Yesterday I went to see La La Land at the Dominion Cinema and I don’t know quite how to explain how much it affected me. When the credit rolled I was literally speechless. I knew that what I had just experienced was something amazing that I enjoyed but I didn’t know how to put into words just what I felt. It has been on my mind a lot since then so I’m gonna give it a go at writing out what my brain is thinking.
Firstly I have to talk about the amazing cinema that I went to, the Dominion is an independent cinema in Edinburgh, it’s all vintagey and beautiful inside and a total hidden gem over in the Morningside area. Tickets may be slightly pricier than your standard chain cinema, the experience is much better. You can sit in the normal seat but we decided to spend a couple pounds more and paid for the VIP seats – which are recliner sofas! I was so comfortable, I could have literally stayed there all day. Also, if you sit in the VIP area during evening shows you can also get table service from your sofa for drinks and snacks which I think is just the coolest thing and not as expensive as you would think. I’m sure it’s only £12.50pp for an evening film. I have a fantasy of going back and treating myself to champagne or something to feel extra fancy. The cute, vintage cinema was the perfect place to watch a film like La La Land!
I am not an expert in any way whatsoever, BUT, the cinematography of this film was stunning. It felt like every shot of the camera had been thought about and made to be as beautiful as it possibly could be. I loved the motif of the bright colours as there always seemed to be a rainbow of block colours on the screen. It really does feel like a perfect award-winning show. The visual scenes and the way it broke apart for the dream or dance sequences really reminded me of cinematic masterpiece Singin’ in the Rain. Actually, when I was watching Singin’ in the Rain on Christmas Day I thought they just don’t make films like this anymore and then along comes La La Land and it provides us a slice of that classic cinema style of heaven.
My one possible criticism of this film is that they cast Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is the lead roles and as a result they had to go away and learn how to sing, dance and play the piano which is a great experience for them but there are literally thousands of people who dedicate their whole lives to training themselves in their crafts who could already do all of those things but don’t get the opportunity to because they aren’t already a famous name. How will talented people ever be able to share their skills with the world if we don’t give them the opportunity to do so? However, I think Ryan and Emma’s singing not being super polished, perfect musical theatre voices meant that their characters had a more realistic element because they were like ‘normal’ people rather than being unbelievably smack-you-in-the-face talented with their singing and dancing. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely amazing actors but their MT skills being modest humanised them which made them easier to empathise with.
Negativity over, I LOVED the choreography. As a dancer, that is what my brain immediately focuses in on when watching a musical and the old school style of musical theatre choreography. There’s something about tap dancing that just makes people happy. The style of the choreography was definitely shaped by the amazing jazzy music. Jazz has such a great ability to be versatile; from upbeat, fun and happy things that make you want to dance your socks off to the slow, romantic mood of songs like City of Stars. The second the film started and went into the dance sequence for Another Day of Sun I immediately knew I would love this film.
I need to speak about the section after the flash forward where Mia ends up in Seb’s and he starts playing their theme and Mia sees how her life could have been different if the two of them had stayed together and achieved their dreams together. It lasted so long I thought that maybe it could be true and that her relationship with that other guy was wrong but then my heart broke when she came back to reality. I guess it made me sad because when they said that they would always love each other, I could see that in my own relationship and the possibility of going through life and moving on and growing up is possible but you’ll always have a place in your heart for that person and always love them dearly.
I have always loved Emma Stone – I think she is hilarious and a super talented actress. But, oh my goodness, Mia is such an inspiring character. She mostly retains a positivity despite constant knockbacks and once she gets sick of hearing ‘no’ she forges her own path, creates her own show and invites casting directors to come and see her perform. Even when she loses heart in her abilities and decides to take a break, when an opportunity comes up she takes it despite her damaged self esteem. She is such a strong woman and her perseverance is rewarded as her dreams come true because she didn’t give up on herself. Positivity, perserverance and creativity are all things that I aim to guide me in my life.
Speaking of my love for Mia and what she goes through, the song Audition (The Fools Who Dream) made me want to cry because of how true it is. I listened to a great podcast that explains how they wrote Fools Who Dream and it’s super interesting: http://songexploder.net/la-la-land (thanks to Dodie for the recommendation). It starts off with Mia telling a story about her Aunt in the audition but it develops up into a ballad about people who dream and love with all their might and how that can sometimes be an emotionally messy way to live. Are we really fools to believe in the possibly unrealistic things we want to achieve or that loving people will keep us happy in life? I still like to believe so and as the song says smiling through it she said she’d do it again.
La La Land definitely deserves to be winning all those awards and I’m confident they’ll sweep the Oscars too. I think it instantly became my favourite film. Thank you Damien Chazelle.
Fun YouTube video that explains just how La La Land manages to feel like an instant classic: