La La Land (2016) - 4 out of 4
Do you remember the feeling when movies were magic? Just sheer fucking magic. They made you feel things that only motion pictures could. Take that feeling, capture it in a bottle, and let it sit there for years, like fine wine. Many, many years. Then you take it out and make a film out of it. That film is La La Land. Motion picture magic, aged like the best wine, wrapped in a bottle.
Last year, I mentioned that if someone put a gun to my head and asked me to choose between Mad Max: Fury Road and Inside Out, I'd rather take the bullet. That's the exact same way I feel about Arrival and La La Land.
If Arrival is a film strictly for the head (not exactly true), then La La Land is one for the heart. I couldn't stop thinking about the former because of the amount of information I had to process as a thinker. I cannot forget the latter because of how it made me feel.
It's much too hard to capture the whirlpool of emotions that I felt watching this film. Joy. Love. Mirth. Ecstasy. Heartbreak. Sadness. Just two films in, Damien Chazelle has already proved he's a master of assaulting us with raw emotional power. I don't think another film has made me feel such genuine emotional warmth this year.
And the music. Oh, the music. A few weeks back, I was tweeting about how John Williams could capture the essence of a story or a theme in just the music alone. If there's one piece of music from 2016 that captures the essence of the film, it's Mia and Sebastian's Theme from La La Land.
As the spectacularly emotional climax rolled with this playing in the background, I wanted to stand up and applaud. I didn't think it was possible for Chazelle to top the best feature debut in recent years, but he's done it with the best sophomore effort. La La Land is a masterpiece that I can see myself watching again and again in years to come.