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La La Land

Mia (Emma Stone), an actress struggling to break into the business, and Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), a musician trying to find work and remain pure to his love of jazz, meet. The film is a musical that tells the story of their meeting and what happens over the course of a year in their lives together in Los Angeles. I love the movie, but not in the way that I thought I would. It is a tribute to an older style of Hollywood musical, but here it feels very updated and fresh. I was not totally wowed by the “musical” aspect; I can’t believe I am saying this, but the movie could have used more musical numbers with more variety to them. What captured me was more about the story and the visual beauty of some of the scenes. There is homage paid to jazz in both its purest and its most adapted expressions. While I was not “wowed” by Ryan Gosling as a singer, and the dance numbers didn’t totally feel uninhibited to me, Gosling and Stone have an on-screen chemistry that is magical. There is an extended scene in the Griffith Observatory, and one during a dinner together, that are both A+ performances (the scene in the Observatory is also incredibly beautiful to look at). The final scenes of the movie are probably the best I have seen in any contemporary musical. And, finally, this movie totally belongs to Emma Stone; she is fantastic and gives an award-worthy performance. Big thumbs up for me for a movie that I don’t think is exceptional musically, and could have been stronger in this regard, but is overall an incredible contribution to the musical genre.

About Gary Burkholder

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