January 20, 2017

LA LA Land

Potential spoilers in this blog post – so if you don’t want anything ruined, don’t read it!

I wrote half of this post at 11.44pm last night, the minute I got home from watching La La Land. And like every other person I’ve decided to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify immediately whilst writing. Whenever I clearly have too much to say on something and have already bothered people with my thoughts and rants I just come here to TALK AND RANT SOME MORE! The joys of having a blog. You get to bang on as much as you want.

I should probably admit firstly that I cried loads during this film, way more than I thought I would. I even cried on the walk home! I guess I thought it was going to be uplifting, but it was more complex than that. The song Another Day of Sun certainly starts the film off with a big bang with the amazing choreography that turns a dreary traffic jam into something extravagant and amazing. After that opening song when it goes silent into the credits and the cinema whooped and clapped! In HACKNEY! The film does a good job of giving you the “wow” factor from the very first scene.

(I love crying during movies btw, my biggest fear is being like Cameron Diaz in The Holiday when she’s unable to cry. I love a good old cinema sob.)

When I was in LA last Summer, we had a night in having a takeaway in our Air B’n’B and I had picked up a copy of Vogue, Emma Stone was on the cover and she was interviewed about La La Land, but also how she moved to LA and in between auditions used to work in a dog treat bakery before making it “big”. So the whole way through the film I remembered that interview and all the things she’d said about getting rejected in the past, in real life.

On that note, Emma Stone’s Golden Globes speech was just amazing:

“Any creative person who’s had a door slammed in their face, whether metaphorically or physically…or anyone anywhere who feels like giving up sometimes, but finds it in themselves to get up and keep moving forward, I share this with you.”

Sorry to be another clichéd fangirl of LA to add to the mix but there *is* something about LA that makes you feel a bit gooey and soppy and dreamy. When I was there I went to the UCB Theatre (a famous haunt where so many famous people started out) so to see some amazing improv with incredibly talented actors you can’t help but feel inspired in an icky loved-up way… LA is full of dreamers and creatives and what a gorgeous environment to be in.

Also can we talk about Ryan Gosling’s strand of hair that falls into his eyes when he plays the piano?

ALSO, the JK Simmons cameo made me so happy, oh what a lovely little nod to Whiplash especially when he’s telling Ryan Gosling’s character off for deviating from the set-list! I’ve been binging on podcasts that feature the director Damien Chazelle talking about this creative journey. This one on Playback Podcast is very good and insightful. Maybe my tears were also the fact that the director is only 32 years old and already has made two of the most epic films I’ve seen? So sickeningly impressive.

So why did I find this film so sad? I mean I guess I started crying from the minute Emma Stone’s character looks up and no-one is watching her play apart from the friends. There is a tension and comic relief with Ryan Gosling’s hilarious photoshoot biting-the-lip moment in John Legend’s “cool band” which meant he didn’t turn up. You feel bad for Ryan Gosling’s character because he’s signed his life away on the dotted line but POOR EMMA STONE!

I think it also raised questions around “selling out” and how for artists it’s potentially a good way of “getting in” and getting recognition before then going on to do what they truly want to do. (aka Gosling joining the weird band before having the £ to open his own club).

It feels a bit lame and “all about me!” to say it’s #relatable, but the moment where literally no one cares about your art and also BITCHES about your thing and you overheard them? I think a lot of people can relate to that. I guess it is relatable on some level, even though none of us mere mortals can dance in the starry sky or tap dance our way around in LA with Ryan Gosling on a sunny weekday evening.

It’s a story of romance, failure, love, passion, rejection and heartbreak.

But the lasting impression for me that it’s actually a pretty melancholy film. Although there are a number of happy songs, the main stand-outs Audition and City of Stars are beautifully glum. The happiest bit of the whole storyline seems to be when they are hustling for The Dream at the beginning, full of dreams and naivety. There’s an excitement at the parties, meeting new people, dreaming together, moving slowly towards their goals, but they don’t seem to be that happy once they’ve actually got The Dream. After the “Five Years Later” titles appear, Emma Stone’s character is marching around, appears cold and too serious. Ryan Gosling is sat at his piano looking miserable in his jazz bar after seeing her. Is The Dream even that good?

Anyway, off to listen to the soundtrack and cry some more.


11 Responses

  1. “Emma Stone’s character is marching around, appears cold and too serious. Ryan Gosling is sat at his piano looking glum in his jazz bar after seeing her. Is The Dream even that good?”

    Oh god, I hadn’t even picked up on that when I watched it but its so true. The fantasy was a beautiful segment and you wonder if they would have truly been happier settling with minimal careers but being together rather than achieving ‘the big dream’. It does make you think, especially when working in a creative field, whether prioritising career dreams over love is really the best thing you could do or the feeling of ‘what could have been’ for either could be too much to handle. Ahh, I need to go and watch it again!

  2. Ruth says:

    I still kind of wish they’d ended up together but they were young, and how lucky are people who stick in a relationship with people as they grow up? I feel like, however bittersweet, this brought La La Land back to a bit of reality, which only made me love it more. He looked glum after seeing her, but he smiled at her and we know that it’s all ok, Mia’s got a happy life with a great career and her new little family and Seb’s got his fancy jazz bar (sans samba or tapas). I felt a pang when her play fails and when she says auditioning would ‘kill her’ but I was rooting for them both the whole time and I’ve been thinking about it constantly since I left the cinema on Wednesday night – gotta be a sign!

