Perfect movie for holiday time.
If you haven't seen this film yet, go. Now. Don't even finish reading this post. Just go and see it. I'll wait.
Ok, now that you're back, didn't you just LOVE that? I for one, am very much looking forward to many more movies from Damien Chazelle. I loved Whiplash, and I loved this one. And there's nothing else out there like it. And now, for the film nerdery.
This is the most beautiful love letter in a film, and not just a love letter to people. It's also a love letter to Los Angeles, classic musicals of the 30s and 40s, and to artists trying to stay true to their art everywhere. I can't wait for the inevitable tours to start up that take you to all the haunts of these two from the movie. And there are many. Griffith Park, for one. Who doesn't love Griffith Park? The opening scene of a traffic jam is one that all Angelenos can relate to, and the song and dance number calls out an understanding that yes, we have traffic, but we also have lots of sun, lots of struggling artists, and the most amazing mix of culture and people you can find in the world. That, all by itself, is enough for me to keep coming back to see the film over and over again. The unadulterated hope in the opening scene was enough to bring tears to my eyes and make my heart skip a beat.
The homage to old classic Hollywood is hard not to see, and is so lovely and tender. Note that this is a true homage, with the quick cut to an old movie scene driving up to Griffith Park, then Chazelle recreates that exact shot, making the viewer well aware of what he's doing, rather than simply stealing the shot and calling it his own (like some other directors *cough* Tarantino *cough* have done). The colors, the music, the love story, it's all Old Hollywood, except it's new and reimagined for today, when things are definitely different.
The love of art and creativity. Ah, such love. It's the most doomed kind of love, even in this, the most hopeful of love stories. Success is never guaranteed, and always comes at a price. But we love it and feed it regardless, and this film pays its respects to those that dare to dream in complete Technicolor landscapes and rich melodies without apology. I couldn't help but find myself catching my breath, since I'm one of those doomed fools.
Lastly, I have to mention the most amazing shot I have seen in a film in a long time, and I could watch it over and over again: the acrobat doing a full twisting back flip into a pool at a fancy party. That. Was. Amazing. It seems to capture the feeling of the whole film: the exuberance, the color, the motion, the danger, the triumph, the precision, everything. And if you don't care about the love story, at least watch it for this shot. You won't see another one like it for quite a while.
Or at least until Damien makes another movie.