La La Land

Rated: PG-13

        Every year, once the Golden Globe nominations are announced, I make an effort to see all of the films nominated for Best Picture, Drama. These films are supposed to be the best of the best for a given year, and they are also usually pretty good predictors of what will then be nominated for the Academy Awards thereafter.
There was a roadblock to my efforts this year though. Once the nominees were announced, and I had some free time, I looked on to see what was playing near me, and when. What was shocking is that NONE of the nominees for Best Picture were playing within 45 miles of me! On top of that, it seemed that most of them weren’t in theaters at all anymore.

        This was a chin scratching situation indeed. I always try to write at least a little something in the lead ups to both the Golden Globes and The Oscars, but there’s not much to write about if I haven’t seen any of the nominees. Sure, I could make some educated guesses as to an opinion of some of the films, but any real insight would be lacking, to say the least.

        I was at a bit of a loss, never having had this particular problem before, and then I saw it
: La La Land was playing at a theater relatively close at a time I could certainly make. It wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, Drama, but with 7 nominations at The Globes, and another 190 nominations and 140 wins (and counting), this was certainly the film that garnered the most buzz.

La La Land experience began on the chilly January Sunday of the Golden Globes, at a theater I had never been to. The first thing that struck me as I took my seat was how full the theater was. Considering the film had been out just one day shy of a month, and was still drawing such large crowds was a good sign, I thought. The age of the crowd ranged from tween to geriatric, with most seeming to be in their 30-40’s.

        As musicals often do, the film opened with a song. It seemed an upbeat and snappy little number, but I had a hard time hearing the words. I’m not sure if it was due to the quality of sound in the film itself, or if it was the theater’s audio set up, but that was not a good way to start.
I was able to hear most of the rest of the film, with only small bits here and there disappearing into the abyss between the speakers and my ears, and from what I could gather none of what I missed in translation was all too important.

        As has happened in theaters across the country since the release of the film, people were mesmerized. The title is certainly apt, given that much of the imagery shown onscreen had a dreamlike quality to it. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that many people totally enthralled with what they were watching, but I think that has a little more to do with what’s going on in the world outside than the story portrayed in the theater.

        Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s characters are supposed to be deeply in love by mid-way through, but I didn’t find it all that believable that they were. I’m not saying I expected them to be in love in real life, just that their portrayals of a couple deeply in love were tepid and halfhearted.

        The film itself is supposed to be a tribute, of sorts, to all who follow their dreams, both in Hollywood and elsewhere, but to me it came up short. I couldn’t say if it was that I couldn’t hear it as clearly as I should’ve, or if it was the choice of cast, or if it was just that the story itself was weak; but this is a film best watched for the imagery alone, if at all.

        La La Land is rated PG-13, was written and directed by Damien Chazelle and stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. It is currently in theaters, with an at-home release date set for April, 2017.