A Few Thoughts on ‘LA LA LAND’ (D. Chazelle, 2016)
1. So much raves for this movie - the record-breaking 14 Oscars nominations, the numerous awards it has received, and the generally positive reviews from critics and viewers. I have been listening repeatedly on its soundtrack long before I have seen the movie and when I finally saw it, it dawned on me - everything good that they say is legit.
2. We’ve seen the familiar story on Once (2006) and Begin Again (2013) - two lost souls passionate in their own craft met and fell in love despite of the circumstance, with the beauty and power of music perfectly intertwining with the narrative. But there is more to this than the usual - the songs, the screenplay, the jaw-dropping cinematography, the direction, the actors, the musical score, and the musical numbers. Simply put, it’s like everything good wrapped into one, excellent masterpiece.
3. I became a fan of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (sorry, Andrew Garfield) after I saw their movie ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’ (2011). What amazed me more, aside from Emma Stone’s natural humor and convincing performance was how Ryan Gosling prepared for his role - he actually learned how to play the piano. Wait, not just piano but Jazz music which is considered as one of the most difficult to learn and play. (Trust me, I’m a Music teacher.)
4. Speaking of music, I think what made this excel above other movies of the same type was the use of Jazz. Jazz music relies on improvisation, that is, musicians are required to be inventive and create music on the spot. The beautiful music reflects on the story and vice versa - beautiful, sophisticated, improvised, and natural.
5. I thought the “Expectations versus Reality” montage in '500 Days of Summer’ (2009) was the most heart-wrenching and depressing scene in a romantic/love story that I have seen. I was wrong. Screw that “What could have been” (or some critics say, “A typical Hollywood ending”) montage towards the end of the movie! The melancholic beauty of those last minutes. Why do you have to break my heart?
(5 Stars for the City of Stars!)