La La Land (2016) Poster

(I) (2016)

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Not as good as everyone says.
Jess Riley20 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A old couple left 30 minutes in. I couldn't understand the music, I couldn't hear the lyrics. Ryan Gosling's character was a dick for 90% of the movie. He is a good actor, but my goodness his character is an ass hat. The story to me was blah. It was like I've see this story told before just differently. Emma Stone is amazing. I definitely enjoyed her more than Ryan's character, but that honestly isn't too hard. The movie seemed pretentious and over rated as a whole. It was just Hollywood getting off on Hollywood. Imagine if Hollywood was a person and cloned themselves. Then Hollywood starts sucking Hollywoods dick. There, that's most of the story. White man tries to save jazz.

I did enjoy the visuals, editing, colours and dancing. So it was nice to look at, I'll give it that. But the story to me was under whelming.
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Tepid, Overrated Oeuvre
sami-91 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
**Big SPOILER ALERT** Was looking forward to this film, but had to watch in agony from its beginning as a Pepsi commercial to its ending as a Coca Cola commercial. Shocking that this pallid film is being feted for something it is not. Emma Stone, someone who is hard to watch in long extreme closeups throughout the film and Ryan Gosling exhibit no charisma or charm. Their dancing tries to be cute and romantic but is clumsy. The music is dirge-like and not uplifting. The producers should have used more professional musical performers, ones who can inspire when they sing and/or dance. Gosling talks about jazz throughout the film, but we hardly hear any good jazz, especially not the jazz greats he talks about. So how are we to know what is the great jazz that inspired him? His friend says "Jazz is the future." But in reality it's the present, being created as it's played. All of a sudden, Stone, the aspiring actress who shows no acting talent whatsoever, decides to become a playwright without showing any ability or work, except for having an apartment covered with photos of classic movie stars. The banal dialogue, superficial characters and overly long scenes are embarrassments. Stone comes into her old coffee shop and asks for two iced coffees. Immediately a guy standing there puts down a tray with two iced coffees in front of her. Glaring continuity problem there. Throughout the film in almost every scene there is nary a person who is over thirty. The casting people never cared to hire people who reflected the real world, fantasy or not. If the music had been tuneful and clever, the film would be somewhat better. As it is it is dull. he characters exist in a vacuum with no backstory. Only interesting aspect to this film is some of the recognizable Hollywood locations, but locations do not a film make. If anyone still watches the self-aggrandizing Academy Awards, it will be cringe-worthy if this film wins any awards except for production manager or art director. It's a sad state of affairs that this film is considered in high esteem. That accolade belongs to "Singin' in the Rain," "The Band Wagon," "Gigi," "Oklahoma,""South Pacific," "Top Hat,""Wizard of Oz," and films by Astaire, Kelly, Powell, Miller, Charisse, Garland, Crosby, Sinatra, Grable, Keel, and all the great stars who truly were musical comedy class acts. Their talents made even B films a joy to watch.
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Nostalgic, Colourful, Joyous CinemaScope Magic
Calum Rhys18 January 2017
Do I like musicals? Not really... but damn, 'La La Land' is a nostalgic, colourful, joyful marvel!

Damien Chazelle gained international acclaim and recognition from his masterful drama 'Whiplash', what were the chances that he could pull off similar success two times in the row? Well, if 'La La Land' is anything to go by, then I'd say he did the job. With just three films under his belt as of 2016, Chazelle is slowly becoming the next big thing this movie industry has seen. His passion for classic movies and musicals is evident as he references and pulls influence from films like 'Singin' in the Rain', 'The Umbrellas of Cherborg' and even 'Rebel Without a Cause', the latter of which is one of my favourite films so seeing the nod to it was something I was pleased about.

The chemistry between Gosling and Stone is strong to say the least, after two previous collaborations, their already-strong bond helped them become one of modern-day cinema's finest couples. The music is bouncy and toe-tapping catchy, the cinematography is utterly stunning with gorgeous colours and impressive long takes, and the locations sum up the American dream and the passion the characters hold for Los Angeles. 'La La Land' is by far one of the finest cinema experiences I have had in the past 5-10 years, and although this isn't a film I would typically enjoy (genre-wise), Chazelle has instead crafted one of my favourite films of this decade. A film I would recommend everyone see in the cinema to truly witness the CinemaScope magic.
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Welcome to the era of modern musicals
hollymelon-2961526 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A modern musical masterpiece starring people who can neither dance nor carry a tune, and songs that you won't be able to tell apart from each other even if your life depended on it.

The most romantic movie of the year about a relationship that died after the very first fight with no real heartbreak on anyone's part.

