I generally can't be doing with musicals, so when in the very first scene, a Los Angeles freeway traffic jam bursts into an all-singing all-dancing bonnet-sliding jamboree, I was already squirming in my seat and reaching for the remote control. (Yes rather than wait for the undubbed version to hit the one and only screen in Milan which runs movies in original language, I opted fo the full HD download & beam-to-TV).
I held my nerve, and boy was I ever glad that I did.
"La La Land" isn't a masterpiece, though on some levels it wants to be, but it's a euphoric ramble of a movie which uplifts, and seduces the audience with it's passion, it's dynamism and the exquisite control.
Having been utterly captivated by Director Damien Chazelle's previous outing "Whiplash" I knew in my heart of hearts, that he wouldn't let me down with this movie, and how true that turns out to be.
The performances by Ryan Gosling and especially Emma Stone, are spellbinding. I'd not actually noticed her to the same extent before in movies such as "Driver" or "Birdman" (she's done a ton of work btw !) but in "La La Land" her performance is quite magical. Assured and yet fragile, nuances and shades of every emotion imaginable play across her face in ripples and waves. Truly an Oscar winning performance if ever I saw one. Her audition song is all out goose-bump territory. The two leads make a great pairing, whether hitting off each other, or dancing through the many routines which grace the movie, and unashamedly declare the lineage hailing back to the MGM musicals and the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
The music itself extends Chazelle's evident love for jazz, and the storyline pitches the viewer into the despair of Gosling's character who sees jazz as a dying artform. On the evidence of this film, one can only hope that not only jazz, but the musical genre still have not only a place in the hearts of the audience, but a future guaranteed, just so long as there is there are movie makers out there with imagination and craft to keep it all relevant and actual.
From many standpoints, this film is yet another perfect example of "Retromodernism" as a cultural and artistic statement in all it's glory.
I sincerely hope that the quality, the love and the craft which have gone into this movie, will provide inspiration for millennials and especially Gen Z'ers, who crave the instant fix delivered by social media and the deliberations of so-called "influencers". If I could be blessed with any gift, it would be to be able to influence these people to go see a proper movie, where there outstandingly talented people in every department from set-design, to wardrobe, photography and music, have really come up with the goods. End of sermon!