Damien Chazelle‘s La La Land (Summit, 1.2) will premiere tomorrow night at the 73rd Venice Film Festival. The first trade reviews will pop sometime around midday in Los Angeles, maybe mid-afternoon in New York. I’ve already been told what La La Land is — a generally satisfying, richly embroidered recreation of a romantic ’50s musical with Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone trying to fill the shoes of Gene Kelly and Debbie Reynolds…or something like that.
No, stop — forget Kelly and Reynolds. Ryan and Emma have to be themselves or it won’t work. And the movie definitely has to be itself.
Excerpt from a Deadline/Pete Hammond interview with Chazelle: “At 31, Chazelle is a rare member of his generation who truly gets the glory of a bygone era and seems determined to make it new again. In the course of our 45-minute conversation he clearly demonstrated his encyclopedic knowledge of movies, all types of movies, and La La Land reflects that in many ways — particularly in a sequence set at a revival-house screening of Rebel Without A Cause where Sebastian and Mia meet up for a late-night date.
“[The scene] is full of melancholy and irony as it follows a dinner table conversation in which the participants discuss why seeing movies at home is far preferable to a theater these days.
“That is clearly not Chazelle’s message here. He’s old school, though he told me he realizes not everyone will warm to seeing a musical like this in this day and age. It seems to me, though, that many will be discovering something brand new and startlingly original here and will definitely relate.
“’I love how you say that because that was certainly the hope,’ Chazelle responds. ‘We tried to dust it off a little bit, you know? I find the old musicals so timeless, and so it’s amazing when you put Singin’ In The Rain on for a little kid. It’s just that they have no idea that they’re looking at a movie that was made over a half century ago. So I think obviously those movies are rare, but I definitely didn’t want it to be a museum piece.
“I know I have it in me to definitely live in the past of movies, and I think that’s why it was important to try to shoot as much of it as possible and really use L.A. as it is today — use real locations, but obviously sometimes re-design them, but kind of use the city as raw material and have actors like Ryan, Emma or John who could ground it, basically, and make it feel urgent and contemporary.'”