A tale of struggling artists and dreamers whose struggle is all about living in nice apartments, driving posh cars and spending most of their time attending pool parties - and getting everything they've ever wanted just because.

A love letter to Hollywood and L.A. that manages to convince us there's only once cool spot in the whole area, up there on the hill, and everything else is just traffic jams.

The triumph of cinematography with camera pans that will hurt your eyes and color schemes borrowed from toddler section of your local toy store.

Way to go, Hollywood, way to go.
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So So film that was So disappointing
annie-slattery2321 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Well done the marketing department for creating a buzz around this film. The first comments I read in the newspapers said this was an uplifting life affirming experience. So how come my husband and I left the cinema feeling thoroughly depressed with the ending. The film was slow, boring and didn't have much to say. The opening sequence looked promising but turned out to be an unconnected piece of entertainment that wasn't repeated in the movie. It was left to Stone and Gosling to stumble along with short bits of dancing and very shaky vocals. Didn't detect any magical reaction from the audience who shuffled out in silence. Don't believe the hype this is a just OK film probably a 5.4 rating would be nearer the truth.
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Just Like Their Romance, It Never Comes Together
Jeffrey Burton16 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I really expected much more considering how much word of mouth this movie has got. I'm a fan of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. I LOVE Gosling's "Lost River' he wrote and directed and am looking forward to him in the new 'Bladerunner' movie.

This movie seems to flirt with becoming something really good but never gets there. The most memorable scene is in the observatory when they dance in the stars. Other than that the movie is flat, the romance is never really realized and the story is weak.

This is no epic romance. It's just a couple of people who knock around LA, become sort of lovers for a while and then go their separate ways. It's a strange subject for a musical. There's nothing really new or original here and none of songs standout.

The choreography is so safe that there's no dynamism in any of the dance numbers. They seem like a bunch of sequenced moves with none of fire or grace of a Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire musical. I don't get the point of this. Why did they pick non-dancer, non-singer Gosling and the only marginally better singer dancer, Emma Stone, for this? Why the hell didn't they use Channing Tatum? At least he can dance. Why didn't they get some A list talent to write the score?

Frankly, any one of the'Step Up' movies, even with their cheezy plots and sometimes embarrassingly bad acting kick this movie's ass.

The best part of the movie was the banter between Ryan and Emma. It seemed the only time there was a real spark of romance. I thought it was going to explode from that. instead just like the romance, the movie fizzles.

In a few years people will wonder what the fuss was all about.
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Shame on Hollywood for endorsing this movie as a 'Great musical"
fabiaalabraba3 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
This film will disappoint you. Here are the reasons why:

1. Its apparently supposed to be a movie musical, yet BOTH RYAN GOSLING AND EMMA STONE ARE BELOW AVERAGE SINGERS. I couldn't quite get past this point. It is astonishing that two below par singers could be casted in a movie musical? It is a heavy contradiction to the genre of film it attempts to portray.

2. Both RYAN GOSLING AND EMMA STONE ARE BELOW AVERAGE DANCERS. Similar to the singing complaint, i was unable to be captivated and fully immerse myself in the movie/musical 'magic' because i was too busy cringing at their dance performance.

3. The STORYLINE WAS NOT CAPTIVATING. Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, because of respective careers they don't end up together? Fin

4. THE STORYLINE WENT FLAT IN THE MIDDLE. The middle of the film dragged, for obvious reasons which is that the story line was to weak to maintain the intensity.

5. RYAN GOSLING'S CHARACTER IS ACTUALLY VERY ANNOYING A jazz fanatic that forces it down everybody's throat, including the girl he is dating. He was superior to others because of his love for jazz. He thrust jazz upon her, and because of that i never really for once believed in the film that she had organically grown to love jazz as her love for him also developed. Instead it seemed as if she had to pretend to like jazz as a pre- condition to their relationship.

6. The HYPE AROUND THIS FILM DOES NOT MATCH THE QUALITY OF THE FILM The expectations were simply way to high for this average film. I mean, it has 8.6 on IMDb for goodness sake!!

Although it is subjective, in my opinion, this film comes nowhere close to a great film or musical. In conclusion, shame on 'Hollywood' and so many once respected critics endorsing this film as one of, if not the 'greatest musicals' of all time. Furthermore, shame on movie lovers and society in general not having the balls to suggest the clear truth which is that this is clearly a very average film at best. Big Shame!
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Looked forward to seeing this film - very disappointed
frendtony19 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I went to this film with the expectation that I would be seeing a 'modern musical with a nostalgic twist'.

This expectation was delivered but generally in a mediocre way.

The much touted opening number was a technically accomplished cinematographic feat but the setting and choreography was rather bland and boring (I struggled to hear and care about the song for this number).

