La La Land
I rarely review DVDs. But new movie releases this week are slim and they didn’t screen The Circle or How to Be a Latin Lover for critics.
That’s OK because La La Land was released on DVD this week and it deserves some attention. Those who didn’t see it in theaters now have a chance to see what the fuss is all about and why the film won so many awards.
The plot has Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as star-crossed lovers. She’s a wanna-be actress looking for the one big break. He plays jazz piano and wants to own his own club.
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La La Land got immediate raves from movie critics and moviegoers. When the awards buzz began it saw writer/director Damien Chazelle win a bunch of best director nods. Gosling and Stone picked up Golden Globes and Stone took home an Oscar.
Song writers Justin Hurwitz, Benj Pasek and Justin Paul grabbed music awards from all manner of movie groups and associations as did Linus Sandgren for his cinematography.
As you move into set design and costumes the awards piled up.
No, it didn’t win the Oscar for best picture. To Oscar experts and movie critics — including this one — that was a big surprise.
By the way, Moonlight wasn’t last year’s best picture but — truthfully — neither was La La Land.
As with Chazelle’s directorial debut and the highly acclaimed Whiplash, when it comes to making interesting movies about music, the guy is just flat good and is willing to take risks that most movie musical makers won’t.
La La Land starts with a mind-boggling song and dance number performed on a freeway exit. It’s long, complex and features 30 dancers, 100 extras and 60 cars. In an unheard of coup that is nothing short of miraculous, Chazelle got an exit ramp on two interstate freeways in Los Angeles shut down for two days.
But it turns out to be La La Land’s best and most impressive scene.
This is the third pairing of Gosling and Stone. They sizzle in this one and obviously like each other and enjoy collaborating.
Gosling and Stone probably aren’t their generation’s Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but they steal the show in the non-musical Crazy, Stupid, Love and worked together in Gangster Squad a couple years later.
It adds an extra spark to a movie that already sparkles.
But La La Land has a few warts. At the 90-minute mark it starts to wear on you. By that point I’ve had enough music and dance and become impatient for a wrap-up.
But Chazelle is in a zone and packs the movie with another soggy 38 minutes of music and dance.
The film ends up at a cringe-worthy two hours and eight minutes.
It is a minor complaint. La La Land truly is a wonderful movie achievement and after you watch the DVD on the smaller screen in your living room or wherever you watch these things, you’re going to wish you’d seen it in a theater.
Movie name La La Land
Director: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J.K. Simmons
Mr. Movie rating: 4 1/2 out of 5.
It’s for sale at stores everywhere and for rent at video stores and other video rental outlets.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.