Saturday, January 7, 2017

I saw La La Land for the second time tonight.
This is quite unusual for me, even though I love films. See there is much to see, so little time, time is money, and well entertainment costs money.
After seeing it the first time I knew I wanted to see it again, it made me feel so joyous, so I went with a friend who missed out seeing it.
Everyone is saying it is their film of the year – which, in January, is a little ridiculous – but it IS that good. I saw it first late 2016 so called it my number 2 film of last year. And it was only beat by the sentimentality and goose bump raising documentary, Eight Days a Week – which any serious music lover would rate highly.
So what’s the big deal?
And why is it dividing audiences?
I guess there are movie goers and cinema lovers, and without sounding snooty, I think that is all.
Cinema lovers bring the whole genre with them when they discuss film, they love genres, and auteurs, and directors, and silent film, and all eras, and well...everything golden about film.
In fact, when I first described this film, I said it was like they got in my head and made a film especially for me!
And movie goers love going to the movies, and they prefer something a little simpler and easier to digest.
I also think some people just don’t like each their own...ha ha, they have no idea what they are missing.
People are already talking Oscars, as an Oscar commentator for many decades, I always hold back on such extremities so early on in the season. But again, they may well be right. Without seeing everything else on offer I cannot say.
But it is worthy, oh my yes!
I am much more emotional after my second watch. I think the first time there was soooo much to take in, so much beauty and wonder I was overwhelmed. This time I knew what was coming and could really soak it all in.
For those that don’t know, La La Land is a basic girl keeps running into boy but he keeps missing her story...until he doesn’t. Both have a very romanticised view of life and what they want for their careers. Girl – the sublime Emma Stone – wants to be an actress, on her own terms which hark back to a classic film sensibility. Boy – the perfect Ryan Gosling – is a gifted piano player who wants to play traditional jazz. Much singing and dancing and beauty and romance ensues.  Of course there is more to the story than that, but I don’t want to spoil too much!!
Emma Stone is one of those actresses, she can do anything. That face, its expressions, it makes you smile or can bring you to the verge of tears. I just want to be her, especially in this film and especially her glorious costumes. She just fitted this film so perfectly. Gah, she is my girl crush of the moment!

Ryan, Ryan, Ryan, is there anything this delight of a man cannot do. He could play piano before but learnt the jazz moves, it’s all him playing! He also fits the film perfectly, his louche is up there with all the greats, who of course all end up having a beautiful heart.

Much has been said of their amateur singing and dancing, but they are not Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Cyd Charisse, or even Debbie Reynolds. However they are very very good, sometimes great and that works perfectly for the film. There is a solo from Stone that made me weep. Her singing in it was terrific. So was Gosling. And the thing is they – in their third film together – have this wonderful chemistry. You believe them, and that is what makes this work so very well.
The first main dance scene in the Hollywood hills was when I knew this film would live up to its expectations and shine. The very basic tap and shtick number was indeed something you could see Fred Astaire and a starlet doing. There were moves from Singing in the Rain, Top Hat, and Shall We Dance. Funny and clever and romantic. The screen lit up along with my heart.
Of course I loved all the classic movie references, the window from Casablanca, the whole Rebel without a Cause section, The Broadway Melody homage,The Red Balloon, Funny Face, the posters and settings. And all the jazz, oh how they both worked so beautifully together.
And then there was the cinematography – this film was like watching a whole lot of masterpiece paintings being spliced together. The use of colour and landscape and postcard stylings took my breath away. You can see the love and care taken by looking directly at the canvas it was painted on. From the opening – I believe one tracking shot – scene, every shot thereafter just topped itself. Stone’s colourful apartment, the costumes, outside walks against the backlot and LA, hues of colour in the sky matching a deeper colour in a costume or a poster on a wall. The thought and detail was intense and magical. Something I appreciated even more the second time around.
The music of course was divine, mostly original – bar one of the funniest scenes of the film – the 80s band at the party, oh I want that band to play my next party...Take on me indeed!!!! The jazz was funky and wild and crazy, and the traditional musical numbers catchy.

The feelings I felt watching La La Land moved me. I laughed and I wept. I danced in my seat and my jaw dropped at its intensity and beauty on more than one occasion. I loved its themes of following your heart, and being original, and that dreams matter. And they really really do, in this world when people want to suck the creativity out of us, it is more important to stick to our guts and our hearts and bring our own beauty into this world. Through story or music or other forms of art, this film insists we do our very best – not just for anyone, but for ourselves.
Oh my, this is just one of those films that makes you soar, makes you smile, and makes you wish they made more films like it. I felt so incredibly happy driving home from it tonight, the experience was so much better the second time around. I encourage everyone to go and see La La Land, leave your views at the door, let your hair down, get a little jiggy in your seat, lust after Emma or Ryan (or like me, both of them) and simply let it all take you back to a gentler, kinder time when a little whimsy and a lot of heart takes you on the road to sheer happiness.

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