La La Land

Every year, there’s a select number of films that are predicted to sweep the awards and earn critical acclaim. One of those predicted very early on was La La Land. This film has been at the top of my watch list for a while so I was thrilled when I received the opportunity to finally view the 7 Golden Globe winning (record-breaking) musical La La Land for myself.  I went in with pretty high expectations and I am so pleased to report that they were fully met!

La La Land tells the story of a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and an aspiring actress (Emma Stone) who meet and fall in love in Los Angeles.

I loved La La Land, I really did. It is a truly magical experience and a wonderful film to see. Everything about it was perfect; from the cinematography, to the production design, costumes, choreography, performances, music, La La Land scored high. The music is great and will make you walk out of the theater humming and playing the soundtrack on repeat all the way home. The film really does make you wish your life is a musical!

The performances in particular were strong. Both Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone brought depth to their multi-faceted characters, infusing both drama and comedy into their performances. Needless to say, their chemistry was great. Gosling’s performance in particular stood out as he easily delivered some of the best lines in the film, providing a surprising number of laughs and proving again his versatility as an actor. He also learned how to play many of his piano pieces which is impressive enough. The film really showcases some of the surprising musical talents of both actors. Though the character development for Mia and Sebastian could have been stronger, in particular with Mia, the two characters still manage to effectively captivate the audience with their love and personal story.

Visually La La Land is simply gorgeous. A classic musical, there were many homages to the old Hollywood style musicals mixed in with the contemporary LA setting. From the dance numbers (Who can forget that beginning freeway scene?) to the elaborate stage sets, the film was able to achieve an impressive mixture of classical and modern film elements. While I am not aiming to name La La Land as the first ever modern musical of its time, I do think the film is worthy of praise for rejuvenating a genre that has become somewhat rare nowadays.

I cannot praise La La Land enough. While its aspirations may seem lofty at times despite some flaws, the film still has so much emotion and heart that cannot be overlooked. After every musical number, I simply wanted to re-watch the whole scene again. The film is deeply satisfying and the love story,while sweet, is more focused on the journey of two people trying to achieve their dreams in the romantically painted town of Los Angeles, which I really found beautiful. I wholly recommend La La Land, and even try to see it in theaters if you can. La La Land provides a magical movie-going experience.

ALL IN ALL: La La Land is a beautifully done and visually gorgeous film, with excellent performances and music that captivates and warms the heart of audiences alike.

LA LA LAND 4.5/5 Ticket Stubs

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Director: Damien Chazelle

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Legend

Run time: 128 minutes, PG-13

Year: 2016

image from: http://www.lalaland.movie/gallery/12

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Birdman

Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014) Poster

So with all the snow coming down on the East Coast, these snow days have provided me the perfect opportunity to catch up on some of the most highly acclaimed films of 2014. First up on my list was Birdman, our recent Oscar Best Picture winner. Birdman was the film I was most curious about, mainly because I hardly knew anything about it. Oh buddy, this film so deserved Best Picture!

Birdman, directed by the awesome Alejandro González Iñárritu, follows a washed-up actor (Michael Keaton), famous for his role as superhero Birdman, as he attempts to salvage his family, his career, and himself in the days leading up to the opening of his Broadway play.

Probably my favorite part of Birdman, was the cinematography (which deservedly won an Oscar). Iñárritu is a genius and came up with the idea of making a film that appears to filmed in a single shot. The result is fantastic. It is unique and almost mesmerizing. The score that consists entirely of drums and classical pieces is at once iconic. The story is satirical and slick but so truthful. Have I used enough adjectives?

Michael Keaton. Oh my Michael Keaton. I cannot be one to fully judge, due to me still having not seen Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything, however I can say with great vindication that Keaton gave the best performance of the year (again, of what I have seen). HE KILLED IT! Savvy viewers will probably be quick to pick up on the parallels between him and his character Riggan, both of whom are very well-known for their past superhero roles (Batman and Birdman respectively). However, one simply forgets this when watching Keaton in this film. He battles with his ego, loses hope and regains it all in one swoop, hits rock bottom but somehow manages to fly again. The other performances were grand too most notably and surprisingly Edward Norton and Emma Stone, both of whom were very impressive.

I probably have not made much sense in this review, but then again neither does Birdman and that to me is what makes it great. It mixes fantasy with hard reality and I simply do not have very many words to describe it. I loved it and praise it wholeheartedly as a most deserving Best Picture winner.

ALL IN ALL: Birdman is a layered piece that mixes great cinematography and story into a film that is not so much a vehicle, but a showcase for the film’s many impressive performances.

image from: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2562232/