Movie musicals. They come and then they go. And then sometimes they come back again. La La Land, the latest from director Damien Chazelle is an homage to the acid-bright technicolor extravaganzas of old Hollywood. Romantic and swoony to be sure, but leavened with a modernist twist that cuts the schmaltz. Read on…
In a recent New York Times profile, the filmmaker explained the integration of old fashioned singing and dancing with a more hardcore edge. “We wanted the film to feel handmade and human at every step…I wanted everything to bleed, so that gritty real life was magical and the magic was always a little gritty.”
The director’s previous outing Whiplash, a film that catapulted him to considerable attention, was gritty all the way through. Perhaps to a fault, with bodily fluids — blood, sweat and tears – falling on the skins of the central character’s drum kit. Whiplash was also an all-boy’s show with men folk going head to head in grand macho style. Women weren’t really part of the action. But luckily, La La Land gives Emma Stone shared billing with Ryan Gosling. They are a match made in movie heaven, and it seems churlish not to succumb to their combined charisma assault. So, give in already! Chazelle’s film has been greeted with a degree of ecstasy by critics, and certainly it is hard to resist its candy-coloured romanticism. Sometimes escape is exactly what you need.
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panelists Comments:
Pam Grady: There is no sophomore jinx for writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) as he returns with La La Land, an enchanting romantic musical that is at once retro and contemporary in it depiction of the relationship between a struggling actress (Emma Stone) and sensitive jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling).
Leba Hertz: La La Land. A delightful tribute to movie musicals of the past with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling giving excellent performances.
Thelma Adams: La La Land because it’s likely to be an Oscar frontrunner and is a musical escape from the current maelstrom.
Jennifer Merin: More music from Damien Chazelle, and it’s very entertaining.
Title: La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Release Date: December 9, 2016
Running Time: 128 minutes
Principal Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt
Screenwriter: Damian Chazelle
Production Companies: Gilbert Films, Imposter Pictures, Marc Platt Productions
Distributor: Summit Entertainment
AWFJ Movie of the Week Panel Members: Thelma Adams, Nikki Baughan, Anne Brodie, Candice Frederick, Pam Grady, Leba Hertz, Loren King, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Perri Nemiroff, Liz Whittemore, Jeanne Wolf
Edited by Sandra Kraisirideja, AWFJ.org Associate Editor. Written by Dorothy Woodend