La La Land

La La Land ★★★★

I went into La La Land cynically. I was ready to hate it or at least glare at it a little. I think Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups put a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to highly indulgent and highly romantic depictions of artists in LA. To my surprise, La La Land was a palate cleanser to wash that bullshit taste out of my mouth.

It's no less indulgent or romantic, that's for sure. It had to win me over. It did that by defying my expectations. As soon as I grew weary of this docile, un-crowded image of Los Angeles with its any-decade-will-do variety of nostalgia, reality would creep in. The fantasy would fizzle out and I'd be looking at an apartment with shitty blinds, dust, unrelenting sunlight, and an ugly water stain on the ceiling. When I realized that the fantasy (or "the dream") was fighting to survive here, the movie became much more attractive to me.

It didn't stop there. When I grew weary of Ryan Gosling insisting that jazz should exist only in its purest form, Chazelle sends in John Legend to lay down some serious truth about musical evolution. I smelled bullshit and Legend called it out.

When I grew weary of seeing that Oscar clip for a second time where Emma Stone complains about six years of failure as an actor, I was delighted to hear Gosling's response: "You're a baby. You're being a baby." I wasn't buying into it and neither was he.

So to my surprise, Chazelle took care of everything. Say nothing of the fact that the whole thing is marvelously choreographed and designed. Yes, Damien, I also like old movies and primary colors. Yes, Damien, I would like to see how many of them you can fit into your flighty modern musical.

Last thing... I like dreamers. I celebrate their courage. But I like pragmatic dreamers even more. Dreamers have to be doers too. I think we should celebrate that more.

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