‘La La Land’ film review
By Jerrison Oracion, Senior Columnist
There are a lot of movies that pay tribute to different types of films, like the various genres in the films of Mel Brooks and silent films in The Artist. Now, the same person who brought you Grand Piano and Whiplash, Damien Chazelle, brings a film that pays tribute to the golden age of musicals in the modern era. La La Land not only references many things in musicals, but it is also about reviving pastimes.
It is just another day of sun in Los Angeles, and Mia (Emma Stone), an actress who works in a studio’s café and is trying to make it big in the city, meets Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a jazz pianist who is also trying to make his big break. They both work together to help Mia make a one-woman play and help Sebastian open a jazz club, and everything changes when Sebastian’s best friend, Keith (John Legend), offers him a position in his new band.
The first half of the film has what you would usually expect in a musical, and the second half looks like a film made by Jacques Demy. There are a lot of tracking shots throughout, like in most of Chazelle’s films. La La Land contains references to various things in musicals. The film begins with the Summit Entertainment logo in the style of the 1950s, and the screen expands to show that the film is presented in Cinemascope to reference This is Cinerama. There are also references to West Side Story, the musicals of Gene Kelly, and the films of Jacques Demy. It is similar in ways to Demy’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, except that it does not look like an opera.
While La La Land looks like a musical from the 1950s, it also looks like a movie made today, as there were handheld shots midway through the film. The musical numbers in it are elaborate, like the piece in the beginning of the film when everyone in traffic instantly bursts into song. This might cause you to wish that life was really like a musical and you could sing about anything.
The film is also an analogy of the past and present. In the beginning of the film jazz is very popular, but at end jazz popularity is declining. Sebastian makes a point that musicals began with jazz and that they should bring back live jazz, which is the reason he wants to open a jazz club. It also shows that fixing something will not make it cool, in the case of Keith’s new band.
Despite the film ending with a big musical number that goes full force in the references to musicals, the ending is somewhat disappointing. Still, by the time you are reading this review, the film might have gotten the Golden Globe for Best Comedy/Musical, and it could also get the Academy Award for Best Picture this year.
La La Land shows that musicals are a great thing, and that it is possible to bring back something from the past. If you would like to see a film that is similar, I would recommend viewing The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, and if you would like to see what a jazz club looks like in real life, you can go to Frankie’s, which is located across the street from BC Place Stadium.