Journalist Logan Lewis shares his love for Los Angeles musical
A lot must be considered when considering your choice for your favorite movie. Everyone loves to ask the question, but I was unable to come up with a definitive answer until I saw the film La La Land.
La La Land (2016) is Damien Chazelle’s romantic, jazzy musical in which he stars Ryan Gosling (Sebastian) and Emma Stone (Mia) to play the main protagonists. This is his second major film, following the success of Whiplash (2014).
My first introduction to the film was the soundtrack, which was highly popular. My friend Nate Mount enjoyed playing the song City of Stars on the piano, while Tyler Villines sang along. It was the only thing I knew about the movie, until I saw it two years later, in June of 2018.
My friend Alexander Rurik owned a copy of the movie, and I had asked to borrow it. I remember popping it into the DVD player, excited for what it had to offer. It remains safe to say I was not disappointed.
The first scene opens with cars stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a typical Los Angeles day. Everyone’s radios are playing their own music, everyone is living their own lives. However, this is a musical. Soon everyone is singing the song Another Day in the Sun, which features impressive choreography and many moving parts in this one-take style shot.
The phrase “the devil is in the details” was definitely kept in mind during the production of the movie. This is clear in the song Someone in the Crowd. At the end of the scene we see an extravagant Hollywood pool party, where the camera follows people jumping into the pool, and then emerges to witness the intricate dance scene.
I love the movie’s theme of the struggle of being an artist. Both Mia and Sebastian are working hard in L.A. to make it. Mia is a barista who desperately wants to be an actor, but just can’t seem to get the role. Sebastian is infatuated with jazz music, but is stuck playing Christmas songs at a restaurant. Whenever he tries to play his own music, the owner gets frustrated, and eventually fires him.
Later in the story, Sebastian encourages Mia to write and star in her own play, to which barely anyone shows up. Mia is deeply discouraged, but Sebastian encourages her to continue her pursuit. Meanwhile, Sebastian is touring in his new pop band, where he was recruited by Keith, played by John Legend. They are well loved and highly successful, but Mia knows he does not like it because it is not pure jazz. It is revealed in the final scene that Mia ended up being a very successful actress.
Another very important element in the movie is the use of color. Damien Chazelle seemed to be very intentional with his color palette, using primary colors often. There are many theories suggesting the meaning of each color, and I suggest watching Karsten Runquist’s video essay about his interpretation. The comments on the video are filled with all sorts of people’s own interpretations, but we may never know Chazelle’s true intentions.
The following tweet shows Director Damien Chazelle talking with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on set.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling with director Damien Chazelle on the set of "La La Land". pic.twitter.com/T2LqHjUUeM
— 🎬 (@quotingfiIms) December 18, 2018
I often listen to the entire score on a weekly basis. It is great to do homework to, sleep to, or just enjoy. You can have it loud in headphones, or playing quietly in the distance as you study for the big test.
I am not even a huge fan of musicals, in fact I could count the number of musicals I have seen on one hand. However, the way this movie portrays jazz is unlike anything I have ever seen before. I always had low opinions of jazz growing up, and Mia shared my opinion. When she reveals this in the movie, Sebastian gives a compelling argument.
“I just think when people say they hate jazz, they just don’t have context, they don’t know where it comes from,” Sebastian says. “Jazz was born in a little clubhouse in New Orleans. People were crammed in there, they spoke five different languages, they couldn’t talk to each other. The only way they could communicate was with jazz.”
He then goes on to describe the excitement of Jazz music, the unpredictability, something I had never considered. Since then, I have listened to jazz music frequently, and learned to appreciate the art.
You cannot discuss La La Land without discussing the ending. Some of my friends were distraught at the unconventional ending, while others decided it was genius. I did not cry, but it caught me by total shock, but left me thinking about it days later. I absolutely loved it. I had some friends over to watch it, and loved seeing their reactions when that crazy moment happens. If you have seen the movie, you know exactly what happens in the monologue, but I will not spoil anything, even though the movie has been out for over two years.
There are many takeaways from this movie, but everyone has a different thing that highlighted the film for them.
Whether you love musicals or hate them, I think this film has something to offer for anyone, and I highly recommend it to all. Keep an open mind, and be receptive to the message of it.
In conclusion, La La Land takes the spot easily for my favorite movie. Never has a movie had me raving about it for over six months after seeing it, and watching tons of videos deciphering every scene.
I’m highly excited for whatever Damien Chazelle has up his sleeve next, and his most recent film, First Man, was incredible.@thefeather, Instagram @thefeatheronline and Facebook @thefeatheronline.
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