Monday, February 12, 2018

La La Land - The Lovely Romantic Musical Movie

During a month where the HBO cable TV was promoting Oscar, they showed various award winners until the day of Academy Awards on 4 March 2018. Two days ago, this movie was shown on the Saturday Night Premiere and since I had not seen it (unlike my wife), I already set my mind to see this on TV. So both of us went back home before 8 PM when the movie started. Well here goes my views of the movie.

Brief Story Line

A struggling young actress Mia Dolan (Emma Stone - Zombieland, Easy A etc) was working as a barista to cover her living cost while trying to get her big break in movie industry. However, she was not having the best of luck during casting process due to various reasons. One night while walking home, she heard a beautiful song played in the piano (titled "Mia & Sebastian's theme") by Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling - Blade Runner 2049, The Nice Guys etc). But she did not get the chance to say too much to him.

Meanwhile Sebastian was a very good pianist who loved jazz music and had big dreams of having his own jazz club. Few months after what happened in that restaurant, both of them met again in a party where they seemed to be a little bit attracted to each other. You can guess what happened next as they slowly started to fall in love. But things were getting challenging especially with none of them having regular income. Until Sebastian met his old friend Keith (Musician John Legend) who asked him to become the keyboardist in his band, which would mean he had to focus on tours and so on, but less time building his own dream. Mia was also getting tired of her unsuccessful attempts on being artist that she started to doubt her decision to become one.

So what would happen to these two? Could both of them achieved their dreams? Find them all in this romantic musical movie.

End of Brief Story Line

After watching the movie for a little over 2 hours, I felt that this was really a romantic drama film. Surprisingly for a musical movie, the songs were not totally abundant. When I saw the list of the soundtrack, there were 15 songs altogether but some of them were instrumental music. The song with lyrics were less than half but my personal most favorite was "City of Stars" sung twice by Ryan Gosling and a duet with Emma Stone. This song and the original score won in both Academy Awards and Golden Globe. The song and score was composed by Justin Hurwitz, but the lyrics of "City of Stars" were done by Pasek and Paul (the duo that brought to you songs in The Greatest Showman).

I loved this film's costume design and the settings as they were very lovely (especially with the very contrast colorful designs where all colors seemed to be maxed out, i.e the red was really red, blue was at the bluest and so on). It gave the sense that we were brought to the amazing nuance of Hollywood's magical place. No wonder the movie also won best cinematography in Academy Awards. But what I loved the most was actually the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who were also nominated for best actor/actress category. This was the second time they were in a movie after Crazy, Stupid, Love where I also felt their chemistry was very good. 

I felt that this film was a real critical darling and there was a sense of movie being seriously aimed for awards. The director to the movie was Damien Chazelle (who also directed another multiple nominees movie titled Whiplash). Despite having a story of romance between a man and a woman struggling to be successful in their dreams, the ending was a bit unexpected to me, but I think was beautiful. Overall though, I think that the movie's songs here might not be the most favorite songs for casual movie audience and pop fans (like myself), since some of them were jazz music. Which is why the only song that I was able to relate to was "City of Stars" plus "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" that my wife did not really like. Even John Legend's song here was not memorable to me.

My most favorite moment in this movie was the scene showing the song "Epilogue" which I think was really great. I know my wife's favorite scene was the one where Sebastian and Mia were singing "A Lovely Night" on the hills (she could be really emotional seeing that scene). To sum up the movie, it was a good experience, a great critical and commercial success for a musical with seriously cool cinematography and very artistic. The movie was having a more "serious" musical numbers rather than the more pop-ish songs like in The Greatest Showman (which was also felt a lot lighter than this movie). If I got to be honest though, I think that the magical moments of watching this movie would be best felt in a cinema/theater. Which is why my enjoyment was less than I really anticipated. Probably should have seen it together with my wife then, to be a lot more entertained as it was a romantic love story. (Sorry for not accompanying you last time Hon.)

Anyway, if you are a fan of musical movie and you want to see a movie that won multiple awards last year, this should not be passed on. It is still playing in HBO cable TV in the next week and the followings. Better see it together with your loved one and spouse, but this movie might not be appealing to the children or the younger generations. 

Happy watching!

Mike's movie moments rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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