Damian Chazelle‘s Los Angeles-based, ’50s-styled musical (debuting in Venice followed by Telluride and Toronto bows) should be titled La-La Land. The hyphen acknowledges that the two “La’s” are eternally bonded. The absence of a hyphen, on the other hand, suggests that one of the “La” guys might conceivably lose interest one day and move to Las Vegas or Vancouver. It’s just wrong, okay? Second thought: What if La La Land was Evita — an opera sans dialogue? I’m presuming it’ll follow the standard MGM ’50s musical style — dialogue, dancing and occasonally breaking into song with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone doing their best. Third thought: It’s nice that Chazelle has created a lulling, soothing, magic hour-meets-starlight Los Angeles because the actual look of the place is not that. Not even slightly, I mean.
I like the bit with Gosling dancing with the older black woman on the pier — classic.
The cultural mix of Los Angeles used to be whites, Hispanics, blacks, Asians. Over the last 15 or 20 years it’s become more and more Iranian, at least in my neck of the woods, and yet somehow I’m doubting that the lifestyle aesthetic of wealthy “Persians” — ostentatious bling, flashy cars, hijabs, atrocious taste in architecture, conspicuous consumption — will be included in La La Land, which seems to be about recreating sound-stagey, Arthur Freed-style Los Angeles from the ’50s.
The fact is that outside of and to some extent even within certain toney areas (Los Feliz, Silverlake, West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Brentwood), Los Angeles is being flooded with more and more taste-challenged Kardashian wannabes. I’m thinking of this influence in particular because of (a) certain architectural observations during recent walks through Beverly Hills and Bel Air and (b) the nearby Urth Caffe on Melrose, which was founded in 1994 by Jilla Berkman, a Kurdish immigrant. Urth has become a kind of Studio 54-like mecca for youngish, well-off Iranians. Each and every evening the valeting of pricey cars in front of the Urth creates a serious bottleneck between La Cienega and Westbourne Drive. It’s not pretty.
From HE comment thread linked to “Peace in the Hills“, posted on 7.30.16: “Have you ever heard of Uday and Qusay Hussein and the interior design movement they inspired or became associated with? It’s not a rumor — since the ’90s ‘Persian’ has been a code word around these parts for moneyed people of Middle East descent who don’t get it. Abundant wealth mixed with an absence of taste and cultural breeding has resulted in some real architectural nightmares around here. (A defunct non-p.c. website called Ugly Persian Houses catalogued the worst eyesores in this regard.) Tacky, over-sized, gold-trimmed, over-lighted homes have degraded the aesthetic value of Beverly Hills and surrounding environs. I wish it were otherwise but in terms of gaudy taste in interior design, architecture, lighting and landscape design in Beverly Hills (and even to some extent in Bel Air), I speak the truth. Come what will of it.”