‘La La Land’: Is it the best movie of the year?

 

Emma Stone poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for "La La Land" at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Emma Stone poses in the press room with the award for outstanding performance by a female actor in a leading role for “La La Land” at the 23rd annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

As the recipient of seven Golden Globes, seven Critics’ Choice awards, and countless other accolades, “La La Land” had a lot to live up to.    Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, a high power acting duo we’ve come to love from their other roles together in “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “Gangster Squad”, star as Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a pianist desperately trying to hold on to his fading true love: jazz.    The two get off to a rocky start, but conveniently stumble into one another at a pool party months later where they reconcile via tap shoes and a Los Angeles sunset after some playful banter.    From then on Mia and Sebastian try to navigate their tumultuous lives as undiscovered artists together. Mia dreams of the future- one where her face graces every billboard as an A list movie star, while Sebastian craves a past world where smooth jazz is thriving in the streets of every city.    The film is filled to the brim with romantic scenes and bursts with bright splashes of ‘50s inspired color and velvety piano played by Gosling. The Academy Award winning actor didn’t use a piano double once in the film, and even impressed costar John Legend.    “Watching him play, I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is really good and he just learned this in the past few months.’ It’s pretty amazing.”    As for the nostalgic clothing, to live up to the hype of the endearing montages between Mia and Sebastian, costume designer Mary Zophres studied some footage writer/director Damien Chazelle had spliced together as inspiration for the musical. From “Singin’ in the Rain” to the 1996 Baz Luhrmann version of “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Band Wagon” from 1953, Zophres analyzed every movie, using stills from each of Chazelle’s muses to hone in on a modern retro style for the film that gave it an unrivaled luster of classic yet youthful contemporary style.    Stone and Gosling are more known for their prowess as actors, but both have charming, softly astounding voices and dance styles that complement the lively, glamorous numbers. Gosling’s relaxed bravado and Stone’s lovely grace make an elegant pair that I hope to see again.    However, for every amazing dance number, there are two scenes of lamentable contemplation. The pace drags considerably at times, and I do admit to checking my watch more than a couple times. The whole movie is a little over two hours, but at times I felt it could’ve all been done in ninety minutes. Don’t get me wrong- the dance numbers are adorable, and who wouldn’t want to watch Ryan Gosling for two hours, but if you’re the type that needs a good shootout to keep your attention, “La La Land” is not for you.    However, if you’re that special type of movie-goer that notices innovative camera techniques and set design, this could be the movie of the year for you. The charm of this movie rests in its carefully planned artistry. Mixing retro and modern styles could have easily become a cheesy nightmare, but Chazelle managed to blend the two contrasting styles seamlessly.    This movie may not be the action packed thriller or gut-busting comedy I’m used to, but it certainly lived up to the hype. If you’re looking for a visually impressive musical with a romantic duo powerhouse, this film could be the one you’ve been searching for just- and just in time for Valentine’s Day.

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