So, this not a review of La La Land. (Well, certainly not a high funda critique of the movie). And yet, sometimes when a film talks directly to you… you gotta share the experience, right? I mean, just the opening sequence will blow you away, dear reader — a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam on a Los Angeles highway.
Suddenly, the car horns give way to musical horns, all the drivers get out of their cars and sing and dance — the opening song, Another Day of Sun, shot in one long seamless take lasting five minutes. The number over, everyone returns to their cars and we're back to the reality of the traffic jam.
I'm not a filmmaker, but I wish I'd made La La Land. Director Damien Chazelle has included every element of life that I enjoy — musicals, jazz clubs, theatrical devices, vinyls/record players, heroic characters with tragic flaws, surrealism, Emma Stone. The man has also cracked several complex codes.
He's condensed a 70mm musical extravaganza into an intimate love story that almost seems like theatre, yet loses none of the scale that differentiates screen from stage. But crucially, he's made a work that taps into nostalgia, appealing to older generations.
And, yet, every youngster I know finds it one of the coolest films of the year. Nostalgia merging with new age storytelling — not an easy feat. My goddaughter, Ayesha, sitting to my left, whispers, "It's always refreshing to hear actors singing themselves, none of this playback nonsense of Bollywood — this soundtrack's going straight to my Apple playlist." Her brother, Zarir, sitting to my right, says, "We're at the age, well for most of us young people, when most idealistic dreams begin to take a back seat to real world jobs. Do I relate to Ryan Gosling starting his own jazz club? Yes. Do I want to quit my job and open one? Not necessarily. But this movie definitely gives me vicarious
Ayesha continues, "This nostalgic jazz age pastiche from costumes to cars, fits so seamlessly into 2016." Zarir concludes with, "Also the old school romancing angle is so cool. With all the clubbing EDM bulls**t going on, it's not often that you meet a girl and wow her with an old school movie or jazz."
Of course, watching movies at Mumbai multiplexes you are engaged in many parallel movies. Behind me is a kitty party bunch, spending the whole movie giggling, behaving as if Ryan Gosling was serenading them directly. "He looks just like maaro Clark Gable," one exclaims loudly. "No, no just like Cary Grant."
The movie has a sad end, ladies and gents. So, boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, they're faced with conflict — individual journeys vs compromised collective journeys i.e. follow your individual dream or follow your heart.
Well, I won't reveal what happens.Enough to say that La La Land is about missed opportunities. La La Land is about the grey areas in a technicolour world. Give it a dekko. It's La fantastique.
Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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