By James Ahn, Editor-In-Chief
“People love what other people are passionate about” – Mia
With a Metacritic score of 93, La La Land is a force to be reckoned with. It’s stunning cinematography and colorful jazz are just a handful of reasons for why La La Land is a first-rate movie.
La La Land’s seamless integration of a romantic comedy and a musical provide a unique viewing experience for its audiences. It revolves around the idea that every opportunity opens some doors and closes others. But like all romantic comedies and musicals, there is a love story involved.
Mia, played by Emma Stone, is a coffee store barista aspiring to become an actress while Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, is a jazz pianist who dreams of reviving classical jazz. Ironically, despite being the movie’s star-crossed lovers, Mia and Sebastian’s relationship is a lot less than friendly at first. Nonetheless, Stone and Gosling’s incredible chemistry and charming charisma kept its audience invested.
Mia is a bright, realistic, and adaptive person, but easily gives into despair. Sebastian on the other hand is determined and driven by his goals, but is consequently inflexible and a tad bit irrational at times. Although the couple are not always open to the opinions of the other, Mia and Sebastian grow when they listen to each other. Mia has a breakthrough as an actress after Sebastian convinces her to write her own play. Sebastian opens a high-end nightclub playing only classical jazz after Mia reminds him of what his original aspirations were.
Overall, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling gave a ground-breaking performance. Stone presented a display reminding audiences that she isn’t just a pretty face. She presented her amazing vocal abilities and fancy dance techniques. She also showed how talented of an actor she was. Gosling was Stone’s mirror. He too, dazzled the audience, presenting his low rumbling vocals and steady dancing. In addition to singing and dancing, Gosling swayed the hearts of his viewers with his stunning piano performances.
The greatest other factor of La La Land was its cinematography. La La Land helped create effects never seen before in theaters. In the scene where Mia is attending Sebastian’s debut performance with Keith’s band, the audience can literally feel what Mia is feeling. As the music plays, Mia’s distaste to the music can be clearly seen. From previous context, the audience knows that Mia is aware of Sebastian’s goal to revive classical jazz. However, because Keith’s band plays a mix of electro and jazz, Mia’s discontent can be seen as a faint spotlight is placed on Mia. At first, Sebastian starts with a classical jazz solo, but a sharp transition occurs to electro jazz which causes this reaction. Around Mia, fans are screaming and jumping and although Mia isn’t frowning, her confusion is expressed by the faint, but noticeable, focus on Mia as the band continues to play. Very subtle camera techniques can be seen earlier on as well when Mia attends a party with her friends. Despite the large crowds that surround her in the party, the audience can see a strong focus on Mia as she walks to the bathroom. The audience begins to hear the music drown out as she heads out to the bathroom – the entire party scene is done while singing “Someone in the Crowd”. This scene replicates the act of blocking out noise when people attempt to isolate themselves and think. Right after as she re-enters the party, another great audio technique used – increasing of beat and intensity of the music as it re-enters the scene. As she leaves her moment of isolation, the audience can feel the life of the party creeping back. Then, as one of the party members jump into the pool, the song returns in full blast. The genius cinematography of the entire party shot is that it was done as a continuous one shot, replicating a real party.
Now with the movie critiqued, I’d like to share my philosophy on watching movies and add some personal input. For me, a good movie is not necessarily fun and vice versa. La La Land was both enjoyable and incorporated good cinematic techniques. I am extremely picky on logic in movies and where they decide to add mystical effects, but I was left speechless by La La Land. All out-of-ordinary moments in La La Land exist for a purpose and stand as a symbol. The planetarium scene, for example, shows Mia and Sebastian rising into space and dancing amongst the planets and stars and is extremely unrealistic. However, their dancing amongst the stars is a symbol of them being star-crossed lovers.
La La Land as a whole stands a symbol for me – a symbol of greatness. La La Land is Damien Chazelle’s work of art and he still has years ahead of him. La La Land keeps me in anticipation for the next great film from Chazelle. His earlier hit Whiplash, was also a work of art, so I’d say that there is only one trend – and it’s up.
In conclusion, Metacritic might average out La La Land’s rating to a 93, but for the record, it’s a 100 in my book.