Film Surf Report: In Praise of LaLa Land And Singing While Stuck On The 405 Freeway

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Santa Monica, CA — Sometimes, ya just need to see a “happy” film.  For me, that film is LaLa Land which was nominated for a record-tying 14 Academy Awards. I saw an advance screening in November courtesy of KCRW Radio and have been breaking into song ever since.  (Apologies, Neighbors.)

Old-fashioned yet contemporary, LaLa Land is my favorite film of 2016. The Lionsgate musical just worked for me on every level: Bad Auditions. Hollywood Parties. Piano Bars. Throw in a very charismatic debut performance from John Legend. Add a story twist/nod to Sliding Doors.  This movie had me from its fantastic opening scene:  A traffic jam on a congested LA freeway and Another Day of Sun.

Trailer for LaLa Land

We all need to feel Joyful every once and while, yes? As a resident of Los Angeles, Damien Chazelle’s film strikes several chords for me (pun intended):

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Ryan Gosling in Hermosa Beach.

  • It’s set in LA!  That’s the Hermosa Pier upon which the charming Ryan Gosling croons and dances.  I surf there.  Los Angeles has never looked so appealing.
  • Traffic is somehow made Joyous.  How I long to do this on the crowded 405 Freeway at rush hour:  Just get out of the car and burst into song along with the million other drivers not carpooling or taking public transportation.
  • Piano.  I have one.  It’s both old AND out of tune. After seeing LaLa Land, I am getting it tuned and heading back to lessons at Santa Monica College.  My most recent piano tuner has died.  It’s been THAT long.
  • Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling sing and dance like non-Broadway people do.  I like their authentic “realness.”  I don’t want or require perfect pitch or tapping.  Just pleasurable.  They nail it.  Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz discuss their casting process with Kim Masters on KCRW’s The Business, where we learn that at one point, Miles Teller (Whiplash) and Emma Watson were nearly signed to star:

KCRW’s The Business

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  • Ryan Gosling plays the piano.  He studied for four months.  I like that. I cannot fathom the nerves he must have felt while shooting this film which must of been something akin to juggling while singing, and then dancing.  Here is a link to a terrific KCRW interview on The Treatment, hosted by Elvis Mitchell, featuring Gosling and Chazelle:

The Treatment Featuring Chazelle and Gosling

  • Hotel piano bars are suddenly very appealing.  I have staked out the perfect lounge in which to play and to sing once I’ve shaken the rust from hands and pipes.  Oh, you’ll get an invite.
  • Hollywood parties are weird.  I recognized myself in the bathroom scene at the party in the Hills where Emma Stone locks herself in the lavatory, looks into the mirror and thinks What the f*ck am I doing here?  I experienced this very sensation quite recently.  Chazelle and Stone discuss this scene, at length, via

That Tricky Hollywood Party Scene

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  • I have been humming City of Stars for months.  I do not envy whomever sings it as the Oscars.  Am curious to see if Gosling and Stone attempt it.  KCRW DJ Chris Douridas is a fan as well, debuting the music on his Saturday night show.  Clearly, my favorite public radio station has embraced this movie, which no one wanted to make.

City of Stars (featuring Gosling & Stone)

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Epilogue – LaLa Land (Justin Hurwitz)

Soundtrack – Extended Version

N E X T    U P:

Why Deadpool Deserved Best Picture & Adapted Screenplay Nominations — #GameChanger #Influencer

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About Surfing Hollywood

Steve La Rue is an internationally recognized leader in Film & Television with 20+ years experience as a Development Executive championing such series as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, The Simpsons, King of the Hill, Battlestar Galactica, and Farscape. He writes, blogs, and consults on All Things Entertainment from his home at the beach in Santa Monica, CA, where he balances his life by surfing every damn day.
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