Rating: Blown away
I treated myself to a movie alone one cool evening in late January. A record for me as I have not watched a movie alone all this time. Not that it’s a big deal….but company is usually around and I always thought it’s fun to watch a movie with someone…Before watching this movie, I tried several times to find company but time and circumstance won’t allow me to have one. So I had to do what I got to do ….. and I’m glad I did…. coz I got to take it all in. It helped that I watched the movie on its last week’s run and we, a handful of movie goers, practically had the theater to ourselves. With this feat, I ought to do more little and big things on my own. My mind is on scrolling mode…
One more self-record is I didn’t blink once, afraid I might miss out on something good, bad or ugly. I had a bad right ear watching this movie and I can’t quite hear well on my right ear. So watching a musical only half-hearing the song and dance routines was a huge handicap. I had to keep both eyes open throughout the film. It didn’t take much effort, really. The movie was visually captivating from beginning to end. I cannot even afford to look at my drink as I grope for it on my seat’s cup holder… or maybe the other seat’s 🙂
Going back to the subject, it is almost a dream come true that I watched this endearing… this darling of a movie. I say that without exaggeration. It should easily make it to my all-time favorites. No movie has made me feel this good in a long time… I am reminded of Heaven Can Wait (1978), Somewhere in Time (1980), Steel Magnolias (1989), Driving Miss Daisy (1990), Pretty Woman (1990), As Good as it Gets (1997), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), The Notebook (2004). Yes, it’s that long… La La Land has the same elements as these movies. I can watch it over and over again and still get the same laugh, affection, tears each time I do. Put it on and I’ll lose myself in it anytime of the day. I bet my bottom dollars you will too. You won’t regret streaming these at Netflix or catching it on cable TV.
As of this posting, La La Land is on a roll as it continues to make good in every conceivable major awards bodies. Consider:
- La La Land Breaks Golden Globe Records
- La La Land Sweeps Critics’ Choice Awards
- SAG Awards 2017: Emma Stone wins Best Actress for La La Land
- La La Land wins big at BAFTAs
- La La Land ties all-time record for Oscar nominations set by “Titanic” and “All About Eve ” with 14 nominations
- How has La La Land fared so far?
It is a major contender in the upcoming Oscars. I wouldn’t be surprised if it hauls most of the awards. To be fair, I have not watched any of the other nominees because I am not really an avid movie fan but just an occasional movie goer. When I do watch a movie in a cinema, it must have pass muster of the most rabid critics or created a buzz. Even La La Land was not on my radar after my traditional MMFF movie dates with ED, MD and even OS in December ( I’ll soon be reposting my previous reviews on some of the entries and other films I deemed view-worthy here. In case you got nothing to do a weekend, you might want to pick one of these movies from your content providers.
What’s with that title anyway… how could that even entice casual movie goers like me to watch a movie that sounds like a song sang without thought when one is washing the dishes or doing the laundry. Webster defines La La Land as the mental state of someone who is not aware of what is really happening. I was right about my initial thought. The whimsical title is also used as a nickname for Los Angeles, California. In retrospect, it is an apt title for the movie set in a place where dreams are made, pursued and lived.
After the movie broke the Golden Globe records for the most wins and friends started talking about it, my curiosity got pique. A friend who watched it posted a question on his FB news feed: You know what I like about La La Land …… All that Jazz. A clear bait for the music lover in me.
To sum up my feelings for this movie….. La La Land is the kind of movie that makes one take it all in without feeling satiated… It’s a glorious throwback to old musicals and a lot more. It is a bittersweet film can easily make an emotional connection in our contemporary existence. It was heart-melting and heart-breaking at various points in the story that I could almost feel my heart bouncing and tearing apart.
For another ordinary story of love, struggle and dream come true, it’s a long shot that a musical can achieve this rare feat at a time when bigness, boldness and being epic seem to be the norm in the movie making industry . La La Land was the dark horse pushed out to be a formidable contender and eventual winner by being the escape that we can all use sometimes … It’s been bruited to have brought back the glam in Hollywood. I couldn’t agree less.
The performances do not look like well-rehearsed numbers but casual, fun, sometimes playful nuanced take offs from what’s being portrayed. The performers glide off from the scenes beautifully. Sebastian and Mia’s performances on their own merits are nothing to rave about, really… considering both are not really singers nor dancers. Yet their song and dance numbers gave this dazzling movie the pizzazz I have not seen for sometime….. Maybe, it’s the music, the production design, the screenplay, Mia and Sebastian’s chemistry…. probably a combination of some or all of these. Those performances are just magical.
The movie gives off this energetic excitement that is contagious. I was glued from the colorful opening song and dance number until the last … One cannot get enough of Director Damien Chazelle’s execution of creative, well-thought of, heart-warming performances. The ethereal planetarium waltz number is reminiscent of old Hollywood. I was light- hearted as the lovestruck Sebastian and Mia were effortlessly lifted and was float-dancing on a galaxy of stars.
Chazelle managed to infuse realities subtly that is heartfelt as we were being dazzled scene after scene in this whimsical and colorful extravaganza…..
Who wasn’t affected when the first crack in Sebastian and Mia’s couplesome showed during what was supposed to be a pleasant dinner at Sebastian’s place after being away from each other, that turned awry? Who was rooting for Sebastian when he appeared at Mia’s home and stubbornly told her he’ll be waiting for her in the morning? And that good feeling when Mia appeared all of a sudden as Sebastian was about to leave the morning after…. Who didn’t share Mia and Sebastian’s ambivalence as they talked about their future right after Mia’s apparent triumph in that last audition? Who did not feel that pinch in their hearts as Mia and Sebastian gave a last knowing look at each other as the movie closes? We all did, right?
It was too much of a good movie for a sucker like me and I’ve no one to share my feelings with… sob. Watching the movie felt like Cleopatra getting pampered by four maidens while lying on 1000 count 100% Egyptian cotton bed linen clad luxury mattress in the middle of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon … It dazzled and it felt good in one swoop.
I am unsure, though, if the end is how we want the protagonists to end up. One can look at the final scenes and have different views on the outcome. At the end of the film, I was misty-eyed… I couldn’t stop envisioning the beautiful montage of a happy ever after for a lovely couple weighed down by an unfortunate compromise… the pursuit of their dreams. I realized that when Sebastian said “Maybe you just liked me when I was on my ass because it made you feel better about yourself” to Mia during that awful dinner, he might be right. If we think hard in our couple’s life, the initial sparkle of fresh romance is easily traded for the lure of success by the more ambitious among us. La La Land made it clearer to us.
Sebastian and Mia’s love may have been destined to be ill -fated from the start but in the end they are both certain that their love trancends the limitation imposed on them by their circumstances….a cliche that we just have to accept. While they may not have ended up like we we want them to… both are happy for the how the other’s luck finally turned up. We just have to believe them when they said to each other, Ï will always love you” even if that means letting go just when things fell in place. I’m almost sure that love, like hope, springs eternal.
I’d like to make reference to those harsh reviews that put color to the love of jazz, music in general and hate the film for not staying true to how certain music aficionados define jazz or how the movie is not realistic enough because of inconsistencies. Honestly, I think that is not the intention of the movie to be real. All movies are fictionalized whether it is based on real life or made up. It is supposed to be an escapist medium to take our minds off our realities even for two hours or so. Otherwise, just pick your broadsheet or go the the news media page to get a taste of real life. What do these people want anyway. Let Chazelle’s kind of creativity permeate Hollywood and let us, La La fans, have our hearts filled.
Photo credits: Grabbed from the internet