La La Land
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La La Land

It appears that many people have a tendency to minimize the impact you have on the audience. Some consider a story via the characters just burst out into song and dance be too far afield from taking reality seriously. I grew up in a rather tough part of Brooklyn and have the first-hand experience that in a fight between two rival gangs does not involve choreography including pirouettes and Grande jetés. Within the context of a musical, even one of the most brutal primitively visceral acts can transform e into a wonderment of song and dance. This is the attraction of the musical, to be able to take not just the mundane parts of life but even the ugliest aspects of human existence may transform into a thing of beauty. Undoubtedly this is the reason why music does become most popular during times when the world seems to be crashing down. They kept a row of during World War II, and the Cold War had everybody preparing for nuclear annihilation is a major revival both in films and on Broadway of the genre. The musical never really goes away, it absent floors like many types of entertainment for new examples always being created. Among the most recent entries into this longline of lighthearted entertainment is a film that became a runaway success at the box office as well as critical acclaim, La La Land’. At its core, this film is a consideration of themes that are exceptionally familiar to most people. A struggling young actress is trying to get her big break in Hollywood. The last thing she needs to divert her attention that focused on attending her goal is a romantic entanglement. Predictably, she encounters a young man, a struggling musician, and despite an uneasy beginning, romance blossoms and much singing and dancing ensues.

The writer/director, Damien Chazelle, at a humble beginning in the genre is far from musical as possible, supernatural horror sequels. Starting with his very next project, ‘Grand Piano,' Mr. Chazelle discovered his talent in a genre that would propel his career to new artistic heights. He did have a little foray back into psychological horror with ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’, but the two films that cemented his reputation as an Academy Award caliber filmmaker, ‘Whiplash’ and this movie, with Karen for best director and a second nomination for Best Screenplay. You take into reinvent the musical bringing it into the 21st century. His previous movie, ‘Whiplash’ wasn’t quite a musical since people just didn’t break into song and dance music was integral to the very essence of the movement of the story. With this movie, he dives headlong into embracing the traditional format. The first evidence we have of this is something that will be immediately noticeable to audiences. The logo for ‘Cinemascope’ is displayed at the very beginning of the movie probably reminiscent of some of the excellent treatments of the most popular Broadway shows. The very first scene demonstrates that this movie is set entirely in the magical fantasy land. The first scene is something that is all but two well-known to most Americans, particularly those who live in the Los Angeles area, traffic jam frozen in gridlock. Rather than sitting in their cause muttering curses under their breath the people exited their vehicles and proceeded to have a perfectly choreographed musical number, ‘Another Day in the Sun.' As people sing and dance around it over their cars, th daily stresses of gridlock in the morning comute momentarily evaporates until moving traffic breaking the spells, In one car a young woman is trying to get to work, the leading lady Mia (Emma Stone). Passing her and cutting heroff for a place in the moving lane is a young man, Sebastian (Ryan Gosling). At this point they are strangers, but such a close and an encounter is a cinematic device to inducate that their soon to occur meeting was fate. The initial animosity seen at this point is reinforced by her giving the finger as he passes. This is such a complete escape from reality that despite how ludicrous singing and dancing in a morning traffic jam might be it is done with such a large that everyone in the audience is perfectly willing to surrender their grip on reality.

Mia has a day job excessively for paying bills at a restaurant. Thanks to a friendly coworker she can take off early to pursue her real passion, acting. She has an important addition that she has to make. Mia crosses paths with Sebastian were being reprimanded by his boss for not adhering to a Christmas set list is a piano player. Sebastian would much rather explore improvisational jazz than churning out hackneyed holiday standards. A few months later viewing Sebastian cross paths again at a party where he is playing with the 60s pop cover band. Mia requests the Flock of Seagulls hit, ‘I Ran (So Far Away).' He considers that an insult for serious position and to demonstrate to me what real music is like the later takes a tour jazz club. He confesses to her that his life’s ambition is to open up his club and perform his music. Sebastian visits me at another one of her jobs, of a barista at a movie lot. There she opens up to him about the desire to be an actress. Wanting to show her what a real movie is like Sebastian invites her to a screening of ‘Rebel without a Cause.' The evening is concluded with a romantic dance, Planetarium’’, at the site of one of ‘Rebel’s’ most intensely violent scenes at the Griffin Observatory.

At this point, Sebastian and Mia are coupled try to support each other in their quest for filling their respective dreams. After repeated feelings at auditions, Mia becomes increasingly depressed. Sebastian attempts to lift the spirits by encouraging her to write her one-woman play that could properly showcase the talents. You are Sebastian begins getting regular gigs that it a jazz club that leads to being approached by an old classmate, Keith (John Legend). That leaves to a position as a keyboard player in a fusion jazz band. Although this gives a steady income for Sebastian remains unhappy because of the pop music influence in the band style. Eventually, this leads to an argument between the couple as Mia accuses Sebastian of deserting his dream. An unhappy term such as this is entirely expected and is consistent with one of the component genres of the film, the romantic comedy. Although the film is a synthesis of musical, romance comedy and drama, the three format of the Rom-Com is an ideal vehicle for the story. To better showcase the music, the book of the musical is kept simple by adhering to the style of boy meets girl, boy loses the girl, boy and girl find happiness.

The movie is a masterpiece, achieving a synergy between modern characters in a contemporary setting with the inherent feeling liberated emotion and exuberance that characterized grand musicals that dominated the 50s and 60s. In most cases, nostalgia is intended to bring people back to a. That is remembered as simpler and happier. Part of the novel take on the musical achieved in this film is to demonstrate that the happiness for you associate with the past as possible here in the now. Contained within the scaffold the fantasy story crafted from some of the fundamental, immutable truths about humanity. We may live in a pragmatic world but the best examples of the possible vote to dream, strive for something better that they know deep in their core that they were meant to do. Once again we are experiencing very trying times, perfect for the reemergence of the musical especially one so ideally suited for the current generation.

During the Golden age of the musical, the film industry was dominated by the studio system. Talented young people the placed on the contract and carefully nurtured, cross trained in song dance drama and comedy. They were practically bred for the older enthusiasm necessary for the musical. Ms. Stone and Mr. Gosling have not built a career around music. Gosling is somewhat out of his element here but managed to rise to the occasion and exhibition of artistic integrity and professionalism. Stone has experience with live musical theater is quite an excellent singer as well as being able to manage the elaborate choreography required by her character. Chazelle has achieved what every filmmaker dreams of doing, writing a screenplay with a story that will entrance the audience bringing it to life by encouraging the best performance as possible out of his cast. Although it did lose out on the best picture Oscar over the now famous mix-up during the announcement, it did win six Academy Awards including Best Director, Best Actress in a Leading Role in Best Choreography. Even if you’ve never thought yourself is the kind of person would enjoy a musical you owe it to yourself to experience the sheer joy imparted by this movie.

bulletAnother Day in the Sun: They Closed a Freeway
bulletLa La Land's Great Party
bulletRyan Gosling: Piano Student
bulletBefore Whiplash: Damien Chazelle's Project
bulletThe Music of La La Land
bulletJohn Legend's Acting Debut
bulletthe look of Love: Designing La La Land
bulletEpilogue: The Romance of the Dream
bulletDamien & Justin Sing: The Demos
bulletMarketing Gallery
bulletLa La Land's Love Letter to Los Angeles
bulletRyan and Emma: Third Time's the Charm
bulletSong Selection
bulletAudio Commentary with Writer/Director Damien Chazelle and Composer Justin Hurwitz

Posted 04/30/2017

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