La La Land; A modern rhapsody but it’s magic sometimes overshadows reality

La La Land is a nifty little film that’s an ode to lovers and dreamers. It’s a simple enough story between two people and yet much of the film unfolds in song and tune that harks back days of the good ol musicals. Musical numbers and jazz scores fill the linoleum lit bars, the sunset walks down the boulevards and the moonlit peaks of Mulholland Drive; La La Land is a beautiful tribute to the romantics who are hopelessly in love and stubborn in their passions. At the very heart of this modern rhapsody, La La Land’s story is earnest and genuine and it’s style is a colourful melody of music and nostalgia. This is the new age romantic film.

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Ryan Gosing and Emma Stone star in this starry-eyed old-fashioned tale told in a modern way. And they are pretty good. Both exude inidividual charisma which, when combined, become greater than their own performances. Their scenes never feel overbearing which helps to secure the film’s genuine intentions. Damien Chazelle’s technical flair is on full display here which is cool but requires the right actors to ground his finesse. La La Land is the sort of film that wants to be jolly and dreamy and yet not lose it’s authenticity. In the end, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling channel the airy fairy vibes that the sunny L.A. musical demands whilst engaging us in the harsh realities of life, the struggle of aspiring artists and the frustrations and dilemmas of clashing aspects of our lives.

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I myself am not a huge musical type of person. I mean I do feel the good vibes for a while and that feeling generally lingers on till the end but I can’t say it’s had an impact on me as other genres of cinema. La La Land was one of my most anticipated films of the year, and it’s been doing really well on the awards circuit but I can’t say that I loved it. Chazelle’s musical is still a tad too saccharine for me. It’s inherently sweet nature is oft vibrant,sincere and masterfully choreographed but also outshines the mellow undertones and emotional lows of its characters. It’s a slight pity because the film was doing a good job in basically keeping it real even though it was a musical. I just felt like Chazelle and team sometimes opted to inject song into scenes where dialogue would have been more affecting, and used surreal sequences that overshadowed what I would have liked to have seen in reality. I might get flak for this but the two surreal sequences, one in the observatory and the other right at the end felt slightly forced. In the obseravatory scene, the film opts for magical escapism for real life charm and a bit more spontaneity. The second scene just before the film closes was, to me, a good chance to strip bare the magic from the method and shoot the scene as it was. I just wished the film trusted us to understand the nuances and significance of a mellow moment without showing us a fabricated and surreal dream sequence.

Maybe I don’t come from the golden age of musicals so I don’t exactly appreciate the value of its nostalgia and what it means to bring back something like that to the big screen of today. I enjoyed La La Land and I think it’s a sweet and honest film with some creative directing and fantastic acting performances from its leads (I’m also totally in love with the soundtrack!). But I didn’t think it landed some of its crucial moments. For those who feel like the idealistic motif in musicals is what defines the wholeness and beauty of the genre, La La Land is a near perfect film. But for those of us who want a bit more subtletly and a more lingering shot of reality in favour of surreal blemishes, La La Land is still a good film but not as impacting or affecting as it could have been.

Rating:  8.4/10    I like the film but I don’t love it. Don’t get me wrong, this can be said for many, if not, most movies haha. I just felt the need to point it out given the amount of praise the film has received and the hype around it which I feel is a little misplaced.

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Jay says:

    Definitely disagree. Thought it was pure liquid magic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Hey Jay! I wanted to love it but came out feeling not quite as entranced. But I totally get it, we hardly get this kind of upbeat musical these days, and pretty much everything was good. I was just hoping some of the scenes…like the ending where simply shooting them in the bar would have been more melancholic than the dazzling dream sequence (at least to me) 😛

      Like

  2. bloggeray says:

    I haven’t watched the film yet so I can’t say whether I agree or not. But from the standpoint of a fellow reviewer, I appreciate the fact that you didn’t give in to the brouhaha surrounding the film. You didn’t like something and you put that across, that is a great thing. And to think that this was one of your own most anticipated films of the year, wasn’t it?
    As a fellow film buff, I agree that I also like realism in the scenes, not some dream that robs us of the emotional punch.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      🙂 Yeah I just didn’t think it was all that. I seriously think Hollywood has a problem with films about its own industry. I’m not saying films like The Artist and Birdman are undeserving…I just feel like industry films have always carried that special glow about them. La La Land’s a good movie but not a great one. I can’t wait to hear your review 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. bloggeray says:

        Maybe its a case of there being darkness beneath the lamp!
        Let’s see when I get to watch this one. Drama films like this don’t get screened here and DVD will take a long time coming, I guess. 😝

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hely N. says:

    I get what you mean. I went to watch this with my sister (who is a hardcore realist). And it took her a very long time to get into it. I love love LOVE musicals and jazz, for that matter. So it was pure heaven for me. Lovely review as always.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hely N. says:

      BTW, will you be doing a review of Manchester by the Sea in the near future? I am really psyched to read that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jwforeva says:

        Sorry for the late reply! Yeah if I do get to watch it, I definitely will! Not sure if it’ll be shown where I’m at though! Have you seen it?

        Like

      2. Hely N. says:

        Yeah. I am not a reviewer so I don’t know what to tell you exactly, but I was in agony after watching that movie. It felt so real and I was a bit of a mess because I cried during the movie. That happens very rarely for me. The end is perfect! I really hope you get to watch it.

        Like

    2. jwforeva says:

      Thanks Hely!! Yeah to each their own…I like surreal elements too but I just don’t think La La Land really resonated with me. But I can see why you and alot of others loved the film. I love jazz too!

      Like

  4. Rob says:

    Loved the post! I understand where you’re coming from about the lack of reality during its crucial moments. It made me think about what if the story of La La Land was made but not in the nostalgic, romantic-musical genre. If you strip away those dreamy surreal sequences and inject more grittiness, what would we be left with. I’m curious to know.

    To me, the majority of the film was good at best, but the ending sequence is what transcended it into a memorable experience. Anyway, great post! Excited to read more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. jwforeva says:

      Thanks Rob!! That’s an interesting point, and I’d like to see a version of that than what we got. Yeah, I thought the ending was perfect even though the movie wasn’t that great.

      Like

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