I found the 'repartee' between the two leads was a bit mumbled and not particularly witty or fun.

The dancing was very average and the songs and singing unmemorable (Mia and Seb's theme was bland and not what you would expect a jazz enthusiast to come up with).

Apart from the two leads, there were no other memorable characters or performances.

There was never a moment when I felt joy watching any of the scenes, which I suppose was the reason why I was most disappointed with the film.

A few interesting LA landmarks were showcased in the film but, again, the interesting settings were not really exploited by the choreography. For example, Mia and/or Seb could have danced on the round balcony at the observatory (what you would have expected a Fred or Gene to have done). If this was not allowed on the real balcony, the balcony could have been re-created on a set.

Ryan Gosling did not convey any great passion for either jazz or Mia, most of his facial expressions made it seem that he was a martyr to mild indigestion. He spoke a lot about his passions but you need to show this cinematically.

I enjoyed Emma Stone's performance much more. Some of her audition scenes were good and her performance of her last audition song was good (I thought the song itself was just OK).

To summarize, one of the few films that I was tempted to walk out on (but I was in the middle of a row), and one that I will never be tempted to watch again.
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Warning: Spoilers
Wow, I just cannot believe all the accolades this movie is getting. The only reason why it must be getting all these awards is that is is a movie about Hollywood, and Hollywood loves itself very much. The acting is vapid, the dancing mediocre, the songs forgettable, the singing abysmal. Everyone sounds like a bad choir audition-- weak, breathy, without focus or "ring". No legit Broadway-style singing technique. I cannot imagine what real Broadway singers and dancers must be thinking about this travesty.

I think it must be an exercise in navel-gazing, as the awards bodies see themselves in these two characters. Haven't they all struggled to get auditions? Haven't they all had screen tests? Haven't they all tried to "make it" in Hollywood? of course they have. The awards givers like looking at themselves in the mirror. Personally I do not like what they see. Don't bother wasting your energy, or you will quit halfway through, as I did. 0 out of 10.
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Yet another Hollywood con-job
Mobithailand16 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Yet Another Hollywood Con-job!

It ain't "West Side Story", which is quite possibly the best musical ever made.

It also ain't "Singing in the Rain", which is arguably the best postwar musical made in the Hollywood tradition.

It also ain't "Top Hat", rated by many as the best Rogers/Astaire musical.

It also ain't "Moulin Rouge", which was a riot of great music, comedy, genuine drama, and emotion.

And it ain't even "Les Misérables", arguably the finest ever stage musical which was ruined on film by a non-professional singing cast who could barely sing in tune, (Anne Hathaway excepted).

As with other 'duds' that are adored by the professional critics and film insiders, such as "Birdman" and the recent "American Honey", it seems to be yet another case of the "Kings New Clothes". Nobody dares to criticize.

We are told by the experts that La La Land it is absolutely brilliant and when we go to see it we will swoon in the aisles, barely able to find the superlatives to describe how much we loved it.

Yet if you scroll down the user reviews of this smash hit musical, in among the glowing 10 out of ten-star reviews, you will find a fair sprinkling of one-star reviews. Not five or six or seven stars … no, just 1-stars among the 10-stars.

It doesn't make sense – why do all these people give it ten stars and others only one, with headlines such as "Painfully Bad Film Musical", "They Don't Make Them Like They Used To", and "So Disappointed!" "Been There, Seen That" and "Visceral hatred for a con job"

If you are wondering why is it that some people can love it and others hate it – go and read some of the one-star reviews. The reviewers are movie lovers, (like me), and many are movie-musical lovers, (like me), and they intelligently articulate with tremendous clarity why La La Land has been ridiculously over-hyped, and why the endless publicity has simply turned 99% of the movie-going public into one enormous flock of sheep.

So what's wrong with it?

In a single word, it is INSIPID. (Insipid: lacking in qualities that interest, stimulate or challenge; dull, vapid, flat….)

The songs are insipid.

Even though I am partial to jazz - and some of the jazz sequences with John Legend do sparkle - in general, the music score is mundane to a fault and the tunes are instantly forgettable.

The singing is insipid.

Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling do their best, but they are NOT professional singers, and I suspect you could find better singers at any local amateur dramatic musical production. The movie directors of old were smart enough to understand that if their stars cannot sing, such as Natalie Wood in "West Side Story", then dub in a decent singer. How many people ever realized that Natalie didn't actually sing those wonderful songs?

The dancing by Stone and Gosling is insipid.

Again, they do their best but they are NOT professionals. In some sequences, you can almost sense the dance instructors off camera shouting out "Stop! one step left! one step back!" and so on. They are sooo… wooden.

