La La Land (Damien Chazelle/Summit Entertainment -2016)


It would be impossible to begin a review about a musical without mentioning the importance of MGM studios. During its peak it produced ‘The Wizard of Oz’. This was peak era for musical films and has stayed popular to audiences after decades. ‘La La Land’ is a brilliant homage to a bygone cinematic moment. From huge MGM musical productions to much later ‘Grease’, the musical has managed to stay familiar but very cliche. For Damien Chazelle to create a homage or salute to this extremely specific genre is outstanding and shows he appreciates cinema in all it’s forms, from cringe-worthy to be emotionally confused and delighted by song and dance. The old Hollywood studio system enjoyed its peak of luxurious, glamorous musicals. It has not aged well apart from festive viewing. It does not make it as a film genre or period of cinema any less important but it is difficult to sell to modern audiences. 

Written and directed by Damien Chazelle ‘La La Land’ is a tale of a talented but under appreciated musician who falls in love with a struggling actress in Hollywood. It follows the emotional, financial and career ups and downs of Mia (Emma Stone) and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) as they navigate their way through harsh competitive industries music and acting. Chazelle is fast establishing himself as an innovative fresh young director. His first major film debut ‘Whiplash’ was an intense look at the stressful consuming life of a musician at a prestigious Jazz company in New York. Here in La La Land he also explores young people coping with the pressures of being a large metropolitan city in a creative art atmosphere. 

At its core it is a familiar romantic comedy story of boy meets girl as the both finally grow into adulthood in Hollywood. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone bring their natural chemistry back on screen as previously seen in ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ Both are charismatic, charming with great comedic timing. They are quickly becoming this generations Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in this genre. Gosling and Stone had to take on the daunting responsibility of acting, singing and dancing in one production. This is extremely old Hollywood for actors to be expected to naturally be bale to do all three easily. Their effort is fantastic in modern cinema 2016.

I really enjoyed La La Land. It is light, sweet and entertaining. It is a ‘Feel Good’ film. Music, dancing, singing, glamorous clothes, romance and comedy are great ingredients to draw audiences into cinemas for fun and relaxing. It’s not ‘Singing in the rain’ but it is a perfect tribute to musicals.


Von Von Lamunu


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