Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend
Release Date: April 25, 2017
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 10/10
Disc Rating: 9.5/10
Winner of 6 Academy Awards® including Best Director for writer/director Damien Chazelle, and winner of a record-breaking 7 Golden Globe® Awards, LA LA LAND is more than the most acclaimed movie of the year – it’s a cinematic treasure for the ages that you’ll fall in love with again and again. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star as Mia and Sebastian, an actress and a jazz musician pursuing their Hollywood dreams – and finding each other – in a vibrant celebration of hope, dreams, and love.
One of the most talked about films of the previous year, ‘La La Land’ takes viewers to sunny and beautiful Los Angeles and introduces us to both a struggling actress and part-time waitress named Mia (Stone) and a musician named Sebastian (Gosling) who just can’t seem to catch a break. After multiple chance encounters of a relatively unfriendly nature, the two slowly begin to find something special within each other and together embark upon a musical journey filled with love, magic and more while they each begin to find their suited place within this wondrous city thanks to a bit of support and romance.
Written and directed by the talented Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) who does a phenomenal job at the helm of ‘La La Land’ guiding his beautiful and magical piece of filmmaking with a clear passion throughout, making it no surprise whatsoever to discover that this was his true passion project even prior to Whiplash (which was apparently conceived and done largely as a means of hopefully getting closer to making ‘La La Land’ a reality). The film also owes a notable chunk of the credit to the talented folks who comprise the cast, and most importantly the perfect pairing of Ryan Gosling (The Nice Guys) and Emma Stone (The Amazing Spider-Man) who are nothing short of magical together, each at their very best and never missing a beat (or a note); the duo’s splendid performances complimented all the more by a solid supporting cast that includes J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), musical star John Legend, and more.
‘La La Land’ is a truly magnificent film in every possible way, providing a brightly lit, warmly colored love letter to Los Angeles that shines around every turn and even for those such as me who aren’t often too fond of musicals, it still manages to break its way through any hesitation and takes the viewer on a beautiful, grin-inducing journey that you won’t want to end. Sporting remarkable sets and lighting, along with some catchy original songs that you can’t help but love and an actual well constructed and executed storyline that is never bogged down by constant musical numbers, allowing each aspect sufficient space to accomplish its task and merging into one of the best musicals and romantic comedy’s of recent memory. Its attention to detail, wise choices in story direction and its welcoming demeanor, along with its ability to convincingly merge both illogical wonder and a surprisingly realistic course of actions and events only compliment it all the more, forming into one of the best films of last year and simply an overall wonder to behold. ‘La La Land’ is passionately guided by director Damien Chazelle throughout its course and his flawless guidance and clear love of the project, combined with the remarkable performances and chemistry delivered by talented stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone results in sheer cinematic magic. I would strongly urge anyone who is even the slightest bit intrigued by ‘La La Land’ but hasn’t yet had the opportunity to check it out to make a point of doing so when you have the chance, it’s a phenomenal and outright gorgeous film that never misses a beat and should have no trouble promptly capturing your heart. This modern musical masterpiece will almost certainly prove well worth your time.
Overall, ‘La La Land’ is a phenomenal piece of filmmaking that will dazzle and amaze you while consistently putting a smile on your face as it repeatedly captures your heart. Constantly brimming with beauty, wonder and a rich, warmly colored atmosphere that nods at similar classics of old, ‘La La Land’ is nothing short of a modern masterpiece that stands no chance of falling into obscurity. Incredibly talented filmmaker Damien Chazelle does an amazing job at the helm and the pairing of Gosling and Stone couldn’t be more magical, each delivering spot on performances. I can’t possibly recommend ‘La La Land’ highly enough to anyone who might be even moderately interested in the movie, it’s an amazing piece of cinema that recreates the bright and happy musicals of old, while also bothering to tell a heartfelt tale of love and struggling to survive in such a difficult place; it should easily prove to be well worth your time and the cost of a rental at the very least. Fans of the film who have already had the pleasure will definitely want to make sure to pick up a copy of ‘La La Land’ on Blu-ray if you haven’t already done so, the Blu-ray release sports impressive high definition video and audio presentations, along with hours of enjoyable extras which will surely make it a must own for most fans.
The Blu-ray release of ‘La La Land’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.35:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks outstanding as a whole and provides a gloriously sharp, brightly lit and nearly flawless presentation that represents the consistent beauty within the film perfectly at all times. It holds up impressively even during the fast moving, darkly lit and heavily populated sequences, never causing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected, let alone rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a marvelous high definition video presentation from Lionsgate that should easily thrill the casual viewers and fans of the film alike.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the lossless Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This lossless multichannel soundtrack is magnificent and delivers a consistently crisp, clean and quite active audio presentation throughout. It frequently takes full advantage of all seven available channels in order to send the film’s memorable original music, along with crowd chatter, and plenty more activity making its way throughout the various speakers with regularity, and never allowing any dialogue that might be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a phenomenal and incredibly fun Dolby Atmos (TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that contributes even more fun to the overall viewing experience and should easily satisfy the masses.
The Blu-ray release of ‘La La Land’ includes a spectacular collection of extras that will take you deeper into the movie. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Damien Chazelle and Composer Justin Hurwitz’, in addition to approximately 80 minutes of behind the scenes Featurettes that take you deeper into bringing the film to life and include behind the scenes footage, interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Another Day of Sun: They Closed Down A Freeway’ (running approximately 11 minutes in length), ‘La La Land’s Great Party’ (running approximately 5 minutes), ‘Ryan Gosling: Piano Student’ (approximately 5 minutes), ‘Before Whiplash: Damien Chazelle’s Passion Project’ (10 minutes), ‘La La Land’s Love Letter To Los Angeles’ (7 minutes), ‘The Music of La La Land’ (14 minutes), ‘John Legend’s Acting Debut’ (5 minutes), ‘The Look Of Love: Designing La La Land’ (9 minutes), ‘Ryan and Emma: Third Time’s The Charm’ (6 minutes), and ‘Epilogue: The Romance of the Dream’ (8 minutes). We are also treated to ‘Damien and Justin Sing: The Demos’ which includes the two performing two original songs: ‘What A Waste of a Lovely Night’ (2 minutes), and ‘City of Stars’ (3 minutes). A ‘Marketing Gallery’ is also included which features ‘3 Theatrical Trailers’ (approximately 5 minutes combined), some ‘Posters’ and a ‘Song Selection’ for the movie.