“La La Land” was the exhilarating widescreen musical that set hearts thumping in the latter part of 2016, just in time to ameliorate (somewhat) a presidential election that tore the country apart. From the original and creative opening dance number staged on a freeway overpass during Los Angeles rush hour traffic to the alternative, dreamlike film ending, this original, post-modern musical was a breath of fresh air with gorgeous visuals, flashy dance sequences, catchy songs, and jazzy score — not to mention terrific performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling (who woulda thought he could be so cute AND sing and dance). The storyline — kind of “New York, New York” meets “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” — follows Stone and Gosling as Mia, an aspiring actress, and Sebastian, a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts; it’s an uplifting movie about everyday life that explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams. Winner of six Academy Awards (Stone won for Best Actress) and a record-breaking seven Golden Globes.
Vitals: Director: Damien Chazelle. Stars: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons. 2016, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 128 min., Musical, Box office gross: $148.644 million, Lionsgate.
Extras: Audio Commentary with writer-director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz; “Another Day of Sun: They Closed Down a Freeway” featurette; “La La Land’s Love Letter To Los Angeles” featurette; “Ryan and Emma: Third Time’s the Charm” featurette; song selection. Blu-ray adds “La La Land’s Great Party” featurette; “Ryan Gosling: Piano Student” featurette; “Before Whiplash: Damien Chazelle’s Passion Project” featurette; “The Music of La La Land” featurette; “John Legend’s Acting Debut” featurette; “The Look of Love: Designing La La Land” featurette; “Epilogue: The Romance of the Dream” featurette that explores the unusual ending to the film; “Damien & Justin Sing: The Demo.”
All DVDs and Blu-rays are screened on a reference system consisting of an Oppo BDP-83 Blu-ray Disc Player w/SACD & DVD-Audio, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers, and Power 10 subwoofer.