10 December, 2016
While part of "La La Land" is pure confection - Chazelle's beautifully envisioned tribute to musicals of the past - the other is a smartly crafted commentary on 21st-century love that has an indie feel to it. Later, after Hannah passes the bar and Richard's promised proposition turns out to be an invitation to join his firm rather than to marry him, Hannah strides into the bar, plants one on Jacob and makes it clear in no uncertain terms that she's ready to go home with him. Chazelle and Hurwitz understand that some feelings are just so big they have to be sung and danced.
This is the third time the actress has worked with Gosling.
But they find themselves in step only for a time. So the dance scenes have an organic quality about them. "Ryan and Emma are that modern day Bogart and Bacall, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Hepburn and Tracy, Myrna Loy and Dick Powell". Along the way different actors were attached to the film, but Chazelle is happy that the window finally opened to get Stone and Gosling.
And we keep on rooting. "It's hard to imagine anyone else pulling it off". They need each other to chase their respective dreams. There are far too many ambitious shots and memorable musical moments to single out each one, but a few that merit mention include a gravity-defying sequence at the Griffith Park Observatory, a six-minute continuous song-and-dance routine in the hills at dawn, and that unforgettable opening shot on the congested LA freeway.
There are tributes/references to classic films like "Singin' in the Rain", "Rebel Without a Cause", and "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg", but this movie is not derivative.
There, at a place built to watch the stars, the two dancing lovers actually lift up into them. As Sebastian says to his sister earlier in the film, "You say "romantic" like it's a bad word!" While the influences run fast and loose in this candy colored homage to MGM musicals, Mickey and Judy "let's put on a show" reveries and Jacques Demy-infused melancholia, Chazelle's charming tale of a chance romance between two aspiring artists in the City of Angels looks, feels and sounds like a breath of the fresh air, not in spite of but because of its utter sincerity.
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He also found a modern-day equivalent of the Golden Age movie couple in Stone and Gosling, who paired up for the third time in "La La Land" and are known for their charming and amusing on-screen chemistry.
The musical aspect was definitely a newer thing for the both of us.
Musical live-action films have faded as superhero fare and franchises dominated the Hollywood box office in recent years.
"La La Land" had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on August 31, 2016 and is set to be released in the United States on December 9, 2016 by Summit Entertainment. Four stars out of four.
Rated PG-13 for some language.