La La Land ★★★★★

Judging from the comments I've read online, I feel that it's become kind of cool to hate on "La La Land", so I wasn't quite sure what to expect upon my first viewing. It's Hollywood's love letter to itself, and I can see how that would immediately be grating to many viewers. I ended up really loving it. Some movies miss their target, some hit, and others hit bullseyes. I'm not a huge fan of musicals, but this movie rang my bells.

Among my minor criticisms would be that I didn't find the music totally amazing. I don't think I'll be buying the soundtrack. But, I greatly appreciated that many of the songs featured live singing on the set. I would always prefer to hear an imperfect live performance by an amateur than watch a professional singer lip-sync the greatest vocal take ever, no question.

The movie drags a little bit in the second act as the plot takes over and troubles build up. But the film starts off quite well with a zippy pace and colorful sense of fun. I also thought the ending was very good. It's one of the few films in recent memory that I felt had a strong ending.

I'm not normally a fan of Ryan Gosling, but I thought he did a fine job overall, especially playing piano. I'm impressed to find out that he learned to play for the role and apparently did his own playing throughout the film. He deserves a lot of credit. For someone without professional dancing experience, he's not a bad dancer, either.

Emma Stone was excellent as well. She does some really nice acting. Neither she nor Gosling have the strongest singing voice, but, as I said earlier, I'll trade pure vocal quality for the excitement and immediacy of hearing someone sing live any day of the week.

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