This week, CUB Magazine has gone gaga for La La Land, the sumptuous and nostalgic musical romance which swept the Golden Globes last week and is hotly tipped for Oscar glory. Already verging on the top 20 on IMDB’s top rated movies, La La Land has generated unprecedented buzz in the media, so we thought we’d reflect this by running three reviews simultaneously. Let us know who you agree with by posting a comment below! (by Paul Webb)
La La Land Review by Robert Salusbury
Damien Chazelle’s latest is a glorious whirlwind of romance, nostalgia and optimism, a joyous love letter to 1950s Hollywood that encapsulates the charm of classic musicals like Singing in the Rain and Guys & Dolls. From the glorious opening number, set on a crowded LA freeway with drivers leaping from car to car in an incredible single take scene, through to the beautifully judged epilogue, the film’s energy never ceases to charm and impress.
A relatively simple tale of the meeting of two hopeless romantics, the film rides heavily on the chemistry and likability of leads Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. As Sebastian and Mia, the two waltz effortlessly through dazzling dance sequences and catchy musical numbers in a style reminiscent of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds. Their passionate but unpredictable relationship is a joy to watch and, although filled with many extraordinary moments, it is far from the traditional “boy meets girl” story that has been played out so many times before.
Chazelle’s dedication to classical Hollywood are charming but never overbearing. From the opening titles, with the classic line “Presented in CinemaScope”, to Gosling’s subtle swing around a lamppost (à la Kelly), it is reminiscent of 2011’s fabulous The Artist in its nostalgic style. It is an incredibly uplifting experience and, as others have noted, the perfect antidote amidst the general doom and gloom of the last few months. In stark contrast to Chazelle’s previous film, the stunning Whiplash, which sparked tension and a dark, threatening atmosphere, La La Land bursts onto the screen with bright colours and light, humorous dialogue.
The choreography of the musical numbers is stunning, with the aforementioned opening scene flitting between cast members at an impressive pace and Gosling and Stone bursting into an impromptu tap dancing routine with extraordinary skill. In fact many of the scenes become even more impressive when you consider the time constraints of Chazelle’s team which was forced complete the opening sequence extraordinarily quickly. The songs, though perhaps more widely spaced out than in other musicals, are all charming and the duets between Sebastian and Mia are honest and touching. Characters break into song out of nowhere without the least surprise from anyone around them, creating a wonderfully romanticised depiction of Los Angeles.
La La Land is destined for glory. Sweeping the Golden Globes with a record-breaking seven awards and predicted to do the same at the Oscars next month, Chazelle has again struck gold. Gosling and Stone are simply sensational in their all-singing, all-dancing roles and Los Angeles is brought to life through dazzling cinematography and heart-warming songs. Chazelle suggests it is sometimes better to look to the past for hope in the hectic world which we live in.