Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Live! From the 73rd Venice International Film Festival! - LA LA LAND Lets the Sunshine In

Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone in La La Land
(Venice, Italy) Wow. I am still emotional as I write this after just seeing La La Land, a testimony to good ol' human nature, the magic of Hollywood, and those who dream (all of us). That 31-year-old Damien Chazelle, wrote it, directed it, and now, here it is, poof! up on the big screen is living proof of the power of imagination.

The opening scene is set in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Los Angeles freeway, a jumble of music pouring out the windows of congested cars. And then... one by one people jump out of their cars and burst into song, dancing on the asphalt and flipping over the gridlock. It was so joyful that the audience of press and industry folks burst into applause. We almost burst into song ourselves.


The movie is divided into L.A. seasons, which all look exactly alike, bright, sunny with plenty of traffic. It's a Hollywood romance about a struggling actress, Emma Stone (Mia), and a jazz pianist, Ryan Gosling (Sebastian); the actors have a dynamic chemistry. I was so happy to see a movie about the lives of fictional creative people, which provided real-life singing, dancing creative people with lots of work. When I saw all those performers jumping around on the L.A. freeway, I thought, finally! An employer who put all those years of voice and dance lessons to good use!

Later in the day at the press conference, Damien Chazelle and Emma Stone spoke about breaking into song -- that in order to make a believable musical and break into song, the emotion must be there. I loved the haunting tunes by Justin Hurwitz and the Broadway lyricist team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul that wove in out of the seasons. John Legend is totally cool as the leader of the band. The film could turn a new generation onto jazz.

Damien Chazelle said that now more than ever we need hope. Emma Stone that the movie was in no way cynical. "This is about hoping and dreaming." Though young people have every reason to be cynical after the mess my generation and the one before have handed to them, it was great to see them cut through all the darkness and let a slice of sunshine in. (Read more about it at the Daily Beast.) Personally, it gives me hope that we didn't mess it up that badly when a 31-year-old can still wade through the muck and find his way back to the joy of Hollywood musicals and jazz.


Here are some reviews:

From Deadline Hollywood:

Whether it is a dazzling song-and-dance opening set in a massive traffic jam on an L.A. freeway, or a spectacular sequence with Gosling and Stone flying high into the skies of the Griffith Observatory, the musical numbers soar with their own vibrancy and urgency. We live in hard times, but this is a movie worth savoring, something that entertains, enlightens and makes us feel good about being alive.

From The Telegraph:

Stone and Gosling are two of the most naturally sweet stars working today, but together they’re like Diet Coke and Mentos – their chemistry actually feels chemical, or perhaps part of a new branch of particle physics that conducts invisible emotional lightning straight from their faces to your heart. 

From The Hollywood Reporter:

If you're going to fall hard for Damien Chazelle's daring and beautiful La La Land, it will probably be at first sight. There's never been anything quite like the opening sequence

From Variety:

Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” which opened the Venice Film Festival on a voluptuous high note of retro glamour and style, is the most audacious big-screen musical in a long time, and — irony of ironies — that’s because it’s the most traditional.


During the press conference, Marc Platt, one of the producers (and the oldest one up on the podium) said that it was a pleasure to work with a young film maker who took such passion and joy in his work. On the very last day, they were shooting with natural light, and Damien Chazelle had the camera on his shoulder. He wanted to keep shooting and shooting. Finally the sun went down. Platt  told Chazelle, "The film is over. There's no more light. It's time to put the camera down."

Hey! The kids are alright!

La La Land will be released in the US on December 2, 2016.

UPDATE: September 4, 2016 - Yesterday, Tom Hanks interrupted his own press conference at Telluride to say this about La La Land: "...if the audience doesn’t go and embrace something as wonderful as this then we are all doomed.”

Ciao from the Venice Film Festival,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. Wow. I am still emotional as I write this after just seeing La La Land, a testimony to good ol' human nature, the magic of Hollywood, and those who dream (all of us). That 31-year-old Damien Chazelle, wrote it, directed it, and now, here it is, poof! up on the big screen is living proof of the power of imagination.

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