a blast of nostalgia and wave of fresh newness, and that blend makes it a fascinating ride. Both leads are pining for a lost golden age (old Hollywood and old jazz, respectively) and the film mirrors this by hearkening to vintage musicals and films through its dance, music, vocal style, costumes and even plot elements. Gosling and Stone are captivating and funny - and easy on the ears when they sing. The simple through-line of their romance (courtship, love, conflict, resolution) feels true, is fun to watch, and really makes you think. Perhaps it goes without saying, coming from writer/director Damien Chazelle of Whiplash fame, but the jazz in the film is striking and the moments with Gosling at the piano are definite high points. What Doesn't? The film opens weak, growing stronger as it goes; some might even say it becomes a different animal entirely. The opening minutes weave characters in and out of song and dance like a proper musical, and those are by far the least compelling and even most uncomfortable moments in the film. This is due In part to inherent differences in live and filmed entertainment; many crucial elements of stage musicals don't translate well to film. But truthfully, much of it was due to Stone and Gosling lacking the technical finesse that made the singing-dancing greats of yesteryear so magical. Stone is a brilliant actress and has a lovely voice, but there's a reason directors used to cast Ginger Rogers when their films included tap dancing numbers.Click here to read the full review
“La La Land” opens with an energetic, one-take musical number set on a crowded Los Angeles freeway, with singers and dancers leaping in and around bumper-to-bumper traffic in perfect choreographed harmony. It’s a dramatic entrance, but it’s actually a little deceptive. Spectacle may entertain us, but it’s story that truly moves us. Because as fun as that opening scene may be, the story that follows is what makes “La La Land” a great movie.Click here to read the full review
There are tributes/references to classic films like “Singin’ in the Rain,” “Rebel Without a Cause,” and “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg,” but this movie is not derivative. The storyline is deceptively simple, but the specificity of the detail, depth of understanding, and beautiful performances create true movie magic. “La La Land” is narratively ambitious and emotionally resonant, with a final ten minutes that are pure, wistful poetry. Chazelle and Hurwitz understand that some feelings are just so big they have to be sung and danced. And this movie made me so happy I wanted to create a musical number of my own. But I settled for watching this more two more times instead.Click here to read the full reviewDecember 15th, 2016 · Details