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Movie review: La La Land is a love letter to passionate people

I was looking forward to La La Land for months now. Believe me, I tried my best to manage my expectations. I avoided movie reviews, nor did I check the score on Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic. Heck, every time I came across the words ‘la’ or ‘land,’ I would sprinkle holy water on my laptop and smash it against the wall, repeatedly. But, managing your expectations becomes a daunting task when Damien Chazelle’s previous film – Whiplash – almost kills you. “Cardiac arrest due to overexposure to awesomeness,” the doctor told my mom. That shit was great. This was going to be great too. It had to be.

Holy shit, La La Land kicks so much ass!

La La Land shows Damien Chazelle so spectacularly working his magic, he reminds me of David Beckham, effortlessly bending his balls pass opposing goal keepers. Or perhaps even Ron Jeremy, bending his. I mean that as a compliment. This isn’t a movie that you watch, it is one you experience. I know, that sounds like a shitty tagline that a cheap advertising company would come up with, but believe you me, when you walk into this movie, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

He is undoubtedly one of the best young directors working today. Actually, he’s probably THE BEST. Chazelle’s first movie, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench is good. He follows that up with a GREAT movie – Whiplash. And here, he is once again IN THE ZONE.

We open with a bunch of people caught in a traffic jam. And for no reason whatsoever, everyone breaks into song, as if to say, “Yo, ma bitches! If you didn’t know what you were getting into, you do now.” That’s right, it’s a musical.

Let’s be clear about something. I am not a fan of musicals. While I can cherish films like Grease or Les Miserables, it doesn’t provide me with the elated feeling that great, non-musical films do. But, La La Land isn’t just any ol’ musical.

Like Fincher, Tarantino, Scorsese and other great filmmakers, Chazelle is an auteur. There is something extraordinary about the way he crafts his films, working on each frame like it’s a delicate painting. La La Land was shot beautifully in a way that makes you feel like you’re watching a classic film of the old-age. Don’t get me wrong, this is a modern film set in a modern time. But, the vibe you get is unlike anything you’ll experience in any modern-day movie. Hats off to Chazelle. Not forgetting, Cinematographer Linus Sandgren – American Hustle – and editor Tom Cross, who previously worked with Chazelle on Whiplash.

Ryan Gosling is more than just a pretty face.

If you love movies, you probably already know this. But for the uninitiated, this man is a genius. Don’t believe me? Shut up, sit your ass down, watch Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines, then get back to me. Here, he unsurprisingly brings his A game once again. What did surprise me, is Emma Stone’s performance. She has come a long way since her days as a damsel in distress in the shitty Amazing Spider-Man films. She first showed signs of potential in Alejandro Inarritu’s Birdman. In La La Land, she’s nothing short of excellent.

The chemistry between Gosling and Stone is perfect as well. It had to be, for this movie to work. This is the third film co-starring Gosling and Stone – Crazy, Stupid, Love and the forgettable Gangster Squad. They were lovers in Crazy, Stupid, Love and here, it’s no different. They have the level of chemistry that makes you wish they’re together in real life, as well. It reminds me of Bollywood’s Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan.

What I really love about this movie, is that it’s a:

Love letter to passionate people.

My friends often ask me why I don’t date this girl or that girl. The problem is, how do I date someone who doesn’t love movies? What are we going to talk about? The weather?

It’s funny. There is a scene somewhere at the start of the movie where Seb’s (Ryan Gosling) sister pushes him to meet a girl. The conversation goes something like this:

Seb’s sister: You should meet her.
Seb: Does she like Jazz?
Seb’s sister: No, I don’t think so.
Seb: Then, what do we talk about?

And I was like, “YES! I feel you, you beautiful bastard.”

There is another scene, in which Seb enthusiastically and angrily, explains to Emma Stone’s Mia on the beauty of Jazz. I can relate. One minute, I’m chilling with my buddies at the local mamak, talking about boobs and stuff, the next minute, I’m going on a full-length tirade on why Fight Club is nothing about shirtless men punching each other in the nuts, but rather, about consumerism and being slaves to the system. I want people to watch movies, as I do. I want people to understand and appreciate movies, as I do.

You see, I love film (specifically film journalism), just like Seb loves Jazz and Mia, acting. And La La Land shows you, that it’s not about the money. It’s about being true to yourself and working on your passion. If you love something, you need to get off your ass and go do it.

You would think that La La Land is romance movie about two individuals who are in love with each other. I disagree. La La Land is romance movie about two individuals who are in love with their passion. Brilliant stuff.

Something peculiar happened at the end of this film. The audience applauded. I have seen audiences applauding, even cheering for that matter, but at tamil movies, or movies like Avengers or Star Wars or recently even, Fast & Furious. Now, when an audience breaks into applause for a movie that doesn’t feature comic book characters, lightsabers, cars on parachutes, or Rajnikanth, you know it’s something special.

Damien Chazelle has made two great movies in a row. Whiplash is better. But that’s a matter of personal preference. I urge you to drop whatever you’re doing and go and experience La La Land. GO NOW. This movie deserves your money.

Side Note: For the past couple of years or so, if there’s one mistake I made on a couple of different occasions, is rushing a review and slapping on a rating a little too fast, without letting the movie really marinate at the back of my head. As a result, I have given some movies higher or lower ratings than I actually would have given, had I thought about it a little more. I will not make that same mistake this year.

So, after sleeping on it and drowning myself in coffee, thinking about it.



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On weekdays, I spend half of my time convincing anyone who would listen to watch Star Wars, and the other half trying to figure out why people consider White Chicks and Ouija to be good films. And, on weekends, I sit on my ass and watch Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy over and over and over and over again.

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