Scott Goes Gaga Over LA LA LAND!

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FILM REVIEW: LA LA LAND

BY SCOTT PETERSON

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I’ll preface this review by stating for the record that while I do enjoy musicals from time to time, by no means do I have an affinity for them. For the most part, aside from a few films like Grease, Moulin Rouge and Chicago, once someone starts breaking into song, a part of my mind just mentally taps out. It’s almost as if I immediately start expecting cartoon characters like operatic orangutans or  serenading seals to burst on to the screen. I guess I have to thank Disney for that. While I was fully cognizant of the snowballing hype that La La Land had been accruing, I expected the film to range from serviceable to good, but in the back of my mind lurked those damn animated serenading seals.

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It’s almost like someone smuggled some contraband pixie dust and let it all loose into the air vents at the screening I attended because La La Land isn’t just good, it is a masterpiece. It had me floating in a world I wish existed. Not like the world of Pandora in which Avatar fans wanted to jump off of a bridge once they realized it didn’t exist. No, this was different. I compare seeing La La Land to spending time at an adults only Disney World for a couple hours. Mere moments after the film started, my face was plastered with an ear to ear grin and I miraculously became an expert at tap dancing. It isn’t just the catchy song and dance numbers that propel La La Land to greatness. This is a film that has so much heart that it has enough emotion to fill five movies. In just a short span, Whiplash director Damien Chazelle hasn’t just set the standard for filming musicals, but for film-making in general.

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To keep it simple and spoiler free, I will refrain from going into detail. The less you know and have seen, the greater the impact La La Land will have on you once you see it. Mia (Emma Stone) is a struggling actress working as a barista on the Warner Bros. studio lot. Sebastian ( Ryan Gosling) is a recently fired pianist with dreams of opening his own jazz club. Mia and Sebastian fatefully continue to cross paths (think When Harry Met Sally if it were a musical.) as we the audience get to be flies on the wall witnessing the evolution of their relationship. Through their ups and downs, the two continue to push and support one another. That’s it. That is all you are getting out of me.

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We often hear the phrase “This is why we go to the movies” while discussing a particular film’s attributes. La La Land is that movie. How often do we go to see a movie only to be let down by the hype that supersedes it? Believe every word you hear about La La Land. It is that great. It is a film about dreamers and the heartbreak that accompanies the pursuit of those dreams. It is a movie that must be seen on the biggest screen possible and if you let it all in and embrace it, you will succumb to the film’s infectiousness. I have now seen the film three times and it gets better and better after each viewing. The final fifteen minutes of La La Land are when Chazelle really gets to showcase his directing prowess and those fifteen minutes are easily the best I have seen in any film in years. Combine that with dazzling cinematography, the irresistible performances by the film’s two leads Stone and Gosling, and the flawless direction by  Chazelle and you have the recipe for a film that is going to nab its fair share of Oscar gold and steal your heart in the process.

 

FINAL WORD:  StarStarStarStarStar