La La Land: A review

La La Land

Runtime: 2 hours 8 minutes
Budget: Estimated to be $30 million

“I don’t like musicals.” That’s a line has gotten me (playfully) unfriended and disavowed by more than a few friends.

“I don’t like jazz.” That’s a line from the movie. Whether or not the filmmakers intended for a parallel to people like me, it did just that. Both statements are sweeping and absolute and unfairly so. It leaves no room for nuance. Rather, I don’t like most musicals. As a self-proclaimed CommBro, perhaps I should engage in the precise use of language to properly communicate and minimize misunderstandings. I liked this musical.

By no means is this a perfect movie…but if that’s really the bar we’re using as the starting point, that’s a good sign. And for Damien Chazelle’s third feature length film as a director and a modest budget to boot, that’s as impressive as it gets. Nobody doubts that you’ll be able to retire comfortably with $30 million to yourself, but this is insanely low for a movie budget—especially one that features big names like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. I’m pretty sure Robert Downey Jr. made more than this film’s entire budget for his appearance in Captain America: Civil War

At this point, they seemed to have turned a profit and I daresay it deserves even more. This was human emotion distilled into a film. While the general plot is nothing out of the ordinary (I say that a lot), other components were well worth the price of admission.

From now on, when someone says the phrase “poetry in motion” (don’t really hear it often), I won’t think of the Johnny Tillotson song (not that I ever did), the 1982 film (definitely didn’t anyway),  Arian Foster, or any of the other uses. It will make me think of this film.

The music, dialogue, the cinematography, and the humor all make this one of the best films of the year. I won’t go around deciding if it’s the best or not, because that’s just like, an opinion, man, but it’s definitely top tier.

Unfortunately, it had a rough start from an audio perspective. That had me wondering if it would be a painful two hour slog. And no, it wasn’t just the depiction of LA traffic that was painful or because I don’t like most musicals. The sound mixing was noticeably poor. If you notice sound mixing, then it’s bad. Just like traffic. That’s one thing I can use an absolute about. I don’t like traffic.

That being said, they nailed a lot of things about LA life, albeit exaggerated. The egos, parties for the sake of networking, traffic, crappy parking situations, numerous Priuses, getting stuck with roommates, and too many other things to name. Some of these certainly aren’t exclusive to LA, but they’re definitely prevalent.

They filmed at iconic LA locations, which is cool to see…even though there’s really no shortage of that. A favorite got missed though:

A real LA gem

Still a real LA gem

While the depictions of LA reached caricature levels the film was not devoid of more grounded moments. The stark reality of dreams versus “growing up” tends to be something else most people eventually encounter and is prominently displayed. Also, of particular note was one of the most believable arguments between a couple I’ve seen in a movie.

One of the most admirable things about this movie is that they managed to marry the realistic parts nearly seamlessly into the artistic side. And they sure took full advantage of the visual medium. The contrast of colors were truly vibrant and aesthetically pleasing. Most of the music was superb to the point that I find myself wanting to go out and buy the soundtrack right away.

This movie will definitely be joining my Blu-ray collection when it’s out.

CommBro Breaker

Did I really just praise this movie for realism? Emma Stone’s character leaves a voicemail at one point during the movie. Are you serious? What kind of self-respecting millennial leaves a voicemail? Immersion broken. Trash film. I rate it 2.001 out of 1946.

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