Review by George Kozera for Mr. Will Wong
Two years after the wildly successful WHIPLASH screened at TIFF, Writer/Director Damien Chazelle returns with a reimagined twist on the Hollywood Musicals of yesteryear. Filmed in glorious Cinemascope, LA LA LAND takes the old plot chestnut (boy-meets-girl, they fall in love, complications arise), infuses it with a mostly jazz soundtrack and from the opening scene on a gridlocked Los Angeles freeway where, one by one, drivers leave their cars that aren’t going anywhere and break into an exuberant song and dance routine, we are swept away into a magical world.
The effervescent Emma Stone plays Mia, a struggling actress who dreams of success while working at a café located inside a movie studio. Sebastian (played irresistibly by Ryan Gosling) is a jazz freak who makes ends meet by tinkling the piano keys at restaurants or playing at parties as part of a cover boy band. We watch transfixed as their relationship together blossoms against a backdrop of Los Angeles never looking more beautiful in brilliant vignettes of song and dance. Their banter is witty, their chemistry is translucent.
Not since Bob Fosse reinvented the cinematic musical genre with CABARET have I seen a more ambitious and lavish example of Movie Magic. LA LA LAND feels old fashioned, but its sensibilities are audacious and the original score is the most inventive since FAME. The cinematography is breath-taking. Gosling and Stone are perfection personified. Laurels must be laid on the head and feet of Damien Chazelle. He has given us a movie of Olympian proportions.
I la la loved LA LA LAND!
LA LA LAND screens Monday, September 12, 2016 Princess of Wales Theatre at 6:15 PM, Tuesday, September 13, 2016 VISA Screening Room at 11:30 AM and Friday, September 16, 2016 TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 at 9:30 PM.
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