The ensemble dancers are pretty much OK, but to be honest, there are no really great, original dance sequences that astonish and astound you- nothing that even comes close to the kind of stuff we have seen in the movie musicals of the past. Frankly, I can see better dance sequences every week in "Strictly come Dancing" or "Dancing with the Stars" than I saw in La La Land.

The story is insipid.

It takes forever to get going and for the first half of the movie you have to pinch yourself to keep watching these insipid characters playing out thoroughly unoriginal, utterly boring story. You really don't care what happens to either of them.

The Story

Struggling actress meets struggling jazz pianist. Pianist makes good, actress dumps him because he opts for "wealth and fame" over his musical principles – whatever that may mean. The actress gives up, and goes home to mom; successful pianist comes to the rescue and persuades her to go to one last audition. Guess what? She makes it and becomes a star, and the two stars go their separate ways.

What an enthralling story, don't you think? This review hardly qualifies as one of those containing spoilers, as the story is so insipid.

Okay, so is anything good?

Yes – the cinematography and editing are good, as you might expect of a movie with a budget exceeding 30 million dollars. They can afford to hire to very best technicians that money can buy – and they do.

But a good cameraman and a good editor, and a good costume designer and a good set designer, and so on, do not a good movie make. These wonderful technicians were already let down from the start by director Damien Chazelle, who wrote the insipid story and by Justin Hurwitz who penned the insipid music.

If you've got nothing better to do, and like me, you hate all the Hollywood franchise trash that fills our cinema screens these days, then you might do worse than spend a couple of hours snoozing through this piece of insipid, sleep-inducing rubbish.

But if you expect to be uplifted and leave with a fine tune ringing in your ears, then you're in for a major disappointment.

Unless you're one of the sheep… baa aah…
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So Disappointed!
chaitov26 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I was greatly looking forward to this movie.I had read many reviews and they all seemed very positive.In fact when I read my newspaper's critique is was given 4/4 which is unusual. How let down I am. This was the worst movie I have seen this year.And we saw it in a VIP theatre.It was so slow moving that I felt myself falling asleep. I kept looking at my watch saying "only another 1/2 hour." Ryan Gosling cannot really sing & dance.And Emma Stone may be very photogenic & a good actress but she also is not much of a singer/dancer.There are wonderful musicals such as The amazing "West Side Story",the wonderful "Grease' Chicago was terrific to watch also as well as "Hairspray" with Jennifer Hudson & 'Mama Mia" with Meryl Streep.But this mess was a dud. The plot was simple but its execution was a dismal failure.I cannot figure out all the accolades this movie is getting from the Golden Globes,critics,& user reviews. A few hours after this film,I cant really remember anything worthwhile.Do not waste your money on this film whatever the critics say.It is boring,non believable,& you wont really care about the characters.
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My Most Memorable Cinematic Experience Since Star Wars - when I was six
Marcus_Markou10 October 2016
The last time, I felt like this, in a cinema, I was six years old and I was watching Star Wars. I never imagined, I would ever find that feeling again in a cinema. That sense of being transported to another world.

The opening sequence took my breath away and I never got it back. Not even at the end - which left my head spinning. It is a beautiful film with soul, wit, charm, style and love. It is simply outrageous! Bold and fantastic and fantastical.

I am a straight man but my love for Ryan Gosling could change all that. He's a melancholy genius and Emma Stone is our muse.

This film defies genre. It is a masterpiece. I urge you to see it. I was lucky enough to see it at the BFI London Film Festvial.

It has been five days since I saw La La Land and I am still thinking about it and singing the haunting refrain that plays with your soul. I mean it gets in there - that music - the music of the firmament. Flying still, dreaming still... thank you Damien.
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Painfully Bad Film Musical
gblairm20 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I love musicals, but I must have missed the stand in the theater where they were handing our the kool-aid for this one.

Based on the hype, I had high expectations. I went in thinking "La La Land" would be like "An American in Paris" or "The Bandwagon," but once it started I realized it was more like "One From the Heart," or "Everyone Says I Love You," although both of those dismal failures had better music.

In this film, Ryan Gosling plays a supercilious piano-playing bore who endlessly pontificates about "jazz." Emma Stone plays his vapid love interest, a star-struck barista who thinks she should be a movie star because she has a home filled with movie posters and her aunt once showed her "Casablanca." Once these two ciphers meet, the audience is subjected the kind of dreary conversation one flees from in real life.

The musical score is deeply uninteresting. Emma and Ryan's hilltop dance is supposed to be reminiscent of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse/Ginger Rogers, but comes closer to Teri Garr and Raul Julia in the aforementioned Coppola disaster.

By the way, the film completely fails to capture L.A. in any way.

