Your First Musical – Review of La La Land

La La Land is a musical ass musical.

No, it’s not Rent, which is ass musical.

It’s not Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, a musical about a couple of asses.

La La Land is a musical ass musical.

It’s got dance numbers, most of the plot is done through music, whether blatantly or expositional. And, like most musical ass musicals, it goes on for a bit too long and features an exceptional leading lady.

Why would I mention this being a musical? Isn’t it obvious?

Well, no, apparently. Some watch the movies in 5 minutes, see the opening number and say “I didn’t know this was a musical! Fuck that!” Despite nearly every commercial, any material on the film being musically based or a play on certain musicals.

Those who like musicals or are a fan of musicals, La La Land is a decent movie to sink your teeth into. It’s got good dance numbers, some catchy music and a very clean style filled with bright color pastels and beautifully lit set pieces and scenes.

In fact, I would say the music would be the first thing that non musical fans might actually like about this movie.

Unlike most musicals, the music is fit to be on radio, cut down to 3:05 if you will. The film is a nice blend of music and some decent dance numbers. It’s not Step Up for yuppies, but it’s got some decent dance sequences.

And, of course, you’ve got an excellent performance by Emma Stone. It’s great in a Debbie Reynolds/Julie Andrews way. A very expressive, beautiful performance that showcases her beauty as well as her talent. It’s a delightful throwback performance without being heavy handed about it being throwback.

The same can’t be said about Gosling however. Gosling is, as always, bereft of emotional resonance. Meaning: You can’t tell what emotion he’s having. This has been a problem with all of his movies (in fact, didn’t this character seem strikingly familiar to that of The Notebook?). He just has a way of sucking a scene dry with his dead, lifeless stare.

[OK, I’ll set up a sidenote here. Yeah, that might sound a little overboard, but seriously, if you didn’t know what you were watching, could you really tell what his emotion was? I’m betting not. Which is why it’s funny that the only performance I ever liked from his was Drive….where he played a soulless, devoid of emotion thug. Go figure, right?]

But the One Thing I Can Say About La La Land is this:

This is one of the most accessible musicals in a long time. If you happened to listen to a song from the movie and liked it, like so many of you seem to, you should watch and inevitably like this movie.

And if that does happen, you now have zero excuse to watch truly great musicals, such as West Side Story, Singin’ In The Rain, My Fair Lady, etc.

That’s mainly because La La Land is a modern sampler of some of the best musicals and classic cinema. It’s much less a love letter than a Greatest Hits.

For those who watch all sorts of different cinema, or a film buff in more general terms, the influences of Jacques Demy, Bob Fosse, Fred Astaire and some particular scenes that are striking with its uses of German Expressionistic tableaus do capture the eye, if not answer the question that you may not have wanted to ask:

“Hey, what could a German Expressionst film look like in 2017? If Jacques Demy made a musical now, how would it look? If Fred Astaire would still make his type of movie today, what would it look like?”

The answer is, in a reductive sense, “La La Land”. And it’s exactly what you think it is.

It’s beautiful, it loves the cinema, it loves music.

It just doesn’t necessary love itself.

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