La La Land ★★★★

I enjoyed the hell out of this, but something is keeping me from saying I loved it. Maybe it's the weightlessness of the musical numbers AS numbers; they serve excellently as character development, but lack the panache or grandeur to stand on their own. Indeed, Stone is only a fair singer, and Gosling isn't even that. I don't know if it says more about me or the film that my favorite song was the slick, over-produced John Legend number that's meant to represent Gosling's moment of "selling out."

All that said, this is really a wonderful film, with two magnetic leads. The film's greatest achievement, in my opinion, is somehow managing to strike a balance between fantasy and reality, hopefulness and cynicism, nostalgia and progress -- both in terms of its narrative AND its place in film history. It will definitely be worth looking at again -- but more from a technical and cultural standpoint than one of pure enjoyment, which is maybe where the film falls flat for me.

I dunno. I'm having a hard time reconciling my feelings about this film. Maybe I'm just in a weird mood. It definitely made me feel SOMETHING, so there's that. And I adore the fact that it is unabashedly A MUSICAL. It's not one of these flicks like Les Miserables, Rent, or even Chicago -- musicals that are somehow ashamed of the fact that they are musicals. We need more musicals, and we need more musicals that revel in what they are. And for that and that alone, La La Land is important in my book.