La La Land

What Dreams May Come

As soon as that first trailer hit 1.10 minutes and that flute starts rolling “roop roop roop flooop roop…” and shortly followed by those bumping horns “bah bah bah baaah bah, bah bah bah baaah bah” my spine tingled.

If this energising, inspiring and uplifting music is representative of the film then fuck yeah this is going to be great!

Musicals are, you know, OK… but writer/director Damien Chazelle’s first film (Whiplash) showed such reverence for the highest calibre of musical artistry and by wrapping it in a compelling story he managed to explain why such musical talent is important so I had really high hopes for La La Land. This will not just be a story of whoever X-Factor has farted out in season 39.

I guess I came into La La Land with different hopes to those who have been gushing about it because I would take Whiplash over La La Land.

I loved the moments in which the film lingers on dope musicians being dope musicians. This is exactly what I wanted from the film and sent me day-dreaming of supping bourbon in a smokey jazz club or sitting in on a jam session because the passion for talented musicians is once again on full display.

I also loved the dream sequences and how seamlessly they blended in to the films narrative without feeling like a generic cheesy musical.

In fact dreaming is the film’s dichotomy. We see Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) and Mia (Emma Stone) struggling to align and achieve their dreams. They both want to be together but Seb, a realist, wants to own a pure Jazz club and Mia, an optimist and dreamer, wants to become a famous actress.

These incompatibilities are a reflection of ourselves. We all struggle to spin plates the plates we have let alone adding that really cool gold-edged plate to the mix!

What do we sacrifice to get what we want? For me; this blog is a type of therapy but you know… life! It get’s in the way sometimes and my writing suffers, other times it’s climbing, running, learning french, personal sanity or personal fucking hygiene that falls behind!

This realisation that only one or two of our dreams are ever truly attainable (if that!) provides a solid backbone to the story but to me it also exposes the film’s flaws.

I found La La Land loosing a lot its mojo towards the middle of the film as the songs became more melancholic and the focus shifting from sweetness of love, music and life to the bitterness of a cold break up.

I fully admit that’s just me wanting more electric music and less emotional baggage but I also noticed the dance scenes in the middle of the film pales in comparison to “Another Sunny Day” or “Someone in the Crowd” at the start of the film.

The mid film dance scenes couldn’t hold up partly because Ryan Gosling was not a great dancer. He looked good – not that it’s hard for Gosling right?! – but he is no Gene Kelly.

Keep an eye out for the early scenes though. You’ll get a few minutes in to and think “hang on, haven’t cut away once yet!” It’s audacious amid a modern Hollywood which seems to believe that more edits mean more bums on seats.

La La Land is a great film. It really is. It’s the best romance film I’ve ever seen but I was just dreaming it was something else.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ A couple of cracking songs
+ Incredible one take dance scenes
+ A solid, bittersweet story


– Kinda sags in the middle
– More of a love story
– Ryan Gosling as a dancer

Stars_4_5

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