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Movie Review: ‘La La Land’ is a Dazzling Dream of Musical Delights

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La La Land Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

Read our movie review of La La Land to get the full story on all the music and wonder:

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]a La Land opens in the busy traffic setting of Hollywood. It’s a typical depiction of the city’s constant gridlock, but this is a big cinematic musical. This is a world where drivers can get out of their cars and break into a massive song and dance number. Every citizen is a dancer, every car is a platform and every truck holds a band ready for any song to break out.

If you find yourself questioning why women would have tap shoes at the ready in their purses for any public dances they might be roped into, I can’t help you. If, however, you have an undying love for classic musicals with an old-fashioned movie romance, La La Land is a pure masterpiece that aims to please in more ways than one.

La La Land Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

A couple of dreamers take on Los Angeles.

It’s was easy enough to warm up to the romantic leads of Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, both with big dreams in their hearts, unspoken dance moves in their feet and melodies in their pipes. Stone plays Mia, a barista struggling to become an actor in a town where pretty blondes with acting aspirations are a dime a dozen. Casting directors glaze over her auditions and Mia’s roommates offer little support. She seems to be alone in her wild dreams and love of old movies.

It isn’t until she is attracted to the piano melodies of Sebastian (Gosling) that she finds a similar dreamer with the same amount of passion. Sebastian desperately wants to keep jazz alive by achieving his dream of owning a historic jazz club where he can perform the music he wants rather than music he is hired to play. While Sebastian opens Mia’s mind to his wild world of underappreciated music, she additionally brings him into the magical world of movies. Both of them soon fall madly in love as much as they do with cinema and jazz. The movie itself is also a loving homage to such classic mediums with Mia decorating her room in old movie posters and Sebastian schooling the audience on the unique history of jazz greats.

When the two are not gabbing about their passions, they’re singing and dancing in the movie’s many lavishly staged numbers. Reality seems to take a back seat to their wonderment of each other as in a scene when they sneak into a planetarium and gravity appears to take a break. Every scene between these two is magical whether they’re chatting about the history of Hollywood, holding hands on a movie date or tap-dancing while walking to the car.

La La Land Movie Review MovieSpoon.com

No gravity needed for these dance numbers in ‘La La Land.’

But the movie is thankfully not a simple tale of colorful whimsy. Mia and Sebastian fall on hard times with following their dreams. Most of their aspirations don’t go according to plan despite the hope and encouragement they have for one another. The two grow distant and bitter about trying to follow their dreams, growing doubtful if they can succeed together. It’s a rough patch, but one that’s not as dower as one might expect and leaves the audience hoping these two will come through okay in the end. Or at least share another rousing duet of song and dance.

Related: Critics Go Gaga for ‘La La Land’ as Audiences Wait in the Wings

There isn’t a single scene that feels wasted with Damien Chazelle’s flawless direction. When the characters start dancing, Chazelle doesn’t shy away from showing us every move, often in unbroken shots which feels almost nostalgic for a modern musical. The opening scene on the freeway of people dancing on cars pulls out wide to let us see how far this dance number stretches into traffic. When Gosling and Stone share a dance amid an evening overlook of colorful Hollywood, it’s a sequence that rarely cuts away from their moves.

While they don’t exactly have the transcendent wow factor of Fred Astaire in their sequences, they certainly have the energy and spirit to keep the eyes glued on their every gesture. They may be a cute couple when sharing jabs or gushing about their dreams, but it’s their dancing that speak volumes about their relationship more than words or sex ever could.

Read more to get the rest of our La La Land movie review:

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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