La La Land

La La Land ★★★★½

Well, that was something special. I'm really glad that I watched The Umbrellas of Cherbourg the day before because there are clear influences from that masterpiece on Damien Chazelle. Together these two movies have made me far more invested in musicals than I was previously, with Bugsy Malone being another highlight but beyond that the list starts to get a bit thinner.

Here La La Land follows on two people with big dreams. Mia (Emma Stone) is an aspiring actress who meets and falls in love with Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), an aspiring jazz musician. The two have some great chemistry and the film plays them off each other really well, and they literally make the best casting choice here. Both Gosling and Stone have good chemistry with whoever they work with - Stone with Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man for example, and Gosling and Crowe were really good in the buddy comedy The Nice Guys. You quickly feel attached to these characters who deliver powerful performances - it's quite amusing to see Stone trying to play somebody with poor acting skills given the talent she has, and she pulls it off really well.

Beautifully shot with some captivating scenes, Damien Chazelle knows how to direct and between this and Whiplash it's hard to believe that he doesn't have an extensive filmography as Whiplash had everything to come from a far more experienced director than Chazelle. But if La La Land is anything to go by, he's already shaping himself up to be a must-watch director and I can't wait to see what his next film is, because everything about this movie just works.

I'll admit I was a little sceptical going into this movie because I'm not a big fan of musicals as mentioned above and I was wondering whether or not the film would live up to the enormous hype... and I still so badly wanted Sing Street to get an original Song Oscar Win - but now it's clear that it's not going to because I was simply blown away by the La La Land soundtrack and I'll imagine the Oscar voters will be as well. City of Stars, Someone in the Crowd, Another Day of Sun etc, everything works really well with some great music moments and I was sold from the opening song and dance moment on the highway. The film itself also acts as a homage to movies, with several references to classic films and even a scene straight out of Rebel Without a Cause, a classic movie that I probably should get around to watching at some point. And Casablanca. I should probably watch that as well.

But for now, I'm left completely blown away by La La Land. Justin Kurzel's soundtrack, the fact that this works both as a homage to movies and to jazz, and everything just pays off so well. It's hard to talk much about the ending without giving away spoilers but it's a pure highlight that's likely to go down as one of the best movies of the 21st century. Between this and Manchester by the Sea, I wouldn't like to have to make this choice for Best Picture of the year, and if Moonlight is as good as I'm hearing it is, things could be extremely tough competition wise indeed.

Highly Recommended, you won't want to miss La La Land. It's pretty much damn near essential viewing even if you don't like musicals.

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