Movie Review: La La Land

When this movie first came out, I avoided it. A host of stars trying to do jazz in a musical. Great. Why not put some other fifties nostalgia in there. Ryan Gosling forcing Emma Stone to stay at home. Oh. Then it’d be just like the 2014 movie Bang, Bang, Baby. Even their titles are similar…

Early in the movie Ryan Gosling’s character, Sebastian talks about Los Angeles’s lack of values and constant imitation using an old club called the Van Deek as an example. The Van Deek is now a Tapas Samba bar.

I guess that was the story creators approach as an understanding that some may view his story as just, white people doing jazz. It was why I waited so long to watch it.

I learned to love jazz this way though. Full disclosure. My friend has been in jazz since the 60’s. He’d play at local piano bars using his real name. People would stop him after. Tell him, he should really try doing it professionally.

At twenty minutes into the movie I thought, why jazz? Hasn’t the jazz love-tragedy been done, to death? Then, I thought about a scene toward the end where Mia is auditioning for the thousandth time. The writers said they had no script and they just wanted her to tell a story. “They’d develop a story around the character.” That’s very, jazz. Everything in the story up to then felt very natural even when they sang. That’s very, jazz. Their singing, added a layer of emotion to the story. Maybe, that’s why people liked it so much.

Then, I thought. Why Ryan Gosling? Why not a decent jazz musician? That was about the twenty minute mark. I don’t hate him. He’s ok. Then, the scene with his sister happened and I knew why, Ryan Gosling. Sebastian had to be a major character AND a kind of narrator AND jazz historian. Oh. AND play music. That’s why, Ryan Gosling.

Is jazz that important? Especially being so far removed from its southern roots. Where, everyone came at night and partied. Sure. In its beginnings there was segregation but the music, was universal. It still is. Music, is a common ground and jazz is a period of that growing America. Where we abandoned what we thought was okay. Separating humans by color. Mistreatment. Even created laws to reinforce what we though was right but, looking back at history we were wrong. Without Jazz, there’s a big hole in American music that might have extended that divide in America. Just, a hypothetical.

Toward the ending. I didn’t want them to get back together. I wanted them both, Mia and Sebastian to follow what they loved because I think that’s what made them fall in love in the beginning. No one had to be rescued in a cliche moment. They could both be strong enough to have a melancholy ending. Where they are happy they followed a dream and happy they met each other along the most indirect path.

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