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La La Land

(Lionsgate)

 

An aspiring actress and a jazz piano player fall in love and try to pursue their dreams in L.A.

 

Rated PG-13, for some language

Genre: Musical Drama

Viewer Appeal: Teens; Adults

 

There aren't many movies made like La La Land these days. And I say that as the best kind of compliment. If you are a true movie buff and like movies such as Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, Rebel With a Cause, 8 ½, or anything with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, La La Land is a movie you will appreciate, and most likely love. Or, if you just like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, you'll probably love it for that reason too.

 

Emma Stone plays Mia, an aspiring actress who works as a barista to support her auditions and schmoozing at parties with other hopefuls. While she's not fully enamored with the Hollywood lifestyle, she loves old movies and wants to fulfill childhood dream of acting. Ryan Gosling is Sebastian, a jazz pianist who dreams of opening an old time jazz club, and keeps running into Mia...on the freeway, at a party...until he finally decides to see what this girl is all about.

 

While Sebastian and Mia initially spend time together as friends, they quickly realize their attraction to each other. Unfortunately for Mia, it's in the middle of a date with her then boyfriend, Greg (Finn Wittrock). Maybe I should say unfortunately for Greg, since Mia leaves him in a restaurant while she runs to see a movie with Sebastian. Movies often rush into a relationship, but the writers of La La Land seem to understand the beautiful tension of blossoming love, capturing the sweet moments of a tentative touch of the hands, or an interrupted first kiss. In a sense they are romancing the audience into loving Sebastian and Mia. And who couldn't love them? I mean, come on, it's Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, two of the most likable actors in Hollywood.

 

But, as with all relationships, it's not all roses and sweetness. Life and the pursuit of dreams comes calling. When Sebastian has the opportunity to join a new kind of jazz band, Mia supports him, but feels like he's abandoning his dream for money. And she's left at home still pursuing her acting career as she puts the finishing touches on a one-woman play. The pressure to find success begins to cause cracks in a seemingly solid relationship. A familiar theme in life.

 

The sweetness of their relationship isn't what makes La La Land so unique, but it's reminiscent feel and homage to old movies. There's singing. And dancing. And more singing and dancing. In fact the movie begins with a song a dance scene on a freeway, and it continues right on through to the end. If that knowledge in any way makes you want to avoid the movie, take a chance. There's a reason it won 6 Academy Awards (nominated for 14 Academy Awards), and won 7 Golden Globes amongst numerous other awards. This is an all-around winner.

The Blu-ray edition includes over 3 hours of Bonus  Features, such as: 

•       Audio Commentary with writer/director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz

•       “Another Day of Sun: They Closed Down a Freeway” Featurette  

•       “La La Land's Great Party” Featurette  

•       “Ryan Gosling: Piano Student” Featurette

•       “Before Whiplash: Damien Chazelle's Passion Project” Featurette  

•       “La La Land's Love Letter to Los Angeles” Featurette

•       “The Music of La La Land” Featurette  

•       “John Legend's Acting Debut” Featurette

•       “The Look of Love: Designing La La Land” Featurette  

•       “Ryan and Emma: Third Time’s the Charm” Featurette  

•       “Epilogue: The Romance of the Dream” Featurette

•       Damien & Justin Sing: The Demos

•       Song Selection

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:

 

• Which ending did you prefer? Did you find one more true to life?

 

• This movie is about pursuing dreams, despite the conflict and compromise. What is a dream you had when you were young? What kept you from pursuing it?

 

• Are you a dreamer or a realist? How would your life be different if you weren't?

 

--JW

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