  3. S says:

    I found the end uplifting. Although we got to have a taste of what life (maybe) would have been like for them as a couple in the beautiful end piece, it was refreshing that they didn’t end up together. They appeared stable in their lives and their loves (hers with her success, child and partner, and his with his jazz club). Sure, they could have stayed together, but life might not have ended out the way it would’ve in a perfect world (which is what I think the end piece was illustrating – the fantasy). Would they have been happier together? We can’t say. They broke up amicably. I got the message that although a part of your life mightn’t end up as you imagine it, there might be something even greater around the corner – like a big break. They were in love, but love isn’t always forever, especially if you can’t make it work. We all grow and change, and can’t live in the past and through “what ifs”.
    We can’t say Stone and Gosling are a better couple because we know nothing about her relationship with her current partner. If anything, Stone and Gosling’s relationship was an important stepping stone in the growth of both characters and their achievements of their creative goals, and they hold on fondly to what they learnt – as Gosling used the name for his club that Stone came up with. Sometimes you just gotta let it go and be grateful for what you’ve learnt through your experiences.
    They got The Dream, but did they lose The Love? I say no, they moved on for greater pursuits.

  4. Emma Oulton says:

    Oh gosh you’re so right about The Dream not being that good! I had been reassuring myself with the fact that they had to be apart to get their dream, but now I’m doubting everything!

  5. Lucy Love says:

    Omg I can’t agree with this more!
    I was lucky enough to attend the UK premiere back in October, and it was truly the first time that I watched a film and finally understood why people are so obsessed with films in general. I’d never really got it before, and although I enjoyed watching a DVD or going to the cinema it was never that important to me, but La La Land was just something else. From the moment Another Day of Sun started, to the end of the film I was completely transported, I never wanted it to end.

    I have cried every time I’ve seen it – the first thing that always gets me is Emma Stone’s speech to Ryan Gosling after he visits her at her parents to tell her about the audition. I’ve spent so many hours crying over not feeling good enough, and perhaps it being time to give up on my dreams because I just don’t have it in me anymore. I’ve always kept going, but it’s a feeling that is forever following me around. I also cried a lot towards the end of the film when you realise that their characters are going their separate ways – my boyfriend is an actor and I’m terrified of the same thing happening to us. I never understand Ryan Gosling’s character’s reasoning behind not following her to Paris and their eventual break up however, as it was only for 4 months! I’m lucky that my dreams can be achieved as long as I have an internet connection so in that respect I’d always follow Joseph if I needed to, but it is something that haunts me and I think we’re both very aware of it.

    That said, Mia & Sebastian’s theme is now ‘our song’ and I think the film has some huge personal attachments for each of us and our relationship. I’m definitely going to be pre-ordering the DVD and getting the soundtrack on vinyl!

  6. Amber-Rose says:

    Love this review Emma, reading this has made me want to watch the film again! Also the point Victoria’s made above couldn’t be truer. It’s important to never lose sight of why you started or what you want to achieve!

  7. emmagannon says:

    I’m LOVING reading these comments. Watched it *again* this weekend, now have even more thoughts! xoxo

  8. This review is everything! And so is the soundtrack!

  9. Nadia says:

    Ohhh yes. I am thinking about the same thing ever since leaving the cinema last night: Is the dream even that good? Is the dream worth all the people and things we sacrifice for it?
    I cried so much when Ryan plays all those images from the life they could have had together in his head at the end. What a bitter pain! I kind of thought they would end up together but it made the movie actually more real and relatable that they didn’t. Although, boy, it was so so painful.
    I loved so many things about it, the music, the gorgeous images and colours are so inspiring, the fairy tale vibe – and I took away that it is important to follow your spark even when nobody shows up (if Mia hadn’t done her one-woman show she wouldn’t have been discovered) and stand by what you love even when you think nobody else loves it (“Jazz is dead”). I liked that they showed the hustle and compromise you sometimes have to take before you can actually live your dream. That’s just reality, it’s messy and complicated and not straight forward.
    When you posted you were going to see it a second time I wondered, if it really was that good – now I can definitely see it! 😀 It’s beautiful and a bit tragic and very relatable.

  10. emmagannon says:

    YES NADIA! So glad you loved it. I didn’t cry as much the second time I was too busy analysing it and watched it way more closely…but still came to same conclusion! Agree the reality made it such a good ending but GAH you become to invested in the characters,don’t you? I wanna see it again….hahhaa

  11. Natalia says:

    “Maybe my tears were also the fact that the director is only 32 years old and already has made two of the most epic films I’ve seen? So sickeningly impressive.” ME. I wanted to cry at his Oscar. Whiplash was my favourite film of 2014, it was gorgeous and epic and again, a story about dreams.
    I knew, the moment I finished La La Land, that he’d done it again, a film I can’t stop thinking about. And in such a Damien Chazelle style, where the films don’t really look alike, yet they’ve got something similar: something that makes it him.
    I can’t wait to see what he brings out next.

    Also, embarrassingly enough, I’m still listening to the soundtrack pretty much every day.

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