LA LA LAND, as you've by now most likely heard, is a five-star wonder. It is almost as if that famous traffic pile-up from Godard's Weekend had suddenly taken flight into the realm of the Hollywood musical. Damien Chazelle's new movie owes much more, however, to the work of Jacques Demy than anyone else I can think of. And if it doesn't manage to come up to Demy's level of marvel (who could?), it remains, at its best, a splendor to behold. At least for those of us who can still appreciate the delights of the not-so-often-seen-these-days movie musical. We're here, all right, but we may not be in large enough numbers to make this critic's darling an all-out box-office blockbuster.
Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench and the propulsive but utterly over-the-top and unbelievable Whiplash -- has written and directed something that works very well on one level (as a musical) but merely OK on another (as a character-based romance). His characters, as usual, are paper-thin -- they're all motivated by one thing and one thing only -- even if (also as usual), they are played by very good actors -- in this case, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, shown above and below. Even the supporting cast is filled with creme-de-la-creme, although they are, to an actor, under-used in the extreme.
Rosemarie DeWitt (below). Or J.K. Simmons (further below) Or John Legend! (shown at bottom)." And yes, there they all are.
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Cyd Charisse or Leslie Caron on view. So La La Land, for all its outreach and occasional success, must be judged a worthy attempt that provides some pretty good entertainment, and includes some really lovely colors, costumes and production design. We are indeed starved for musicals, however, so this one certainly fills the bill for now.
Lionsgate and running two hours and eight minutes -- opens across the country this Friday. Here in South Florida you can view it at a number of local theaters. Wherever you are, to find the theater nearest you, simply click here.