I don’t normally do this. In fact, I have done it once before with In to The Woods, the last big musical I saw on the silver screen. The only difference is this one was made for the screen. It’s La La Land and everyone has gone just la-la for it. Get it? Because I’m sure no one has said that yet. Starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, this is the story of dreamers. It’s gotten so much Oscar Buzz its practically a hive of singing and dancing bees. Personally, I don’t think it deserves it.
Welcome to the Throw Back Delusion. A theory I’m currently working on that suggests due to the popular hash tag of Throwback Thursday, we look back at the past with rose tinted glasses. I think that’s why The Artist won Best Picture in 2011. Remember silent movies? Hash tag throw back. La La Land is a hash tag throw back of the big musical; dance numbers in one shot and singing our feelings. I think and hope that it’ll win technical awards over acting.
The film starts with cars on an overpass and a musical number. It’s big and loud and impressive. Which does not fit the rest of the film. Emma and Ryan can sing. However, it was more of an uncertain, self-doubting mumble to music rather than a showcase of hidden ability. I’m not an expert in this area. I couldn’t tell the difference between an A sharp and E flat but I could hear the difference and our leading actors look weak in comparison.
However, I will say this in their favour, the dancing and acting were incredible. I could watch Stone and Gosling dance to A Lovely Night all night long. But it’s a musical and you need to be able to do all three. I think back to Gene Kelly and wonder if this film was a chance to find the next Gene Kelly. Then an audience would have come for the throw back or to see Damien Chazelle’s next film rather than the big stars that can’t meet the hype.
I respect Chazelle for wanting to “take the old musical but ground it in real life where things don’t always exactly work out”. (And after reading other reviews, I now see the ending as a dream rather than a ‘here’s what you could have won’.) I believe he has done that with the help of people not seen on screen. The music by Justin Hurwitz. The cinematography by Linus Sandgren. The choreography by Mandy Moore. The list goes on but you get my drift. For me, the city of stars is made up of crew, not cast. I wonder if we’ll see any more musicals in the wake of La La Land. Hash tag throwback. Hash tag Oscars.