Have you ever heard of an audience applauding a new film BEFORE the opening credits? That may be what happens when you see “La La Land”
Admittedly, I don’t like the name of this movie, but the film itself is great. The best musical to come along in decades. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone star as a talented young Jazz pianist, and a “wanna be” actress.
Singer John Legend has his own band, and helps Gosling’s character to realize he needs to change it up a bit in today’s world. Oscar winner JK Simmons scores once again as a contrary nightclub manager, that impedes Gosling’s progress. Simmons recent Academy Award came from his appearance as a similar character in 2014’s Whiplash, also directed by Damien Chazelle.
Back to the gripping opening….Imagine a massive traffic jam on a prominent LA freeway (no stretch there), with angry drivers emerging from yelling at each other into a burst of song with over 100 dancers.
Chazelle did a great job of immediately capturing the audience with the opening. The applause around you will come in right after the opening number, and before you see the name of the film.
The scene took two days, and a closed freeway ramp to produce, with real LA traffic that we all know and hate in the background.
The songs are catchy, and fit perfectly into the evolving plot of two very different young lovers. Gosling is one of the finest actors of his generation, appearing in a wide array of characters in The Notebook; Drive, Gangster Squad; Blue Valentine; Crazy Stupid Love; and most recently The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe.
Emma Stone was also in “Crazy ,Stupid Love“, and Gangster Squad, but is probably best known for Birdman, The Help, and The Amazing Spider-Man.
La La Land opens all over today in LA, going national in wide release Christmas weekend. A nice escape after the election, and during the holidays.