La La Land! That’s a nickname for L.A., which is an abbreviation of Los Angeles, which is a city in California, which is where they make MOVIES. And judging from the teaser trailer for La La Land — the highly anticipated musical from Teller whisperer / Whiplash writer-director / random 10 Cloverfield Lane writer Damien Chazelle, about “a jazz pianist [who] falls for an aspiring actress in Los Angeles” — it’s pretty clear that the nickname police knew what they were doing.
The film’s first official image surfaced a few months ago, and [knocks on your door, asks for advice, hears you say, “Whatever you do, don’t get excited over a promotional still,” solemnly thanks you and nods] it got us very excited:
Stone! Gosling! Dancing! That dress, those yellows, that pink, that blue, those shoes, the sunset, the pavement, Stone’s hair just so, Gosling’s shirt buttons just so, that big-ass probably-symbolic tree just so, the city lights, the capital-c Cinema of it all — I mean, movies: good grief.
But the trailer, out today, somehow finds a way to top it.
A few notes from the most deranged and wanting hype-beast of all — the heart:
1. Sucks for Miles Teller and Emma Watson
The pair was initially attached to La La Land last year, only to be some version of replaced. That’s a bummer* (*for them), as La La is already starting to look like it could be One Of Those Movies. Which really has to be among the worst feelings possible as an actor: to watch a trailer for a movie you almost starred in, and instantly know how good it is — to see your own IMDb trivia, written in pencil, months before it ever exists.
“Was originally set to star in 2017 Best Picture winner La La Land. Has gone on record as calling the last-minute casting change ‘for the best.’ Hasn’t gone outside since October.” It’s dark and L.A. is hot.
2. Stone + Gosling Forever
We don’t need to invent a new word here — “chemistry” will do fine — but there is something that just works about Emma Stone x Ryan Gosling in front of a camera.
And yet they have arguably never even been in a good movie together. Gangster Squad is a full-page, full-color “It’s OK to say Sean Penn is bad now” announcement with 110 minutes of story attached; Crazy Stupid Love is a movie where someone says, “I met a girl, and she is a game changer.” But get Stone and Gosling alone — even for a few minutes — and it’s like they’re transformed. Everything is suddenly better.
The leader in the clubhouse for best Stone-Gosling moment may be this one from Crazy Stupid Love:
You watch that scene and you can’t help but wonder what a whole movie in that vein would be like. Which is to say: what a movie would resemble if it realized it had PURE UNADULTERATED MAGIC on its hands … and then bothered to take advantage.
La La Land looks like it takes advantage. Every scene — every frame? — of what we’ve been shown is anchored in what Stone and Gosling are able to manage on the screen together. They look out into the ocean and whistle for each other. They “a woman walks into a bar” for each other. They song-and-dance for each other. They “everything else at this party has become slow motion because I’m about to hook up” for each other. They literalize a famous painting. They kiss on collision. They run through the street. They SLOW-DANCE IN MOTHERFUCKING SPACE. Where his predecessors treated Stone and Gosling’s chemistry like the cherry on top, Chazelle makes it the whole sundae. This is that full Stone ❤ Gosling moment we’ve been patiently waiting for. La La Land is for lovers — or, anyway, let’s hope.
3. Ryan Gosling Can Sing
Don’t make me get out my old Dead Man’s Bones CD. I’ll really do it, I’m not lying.
OK, that’s it. I’m doing it. This is on you:
Ryan Gosling can sing.
With Whiplash, made before his 30th birthday, Damien Chazelle hit the young director jackpot: Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; $49 million worldwide gross against a $3 million budget; a personal Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar nomination; a Best Picture nomination; and a Best Supporting Actor win for the “Google Image search for ‘ripped kangaroo’” of the Zack Snyder Batman universe, J.K. Simmons.
An essentially blank check now burns a hole through his pocket, and Chazelle has decided to spend it by going back to his roots. While many assume Whiplash to be his debut feature, it was actually his second — his first being the little-seen 2009 musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench. It’s an interesting dynamic: If there is any criticism to levy at Whiplash, it’s probably that, at times, it can come off as a bit over-the-top serious and aggro. That it wants a little too badly to be a [puffs out chest, disappoints you with drum solo I’ve worked really hard on] Man’s Movie. As such, on first blush it might seem like an odd runway for the next great musical. Knowing that Chazelle’s roots are in the genre, however, makes this prospect go down easier.