“How are you gonna be a revolutionary, if you’re such a traditionalist? You’re hold on to the past, but jazz is about the future!”
“This is the dream; it’s conflict, compromised, and very very exciting!”
I came with high expectation when I entered the theatre to watch La la land (2016). “Soaring and gorgeous” (Vanity Fair), “This season’s most dazzling movie experience” (Entertainment Weekly) and even “They don’t make films like this anymore” (Evening Standard). But in the first 30 minutes of this movie, I feel that all of the fore mentioned compliments were a bit overrated. The opening scene was very lively, with people singing and dancing during the traffic in Los Angeles. And so out of the blue, there were Ryan Gosling’s (Sebastian) and Emma Stone’s (Mia Dolan) cars. Classic and cliché as the other rom-com, the relationship started as “hate” instead of instant fling. The next scenes are very typical musical scene. “Someone in the Crowd” was played. It’s a very lively song, but I felt that the scene moved a bit slow. What I found very interesting is that how the trailer and the movie itself are intentionally made to have different interpretations. I somehow think that it might be some kind of publicist things. And so…I started to lower my expectations. La la land might be just another musical film.
|The "flying" scene|
La la land is about two young and promising artists in the heart of US’ entertainment: Los Angeles. Sebastian, an idealist jazz pianist who struggles in a small club and Mia as an aspiring actress slash barista who has failed tons of auditions. Sebastian wants to have his own jazz club, while Mia is inspired to be an actress since she was kid. Mia hates jazz, while Sebastian is surprised when he found out that Mia has never watched “Rebel without a Cause”, assuming it’s a must-see movie for aspiring actress. And so, they agreed to go out and watch the movie for one reason: Research.
The beauty of dreams and the bittersweet of relationship consequences behind it. That might be director Damien Chazelle’s specialties in his story-telling. Whiplash (2014) told us the hardship of being a jazz drummer. It’s a cruel world out there, especially in music industry. You need to have strong mentality as well as the will to learn. Whiplash told it in a very hard way (with Fletcher – JK Simmons throwing chairs to Andrew Neiman – Miles Teller). But La la land tells us in a different – more beautiful way. The music by Justin Hurwitz – Chazelle’s long-time friend and roommate – was indeed soaring. The scene and Chazelle’s imagination in it (must-see scene: planetarium scene) was indeed gorgeous. Aspiring artist and dreamers are not new themes in Hollywood. It may sound cliché, but La la land with its every details do tell that dreams are nothing without conflicts and compromise, yet indeed very very exciting.
The ending, how should I put it? For some who have watched the movie, the ending might be disappointing. But for me, Chazelle has summed up his movie in a very poetic yet realistic way. I think the movie has succeeded in depicting its own title. Merriam Webster dictionary defined “La la land” as a euphoric dreamlike mental state detached from the harsher realities of life. Apart from telling the struggle of aspiring artists in Los Angeles, or also known as “La la land”, La la land (and especially its beautiful music) do make us want to dance and sing. Moral story of the movie is that life is about choices. Some may have all, but some have to choose. And sometimes achieving your dreams is just sweeter than anything else.