First of all, as a Black man, some folks may be SHOCKED 😱 that my choice is neither Moonlight nor Hidden Figures nor Fences (my STRONG #2 choice for the big prize). You shouldn’t be shocked. I’m a film lover first. Through and through. I study the history and I soak up the artform. The language of Cinema pours out of my pores. I don’t make choices on what movie to see or what film should win out of the lens of my Blackness. I judge on heart – as in which film, which nominee captures my heart as a cinephile.
This year, THAT film is LA LA LAND.
Here’s the deal. The film doesn’t really GET you the first time you see it. It’s a musical… but not the modern day jukebox type that intersperses the songs we know in a brand new story. This is a ‘built from the ground up’ original musical. You sit in the theatre, popcorn in hand, learning new music that you have never heard until the lights dimmed. You sit there watching them dance on the freeway and watch Ryan and Emma bickering and singing and loving and singing and fighting and singing and ease into the ending. To the naked eye, you’re like “O…..K. That was cute. Don’t know if it’s all that great, but it’s cute.”
But then you go home and in the randomness of your day, you start hearing “City Of Stars” in the recesses of your mind. You recapture the moment when Emma sang about “The fools who dream.” And then you a mad dash to download those songs on your musical device or watch them on YouTube. And you catch the specific lyrics and piece them together with the story you saw a few days/weeks earlier. And then the tapestry of the story re-knits itself together in your earbuds. And your “eyes” begin to open and understand why they danced on freeways, flew in planetarium displays in Griffith Park, and auditioned about fools who dream.
Because, if you’re a film lover, we are those fools.
We could be watching football, coding iPhone apps, coaching little league, making sweaters for our families. But no. We spend our weekends and weeknights searching online for movie tickets on Fandango, chasing free screenings, writing articles for ScreenFish, or READING the articles other people wrote. 😜
Why? Because we are those fools.
LA LA LAND is a film for those fools. For every girl who hitchhiked or took a bus or drove from Michigan to LA chasing a dream. For every dude who plays in some band in his garage hoping to get to the Sunset Strip venues so they can blow up. It’s for every writer, poet, painter, starving actor/actress/wannabe filmmaker who dreams in spite of it all. It’s for everyone in this town who’s heart aches and breaks. For everyone who’s life is a mess because they won’t give up on the dream. For the dream makers. The dream workers. The dreamers.
LA LA LAND is about us.