While all of you went out in droves to see the recent film in the Star Wars franchise I was too busy bustling with joy in the small theater next to you watching the much anticipated musical drama from Whiplash director Damien Chazelle. La La Land is a present day musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone which makes this their third film together since 2011. Since then, they’ve grown to be one of the most fluid onscreen pairings since Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks back in the 90’s, but with their chemistry comes maturity and art in it’s most radiantly metamorphic state in an era where musicals have stayed on stage on Broadway. With La La Land officially seen by my very eyes, I can finally confirm for you all that this is without the best film of the year.
You’re probably thinking; “wow, that’s a bold claim hombre” and I can understand why. Maybe musicals aren’t your thing or one of the actors doesn’t cut it for you, but what this film is defies simple nature of film with a craftsmanship of a master at work who’s career spanned a lifetime. Well, I hate to break it to you, but Chazelle is only 31 years old! Set in Los Angelas California (obviously), the film wastes no time bringing us into it’s colorful wonderland full of song, energy, and an unquenchable thirst for passion. An homage to old Hollywood musicals as well as stage productions, Chazelle carves out a plot revolving around the sacrifices made for your art with his tools being music, romance, and an unbound color pallet.
The baritone singing, piano playing Gosling shines like the star he was born to be with his dance moves matching his looks while Stone proves yet again that her skills as an actress know no bounds when she puts her mind to it. As Mia, Stone give some of her best work that ranks up there with her performance in Birdman which by no coincidence won Best-Picture in 2014. What it looks like, yet again, will be a nomination for Best-Actress simply for her doing what she does best, and that is act her ass off in every scene she’s in. Just her first audition as Mia will get you in tears and there’ s nothing even sad going on when the scene presents itself! The way she can use those beautiful big greenish-blue eyes with those acting chops really bring a depth to her role and the film as a whole, which, in the grand scheme of things is her movie.
Theater people may gripe at the non-technical singing abilities of the lead actors, but I found their singing to work very nicely with the context of the film. And yet, the singing isn’t the element of the songs that keep you engaged the most. The cinematography for this film is the most deserving of all the films I’ve seen this year hands down. From the neon lights, to the bluish hew of the street lights that illuminate scenes throughout may just be the most breathtaking visual splendor I’ve seen since The Revenant and even Jet Li’s Hero if we want to talk outstanding usage of colors and lighting techniques. The best part about all this technical mumbo-jumbo I’m giving you is that there is nothing gimmicky or contrived about it. It’s beautiful cinema in it’s most thoughtful and artistic form.
Guys, if you take your woman to this movie, you best have that ring ready because this sh** will even have you oohing and awing. The film goes in directions you want it to without ever being predictable in the grand scheme of things. It’s pulls at your heartstrings while using you as a musical marionette while you tap your foot in your seats and it leaves you wanting to fully realize those dreams you’ve had buried deep inside your heart. The love of jazz is also something touched me deeply. My love of jazz and current ambitions of creating art are all too accurately personified in this film which makes me believe that Damien Chazelle is no question of my favorite directors making movies today. He has struck gold yet again, but not by accident because this man knows how to make masterpieces for films and is 2 for 2 on satisfying endings as of today.