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La La Land

Coming Soon

Every few years a studio tries its hand at a musical. I’m not speaking of an animated fairy tale with with singing birds and dancing dogs. I’m talking about a good old fashioned musical. Since 2000 there’s been a moderate influx of musicals. Take these titles for example; Chicago (2002), The Phantom of the Opera (2004), Dreamgirls (2006), Hairspray (2007), Mamma Mia! (2008) and Les Misérables (2012). Each of these movies have fared pretty well in their theatrical runs as well as when they’ve made to home video. Even so, profits are minimal in comparison to the comic book craze that has swept the industry. That being said, thank you to Lionsgate for going forward with La La Land. Le t’s step onto the dance floor, shall we?

Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress trying to make it in acting just like so many others others. She’s just one grain of sand on a beach that spans as far as the eye can see. For now she spends her time working as a barista in the hopes of being discovered. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a jazz musician keeping himself afloat by playing small, less than gratifying gigs while biding his time until tangible hits. The two find each other and, while they don’t quite hit it off at first, they come to realize that they can do more together than they can apart. Each serves as a life coach to the other as their feelings grow. Will their dreams finally become realized and do these dreams include each other? That’s the path La La Land explores in a fun musical way.

It’s hard, like SUPER hard to believe that La La Land is only the third feature film that 31 year old Damien Chazelle (Whiplash (2014)) has ever directed. With his strong drumming background, it should come as little surprise that Chazelle is once again the master of the beats. His passion for music is strong and that passion bleeds through the pages on the screenplays he’s written and have settled quite nicely on the screen.

Emma Stone (Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)) and Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys (2016)) create a sensational pairing as the duo appear to be in complete lockstep throughout. Since this is the third movie they’ve appeared in together (Crazy, Stupid, Love (2011), Gangster Squad (2013)), the chemistry is unsurprisingly strong. Where Emma might stumble just a tad (dancing, for example), Ryan picks her up while doing the heavier lifting. Where Ryan falter slightly (singing), Emma brings sweet music to our ears. This cinematic symmetry proves too good to ignore. Others that hold down their own are Rosemarie DeWitt (Poltergeist (2015)), J.K. Simmons (Whiplash (2014)) and musician John Legend. It’s clear who carries this story but it’s also nice to note that everyone involved added a layer of entertainment.

La La Land whisks viewers back to a time when enjoyable musicals were a commonality. Even though it’s set in relatively modern times, the feel is more like one that’s set in the 1950’s. There are some feelings that you just can’t shake, even if you didn’t personally live during that era. And it’s La La Land’s authenticity from top to bottom which separates it from its competition. All of your pain, troubles and sorrows will be temporarily put on hold for 128 magical minutes as you are swept away by what i will boldly call THE BEST movie of 2016. Take my advice and do these two things in this order. First, purchase the soundtrack to have on standby. Secondly, treat yourself to this wonderful toe-tapping humdinger of a film and then break out that newly purchased soundtrack. You’ll thank me later.

La La Land is streaming now on the following services:
Movie Reelist Contributor: Carl Wheeler

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