La La Land Review
I went to the Cinema Dome in Hollywood, California just to see this movie. It is the first time I've seen a film in Hollyweird, which is strange because I've lived so close to Los Angeles all my life, and I've been there before many times, but it never occurred to me to see a motion picture in the city that has popularized them. I felt if I was going to see any movie in the City of Angels it would be this one. I mean why not? I was even treated to a special moment when the director of the movie, Damien Chazelle himself, came out to present his movie to the crowd. It's like the Movie Gods were aware that this my first film outing in Hollywood, and so they wanted to do something special for me.
La La Land tells the story of two people with tremendous dreams, and in what better city to have big dreams than in LA? Sure its difficult, and essentially you are competing with hundreds of other people who wanna do the same thing you do, but if you aren't afraid, and don't back down you can be that ONE in the crowd that makes it. That is the overall point of the movie. Ryan Gosling plays, Sebastian. A Jazz loving pianist who wants to open his own club, and Emma Stone plays Mia. A struggling actress who wants to break into the movie scene. The two first meet after a spectacular musical number on the 110 interchange showing people stuck in a traffic jam, but ultimately singing about how its another day of sun in LA.
Sebastian honks at Mia when she gets distracted, and holds up traffic while practicing her lines for an audition. The opening scene shows us just how many of us have become jaded, especially Los Angelenos who sit in traffic, and are ticking time bomb of stress, and road rage ready to explode. The people around us are just quick faces in a sea of cars, and we hardly give any thought about those around us on the freeway. Our car is our own little world, and its a wonderful way for our characters to meet. Sebastian gives Mia a look of utter disgust for not moving fast enough, and she just flips him off.
Later on, after ditching a West LA party she had no interest in, Mia stumbles upon a restaurant where she hears someone playing a lovely tune on the piano. She walks in and see's that it is Sebastian. She doesn't recognize him of course, but she is drawn to his playing. Sebastian meanwhile was playing Christmas jingles early on because his boss informed him he didn't want him playing any of his music in his restaurant, and that nobody cares about that, "Jazz Crap," yet as night wears on he can't help it. He begins to play the soft Jazz tune that catches Mia's attention. At that moment the restaurant owner fires Sebastian for disobeying him, and Sebastian walks out angrily, bumping into Mia just as she was about to tell him how much she enjoyed his playing.
Afterwards we see Mia fail on several of her auditions, and we also see her as a barista in a coffee shop on the Warner Brothers Studios Lot in Burbank. Then after several other chance Run-Ins with one another, Sebastian, and Mia form a friendship, soon after a partnership. You could say the movie is about their relationship, but it's so much more than that. What Sebastian, and Mia ultimately like about one another is their passion. Mia is passionate about acting, and Sebastian about Jazz. The two help each other out, and they understand that need, and support that have been desperately searching for. The film speaks to the soul, not about love, but about dreams, and ambitions, and it spotlights the people that help us reach our goals, even when we think we can't.
The movie also depicts Los Angeles in a romantic light in the same way Woody Allen presented New York to us in either, Annie Hall, or Manhattan. I think this movie forced people from LA to look at the city in a different way. As I mentioned earlier we have all become jaded toward one another, and our surroundings, and it shows us that there is still magic here. Real magic. Where dreams do come true if we just continue to fight for them. We have all become so worried about gluten free food, and obtaining lavish houses, and flashy cars, granted this is the land of Beverly Hills, and Rodeo Drive, and we all want to be SOMEBODY important, but the truth is just to love what you do, and do it to the best of your ability. Don't think you're above anyone else.
This movie is funny like that. It sarcastically makes fun of La La Land while still honoring it. It is a vibrant, well choreographed picture in the style of old Hollywood, and while, yes, this is a musical. It uses music at in certain key plot points to accentuate the story, but it never really becomes a Broadway musical. It still tells a story through brilliantly written dialogue, and it doesn't end in the way you would expect a movie like this to end. If there is a flaw in this movie, I haven't found it yet. I'm sure I will after several more viewings, but in the meantime, I was swept away by this picture, and a second viewing is guaranteed.