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Thursday October 19th 2017

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“La La Land”

By Howard McQuitter II

****1/2 out of five stars

“La La Land” (2016)

Liongate

Drama/Musical/Romance

Sebastian has that same passion for jazz as did Andrew (Miles Teller) did in “Whiplash”(2014), by director Damien Chazelle, who directed both “Whiplash” and “La La Land”. In both cases, Sebastian, the pianist, and Andrew, the drummer, have uphill battles, not to mention Chazelle’s “subtle” love of jazz. (I’m sure, Mr. Chazelle listens to some of the jazz greats Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, and more.)

The best dance number is at the beginning of the film when people stuck in Los Angeles traffic decide to leave their vehicles temporarily to either jump on tops of their vehicles or stay on the ground to dance and sing. And at first when Sebastian and Mia meet on that highway there is no love at first sight. In time the romance will grow, sputter, spin and who knows what else. Boss (J.K. Simmons, also in “Whiplash” as hard task music director) fires Sebastian at an upscale dinner club putting Seb out on the pavement looking for work. Meanwhile, Mia is having it tough finding steady work as an actress. She begins to doubt herself and finds ways she can’t make it as an actress. If she can only look at other actresses before her (and there are plenty) who passed down a rugged road to success.

I can see something in “La La Land” (I say ambition more than anything else) from Stanley Dolen’s “ Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” (1954) to Mervyn LeRoy’s “Gold Diggers of 1933(1933) to Joshua Logan’s “South Pacific” (1958). Though the singing lacks depth and dancing is far from great, the film is still a pleasure to see.

Cast: Ryan Gosling (Sebastian), Emma Stone (Mia), J.K. Simmons (Boss), John Legend (Keith). (PG-13) Running time: 128 minutes. Director: Damien Chazelle. Cinematography: Linus Sandgren. Music: Justin Hurwitz

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