January is the most unstable month for cinema in the UK. There are three options, you first have the Oscar contenders. Next is the Oscar bait films that take on the appearance of a well-made piece of cinema only to disappoint when you and waste 2 hours of your day. Finally, there is the plain awful films (mostly cheap horror films), the ones that are shoved to a January release to get out of the way with, regardless if it makes money. The buzz around La La Land as a potential best picture winner has skyrocketed even before its initial release and while I can finally say that it easily earns its reputation, it has also fitted into a secret hidden category of films. Treasures.
La La Land has lived up to all its Oscar hype and has surpassed it. So how has it done this? Well it has followed the same tactic as many best picture winners, it is a celebration of films. Specifically, this Damien Chazelle musical is a love letter and reflection of the journey that everyone in the film industry has as some point in their life wanted to make, the journey to Hollywood fame.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s characters Sebastian and Mia echo this journey within their respected art forms. Mia is an aspiring actress and Sebastian is a musician attempting to bring back classic jazz. They present the full package of being able to sing, dance and act (although Ryan Gosling plays the piano and keyboard very well). The narrative presents an interesting way of introducing these characters as well, it doesn’t inter-cut between the two to show the character’s situation in achieving their goals, the film focuses on the one character until the moment they begin a connection before cutting to the other so we are all caught up and up to date with each character before they begin their relationship.
The presentation of the film is an incredible feat of colour and sound. The colour’s are loud and proud with is the impression that this musical is trying to leave you with as you leave the cinema. The coloured neon lighting adds so much value to the film, it’s very peaceful and vibrant.
The best example of the films incredible use of sound and music comes from the transition of joy to sorrow for the characters. The film is incredibly cheerful and has the jazz and brass pieces to back it up, so it comes as a real surprise when the struggles for the characters kicks in, only then does the sound and editing team behind La La Land realise that music is no longer needed. It is an incredible and simple way of showing the scene going south.
The film from time to time seems to experiment from time to time with its location and its cinematography switches style to match its environment. One moment you’ll be seeing a modern style of cinematography to suit its real locations, but it’s when the characters enter a painted location the camera changes to present the film as if it were a theatrical production. The painted sets in question are pleasing and additionally express’s the pleasant and happy vibe that the film is supposed to give.
You know that a musical is good when you leave the cinema desperately wanting to break into dance and song the moment you walk out into the outside world, and while La La Land can provide that urge, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to recall the song’s lyrics. All you can hope for when walking out of the cinema is to faintly hum along to the sound.
For all the films glitz and glamour, I can’t help thinking that the film has earned an easy gateway to a possible best picture nomination. Its themes and positive commentary are guaranteed to please the AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) voting panel, therefore it feels as the crew behind La La Land took the safe route. Maybe however this was the correct choice, it has certainly earned the reputation of being an Oscar hopeful and there is no doubt in my mind that La La Land is certainly one of the front-runners to get its hands on the best picture win.
The fact that the film’s opening song and dance number has already got people talking about it in popular culture, most recently parodied at the golden globes, should be enough to tell viewers the impression this film has left on people, but once you see La La Land for yourself, you’ll begin to realise that every sequence has been created and planned to near perfection as evident by the films flawless choreography. What Damien Chazelle has created is a treasured film that put it up there with certainly the happiest of musicals.
Final Result: 9/10 – Excellent
Have you seen La La Land? What did you think? Please let me know your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.
Next Time: Split