Living in La La Land

Last night I saw La La Land! It's a lovely, sweet movie and I have some thoughts to share. As per usual, I am not holding back on the spoilers, so SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT! Don't read on if you don't want to know what happens.


The opening number was so great, it did what all great musicals do and made me want to dance my way through life and car jams. I nearly burst into applause at the end of it. (Of course, that might just be my conditioning from seeing live musicals where you are supposed to applaud at the end of songs.)

From that first number on, I passed much time marvelling at the fun, playful, and just freaking magnificent choreography. I wondered who did it, and then dismissed the question assuming I would have no idea who the person was.

MANDY MOORE did the choreography guys! Mandy Moore! Respect points for Mandy Moore just went up a million!

The main song ('Mia & Sebastian's Theme') is one of the most beautiful pieces of music.

Of course, now I can't listen to it without seeing the tragic and perfect movie of what their life together would have been if they could get do it over and get rid of their mistakes. Oh man, the heartbreak. The 'what could have been'. But it isn't, and their lives are still good and that's good and also the worst thing ever.

Okay, okay, let's listen to it and feel the sadness of beauty together.

It was not the movie I expected. I expected a sort of Baz Lurman-style romance. A Moulin Rouge with less glitz and a happier ending. Instead I got a fascinating blend of reality, fantasy, and the suckiness of trying to live your dreams. (Which is truly sucky, ask anyone who's actually working at it.)

Of course, if it were anything like reality, Mia would have never achieved her dreams. She would have gone to her parents' house, figured out something else she was good at doing, gone back to school, and done that. This is the course of reality for most people pursuing an artistic dream.

But that's okay, I guess. This is a movie. Movies are always about the people whose dreams come true. Maybe we need to make movies about people who realize there is more to life than a dream?

Of course, they both learned there was more to life than the dream of their perfect life together.

The mixture of old timey glamour and modern-day, dirty LA was kind of amazing.

From the moment Mia agreed to perform her play in that theatre, I knew that she made a mistake. There were way too many seats in that theatre for a one woman show playing one night only by an unknown actress. Start small! Start intimate! Be close to your audience!

For this reason, and the fact that apparently her only publicity was sending a mass email to her friends and (I presume) casting directors, I think the turnout at her play was actually very good.

Did anyone else notice that, while the background performers were very diverse and likely represented the reality of LA's demographics, the only people who got to talk (except John Legend and the casting lady) were white? Sigh.

I could be wrong on that, as some actors were ambiguous looking. It's just sad that we're still in a world where people of colour make great, well, background colour, but don't get to be the subjects of stories we want to watch. (I know, I know, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling were basically made to play these roles together and there are other movies in theatres now that contradict this statement, whatever, I'm just pointing out a symptom of an overall problem as represented here, okay?)

I literally just figured out that the "La La" in "La La Land" not only refers to living in la la land, but also the fact that they are in Los Angeles. LA! Get it? La la/LA? Oh man. The layers.

The John Legend character was supposed to be kind of a jerk, I think, but I think he was right. About jazz and progress, anyways.

Another problem I had with the movie: Mia is supposed to be a struggling actress, working in a coffee shop, and yet she drives a PRIUS and her dresses ALL come from The Land of Perfect Dresses. This is just not realistic. Maybe maybe maybe her parents bought her the Prius. But a true struggling actress would have a few pretty dresses to rotate through for special occasions. Especially one who wasn't even serving in a bar and getting sweet tips.

Also, did you notice how she was so pure and nostalgic that she wrote out the first draft of her play BY HAND? There was even one quick shot where you saw that she had an old film SLR camera. Good thing they were both obsessed with doing things the "old way" and aren't tainted by horrible technologies of convenience.

The blend of magical fantasy and reality worked in a way I didn't expect. They flew, for goodness' sake! Flew! That should have been atrocious, but it was just like a dream.

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