Saturday, December 31, 2016


 Mia (Emma Stone) has been trying to break into acting for four years, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a frustrated, overly-idealistic jazz musician who is paying the bills playing restaurants. Mia and Sebastian meet, flirt, and after singing a few songs become a couple. They discuss their frustrated dreams and try to inspire each other keep trying to be successful in acting or music. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: LA LA LAnd is a musical with some good songs and earnest storytelling. The songs are spotty: there are good ones like the opening song on the freeway, and less good ones like Mia's audition for the French film. It's always interesting, but the drama is not dramatic enough, and the songs are not fun enough.

I like musicals, like 2015's Into the Woods or 2012's Les Miserables. I loved Evita (2006) or Moulin Rouge (2001). Musicals can be fun and imaginative.

The photography and art direction are great. There are some great images. Emma Stone's looks great in her stylish retro dresses. We get great images and dispense with the realism, which is fine with me.

Emma Stone has some great facial acting, and Ryan Gosling is OK, but not as good. The other supporting actors are not well developed, but they do get to sing and dance.

There is a part where the screen goes black, so we can concentrate on the audio. I thought that was effective. It was foreshadowed earlier in the film when a film stopped in a theater where Mia and Sebastian were.

The best part is that LA LA LAnd is different and fresh. It is strong on style, but the conventional drama of the story is a little weak. 

Cast: Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling

Written and directed by:
Damien Chazelle

The Music:
It's a musical, and its all about music. Most of the songs are show tunes with additional piano and jazz instrumental music. 

The Visuals:
Very stylish photography throughout. Great images.

3.0 stars: a 2.5 star movie with an extra half star for the visual style and imagination. Not fun enough for 3.5. It will make my 2016 top ten list.

More: Writer-director Damien Chazelle made the music-oriented and very intense Whiplash in 2014. This is his third movie.

SPOILER - Even More: People are too cynical for a happy ending. Mia can't live happily ever after with Sebastian because our depressed zeitgeist. Chazelle gives us the happy ending as a dream sequence and a wan, tired smile across a crowded room as the real ending.

I liked this ending.

I am also happy that Mia and Sebastian both get satisfaction in their artistic lives too. I wonder how realistic that is.



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