La La Land (2016)

I won’t fight you if you don’t like La La Land, but I understand why others will want to.

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I’d been anticipating this movie-musical since the airing of its first trailer, and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The vibrant musical numbers and bittersweet ending, to me, are what really made this film recommendable. The love story itself is nothing to marvel at, but that’s never been my genre of expertise. I just feel as if it’s been done before; this story’s nuances were lost on someone who, when faced with your average boy-meets-girl, tends to shift their attention to the cinematography and score. In fact, my favorite relationship of La La Land was actually the cast’s tumultuous romance with their city. Los Angeles is a place that can lift you to the stars, or just as easily, hurl you to the ground with enough force to crack pavement. This film was, as exemplified in the opening musical number, definitely a love letter to LA, but the relationship is nothing if not complicated.

La La Land, as some will agree, at times seemed more like a piece of art than a narrative. It’s the type of movie I’ll enjoy watching clips of over and over again on YouTube, but won’t bother to peruse fan theories about the characters or plot. That being said, I’m going to use this review to focus heavily on the film’s musical numbers. My favorites were the energetic, upbeat songs, like “A Lovely Night” and “Someone In The Crowd.” Some of the slower numbers kind of dragged for me. It may just be a matter of taste, but the planetarium scene, although beloved by viewers, was quite drawn out and (although visually impressive) not very interesting.

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As all dedicated fans of stage musicals know, a good opening musical number can go a long way. In my professional opinion, the most outstanding song (and most well-choreographed scene) of La La Land was “Another Day of Sun,” the movie’s lively opening song. I love that the curtain rose with a number that barely involved the two leads. After all, we’d be seeing plenty of them in the future, and it was a great choice to set up this movie by establishing the character of the city itself.

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ALSO THAT CHOREOGRAPHY THOUGH

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It was the jazz music and dance numbers that really brought out the best in this movie for me, rather than the story. Alternative points of view I’ve drawn in from friends include “It’s a perfect movie,” and “If you don’t like La La Land, there must be something wrong with you.” I think there are some members of the Academy that probably feel the same.

To that, I say, fight me.

GRADE: A-

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