Kudos to Emma and Ryan for trying to sing and dance, unfortunately proving that it takes MORE talent than they or most other Hollywood celebrities have to perform in a musical. However, I think that Damien Chazelle should be prevented from ever making another film musical.

If you insist on subjecting yourself to an excruciatingly bad musical, try "The Apple," which is a lot more fun and has better music. To check out good-to-great musicals, see the movies that "inspired" La La Land--the RKO Fred & Ginger movies and the MGM musicals from the 30's through 50"s. Even the recent straight-to-video "Lucky Stiff" leaves "La La Land" in the dust.
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Painful to watch
srjcochrane12 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Sorry but I grew up living and loving musicals but this is tripe. None of the "stars" are of the expected style or standard. The story is grotesquely poor and without logic. Gosling is pathetic, I kept wanting someone to slam the keyboard cover down on his hands, Stones voice left me praying for a good dose of pharyngitis. In short neither can sing or dance yet the Hollywood promo machine keep telling us how great it is and people believe it. In short i wasted 2 hours, 7 minutes and 3 seconds of my life. For our Australian summer releases it rates nearly as bad as Passengers.

Don't bother wasting the ticket money.
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Love letter to Hollywood .. and a Heck of a Film
A_Different_Drummer1 January 2017
Writer/Director Damien Chazelle, who already had a nice career going for him, explodes into the Bigtime with this delightful, mesmerizing, and completely unexpected ode to Tinseltown.

The opening sequence (satirized on the Golden Globes) really does not do the rest of the film justice. It is as if the cast from the FAME remake grew up, had children of their own, and then those children hijacked the Santa Monica freeway to do a 10 minute flash-mob dance sequence.

From that point on, the film is hypnotic.

We segue to a love story as pure as anything since the great dramas of the 1940s. If the film had been in B&W, you would almost have expected to see Bette Davis in a 3-hankie tear jerker.

Except for the musical interludes, of course, which are pitch perfect and totally wonderful.

Gosling is surprising as a leading man expected to do song and dance, but he delivers the goods.

Stone, who was supposed to be "the next big thing" after Easy A (2010), steals the film and possibly the hearts of the audience as well. The awards should flow like water, and she will deserve every one.

As I said, deep in the DNA this is an ode to Hollywood. The film industry has always had issues with endings -- back in the day they would film several different endings per picture -- and then decide at the last minute which to use. Here Chazelle pays homage to that by giving us an alternate ending, along with the "real" ending, along with a closing sequence designed to remind everyone that nothing in Hollywood is actually real, but everything still can be really fun.

Destined to be a classic. Recommended.
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Blah Blah Bland
Drew K3 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
What is everyone in this film singing and dancing about? Our story starts off in a traffic jam on a freeway and suddenly everyone does a song and dance number that sets the tone that this film is a colorful original musical about ambitious young people who pursue their dreams in LA. The opening musical number is painful to watch but I assume the story will improve.

Our central characters are an actress who aspires to be a famous movie star and a musician who aspires to be a moody jazz pianist. She falls in love with him when she first hears him play his music. He falls in love with her as they begin to date and explore Hollywood. They soon trip head over heals in love and as if by magic they dance with bliss along the milky way.

The only problem is - she soon reveals that she does not understand what is so great about jazz. (Wait - I thought she loved his music when she first heard him play?) So he explains the history of jazz and the poetry of the musician. That seems good enough and they continue their starry eyed romance.

But her auditions are a bust. No work. Nothing changes. She has to write a one woman play to perform to demonstrate her craft. Yet he lands an opportunity to perform in a big band - the only problem is the music will be more upbeat pop funk jazz hybrid that will make him pretty good money but also take him away from his dreams to be the moody jazz pianist.

He sells out to get work - and she stays true to herself and finds no work.

This creates a schism and they have a very corny argument about creative direction. He does not understand what is wrong with him making money and traveling and being famous even if he truly knows that it sells out his dreams. She does not understand why she cannot get work even though she stays true to her dreams - and when her one woman show is a dud she decides to quit her dreams and move back home.

Our dashing hero feels awful and soon learns that she has one final audition that awaits and so he drives to her home in Nevada to tell her that she must return for one final audition. They travel back to LA - she sings at her audition - and she gets the role. Both have their own careers now - so they split up. Five years later - she is a famous movie star married with children and he has his own jazz club where he lives his dreams as a moody jazz pianist.

One night by happenstance - she stumbles into the club and finds him. He plays a solo piano song and she has a dream where their entire love affair is relived only all the choices which led to their separation are made differently and they stay together and have a family and discover their dreams as a couple. Suddenly, she understands what his words meant so long ago - about the history of jazz - the poetry of the musician - now everything comes full circle - and they have a longing final glance.

