I know I’m probably not speaking to a large number of people here, but I’d like to announce my return… kinda. The truth is, I no longer enjoy my approach to movie reviewing that this blog has been built around. My interest jump from new releases to new movies that I watch on my own accord, and with the superhero genre in particular, it has been difficult to force myself to watch and talk about movies that I simply don’t enjoy.
Thus, I have decided to radically change the way I review movies… including the medium by which I do it. I have started a new gaming channel on YouTube for my clan in Clash of Clans and am planning to start another one for some of the music I plan on producing for Spotify. Over the course of one year, I have also produced test footage of an experimental short that I had in the works. By diving into this sort of content creation, I realize–more than before–that I enjoy making videos more than written blogs.
With all that said, writing is obviously a very important aspect of a good video, assuming the video is scripted. I will consistently provide the written scripts of my YouTube channel (under the same title, Taestful Reviews) on this blog. I hope you enjoy the new direction I am taking, because I think this will better motivate me to produce the content I’ve always dreamed of creating for you guys. Thanks again for sticking with me on this ride.
Rough Draft Script
La La Land is nothing short of a contemporary masterpiece despite its frequent masks and deceptions. To some, La La Land is an homage to the old-school movie musical, such as Gene Kelly’s iconic Singing in the Rain. Others will focus and gravitate towards Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian, reminding them of the director’s previous work in Whiplash. And of course, others will cry foul at the movie’s self-awareness, often debating whether holding on to the past, as it makes references to the past, makes you stubborn and stuck. Whatever impression La La Land left with you is for you to keep and hold closely. However, if you didn’t catch its greatness, I’m here to explain why La La Land is an instant classic.
From an objective stand-point, La La Land is a great technical achievement. There is an abundance of shots that most directors wouldn’t dare to touch. This is a characteristic of all the best films, especially the ones that rely on visuals to convey the feeling. Citizen Kane has a long take that peers out the window, pans backwards, and maintains a deep focus during a conversation to showcase how a young, innocent boy has no control over his life. This take alone sucks up nearly 2 minutes of screen-time but is completely justified in its importance and meaning.
La La Land is almost entirely composed of these long takes. The most impressionable has to be during the Lovely Night Dance number between Gosling’s character and Stone’s character, Mia. Mia’s yellow dress really pops, and since it was done in one take, this also means that the actors and actresses had to do all the dancing in one take as well. The effect is not only impressive, but beautiful, funny, and organic. Each take is long enough for flavor, comprehension, and analysis.
You don’t need to geek out over the technical aspects of the film to enjoy it as much as a filmmaker or film critic would. Similar to how Mia doesn’t love jazz at first, you don’t need to understand the inner-workings of La La Land to appreciate its beauty. This film is like a piece of artwork. You don’t need to see each individual brush stroke to admire the final packaged product.
Since this is a movie musical, there is an added dimension lifted into the forefront that plays a very important aspect in communicating the story to its audience. The music, while lacking in strong vocal performances, is utilized perfectly in the film. Mia & Sebastian’s piano theme, which repeats itself in critical moments of the plot, becomes an agent of force in the screenplay. When the song plays as Mia is at dinner instead of a movie theater with Sebastian, you know exactly what next is going to happen.
But as is the case for all musicals, the songs that the character’s sing should represent some of their most vulnerable moments, emotional highs, and reveal something hidden or deeply unique about the character. And in the case of the best films, the songs represent what the movie is all about. Emma Stone delivers all of this in her audition song, The Fools Who Dream.
Mia told Sebastian her aunt inspired her to pursue acting. Sebastian inspired her to pursue screenwriting. And now that she had the opportunity to finally prove herself, she pours her heart through song about the pain artists go through to get to their dream.
This couldn’t be more evident in the ending, where both achieve their creative dreams, but without each other. Sebastian was always touring to get the money needed to open a jazz house. And Mia had to go to Paris to film. And this wouldn’t be such a sad moment of the film had the chemistry between Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling been non-existent. If you go into this film expecting a typical romantic comedy, you’ll surely get the crying you want at the end but not the ending you wanted.
The ending is actually my biggest point of criticism, but to nitpick some scenes I didn’t like or some transitions here and there seems to miss the point entirely. La La Land is a dramatic piece of film-making. Thoughtful in the way it integrates its music, masterful in the way it frames every scene. And the story, while touching on many different topics along the way, is ultimately one of cohesion and unison. Sebastian’s photographer asks him to play anything on the piano, and yet struggles to find a note. What song would you play in his situation?
La La Land is not only my favorite film of 2016, but one of my favorite films of all time. Its got all the musical numbers I love and adore with a piano-themed soundtrack that has impeccable touch and emotional resonance. I was memorized with the way the film was shot, I was swept away by the music, I felt the romance was real and authentic, and I fell in love with how the story unfolded and the message it had to get across. Although this film is about chasing your dreams in spite of constant regret lurking in the corner, I had no regrets seeing this film in theaters.