Review: ‘La La Land’ dances to Oscar contention

It’s been 14 years since a musical has won the top prize at the Academy Awards and La La Land is vying to end that streak with this enchanting tale of love in the City of Angels. Director Damien Chazelle (Whiplash) returns hungry for Oscar gold and brings with him a powerfully memorizing cast with catchy songs and a beautifully crafted story that will transport you out of the uncertainty of the real world and into a reality of hope and creativity where dreams are within the grasp of the dreamer and the skies the limit for the few that chose to believe. Transport yourself to La La Land.

Mia (Emma Stone) is an on-studio barista and aspiring actress looking for her big break. Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) is a pianist who sees the world closing in around him to suffocate the one thing he loves above all, Jazz. Chance has crossed their paths on several occasions, but for Sebastian, his focus of his perfect future sees right through what’s facing his present. But chance won’t be denied. The two meet again with each doing their best to dismiss the obvious, that there is clearly chemistry between them. One day, Sebastian finds Mia at work and, after a declaration of her dislike for jazz, decides to take her to a jazz bar. He opens up to Mia about his passion for jazz and his aspirations of running his own jazz bar, they discuss Mia’s trials and tribulations of being an actress and Sebastian helps reinforce her passion for her craft. The two face the inevitable truth that the future is brighter with each one beside the other.

Mia decides to write a personal single-actress play, “So Long, Boulder City,” hoping it will propel her to stardom, and Sebastian becomes a keyboardist in his jazz band, The Messengers, with long time friend Keith (John Legend), which takes him on tour and away from Mia.  Facing the inevitability of change, the star crossed lovers tackle their new projects head on. As they forge on to keep their love alive, Mia faces a hard road that has her question the choices she’s made and looks to change her future. Sebastian’s future plans have altered now because of the bands success and in the process, they find themselves on different paths. Now is it the dreamers, coming full circle to face the truth about their choices, or do they have one final act in which to create their happy ending?

La La Land is nothing short of extraordinary. A timeless tale of love and aspiration of two lovers facing the hard realities of life. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are the perfect pair to bring Mia and Sebastian to life. Having worked together before as a couple on screen,  the trust that each other has in the abilities of the other to bring out the best in their performances creates beautifully crafted emotional scenes and moments of pure joy. Unlike many musicals before, the choreography by Mandy Moore and the music of Justin Hurwitz are never overpowering and act only as a compliment to the surrounding story.  The cinematography by Linus Sandgren is bright and vibrant and director Damien Chazelle’s vision culminated in a movie that will be cherished for generations to come.

Overall, La La Land is destined to compete for best picture during award season and rightfully so. It’s a film destined to steal your heart and yearn for a time when you dreamed an impossible dream. Be sure to leave the real world at the door and allow yourself the pleasure of this treasure.

Stars:

4 1/2 out of 5

After Credit Scene?

None

Trailer:

RED NOSE DAY USA is today! Live on NBC tonight at 8/7c

Red Nose Day, the U.K.’s #1 television fundraising event, is coming to America in a spectacular live star-studded special Thursday, May 21 (8-11 p.m. ET) on NBC.

redNoseDay_marketingBand_learnMore_1080x350Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Julia Roberts, Will Ferrell, Jack Black, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, Jodie Foster and more, are coming together to have fun, raise money and change lives in an incredible “fun-raising” special. Featuring great comedy, videos produced by Funny Or Die, incredible music performances and Hollywood’s favorite stars, the benefit event will help 12 charity organizations lift children and young people out of poverty, in the U.S. and throughout the world.

RND_Tonight_350x467_v1Julianne Moore, Jack Black, Coldplay and Neil Patrick Harris will also appear, along with John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Michelle Rodriguez, Gwyneth Paltrow and music sensations John Legend and “Voice” coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera and Pharrell Williams. Sienna Miller, Paul Rudd, Olivia Wilde, Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sir Ian McKellen, Orlando Bloom, Leslie Mann, January Jones and Simon Cowell will also be joining the fun, as well as Matt Lauer, Carson Daly, Nick Offerman, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Pine, Jeff Goldblum, Billy Eichner, Martin Short, Laura Linney, Anna Kendrick, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, John Michael Higgins, Bill and Melinda Gates, Stephen Merchant, Naomi Campbell, Anna Camp, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Yvette Nicole Brown, Retta, Natalie Morales, Danny Pudi and Rob Huebel.

In addition, the star-studded event for charity will feature “Game of Thrones” cast members Kit Harington, Peter Dinklage, Iwan Rheon, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emilia Clarke, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Mark Addy, John Bradley, Rose Leslie, Alfie Allen and Charlotte Hope.  “Orange is the New Black” cast Dascha Polanco, Samira Wiley, Yael Stone, Selenis Leyva, Lea DeLaria, Adrienne C. Moore and Jackie Cruz will also be part of the charity special.

Nick CanonDancathonNick Cannon will kick off the festivities for NBC’s broadcast of “Red Nose Day” with “Red Nose Day Danceathon with Nick Cannon,” streaming live on NBC.com beginning Wednesday, May 20. “America’s Got Talent” host Nick Cannon will attempt to dance non-stop for 24 hours in honor of the inaugural Red Nose Day celebration in the United States, leading into the “Red Nose Day” telecast on Thursday, May 21. Streamed live from the NBC Experience Store at Rockefeller Center in New York City, the day of dance will be filled with guest DJs and musicians, celebrity drop-ins, and a variety of dance acts and troupes. Viewers can support Cannon’s endeavor through sponsorship and donation.

DonateThe money raised during Red Nose Day will be used to fund programs that address the immediate needs of children and young people living in poverty in the U.S. and internationally in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The money will be split between domestic and international poverty issues. The pre-selected charity partners are Boys & Girls Clubs of America; charity: water; Children’s Health Fund; Feeding America; Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund; LIFT; National Council of La Raza; National Urban League; Oxfam America; Save the Children and United Way.

In the U.K., Red Nose Day has been a tradition for 30 years and is an inspiring cultural phenomenon that unites people from all walks of life in the interest of saving and changing lives across the globe. With superstar presenters and comedians, original sketch comedy, hilarious film parodies and amazing musical performances, Red Nose Day has been one of the BBC’s highest-rated Friday night shows for many years and raised more than $1 billion in donations so far for organizations addressing poverty.

Created in 1985 by Oscar nominee and Emmy Award-winning writer-director-producer Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Bridget Jones Diary,” “Notting Hill”), Red Nose Day was built upon the foundation that mass media and celebrities can help raise money and increase awareness of poverty in order to save and change millions of lives.

Curtis is an executive producer for the NBC telecast (a Universal Television production), along with Hamish Hamilton and Ian Stewart of Done + Dusted Productions. Henrietta Conrad and Lily Sobhani will also serve as executive producers, as will Mike Farah, Anna Wenger and Joe Farrell from Funny Or Die. Hamilton is set to direct.