But it’s not all just a cinematic heaven of singing and lyrical passages of fancy: the eternal rival of romance and career soon takes over. Mia and Seb inspire each other to take risks, work hard and strive to make their personal dreams come true. The cost of pushing career first soon becomes the central conflict of La La Land, which leads to one of the most soaring and beautiful and melancholy and moving conclusions I have seen in a modern film.
The third character own this film— the namesake— is it’s wonderful, make-believe Los Angeles: Angel’s Flight, Mulholland Drive, Griffith Park, palm trees and stately SoCal architecture under an endless blue sky or deep blue night. It’s a fun, vibrant place full of artist, actors, strivers and dreamers. It’s been too easy in films of late to see LA as some of late-capitalist hellscape (see Training Day): It’s refreshing to remind all of us that LA is a place where people still go to try to make their dreams come true.
Director Damien Chazelle’s last film was Whiplash, a sort of crazy stalker film set in the world of jazz music about an earnest drummer and his insane instructor (J. K. Simmons, who has a lovely cameo in this film). Jazz plays heavily and strangely in La La Land as well: Sebastian is a young man obsessed with the world of jazz: he has posters of jazz greats in his apartments, Hoagy Carmichael’s piano stool and longs to open a real jazz club in Los Angeles. There are plenty of kids these days who passionately love alls sorts of dead or marginal forms of music: it never becomes clear of Seb is sincere or just really good at affecting his love of the genre.
|"A Lovely Night" on location.|
|Another nice PAST-magic hour shot.|
|Another girl in magical old Los Angeles, dreaming|
of acting fame. Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr.
|I may well be mistaken and La La Land may have been released in the |
original CinemaScope aspect ratio of 2.55:1. But that's not how I saw it
in Redwood City: they couldn't even manage to mask the screen right.
If you love Hollywood genres old and new, this is a must-see.