I don’t go to the movies often. That may sound like a blanket statement, but it’s true. I’m usually one to wait for the release of a motion picture on DVD, so for me to say that I saw the same film four times at the cinema says a lot. That film is La La Land.
The reason I am writing this is to explain not only how much I adored the film in all aspects, but why it’s important to me, and why it might be just as important to others in our generation. I wouldn’t categorize it to be a groundbreaking film, because to be honest, it’s not. It doesn’t break barriers in diversity, unfortunately, as there are no main characters of color nor in the LGBT+ community, etc. – this is one of my only downsides to it, as it would have been significantly more powerful had it included these. But it struck me because it inspires.
The first thing I noticed was that it’s a musical, and I love the fact that it has so much success. Many people that I know are reluctant to see films like this just because they’ve got some singing involved. My personal belief is that the songs make it better (not to mention they’re written by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul, two of my favorite Broadway lyricists)! They are a way for stories to come to life in an even bigger, different way. And this movie in particular shows two average people trying to live out their dreams while singing their feelings – AKA my life (okay, I don’t randomly break out into song but I sure wish I could). If you know me, you know that I’m a big supporter of the arts, and Broadway is my absolute favorite thing in the world; so maybe I’m a little biased. But there’s good reason to be.
The Oscar nominations came out today, and it makes me incredibly happy that two of these songs were nominated. Even if you don’t want to watch the film for whatever reasons you have, give a listen to the soundtrack. The film is centered around the genre of jazz, which not many people [that I know] listen to. Hearing both the soundtrack and the score will enrich your musical prowess by letting you experience something you haven’t necessarily heard before. There is more jazz in the world than just the elevator music kind (not that that’s bad!). It might encourage you to expand your horizons and search out even more jazz – this is what happened to me on Spotify.
Now, the plot was not the reason I fell in love with La La Land. To be honest, the mise-en-scène and cinematography is what drew me in almost immediately. The vibrant colors and follow-shots were what pulled this film together, and without those elements, I genuinely don’t think it would have been as impressive.
The feeling of watching these two people soar above the clouds and into the glittery stars on-location at the Griffith Observatory was breathtaking. The movements of their tap dancing above the entire lit-up city of Los Angeles was beautiful, as was the way the camera moved with the actors to make us feel like we were in their shoes a good portion of the film. Ryan Gosling on a bridge with a gorgeous California pink sunset in the backdrop and Emma Stone walking around the working sets of Warner Bros. Studios gave us valid reasons as to why some people love Los Angeles so much. The montages and romantic atmosphere paired up with the classical Hollywood narrative made for stunning visuals and a heartwarming element that makes you want to see it again and again (and again and again, in my case).
These visuals gave me a sense that I can do anything I set my mind to, which was really the basis of the plot anyway. While they are average people, they are average people living in a relatively fantasy world (or so it would seem to the audience). Not all of Los Angeles is as picturesque as they make it seem – I know, I’ve been there. You rarely see the ugly parts in this film. But to be honest, I don’t think that was the point. The point was to be immersed in a fantasy, especially with songs like “City of Stars” and “A Lovely Night,” as well as orchestrations like “Planetarium” which has a dream-like melody (to go right along with the planetarium scene itself). Even the expression “to be in la-la-land” means to be dreaming while you’re asleep, so the title has a double entendre, as it also is another name for the city of Los Angeles itself. Though, you eventually get hit with an unexpected wake-up call from reality – but I won’t spoil anything. Go see for yourself.
Now, I know not everyone feels the same way about the film as I do. A lot of people feel that it doesn’t deserve all of the recognition it got. And I’m not saying that other films that were released this past year don’t deserve similar praise (I really regret not seeing more films in theaters, but I do plan to see a lot of Oscar-nominees as soon as I get the funds and/or they are released out into the world). But I love this film for many reasons, and it has inspired me – and isn’t that the point of making art? To inspire?
La La Land has everything I look for in a film, and that’s probably why my personal feelings are so strong. My all-time favorite movie, Moulin Rouge, is also a musical romance with similar qualities. So, yes, I have a type. And every time I re-watch it, I feel an urge to go out and pursue the things I’m passionate about. As a millennial (not to generalize, this is just an internal opinion gathered from my life’s experiences), I feel that we often don’t know what we want to do with our lives, and this story makes me feel like that’s okay. It shows us that it takes time to be successful and to realize where you really want to be. Realistically, it also presents to us the fact that people change. Altogether, it gives us a love story but it isn’t ultimately about love, another reason why I appreciate it so much. You not only root for the two leads as a couple but as individual people. It’s about two young dreamers. You never know when there will be “Someone in the Crowd” that changes your life. Take chances and make mistakes, sing your heart out and try to reach your goals. Some might think it’s corny, but chances are you’ll relate to at least one character.
All in all, I strongly suggest you go and see this film for a unique and beautiful experience.
❝ Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem. ❞ –Audition (The Fools Who Dream), La La Land