REVIEW: La La Land

5 Star

The internet is filled with hangover remedies; from herbal tea to cucumber, or – if The LAD Bible is your main source of news (and I hope, for the love of Jesus, it’s not) then bacon and PornHub – but I have come to the highly scientific conclusion that, if you’re suffering from beer fear, the one thing to do to heal those ailments is to watch La La Land.

I speak from first-hand experience.

Following one of my friend’s birthday parties – where we were *sigh* on the guest list for the world’s stickiest bar, Infernos in Clapham – I went to see the highly acclaimed musical La La Land. And it’s nothing short of perfect.

Director Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash was one of the best movies of 2014, but his follow-up is beautiful. Following two aspiring stars, Emma Stone’s actress-cum-barista, and Ryan Gosling’s Sebastian, a jazz enthusiast, La La Land is the story of the artists as they pursue their dreams and find love. And it’s not as sickeningly schmaltzy as it sounds. Who knew?!

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From the opening number, ‘Another Day of Sun’, the movie pays homage to retro pictures, beautifully declaring it was shot using the 50s technique of CinemaScope, and later using iris shots, as well as neon sign montages, seen in the likes of The Lost Weekend. But it isn’t clichéd. Damien hasn’t sat at home and watched every movie on Netflix dated from 1940-1950 and thought “YOLO. I can do that”. He takes elements of present cinema and adds them to a forgotten, vintage genre. The humour is very current; subtle yet genuinely hilarious at moments; Emma Stone prevails as – unsurprisingly – her adorkable self, grinning and gurning at her male co-star, and yet there’s still a flurry of the old-school performance. I defy anyone not to scream “GENE KELLY” as Gosling twirls on a lamppost. (But if you can refrain from doing it, it probably makes you a better cinema goer than me.)

Visually, La La Land is – without a shadow of doubt – the most gorgeous movie of the year. And kudos, not just to the cinematographers, but the lighting technicians, the costume designers and every single crew member in between who clearly meticulously thought of every detail. Even when scenes are quite sorrowful and dark, you’re reminded that you’re watching, in essence, an old school musical. Emma Stone and her three flatmates hit the town in four dresses – each a bold pop of primary colour. Sets aren’t to be taken literally; rivers are made of shimmering blue glitter, and backdrops do look grainy and blurred, like a vintage movie. When someone starts to sing and the lights dim, it’s an effortless transition that keeps you involved in the storyline… Unlike when you’re watching High School Musical and Zac Efron jumps on a desk only to start belting out “We’re all in this together!”. Fucking hell, Zac, you’re in the middle of an exam – this won’t help you get an A in your GCSE, you knob.

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Needless to say, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are a shoo-in for Academy Award nominations. While I doubt Ryan will walk away with the gong, despite playing the piano absolutely incredibly (yup, Damien actually confirmed that no piano doubles were used during close-up shots), I’m pretty sure Emma could become the Best Actress this year; either her or Natalie Portman for Jackie. This movie was a chance for Stone to showcase every single one of her talents; and there’s a whole load of ’em. As was evident from Superbad and Easy A, Emma could hold her own at comedy, but her portrayal of Mia meant she would sing, dance, cry on cue and still roll her eyes and pull silly faces during. Meanwhile, I can’t even make cereal without burning it. My only issue with Mia’s story arc is what sort of moronic casting agent wouldn’t hire Emma Stone?! Sheesh.


I’ve already pre-ordered La La Land on Blu-ray. I intend on seeing it again and again at the cinema. It is pretty much a faultless picture and I hope – nay, pray that the Academy recognises it as the Best Picture.

Just imagine how much I’d have liked it if I hadn’t have seen it hungover.

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