No wonder this musical is nominated for a whopping 14 Oscars. La La Land premiered last week in Hong Kong, right before the Rooster’s first crow this 2017. Starring the iconic duo from the 2011 rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love and the 2013 crime thriller Gangster Squad, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling are back on screen proving that their chemistry is stronger than ever.
The story is, unashamedly, Old Hollywood strikes back. Canadian heartthrob (and meme sensation) Ryan Gosling plays the talented pianist Sebastian, whose dream is to open a club to share his passion for jazz-- a genre that he and the world thinks is slowly dying. Here in the city of dreams-- L.A., known as much for realizing dreams as it is for crushing them-- Sebastian meets young aspiring actress Mia. Played by the gorgeous and hilarious Emma Stone, Mia’s hours of the day are split between mundane work at a local coffee shop and auditions that remain largely fruitless. In a hunt for opportunities, Sebastian and Mia find each other. From there a wondrous, heartfelt journey of love and living begins.
To make things clear: I’m not a big musical fan. West Side Story and The Sound of Music I’ve seen, but who hasn’t? I walked into the cinema expecting generic eye-candy (because the hype for this movie is unreal), and hopefully a functioning hi-fi system that’ll keep me awake for two hours. Then came the opening number and my jaw dropped. It’s turned slack ever since, thanks to the cast’s stunning choreography and the movie’s beautiful, touching musical score. The movie has only gotten more hypnotic from the first song onwards. It’s a mesmerizing mix and match of 60s classics and a style that’s insanely daring and modern. Golden Globe's Best Original Song 'City of Stars' has been stuck in my head since Friday, and I’m not looking to clean the cache of my brain until my next viewing of La La Land.
The cinematography of this movie is simply stunning. For two hours you’ll have a glimpse of a world that’s gorgeously vibrant, with colors so carefully chosen and composition so painstakingly planned that you'll wonder which poor soul has been doing graphic editing for months on end. You’ll realize how talented these post-production wizards are when you find yourself momentarily confused: is this movie set in the 50s or post-millennia? The songs, scenery, and fashion spell Hollywood’s Golden Age, but every once in awhile you’ll see someone walking by talking on the newest iPhone. It's mind-blowing. Obviously some talented bloke who’s very into color coordination went in and made sure that everything from Mia’s dress to the architecture in the background matched perfectly on screen, because every scene in La La Land is an artistic masterpiece in itself.
How dangerously captivating my viewing was, was in no small part owing to the state-of-the-art equipment in PALACE IFC. The city's single most luxurious cinema takes best advantage of a next-generation multi-dimensional audio technology called DTS:X. It’s potent stuff-- stuff that makes virtual reality happen. The tech is all very futuristic, but one thing I felt for sure: the voices moved with the characters. The singing, the dancing, the horn from a car. With DTS:X, watching La La Land on-screen somehow doesn't feel very different than seeing it live on Broadway. Sitting back in a cushioned chair, it’s almost alarming how close and clear Ryan Gosling’s piano notes sound (not that I’m complaining). A musical is best served live is what I go by, but if you aren’t flying half the globe to meet the iconic on-screen duo, DTS:X in PALACE IFC is the next closest (and most affordable) thing for you to enjoy.
The way psychology works, I’ve already ruined your viewing experience by setting the bar too high. Still, rest assured, for unlike most other movies I’ve seen, La La Land is one that’ll beat the highest of expectations. For this movie you will laugh and you may cry, you’ll ride the emotional roller coaster with Seb and Mia, but you will not be disappointed. La La Land is in theatres now in Hong Kong. Don’t miss this genre-defining musical-- it may well be the best you’ve ever seen!
Written by Vivien Au