Arts, Column

Lost in ‘La La Land’

Over the years, I have often obsessed unhealthily over the newest songs I’ve added to my iTunes library. Whether it be Vicki Lawrence’s “The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia” back in 2005 or Night Moves’ “Colored Emotions” just over a year ago, these “latest hits,” as I’ve deemed them, get played over and over again to the point where those that spend enough time with me either join me in my fixation or vow vengeance upon me for the torture I submit them to. My latest infatuation has me scared, though. As much as I like this song, I can’t help but feel that I will wear it out for myself before it could have the most impact.

This might seem like a strange fear, but it’ll make sense in a second. For the past week and a half, I’ve been walking around campus whistling a beautiful tune from writer / director Damien Chazelle’s latest flick, La La Land. This song, “City of Stars,” has etched its many facets into my brain, I think irreversibly. Everything from Ryan Gosling’s smooth whistle to the song’s simple piano melody and lyrics pop up in my mind every couple hours throughout each day. As much as I think I watched the trailers for the last Star Wars movie too many times, I’ve probably watched the “City of Stars” La La Land trailer just as much, if not more.

It’s not just because of “City of Stars” that I’m continuously watching the La La Land trailer, though. The visuals of Chazelle’s newest film looks stunning and like it could hold a fresh, captivating love story. Emma Stone and Gosling star as down-on-their-luck artists—she as an actress and writer, he as a piano player. The trailers do a nice job of stuffing a lot of pretty shots into two-minute previews that don’t ruin any of the movie’s plot. This basis is all that’s really available to viewers. Seeing as La La Land is a romance, it can be assumed that Gosling and Stone’s characters will fall into some of the typical romantic tropes, but generally it looks as though La La Land might be a lot more than your average rom-com musical.

For those unfamiliar with his work, Chazelle wrote and directed 2014’s dark-horse Oscar nominee Whiplash, a film about a beyond-dedicated drummer student and his less-than-amicable ensemble director. Whiplash won J.K. Simmons his first Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, while Chazelle was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay and the film itself was up for Best Picture. Birdman walked away with the Best Picture Oscar, but Chazelle’s work earned its fair share of praise throughout Oscar season. Though I was first enamored with Birdman, I started to realize that I would have chosen Whiplash as 2014’s best movie. I go back to it every couple of weeks, sometimes just to watch a couple scenes, sometimes to go through it entirely.

Upon watching the trailers for La La Land, I instantly noticed I held the same fascination for the visuals in La La Land as I had for Whiplash. Chazelle, at least as we see in these commercials, has repainted Los Angeles as we know it, injecting it with a vibrancy few films have given the City of Angels over the last few decades. We see Stone and her friends strolling through the streets in lush blues, yellows, and oranges, while Gosling plays piano in dimly-lit bar exuding a pertinent red flair. The Hollywood set pieces Gosling and Stone run through in these few scenes are mesmerizing and clean. The L.A. backdrop, usually filled with smog, as fascinating for all Southern Californians to behold.

Generally, I’m afraid I’ll whistle away my love for “City of Stars” before I get to see it in its full use in La La Land. I would stop myself from playing it if I could, but it’s too beautiful for me not to keep resorting to it when I’m looking for something to listen to. I am comforted, on the other hand, by the fact that this movie seems to have much more to offer than just this one song. La La Land shows signs of being the classic American musical of this generation. With original songs, a great central cast, and a visionary director who spent a year editing the film, La La Land looks like it might capture and bottle some Hollywood magic for everyone to have.

Featured Image By Summit Entertainment

November 10, 2016