Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land” sang up a storm over the weekend: $855,000 in just five theaters. And that number may go up after today’s receipts are counted properly. “La La Land” should sweep the Critics Choice Awards tonight on A&E, then rack up a bunch of nominations in the morning with the Golden Globes. The Oscars are beckoning. Only Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” will prove to be competition.
I watched “La La Land” last night again for the first time since it debuted in Toronto. It is really a work of genius. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are perfection– Gosling isn’t getting enough kudos for his Gene Kelly-like performance and his musicianship. He’s playing a lot of that piano! He and Stone really make for a dreamy old fashioned Hollywood couple.
Much has been written about Justin Hurwitz’s original score, which reminds of Gershwin, Sondheim, and Cole Porter. He’s got two songs in there that are knockouts– “Audition” and “City of Stars.” But John Legend has a hit single on this soundtrack called “Start a Fire.” I hope it gets released. I wonder why it’s not on Legend’s new album? That’s a marketing error, I think.
“La La Land” is arresting and exciting from the minute it begins on the LA freeway. But the real clincher is that “five years later…” retelling of the movie from another point of view. This is Chazelle’s grand gesture. Woody Allen says no one ever talks about him as an influence, but that sequence has to be generated by memories of “Annie Hall” as Alvy remembers their romance. It worked then and it works now.
I didn’t even get into the cinematography– the colors bursting off the screen. Or the editing of the flying sequence (again, a little Woody nod to “Everyone Says I Love You”).
Now– all I want to know is when “La La Land” is coming to Broadway. Because you know, it is, it will be, and it will be a massive hit if the right people are involved and it’s not just another movie adaptation. I don’t know why, but I feel like Stephen Daldry (“Billy Elliott”) and Baz Luhrmann must be fighting over it already!