This is all cool - don't get me wrong. But the story itself has been told so many times its clichés are even clichéd. The songs and dialogue are very uneven and at times the film is incoherently stupid. Really - do young couples talk about why they would sell out their dreams to make thousands of dollars a month?

Also, the big red flag with the story is that the music simply is not very good. There is not one memorable song or dance in the entire film! Mostly the lights and costumes replace any real choreography or musical number with a unique visual cue. Also, Ryan Gosling is poorly cast as a jazz pianist. It just does not feel real at all that Gosling is so, so sad in LA with his poor dreams of being a jazz pianist so hard to recognize as he dates lovely women.

What exactly is the purpose of this film? What was everyone singing and dancing about? Do we live in a world where people can fly down to LA and pursue their dreams with a shot like yesteryear? Or do we live in a world where educational alliances, corporate oligarchy, family connections, and the occasional marriage - determine who gets to shine in the lights? Are we as a people supposed to rejoice that the song and dance of old Hollywood musicals had a tribute film made just in time for the Oscar season?

I dunno - this movie does have some strong moments in the script - and it does have some good acting - costumes - and lights - but I just think it's corny and I could not care less.
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For The Love Of Movies
marcosaguado27 January 2017
Damien Chazelle is a young director who loves and knows movies, from Federico Fellini to Jacques Demy. Hallellujah! Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone go back to inspire us forward. What's more surprising than anything else is the feel of amateurishness in the dancing in the singing. So refreshing not to have a sleek but empty experience. Damian Chazelle' Whiplash was a brilliant preview of forthcoming attractions. I would love to see a thriller directed by Chazelle, something like Shadow Of A Doubt or even a glossy damsel in distress story like Midnight Lace. That's what happens when we discover a new and startling talent. You want to see him do everything. I have a feeling this young artist will.
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An unashamedly romantic musical, infused with intense charisma and devastating emotion
Jason Mcateer10 October 2016
I was interested in seeing this film because not only am I a sucker for a good musical, but I'll admit to being a big fan of Ryan Gosling and I was intrigued to see what the director of Whiplash would do with a musical picture to make it fresh and unique. So when I had the chance to see a late-planned viewing at the London Film Festival, I jumped at the chance (FYI, Ryan Gosling came to the screening as a surprise post- film Q&A attendee despite not appearing at the Headline Gala the night before so I was chuffed!)

The premise of the story is that Stone is a young actress who has moved to LA to wait tables while auditioning to try and 'make it', while Gosling is a jazz purist ("Anyone who doesn't like jazz just doesn't have the right...context", he insists) who plays the piano in bars to make a living and dreams of opening his own Jazz bar. Or to put it succinctly - "Two young artists meet and fall in love while chasing their dreams". The musical flows thematically from first love to heartbreak and every other emotion between, with great music throughout.

The most impressive thing about the film, for me, is just how daringly it dances between the old-fashioned "Singing' In The Rain" style of musical, and a bolder, modern style. The song numbers are great (the opening number received a round of applause in my viewing) and are an undoubted homage to classic musicals - a thoughtful mixture of old school dance numbers you'd expect from a musical in the 50s, and emotionally-wrenching ballads that hit you where it hurts; there is one particular sequence toward the end of the film which is a real gut-punch.

Stylistically the film skirts this same line; the film again looks and acts like a classic musical but frequently we see low-key reminders that this is modern day; actresses using their iPhones, a video being seen on Youtube, etc to remind us that this is set in the present day. If we didn't have these reminders, the visuals would almost have you thinking that this is the 1950s. The cinematography is beautiful and overall the film is visually stunning. There is also no doubt that it is wonderfully directed, with the same masterful control of pace and tension that we come to expect from Damien Chazelle thanks to Whiplash.

Gosling in particular is absolutely terrific, with a typically sardonic wit throughout. At the start of the film when his sister says she's worried about him as life seems to have him on the ropes, he responds "I wanna be on the ropes. I'm just letting life think it has me and then before you know it - BAM. It's a classic rope-a-dope". His delivery of these sorts of lines can't be matched, and it's easy to see why the producers said in the post-film Q&A that he was the person they wanted for the role in their wildest dreams. It's a role made for him with tons more of the above kind of lines. But more than that, Gosling captures a real emotional intensity at the film's emotional breaking points, more specifically in the sequence towards the end of the film that I mentioned earlier. He manages to convey such convincing emotion without so much as a word.

I'd feel bad if I didn't also praise Emma Stone, who has probably never been better. She has wonderful emotional range, from the ecstatic highs of love to the tearful, painful lows.

