Here’s the thing: I’ve been waiting on pins and needles to see Star Wars: Rogue One for about a year now.
To me, the trailer looked to be what I have always thought any new Star Wars movie should attempt to be: a story that took place in the Star Wars universe, but told a different (and different kind of) story than what has become the multi-generational famous family arc-of-history it’s been since the prequels came down. Better still, from the looks of the original trailer it seemed like it was attempting to cross breed two of my most guilty cinematic pleasures: the sci-fi action adventure movie, and the caper movie. (It may or may not be, for all I know at this point.) I think I’ve been more excited about Rogue One than I was The Force Awakens, and as the release date approached I even considered buying tickets in advance and braving the miserably long lines to get a seat so I could see it opening weekend.
And I tell you all of this so you’ll understand how odd it was when I finally had the opportunity to get to the multiplex last weekend, and decided that what I really wanted to see wasn’t Star Wars: Rogue One. What I did want to see was a film I hadn’t even heard of even just a few days prior: La La Land.
It might be the best call I’ve ever made when faced with a “what-do-I-see” multiplex dilemma in my entire life.
I’ll avoid too many specifics, as I don’t really want to ROT-15 my Sunday! post as I inadequately step in to fill Jaybird’s shoes for a day. But I decided that there were a few things that I could tell you that will not spoil the movie at all — or at least any more than its own trailer might.
La La Land is, in a twisted kind of way, the movie that L.A. Stories could only dream about being. It’s a film that revels in bleached, realism-soaked shots that lovingly show Los Angeles and its denizens in the fashion that so many indie flicks do. And yet it’s also a film that, at times, transports us to those same sets and surroundings that live in the ridiculously magical universe where golden-era Gene Kelly vehicles like Singing In the Rain and An American In Paris dwell. Amazingly, La La Land shifts between these two worlds constantly and effortlessly, to the point where you’re not always entirely sure where one world begins and the other ends.
I’m tempted to tell you that it’s a love story, because it very much is. It’s just that it isn’t the kind of love story you think of when you hear the phrase “love story.”
Each of the two protagonists, played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, spend the movie trying to pursue art through their own particular mediums in their own particular idiosyncratic fashions. So great is the chemistry between Stone and Gosling, however, that it is forgivable to forget the art, and make the incorrect assumption that the movie is primarily a love story about the romantic love between the two of them. It isn’t until the final five or ten minutes of the movie — perhaps the most perfect final five or ten minutes of any movie I have ever seen — that you are reminded that the movie is, and always was, a love story about the love of art.
La La Land is simultaneously exactly like hundreds of movies I have enjoyed over the years and entirely unlike I have ever seen before, ever.
Even if you have refused to see La La Land up to this point on the basis of it being a “chick flick,” I encourage you to reconsider. It’s bloody fabulous.
So, what are you watching/reading?