I've seen La La Land twice: the first time in a theater – where movies like this deserve to be seen – and the second at home, courtesy of a DVD screener. In the
On second viewing I enjoyed the film more. Story-wise, I knew what was coming and it didn't bug me;
La La Land starts off with a production number on a backed up L.A. freeway that is so big and colorful and elaborate and tuneful and cool that it could have served as the climax of most musicals. From there the film starts scaling down its song and dance numbers. It's a ballsy decision that may turn off some viewers, but it fits.
Damien Chazelle is the writer-director of the film. His last movie was Whiplash, about the relationship between an absurdly demanding music teacher and a student who practices playing his drums until his hands bleed.
Damien's characters are demanding people that generally do not play well with others. In La La Land Mia dreams of becoming a star, but gets rattled when she isn't chosen at a cattle call audition. Urged by Sebastian, she decides to write and perform a one-woman show because, hey, when you have relatively few friends and you're living in a city with more entertainment options than most places on Earth, why not try to get strangers to pay to watch you perform a solo show?
Sebastian has a job playing Christmas tunes on
Poor Mia. Stuck with the audition process just like all the other actors. Poor Sebastian. Trapped into touring the world with a boss that appreciates his talent.
Their first encounter comes during the freeway number. He honks his horn at her to get a move on, and she gives him the finger.
Aw Damien, you are such a romantic.
Their best early meeting comes at a pool party where Sebastian is a mortified keyboardist in a band playing '80s tunes. Mia requests “I Ran,” Sebastian seethes, she teases him, and a relationship is born.
Enough story, let's get back to the music and dancing. I've no idea how many of the locations are the actual places they appear to be and how many are studio recreations or computer-generated green screen images. Whatever the method, the results are gorgeous, from the freeway scene (supposedly the high, curving ramp connecting the 105 freeway to the 110 heading toward downtown L.A.) to a dreamy number at the Griffith Park Observatory (incorporating
It's hard to stay cranky about the story when the music (Justin Hurwitz wrote the music, Benj
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