Thursday Night Movie Club
La La Land
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Release Date: 25 December 2016

Director: Damien Chazelle
Ryan Gosling
Emma Stone
Amiée Conn
Terry Walters
Thom Shelton
Cinda Adams
Callie Hernandez
Jessica Rothe
Sonoya Mizuno
Rosemarie DeWitt
J.K. Simmons
Claudine Claudio
Jason Fuchs
D.A. Wallach
Trevor Lissauer
John Legend
Famous Actress
Coffee Spiller
Casting Director
'80's Singer
La La Land movie poster La La Land movie poster La La Land movie poster
Opening sequence from La La LandThey don't make them like this anymore! In fact, they haven't made a film like this since Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire retired. La La Land is an amazing film on every level. Well, almost every level.

The talented cast is amazing. The choreography, set direction, cinematography is stunning. Director Damien Chazelle does a stellar job of pulling all of these elements together seamlessly. The songs take a backseat to all of the other creative aspects. Unfortunately, none of the songs in La La Land are memorable. The dance numbers are all show-stoppers. The songs are not.

La La Land starts simply. The interstate highway leading into Los Angeles is jammed to the point where no one is moving. A motorist breaks out in song and suddenly the entire highway is alive with motorists singing and dancing. The camera moves in, out and around the action to focus on different, always-changing people. The scene is flat-out jaw-dropping!

Ryan Gosling stars in La La LandLa La Land is a story of boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy wants nothing to do with girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl have to chose between Love and Life, or Love or Life.

Aspiring actress Mia (Emma Stone) meets aspiring jazz pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) where he is performing as a lounge singer in a restaurant. No one listens to his Christmas songs so he decides to play an original tune. No one but Mia hears his song. Restaurant Manager Bill (J.K. Simmons - amazing as always) promptly threatens to fire Sebastian.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in La La LandMia and Sebastian meet again at a party. He offers to walk her to her car. As they talk about their dreams, Stone and Gosling quickly change from walking to subtle dance steps and then return to walking. A full-blown dance sequence ensues before the couple settle back down on Earth and reality returns.

In another song/dance sequence, Sebastian is strolling down a pier. He breaks out into a song and a dance. He picks up a Fedora hat and casually rolls it down his arm before sliding it onto his head as if this were the most natural act in the world. Just as quickly, the song ends. Sebastian strolls off the pier. Reality returns.

The musical numbers confuse reality. Are the dance numbers happening in the real world or has time become suspended for a brief period while the performers enter a dreamworld? Hence, the title being "La La Land". Is this all real or is it just happening in the characters' minds?

The choreography by Mandy Moore is spectacular, stunning, spell-binding! The dancing is smooth as if dancing were as natural as breathing. Mia and Sebastian's street dance and the astronomy tower sequence are the highlights of the film. In fact, every dance sequence is a show-stopper.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in La La LandTo make every dance sequence spectacular, director Damien Chazelle carefully blocks out each sequence. The camera moves in, around, up, down, and over objects to carefully follow each dancer's movements. In an homage to the movies of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, the dancers are filmed full screen so the audience can see the scope of each performers talents. The sequences are handled so perfectly that there is very little, if any, editing during the dances.

As Mia, Emma Stone is fantastic. Mia is struggling to survive. She works in a coffee shop on a film set waiting for the day her ship comes in. Stone capture's Mia's hopefulness at times and the depths of Mia's despair as she just cannot get a role. Mia is helpful to Sebastian yet she has no idea how to help herself.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star in La La LandRyan Gosling is every bit amazing as Stone. Sebastian is a very talented jazz pianist yet no one knows it. Sebastian plays piano in a restaurant but dreams of opening up his own jazz club. Like Mia, he has no money. He also has no business sense. He doesn't know how to open a club let alone run one. Sebastian is much better helping Mia than helping himself.

In a last ditch effort, Mia writes, produces and stars in a one-woman play hoping this will be her big break. Sebastian puts his club plans on hold and becomes a touring piano player Valet (John Legend).

Mia and Sebastian both reach the breaking point. Mia is ready to give up her dreams and head back home where she is safe. Sebastian can't get people to listen to him as a solo artist. At what point does someone give up their dreams and get a "real" job?

Emma Stone in La La LandLa La Land ends with a final fantastic sequence: A life that is, a life that was, or a life that was never to be. Mia and her husband arrive at a new jazz club to find Sebastian at the piano. Suddenly there is a sequence of Mia's and Sebastian's life together ending with them arriving back at the very same jazz club. What was real? What is real?

La La Land is a fantastic voyage. The direction, set design, cinematography, editing, music, dance sequences, acting, and the story are fantastic, amazing, surreal yet real, touching, heart-warming and a whole lot more. The film is very enjoyable, amazing and mesmerizing. Unfortunately, the songs are not memorable.

No matter. La La Land every bit worthy of repeat viewings!