In terms of the Gosling/Stone films, this is by far the best. Their undoubted chemistry is given the full spotlight in this film with freedom to explore said chemistry without restriction.

The film is ultimately everything it had the potential to be - an unashamedly romantic musical, infused not only with great song and dance numbers but with intense emotion and charisma from Gosling/Stone, wonderful visuals and a unique pacing and tension from Chazelle. Oh, and it's hilarious throughout too. A genuine achievement - must be one of the best films I've seen in a long while. I'm annoyed I'll have to wait so long to see it again, frankly.

Will surely win multiple Oscars and other awards.
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Talentless, Dull, Ridiculous and Pathetic
PrairieCal4 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Words fail me. I can only assume that the lovers of this film have little past experience watching quality musicals, romances, or comedies. Who the hell thought this mess up? What were they sniffing?

The scene where the two stars suddenly fly into the stratosphere in a movie theater was laughable, silly, and ridiculous. Our movie night with friends turned into groans and unintended laughter at its stupidity. To add insult to injury, the split second cuts from scene to scene added an amateurish touch to the whole affair. After an hour, we couldn't take anymore and shut it off in disgust. If you want misery, get a root canal instead. It would be much easier to endure.

It's sad that a whole generation of movie goers will accept this garbage as a good movie. Obviously they've never seen very many "good" movies.

But look on the bright side. Seventh grade girls will really love this crock.
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They Don't Make Them Like They Used To
gplan-7788129 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
While looking forward to seeing this film but having no real expectations, the film was excruciatingly painful to sit through and I like musicals. Being a former film student,I found this film slow, boring, uneventful and at least an hour too long with unappealing characters. At a point in the film, Ryan Gosling's character looks out over L.A. and says "not much to look at". I said to my wife, "my thoughts exactly" (referring to the film-not L.A.). This made musicals like 'Lost Horizon' and 'At Long Last Love' look like cinematic greatness (and I enjoyed those). They certainly don't make them like they used to.
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Been There, Seen That
hpodc26 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Tone of the movie wavers between serious and quirky, never making a definitive choice; as such it succeeds at neither. Far too many "homages" to other movies to stand on its own. Tries to play on LA stereotypes, but the commentary on them only comes across as "making sure each cliché is thrown in the movie somewhere," thereby ensuring that the movie itself exemplifies the most prevalent LA stereotype: style over substance.

Liked the "alternate reality" sequence if only for the fact that it was the one moment in the movie where it tried to say something interesting about life and because I could pretend to be in some other reality where I wasn't watching this movie.
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I Don't Get It
mike514121 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I'm sorry but I just don't get the adulation for this very bland, very boring musical. I watched it with a lot of anticipation with my partner and both she and I were bored enough to consider giving up.

The opening sequence was like a James Bond opening sequence. It had nothing to do with the actual film and was the best part.

I'm a very big musical fan and it's difficult to think of one I haven't seen. This one has an original score and isn't a film version of a Broadway musical so should not be compared too closely to films like Mamma Mia or Les Miserables but can be compared to Singing in The Rain, High Society and to a certain extent Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Cabaret, etc., which were produced in an age where Theatregoing was a rich persons pastime.

In every comparison, this film fails. The music is insipid and totally forgettable. The acting is OK but the main characters dancing would not have got them past week two of Strictly Come Dancing.

The biggest fault with the movie is the complete lack of supporting actors to flesh out the story. The two main characters are just not strong enough to carry the movie for more than two hours without help. I'm talking about actors like Anne Hathaway (Les Mis.), Joel Grey (Cabaret), Stockard Channing (Grease), George Chakiris (West Side Story), Donald O'Conner (Singing In The Rain). The list goes on and on. In this film all we got were cameos by John Legend and a totally wasted J K Simmons (would love to have seen him sing and dance!!).

So! Sorry for being a spoilsport but I just cannot see what all the fuss is about
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alexdeleonfilm5 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The new Hollywood musical with the intriguing title "La-La-Land one of the most talked about motion pictures in recent years with two of Hollywood's most attractive and popular younger generation stars, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, can best be summed up in a single three syllable word ~~. PA-THE-TIC!

