Yes, I know this is a tad outdated since the film has been in theaters for over a month. But be quiet and keep reading, because Damien Chazelle’s masterpiece is about to blow every film this year out of the water.
I’m not much of a crier in movies. Call it my millennial desensitization (or my personality), but the real problem is there’s never anything beautiful enough to cry about.
That being said, I cried so many times in La La Land, I looked like a puffy tomato walking out of the theater.
Chazelle’s genius decision to shoot on old school film and CinemaScope made for the perfect aesthetic. Now for those who don’t know, CinemaScope is a type of anamorphic lens that saw its peak during the 1950s in Hollywood’s “golden age of cinema.” A notable example of CinemaScope was Rebel Without A Cause starring James Dean and Natalie Wood (a movie that gets a nice shout out in La La Land in an inside joke sort of sense). So, these aesthetic choices already set the film apart from everything we’ve seen in the last decade. A beautiful, palpable texture is brought to the movie through the use of film stock, and it gives a wonderful feel of nostalgia while maintaining its roots in the contemporary world.
Now, I have to talk about color, because good lord this film was colorful. From the opening number on the LA freeway color plays such a huge role in this film, it takes on a character of its own. This “character” especially shines in the costume design — cheers to you, Mary Zophres.
And the long takes! Chazelle and his team know when to cut, but more importantly when NOT to cut. The most beautiful scenes in the film (but I assure you all of them are beautiful) are filled with long, fluid shots that effortlessly navigate the scene.
Movies just aren’t made like this anymore. It’s a sad fact, but it’s true. La La Land looks nothing like any of the other contenders for Best Picture at the Oscars. And in a world where everything looks the same, this is an extraordinary quality for a film to have.
On the performance side of things, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling constructed the most lovable, eccentric couple that, for once, didn’t bore me into oblivion. Their chemistry is believable and authentic. That’s the key word here for Stone and Gosling: authenticity. Even though this is a musical, which means at its core there’s going to be a fantastical, out-of-this-world element to it, I still found myself caring. They come off as true representations of the human race, aside from their movie star good looks, of course.
Hats off to the pair’s singing and dancing chops. It was a modest musical, in the sense that it didn’t boast for its stunning choreography or über-talented vocals, but it worked for La La Land. And I think this again added to the film’s authenticity.
If La La Land doesn’t take the Oscar home for best picture then you will, no doubt, hear screaming from my living room in Boulder, where I will then promptly toss my television into the front yard.
Contact CU Independent arts contributor Xandra McMahon at firstname.lastname@example.org.