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LA LA LAND

About The Production
Boy meets girl meets the up-ending aspirations of the city of stars - and they all break out of the conventions of everyday life as La La Land takes off on an exuberant song-and-dance journey through a life-changing love affair between a jazz pianist and a hopeful actress. At once an ode to the glamour and emotion of cinema classics, a love letter to the Los Angeles of unabated dreams, and a distinctly modern romance, the film reunites Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, bringing them together with rising writer/director Damien Chazelle (the Oscar-winning Whiplash.)

The film begins as everything begins in L.A.: on the freeway. This is where Sebastian meets Mia, with a disdainful honk in a traffic jam that mirrors all too well the gridlock they're each navigating in their lives. Both are focused on the kind of near-impossible hopes that are the lifeblood of the city: Sebastian trying to get people to care about traditional jazz in the 21st Century, Mia aiming to nail just one uninterrupted audition. But neither expects that their fateful encounter will lead them to take leaps they never could alone.

The leaps they both make, towards each other and, conflictingly, into their grandest artistic dreams, creates its own quintessentially cinematic world of rapture in La La Land - one that with light, color, sound, music and words takes a trip directly into the ecstasies of the happiness we chaseā€¦and the heartache of the passions we never get over.

Wearing its influences on its sleeve yet taking considerable risks, La La Land allows Chazelle to pay homage to legends of cinema while harnessing its current power to make the most private human terrain - the territory of intimate relationships, personal dreams and the crossroads where decisions set fate into motion - come to life on the screen as a palpably real, yet enchanted, universe.

Says Chazelle: "To me, it was important to make a movie about dreamers, about two people who have these giant dreams that drive them, that bring them together, but also tear them apart."

He goes on: "La La Land is a very different movie from Whiplash in many ways. But they both deal with something that's really personal to me: how you balance life and art, how you balance reality and dreams and also, specifically, how you balance your relationship to your art with your relationships with other people. With La La Land, I wanted to tell that story using music, song and dance. I think the musical as a genre is a great vehicle for expressing that balancing act between dreams and reality."

The components of the film might be ageless, but producer Marc Platt, a veteran of stage and film musicals, notes the approach is novel. Platt joined up with producers Fred Berger and Jordan Horowitz, who closely developed the project from the start with Chazelle. "Damien has reinvigorated the genre by drawing on classic elements, but bringing them forth in a way that speaks to contemporary life in L.A. He brings the foundation of great old movies into something for a new generation," Platt observes.

To forge this hybrid of forward-looking ideas married to classic forms, Chazelle worked with a group of collaborators who each brought their imaginations to the table. In addition to Berger, Horowitz and Platt, they include composer, Justin Hurwitz, who takes a creative partnership he began with Chazelle on their previous films Whiplash and Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench into the crafting of an entire musical universe; the Tony and Emmy nominated Broadway lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, dubbed the 21st Century heirs to Rogers and Hammerstein, who put words to the melodies; executive music producer Marius de Vries, who music-directed Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge and co-scored Romeo + Juliet; and choreographer Mandy Moore who has been bringing contemporary dance into the mainstream on So You Think You Can Dance, and gets her first chance to create large-scale, big-screen dance numbers.

Hurwitz says that he and Chazelle looked for ways to bring a contemporary language - musical, visual and emotional languages - to a genre that runs the risk of nostalgia. "The idea of doing not just a musical, but a musical that is about the realities of love and dreams in today's L.A., energized me and Damien," the composer says. "Musicals are so heightened and we adore that about them but we also loved the idea of capturing a real feeling of current life within that heightened world."

Marius de Vries agrees: "I immediately recognized the audacity and the freshness of what Damien and Justin were attempting; this combination of a deep love and reverence for their sources and influences, and an extravagant romanticism, coupled with an insistence on naturalistic story-telling and a believable, visceral contemporary narrative - it was a thrilling prospect from the very start. I was just so grateful to be invited on board."

For Moore, La La Land takes its own place, suspended on the border between the current and the timeless. "The film showcases how culturally relevant the beautiful marriage between music, movement, acting, singing, and storytelling can be," she sums up.

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