-- Gosling, in spite of a name that makes one think of goose liver, is indeed quite handsome in the traditional Hollywood leading man mold, but when it comes to acting or personality he is no Cary Grant or Jimmy Dean, and as far as dancing goes he couldn't carry the jock strap of either Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire. His love interest and dancing partner, Emma Stone, a lissome (skinny) redhead with gigantic blue eyes, and no breasts to speak of, is a much better dancer, and generally a far better actor, but seems to have aged considerably since her extraordinarily vivid interpretation of a sexy young college co-ed in love with her murderous philosophy prof in Woody Allen's "Irrational Man" just two years ago. In this picture she is in facial closeup much of the time but looks haggard, worn, and older than she is supposed to according to the story. The dance numbers seem to be an attempt at a homage to Astaire and Ginger Rogers in slow motion, but they are so badly set and choreographed that after a while they just become annoying. One particular Gosling Stone duet set in the L.A. Planetarium is so ridiculous with them antigravitationally traipsing on thin air against a galaxy of stars that it is downright embarrassing. The young lovers are clearly meant for. each other but their divergent career dreams and aspirations, she as an actress he as a Charley Parker type serious jazz musician, keep them apart in the wake of arbitrary script manipulations that seem so phony you get the feeling the actors had to keep asking themselves, "Hold on a sec --what were we supposed to be doing in that last scene?" Pathetic scripting, pathetic unmotivated dance scenes arbitrarily inserted, then ineptly executed -- pathetic unfocused direction - no wonder Mia (Stone) and Sebastian (Gosling) have such pained expressions on their pretty faces all the time. I actually felt sorry for Emma in some scenes suspecting that she may have been physically unwell while going through the motions. I kept looking at my watch wondering if this thing was ever going to end. The running time was 128 minutes but it felt more like five hours. The final credits with handsome art-deco lettering were a great relief when they finally came up and put this picture out if its misery. No more Damien Chazelle for me. He also directed another sado-masochistic abomination entitled "Whiplash". Give me Mondo Cane ... Bottom line: A film almost as dopey as its dumbbell La-dee-da title.
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The Most Charming Film of the Year
wfjohnston1413 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
La La Land is a triumph on so many levels. It hooks you from the beginning with its big opening number on the highway and has your heart fluttering in the club at the end. Damien Chazelle has proved himself to be one of the most talented directors/screenwriters in film right now.

The film gets you with its charm. It flows from the dialogue like poetry. The chemistry between Stone and Gosling makes the film livelier. Stone has slowly shown herself as a force to be reckon with in Hollywood and now Gosling has join the ranks after his stellar performance as the jazz pianist who's main dream is watch jazz live on. Stone is a wanna be actress who can't find her way. Together, they thrive off each other's love and support as they try to accomplish their goals together. Each have a chance at their first Oscar gold.

What else helps is a beautiful score and extremely well written songs. I found myself humming "City of Stars" all night long, already saving the soundtrack on every music platform I could. The music and dance numbers are a perfect blend of Gene Kelly musicals and more contemporary stuff like Chicago. The production design helps with this with bright, vivid colors abound from the walls of a passing building to Emma Stone's dress. A charming film only works when all cylinders click. This one was clockwork.

Like Whiplash, the editing is superb, timing well with the score, making it very appealing to the eye. But the cinematography was mind blowing. Able to capture those big production numbers with long swift cuts made it very astonishing. Not a moment seemed overlooked or underdeveloped. Each scene was extremely well thought out to cause the biggest "awe" effect, or to provide strong symbolism.

But the ending is what can really make or break a movie. This one makes it 10x better. It goes away from the predictable musical ending while wrapping up the movie in fellow swoop, opening the audiences' eyes to the entire meaning of the story, beyond the theme of follow your dreams. The idea that dreams are possible when you are willing to strive for them, but life isn't your own la la land. Everything does not end perfectly.

When combining all these elements together, you get one of, if not the best film of the year. In a year where things became bitter, this really ends the year on a high note. Cheers to the dreamers, the men and women behind the making of this musical classic.
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Bad but in a really bad way
Peter Dale27 February 2017
A film that fails the Turing test - in reverse. Or something. What I mean is that after the first 5 minutes the unpleasant sensation crawled over me that I was participating in a rather sinister experiment, watching a movie made by a computer which was testing me by attempting to provoke a human-like response. Stuffed with algorithms culled from proper movies and musicals, the computer has generated a script and a set of scenarios based on user-preference and targeted directly at my very own demographic! Its eerie; the songs sound like songs but aren't quite, the dialogue sounds like people but not quite, nothing that happens has a real reason or point other than to crank through the plot, the jazz looks like jazz and sounds like jazz but isn't, quite, and the set-ups calculated to provoke an emotional effect left me untouched and feeling slightly hollow. What has been thrown, hurled and heaved at this film is Oscar-seeking acting, Oscar-seeking direction and Oscar-seeking technical twiddling. And hey ho and guess what, it got Oscars. Its the apotheosis of junk food, finally. You don't even need to make the effort to chew; it can now just squirt directly into you via the eyes and ears, a simulacrum of nourishment, over-flavoured glop taking the name of real love, real music, real acting and real life in vain.
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