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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Go-For-Broke Modern Musical
by Betty Jo Tucker

A modern love story filmed in a style reminiscent of glorious classic musicals like Singin’ in the Rain and Bandwagon, La La Land emerges as a bittersweet treat for the eyes, the ears and the heart. It takes place in Los Angeles, the city of dreams and heartbreak, where a jazz pianist (Ryan Gosling) and wannabe actress (Emma Stone) fall in love and hope to make their dreams come true. Is it possible for them to remain together when their individual ambitions clash?

Gosling and Stone look great together, and their romantic chemistry sparkles on screen. Plus, the musical numbers are most impressive. Highlights for me include: Gosling and Stone’s magical waltz among the stars while touring the Griffiths Observatory; the exuberant L.A. traffic jam routine; Stone’s emotional audition song; and the hauntingly beautiful “City of Stars” theme (lyrics by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul). As the world’s most avid movie musical fan (you can look it up), I highly recommend La La Land. The poem below explains why.

Yay! LA LA LAND comes just in time

to prove it’s entertainment prime

and make a run for Oscar gold.

A musical? Now that’s quite bold.


But this film glows with great pizazz,

singing and dancing and snazzy jazz.

Cinemascope where colors pop.

Ryan Gosling reaching the top

of his splendid acting career.

And Emma Stone seems so sincere.


The characters they bring to life

use song and dance through joys and strife.

Their love story may cause some tears,

but LA LA LAND deserves three cheers!

Kudos to writer/director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) for giving movie fans this marvelous original film musical. Along with his sensitive screenplay and direction, Chazelle put together a wonderful group of actors and crew. Special recognition goes to Justin Hurwitz for the lovely score, to Linus Sandgren for the striking cinematography, and to Tom Cross for his creative editing.

“City of Stars, are you shining just for me?” Gosling sings in an early scene. And now I ask -- in my out-of-tune voice -- “La La Land, were you made just for me?” Maybe not, but you make me feel like the answer is “YES.”             

What's great about musicals is their energy and go-for-brokeness -- stopping the story to sing and dance. How can you not love that? --- Damien Chazelle 

(Released by Lionsgate and rated “PG-13” for some language.)

For more information about La La Land, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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