LA LA LAND (2016)

lalaland

‘Here’s one for the dreamers’

La La Land, Damien Chazelle’s next film after the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated Whiplash, is a comedy-drama musical starring Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. The film is the story of two dreamers, Mia and Sebastian, who live in Los Angeles and dream of becoming a famous actress, and reinvigorating jazz music respectively. Both feel passionately about their dreams, but are both equally frustrated about the lack of progress they are making. They meet at a time in their lives where they’re both at a crossroads about whether their dreams are ever going to come true, and whether maybe its time they ‘grow up’ and accept they’re never going to make it.

This movie blew me away. I had a feeling I was going to love it, purely based on the director, cast and trailers but I had no idea it was going to emotionally affect me in the way it did. The film is bittersweet, it really asks the question if dreamers can really pursue relationships when they are so focused on pursuing their vocation. As someone who has always felt their dreams to be too big, this is an idea I can relate to, the relentless need to pursue your passion, but at what cost for your personal life and relationships? The film, although showing how beautiful Hollywood is, isn’t afraid to show that it is cutthroat, unromantic and difficult. The audience is rooting for these characters so much, we are almost as passionate about them achieving their goals as they are. I became emotionally invested in not only Mia and Sebastian’s dreams, but about their relationship. Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling have such natural chemistry that it bursts off the screen; every moment of their relationship is believable and authentic, beautiful yet utterly heartbreaking. I sincerely hope they both get nominated for every award possible for their performances. I’m already thrilled at their Golden Globe success.

Damien Chazelle is a genius. Whiplash was my favourite movie of 2014 and has safely got a spot in my favourite movies of all time. Chazelle is clearly fond of music, jazz in particular – it was great to see JK Simmons make an appearance in this movie again. There are familiar ideas in La La Land and Whiplash, but the films are incredibly different in tone. He has created two endlessly rewatchable masterpieces that will be remembered as some of the best films of the 21st century. I am so excited to see what he is going to do next. For such a young director, it is awe-inspiring to see just how talented he is. It’s quite mind-blowing. If he continues on this path, he will be one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, no doubt.

La La Land is a film everyone should see, even if you don’t like musicals. If you’re a dreamer or perhaps even a romantic, this film will get to you emotionally. If you’re just someone who likes good movies, see it. Every shot is beautiful, every frame, every colour. And every song is beautiful – the soundtrack will be on repeat on my Spotify for the next few weeks. I sincerely hope this film gets all the recognition it deserves, and I expect to see (hopefully) a lot more original musicals pushing through into the mainstream.

La La Land obviously gets a 5/5. Perfect in every way.

ZOOTROPOLIS/ ZOOTOPIA (2016)

Zootopia.jpg

I have to admit, animated movies have never been for me. Even as a child, I can’t recall being particularly fond of them or them being much of my childhood. Recently, I’ve been watching more animated movies and have found a new appreciation for them as an adult. Disney’s Zootropolis (Zootopia in the US) was released this year to rave reviews, so I decided to give it a watch.

This movie really surprised me. I think children can definitely enjoy the cutesy animals and bright, fun animation involved in this film, but the overwhelming themes of racism, diversity and equality really stood out and will not go unnoticed by adults. The film tells the story of Judy Hopps, who wants to be the first bunny police officer in Zootropolis. This career path, she is told by her parents and school children, is not a career path for a bunny. Despite their warnings, Judy follows her dreams anyway and excels. Not only is this a great message for kids, this message can apply to us all in our lives. The film portrays racism and inequality through the fox Nick Wild, who, along with other predators, are stereotyped as dangerous and untrustworthy. Judy’s open-minded, inclusive nature leads to a budding friendship between the two, and what you ultimately are left with is a buddy cop movie for children.

Zootropolis is smart. It knows how to drop these subtleties that can apply to our human lives without trying to bash you over the head with messages. But it’s a film that children and adults alike should watch, especially in our culture nowadays where these themes are so important. The voice work, which I think is often overlooked in animation, should be recognised here, particularly from the films leads Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman. Voice work in general is never quite given the praise it deserves, in fact I think it should be given its own category at awards ceremonies, as there are so many outstanding actors working in this field who are unappreciated.

This movie is enjoyable, intelligent and beautifully animated and deserves all the recognition come awards season.

5/5