If you love classic Hollywood musicals, go see ‘La La Land’

Tony Violanti
Tony Violanti

If you love classic Hollywood musicals, go see “La La Land.”

I saw it recently and just kept thinking about Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly. “La La Land,” is contemporary film overflowing with the rambunctious glitter and glamour of those old MGM musicals.
Think “Singin’ In the Rain” meets “Glee.”
Think “Top Hat” meets “Chicago.”
So long Fred and Ginger, say hello to Emma and Ryan.
Emma Stone plays Mia, a talented aspiring actress who meets an equally frustrated and struggling jazz pianist called Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling.
Put these two youthful actors together and sparks fly, along with tap shoes.
“La La Land,” just won seven Golden Globe Awards and those honors are well deserved.

Here is a teaser:

 Damien Chazelle, who directed and wrote “La La Land,” pays homage to the golden era of dancing films. Choreographer Mandy Moore put together a string of remarkable numbers, from the beginning until the end.

Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dance like Fred and Ginger
Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone dance like Fred and Ginger

The movie opens with a stunning dance routine worthy of Busby Berkeley. It was shot in a monstrous traffic jam on the L.A. freeway. The routine was packed with razzle-dazzle dance moves and percolating energy.
Justin Hurwitz provides a sumptuous musical score and cinematographer Linus Sandgren offers exquisite and magical settings and backdrops that enhance this entertaining film.
One of the many highlights comes after Mia and Sebastian go to a theater to see James Dean in “Rebel Without A Cause.” The film breaks down, so the two head out to the Griffith Observatory in L.A., which was used in a big scene during the James Dean movie.
Mia and Sebastian then team up in an illuminating dance sequences that includes ballroom, ballet and finishes with them rising to the stars. It’s a cinematic thrill to behold.
“La La Land,” offers a stunning array of such choreography woven into a story of love and triumph. It also eventually answers the question: what might have been?

Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly
Debbie Reynolds and Gene Kelly

It’s a movie that just touches your heart. And, after the recent death of Debbie Reynolds, this film makes you appreciate her talent and impact as an actor, dancer and singer.
While Stone and Gosling are not great singers, their acting and dancing ability make up for any vocal weakness. They also get help from the remarkably talented John Legend, who sings and plays guitar while fronting a modern jazz group.
Put it all together and “La La Land” is a musical for this or any other era.
Rest in peace Debbie, Gene, Fred and Ginger – your music and dancing legacy lives on.