Saturday, September 23, 2017

La La Land (2016)

La La Land (2016): written and directed by Damien Chazelle; music, songs and lyrics by Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek, and Justin Paul; starring Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) and Emma Stone (Mia): A 2016 Oscar winner for Best Director and Best Actress, though memorably not Best Picture (oh, look it up). La La Land is a fairly frothy musical salute to Hollywood and, um, jazz clubs, two things not generally associated with each other. And following your dreams! 

La La Land is at its best when it stays light -- a third-act move into melodrama doesn't entirely work, in part because that also means an end to songs and dancing for the space of about 20 minutes. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are good in their roles as star-crossed lovers of the jazz-loving and film-acting variety, respectively. 

Stone's pre-movie work-outs to prepare for all the dancing did leave her face looking dismayingly gaunt when photographed from certain angles and in certain lighting. Gosling continues with the cool, generally laid-back persona that suggests he's watched a lot of early Jeff Bridges movies, to positive effect. The direction and choreography both work nicely for the most part, and some of the songs are quite catchy. Recommended.

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