The only problem you might find while watching “La La Land” is a dancing person sitting right next to you. I was doing my best to tap and move my hands without disturbing the audience. Why was I tapping? Because “La La Land” is the kind of musical that has been lost for decades. The kind that reminds us of why Gene Kelly danced in the movies, and why we love movie musicals. This is not only the best musical of the year, but it’s also one of the year’s best films.
Damien Chazelle, the writer/director of the angriest movie of 2014 (“Whiplash”), has outdone himself in many ways possible. It feels like the ghost of Gene Kelly visited him and taught him how to make a movie musical. With or without Pasek and Paul’s lyrics, he crafts some of the best numbers I’ve seen in a live action musical. Examples: he can turn a stressful traffic jam into a dance number (“Another Day of Sun”), and he can make Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone float into space at the Griffith Observatory (“Planetarium”). This is a miracle.
Gosling and Stone star as Sebastian and Mia, two dreamers in Hollywood, who keep bumping into each other, and with a little melody struggle to make their dreams come true. Sebastian wants to open up a jazz club to help bring back the glory days of jazz, while Mia is a cafe waitress, who wants to be an actress, but has been rejected by every audition. So, he joins an old friend’s (John Legend-a producer) jazz band, and she is working on a one-woman play.
I loved “La La Land” for its powerful return to the Golden Age of movies. Never once was I bored, and even in its gloomy moments, I still found the overall joy of it all. Its wonderful performances from Gosling and Stone, breathtaking musical numbers, beautiful scenery, and vintage feel are all what Chazelle has accomplished. I don’t watch Broadway shows, but I’m sure it will have a show there. For now, the movie is a masterpiece.