Falling deeply in love with “La La Land” seems to be the only possible reaction, and we too have fallen 🙂
Everyone is talking about the opening sequence, the one that stole everyone’s heart: you see standstill traffic on the high, curving ramp that connects the 105 freeway to the 110 leading to downtown Los Angeles. The cars are occupied only by single drivers, who are all listening to different music. But after a moment, somebody gets out and starts singing and dancing, someone else does the same and yet another, until a bad “traffic situation” has been replaced by a joyous moment, and the road becomes a huge stage.
Damien Chazelle, young and super talented director of Whiplash presented yesterday the movie at the opening ceremony of the 73rd Venice Film Festival. He couldn’t have wished for a better start, receiving lots of compliments and good reviews.
“La La Land” pays also a tribute to the musicals that have made history, and more than anything it delivers to the audience a big energy and a dream-chasing optimism. At the official press conference for the movie Damien Chazelle said that we all are in need of romance, of dreaming and this film genre can give hope.
On how the musical is seen nowadays, considering that some years ago the critic said it was a genre in crisis, he said: ” Musicals need to be jazzed up, to have a beat so to draw a younger audience. There is a reason why older musicals are timeless, it has to do with their simplicity, it has to do with no over-cutting, it has to do with being very truthful to the emotions of the songs. All of us at the table, we talked a lot about how you do justify musical today and we found ironically that the way we justify it today was actually going back to a lot of the traditions and try to think what are today’s emotions that can lead to a musical number. It is just kind of making it simple as that. No one makes the song without justifying it emotionally in a way: and once you allow yourself the possibility, you have the responsibility to go all the way. I think that is another thing that hopefully can work for modern audience. The musical is a genre that allows you to go all the way, in a way that other genres don’t”.
In the movie the city of Los Angeles appears to be a very tough city; a city that encloses a lot of dreams and starting from some of the most common clichés of the real world city the movie was built: “I’ve been in L.A. for about 9 years, I remember when I first moved there, there is something about the loneliness in L.A. when you first don’t know many people there and it’s not a city that offers itself up to you. I remember when I first met Fred and Jordan (ndr producers) when we were all summer recent LA transplants from the East Coast and we were all about the things we loved about L.A. but also the thing we hate about LA; and could you reconcile the 2? So the idea of this movie was to build from all the clichés that we make fun of LA: the traffic, the terrible parties, the celebrities culture shallows and then try to maybe build from that an actual love letter, try to see what is beautiful underneath the surface and there is something very poetic about the city. It’s a city filled by people with these unrealistic dreams and people that just kind put all in the line for that”.
He wanted to try to portrait and capture the way L.A. feels like the first time you see it. He said that it doesn’t feel like a real place, for better or for worse and the movie had to feel a little bit like a dream, a dream taking place in the real world.
The terrific lead actors Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are both excellent. Emma, who was present in Venice said that young people should take a lot from the film, they should learn to let go of cynicism and be invaded by hope and joy: “This movie is about working towards something and to achieve something. And I think that young people have fallen in lot of cynicism and making fun of things and pointing out the flaws in everything and this movie is anything but that. So it’s a huge joy to be a part of that, to show to young people. This is what I hope young people would do which is to work hard to achieve their dreams and hope instead of being cynical“.
About the director she said: “I think it goes back to what I was saying earlier about putting yourself out there, about building something from scratch and he’s doing that and on top of that I think that a lot of young people that are doing that would be really really holding tough, especially with a movie that is such a vision, would be really holding on to all their ideas and fighting hard for everything. He’s easily the most collaborative director that I’ve ever worked with; and made me feel so comfortable, if I ever had an idea or thought he’d be so open and so collaborative and yet he never lost his vision of the film. That’s just rare for anyone of every age who has made many films; he’s somehow able to bridge those things. He’s truly extraordinary“.
The producer of La La Land Mark Platt recounted to the press a interesting anectode about the young director saying that he has never met a guy like him in his entire career: “I had yet to see a filmmaker like Damien, with such passion and meticulousness and love of film that you can feel in every frame of the film and joy in his work. And I’ll tell you one story to illustrate: on the very last day of shooting we had a day shoot, so we brought no lights, it was just shooting in the day, and we shot the last day of shooting, and the sun is going down and Damien has the camera, literally, on his shoulder, he’s not the operator, he took the camera and he’s trying to come up with more shots and more shots and the sun goes down and now it’s pitch black in Los Angeles and Damien says: ‘Let’s go for the next shot’, and I walked up to him and said: ‘Damien it’s time to put the camera down, the film is over and there is no more light’. He looked at me with the saddest eyes and grudgely gave me the camera“.
It’s a wonderful movie, worth watching from different points of view, starting from the color and cinematography to the message conveyed through the storyline.
Thanks Ford for the ride!