Film Critic and Writer for ComiConverse.com, the Founder and co-host of the official Nerdcast Network Podcast
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La La Land, the movie with the most hype this Oscar season, was released in the U.K. Film critic Jordan Samuel brings the official ComiConverse review.
Film Review: La La Land
Written and directed by Academy Award (R) nominee Damien Chazelle, La La Land tells the story of Mia [Emma Stone], an aspiring actress, and Sebastian [Ryan Gosling], a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.
Musicals have been almost entirely absent from pop culture for the last decade. This began to change with Hamilton becoming a phenomenon that brought huge crowds — even those who do not usually attend the theater — to Broadway. The musical’s resurgence continues with Damien Chazelle’s La La Land.
Romantic and non-Romantic types will adore Chazelle’s vision of the genre using his signature punchy direction to create a beautifully crafted homage to classic Hollywood musicals, with ample dream-chasing optimism thrown in. Now many will compare the film with musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and Fame, because it tackles similar themes.
La La Land feels fresh and original even though the premise will be familiar to fans of the genre. Chazelle puts effort into making La La Land memorable. It may not be a film for everyone. From the film’s opening credits, the music hits like a theatrical production, after the first number though, I often forgot that it was a musical and was hooked by the beautiful storytelling.
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone deliver outstanding performances. From their ability to handle complex dance routines to their evident romantic chemistry, Chazelle found the perfect actors for these roles.
Ryan Gosling plays successful jazz pianist Sebastian. I was immediately drawn to the way he plays and he provides some outstanding music sequences. Gosling’s performance was all the more captivating because of his magnificent chemistry with Emma Stone. The best performance in the film has to be Emma Stone who plays Mia, an aspiring young actress. Stone she does a fantastic job at conveying a gleeful, witty, and intelligent personality.
You can’t help but root for her character as she blows every single scene out of the water even surpassing Ryan Gosling in their scenes together.
I’m can picture Emma Stone cleaning up best actress awards because she is immaculate in the role. The cinematography in La La Land is some of the best this year, with vistas and dances brought movingly to the big screen Linus Sandgren, a master of his trade, matches the visual style of the film with the standout soundtrack to create an immersive moviegoing experience.
The soundtrack is so good that I have bought it on iTunes, something I almost never do. I am sure that many others will feel compelled to do the same after seeing the film. The musical aspect may not be as flashy or punchy as big West End shows, and you can tell that Emma Stone and Gosling aren’t singers but none of this detracts from the music’s power.
My only issue with the script was that it didn’t try harder to subvert the stereotypes of the musical. The very aspect that makes it so special, is what also holds the film back from being a modern classic. Chazelle makes the movie work and that is all that matters. Overall La La Land is a entertaining film that does a lot of things right with music and characters, even if it occasionally falls short on originality.
The film is an outstanding callback to a simpler time and feels and old fashioned at the same time. With Oscar season usually filled with dark, depressing dramas, it is refreshing to see a feel good musical nominated for so many awardsIf you are looking for an Oscar worthy movie that is fun to watch, La La Land is the one for you!
Jordan Samuel is a Film Critic for ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @JordanESamuel
This film is an outstanding callback a simpler kind of Hollywood movie making. It feels both fresh and old fashioned at the same time.