Last night there was a Pasadena Arclight research screening of Damien Chazelle‘s La-La Land (Summit, 7.15). A contemporary musical love story starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, pic seems to have gone down pretty well with the viewers. Not at all on the level of Whiplash, one guy remarked, but that wasn’t the intent. In a 10.7.14 interview with Collider‘s Steve “Frosty” Weintruab Chazelle called La-La Land “an old fashioned musical in the vein of Singin’ in the Rain, A Star Is Born and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg but set in contemporary L.A.”
Chazelle’s money quote was that he wanted it to be “a big, CinemaScope, Technicolor love letter to Los Angeles.”
What interested me this morning was a report that prior to the opening credit sequence, which one guy descibed as “very old-fashioned and 1950s-styled”, the film begins with a CinemaScope 55 logo (not in color but in black and white). I thought this might signal another revival of an old widescreen technology a la Quentin Tarantino‘s filming of The Hateful Eight in Ultra Panavision 70.
It makes no sense that anyone would want to shoot in CinemaScope 55, which (a) was the first large-format widescreen system, (b) delivered an aspect ratio of 2.55:1 and (c) was used on only two mid ’50s 20th Century Fox musicals, The King and I and Carousel. But I figured it was worth investigating.
Well, it wasn’t. The more I searched and called around the more specious or even silly the idea of shooting with CinemaScope 55 seemed. The logo at the front of La-La Land seems to have been a sentimental nod to the above-named musicals more than anything else. I knew I wouldn’t be told anything substantive so I tried to merely discover whether CinemaScope 55’s aspect ratio (2.55:1) was used in the shooting of La-La Land. But even that piece of rinky-dink information was too much to share.
I know that I completely wasted close to 90 minutes trying to reach La-La Land‘s dp, Linus Sandgren (American Hustle). I began by sending a tidy, explanatory email to Sangren’s UTA agent, Peter Franciosa, which basically said “I’m looking to briefly speak with Lindus Sandgren about his and Damien Chazelle‘s apparent decision to shoot La-La Land, which test-screened last night, in the old CinemaScope 55 process,” blah blah. “A fascinating decision if true — somewhat similar to Quentin’s decision to shoot The Hateful Eight in Ultra Panavsion 70,” blah blah. Crickets.
Over the next couple of hours I sent five or six follow-ups to Franciosa, and it was all wasted energy and bilge water down the rabbit hole. (Agents are almost always dismissive when journalists call.)
I also made three or four calls to the Panavision guys…another complete waste of time. The marketing department there has earned my undying contempt.
IMDB tech specs mention nothing about CinemaScope 55. They mention the use of 35mm Kodak film, Panavision’s Panaflex Millennium XL2, Panavision C-Series Lenses and blah blah.
La-La Land‘s music is by Justin Hurwitz. It costars J. K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, Meagen Fay and Jason Fuchs.