LA LA LAND Review - Charming, Magical, Enchanted L.A.

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LA LA LAND, from Lionsgate and Black Label Media, comes a delightfully charming look at the arduous process for star crossed hopefuls, courageous believers, in a town littered with aspiring headliners, social climbers, do anything's, broken dreams, and rejections.

Directed and written by Damien Chazelle, LA LA LAND stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, John Legend, J.K. Simmons and Rosemarie DeWitt along with strong supporting cast of singing and dancing actors, actresses, musicians and models.

LA LA LAND begins in typical L.A. fashion, stuck in traffic on the 405 as the camera pans each car the diversity of music, movement and motions coming from each is as diverse as the dream birthed, pursued, and lived in the city of Angels.

Settling on one beautiful girl, played by Reshma Gajjar, she begins LA LA LAND's opening musical number. A clear, pure, sweet voice soon she is dancing in traffic joined by the other stuck in traffic, on their way to auditions, singing and dancing talents all declaring the praises of, if all else fails you have, the sunshine in sunny southern California even on a winter's day such as today.

As the number fades and traffic moves on we met Mia, a missing in action actress, played by Emma Stone, memorizing sides for her next audition. Deep into the character she isn't sidetracked when some stranger lays on the horn behind her.

Passing Mia, who just realizes traffic has inched forward, we see some guy, played by Ryan Gosling, in an older model Ford mustang convertible, trimmed out with a tape player and an AM/FM Radio with tuning dials.

Laying on the horn, he passes her and she unruffled she flips him off and happily returns to her world. Still a four-roommate struggling actress, Mia is headed off to her day job as a barista on the Warner Bros lot where on any given day anyone from the studio chief dream-maker to the celebrity with the deal and finally got the part actress could walk in.

We finally met our convertible driver Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling, as he is walking into his apartment to find his sister, Laura, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, sitting at the table explaining once again the necessity for employment. Bills, life expenses, car maintenance and insurance and everything that goes along with that.

Invited to a party, Mia, after one more failed audition is pulled from her thoughts of tomorrows and pushed into a night out with her roommates. A party in the hills, is not quite what our girl goes for and as she walks to her car, she finds sit has been towed! Ouch! Just another day in paradise.

Walking, which is also unheard of in L.A., she hears the sound of piano jazz and is drawn into a club where our Sebastian, is just leaving as he was fired once again by the restaurants proprietor, Bill, played by J.K. Simmons.

She is awed at his skilled and just as she goes to tell him, he brushes past her, bumping into her as he brushes past, and doesn't stop or apologize.

These fated or destined meetings between our two aspiring talents continue until they risk on a relationship which for Mia, is somewhat of a challenge as she is dating Greg, played by Finn Wittrock, a professional something. 

LA LA LAND is charming and genuinely delightful!

Set in Los Angeles, LA LA LAND takes the audience to all the enchanting must see's on the tourist destination list and as it is a film provides just enough of the magical escapism one would expect in the land of suspended reality and musicals.  

LA LA LAND puts a twist on the unappealing revolving door of the struggling Hollywood talent showing just enough of the truth of the audition process to be believable and then as it is a musical, dances and sings away the heartache.

Emma Stone, not too far removed from the revolving door of auditions, brings a natural authenticity to her performance. Her vulnerability jumps from the screen. Emotionally, she handles the insecurities of his stardom first and is willing to settle for second, and not bad, when the love of her life chooses the dream first.

Ryan Gosling, I want to say somewhat further removed from the process, the past dues, and explanations to well-meaning relatives, pursues his art and captures the difference between men and women, when the opportunity, the elusive gig that takes him to the next level comes around he takes it. The idea of entanglements, anything that implodes the dream, is simply distraction and blocks the creativity.

He can separate the two dreams: life pursuit and love. The single-minded focus keeps his dream, life pursuit alive and first and love brings in a second person, who will or won't understand, the work is first and he accepts the constraints of it.  

The dancing is beautiful with elongated flowing movements, reminiscent of the great musicals of yesteryear, our Mia, a beautiful Ginger Rogers to Sebastian's Gene Kelly, LA LA LAND pays homage to the great films stars and the musicals of the past.

LA LA LAND is an attractive, captivating look at life in L.A., the beauty of the ever present and unfailing warmth of the sunshine. The hurt, heartache and loneliness of the dedicated artist, a single-minded pursuit, which few seem to understand is vividly and artfully presented.

As seductive, captivating and attractive, LA LA LAND charms.

LA LA LAND opens December 9, 2016 in theaters everywhere.

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