Last week I watched the film La La Land in Fresno with a couple friends. Oh. My. Goodness. I was totally blown away! It was magical, beautiful, and overall just a wonderful, quality, piece of of cinema!
some [random] thoughts
It reminded me so much of the old movie-musicals I grew up watching and loving. My Fair Lady, Mary Poppins, Guys and Dolls, Hello Dolly, and especially Singin’ In The Rain. The long, unbroken shots, the “dancing” camera movement (as though the camera itself is a character), the lighting, wide lenses, and the art direction all had the feel of those classic musicals. And that’s not even saying anything about the songs, dancing and the story! I enjoyed those “old” films so much (and still do) so it brought me so much joy seeing an original movie-musical on the big screen again!
There’s a part where one of the characters, Ryan Gosling’s “Seb,” explains Jazz music to someone who “doesn’t like it.” He shares the history, heart and sould behind the genre (quite passionately), and then says, “it’s dying.” Immediately I drew parallels between Jazz music and the movie-musical genre. Depth. Meaning. I’m so glad that filmmakers and actors and studios are taking risks to keep that alive! I think I’ll keep watching the new movie-musicals just to support that genre! I don’t want it to die!
I think it’s a film for adults. If you’ve never been in love, or never been a starving artist or never had a dream that you were so passionate about that it consumed you you might not understand the depth of the film. You might get bored. The film might not hit you in the heart and leave you gasping for air. For life. Maybe that spills into the cinematography as well… if the viewer doesn’t notice the nods to that classic style, or doesn’t appreciate it, they might not have the same response to the film as I did…
The score was fantastic. I’ve been listening to it on repeat since I got home from the theater. Ryan Gosling’s voice could be better, but I almost love it more for the imperfections because he brings a reality and accessibility to the songs.
It’s not a sad film, in my opinion, in fact, I thought it had a happy ending (though I can see why some may disagree). All that to say, I came close to crying multiple times, haha! Never because I was sad though, always because of the reality of it. I identified with those characters and their struggles. In one of the scenes, the character Mia explains why she’s giving up, why the pain of chasing her dream isn’t worth it. I feel that. She nailed it. It was like she was reciting my thoughts back to me. That moved me to tears. Plus, both of their performances were so genuine. It felt like they had lived what they were acting, probably because they have!
In general, it made me happy to see a real story again. It wasn’t perfect. It was messy. Reality is messy. It dove into the tension that occurs between chasing a dream and chasing a romantic relationship. Very real and legitimate passions that I feel are rarely looked at in cinema, or even talked about in real life, probably because they’re painful! That tension sucks! I loved seeing it on screen though and loved being able to be lost in that story for two plus hours.
go watch La La Land.