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Damien Chazelle
Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Rosemarie DeWitt
Writing Credits:
Damien Chazelle

While navigating their careers in Los Angeles, a pianist and an actress fall in love while attempting to reconcile their aspirations for the future.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
English Dolby 2.0
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 128 min.
Price: $9.99
Release Date: 4/25/2017

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Damien Chazelle and Composer Justin Hurwitz
• 10 Featurettes
• Song Demos
• Poster Gallery
• Trailers & Previews
• DVD Copy


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-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


La La Land [Blu-Ray] (2016)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 6, 2020)

Four years after its release, we’ll need to wait much longer to figure out the lasting legacy of 2016’s La La Land. While highly acclaimed on its release, only time will tell how it holds up into the future.

One element will keep it lodged in the public memory, though: the film’s near-victory at the Oscars. When announced, we first heard that Land won the main prize as Best Picture.

This didn’t last, however. Presenters Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway got the wrong envelope and announced Land as the Best Picture victor.

Nope. Instead, Moonlight won, and after some pandemonium, it claimed the trophy.

That craziness seems more memorable than Land itself. Despite some positive elements, the movie seems like a lackluster attempt to revive the classic Hollywood musical.

Mia (Emma Stone) moves to Hollywood from a small town in Nevada, all so she can pursue her dream of movie stardom. Five years later, she struggles to find success.

Pianist Sebastian loves jazz in the style of legends like Thelonious Monk and he attempts to keep that kind of music in the public eye. However, customers don’t embrace his fondness for this genre, so Sebastian ends up low on gigs.

When they initially run into each other, Mia and Sebastian butt heads. However, they eventually fall in love, and they attempt to maintain their relationship across the pitfalls they encounter in their respective showbiz careers.

Land represented director Damien Chazelle’s second feature, as it followed another acclaimed flick: 2014’s Whiplash. Though both focused on music as an important factor, Whiplash offered much more of a drama, as it lacked the semi-fairy tale feel of Land.

I liked Whiplash a lot, and I hoped Chazellle would make Land work as well. Alas, the director shows less aptitude for musicals than he does dramas, a factor that makes Land a bit of a chore to watch.

Too much of the time, Land feels like an homage to classic Hollywood than its own entity. This seems less literal than with another 2016 flick, the Coen brothers’ Hail Caesar, as that one often came across as little more than a collection of allusions to different films.

Land doesn’t seem like a simple array of references, but it definitely shows its roots. Chazelle never finds his own footing, as he seems far too eager to emulate classics like Singin’ in the Rain and American in Paris.

This doesn’t work. More homage than original, Chazelle plops these sources in a blender and comes out with a less than seminal product.

It doesn’t help that Chazelle chooses actors without much evident skill as singers and/or dancers. As dramatic actors, Stone and Gosling demonstrate ample skills, but when asked to play Fred and Ginger, they fizzle.

That factor creates an issue since the leads need to sing and dance so much of the time. While they pull off the rest of the film fine, Land sags when it pursues its musical muse because Stone and Gosling can’t pull off those moments.

Given that Land exists as a musical, that becomes pretty close to a fatal flaw. Their lack of singing/dancing talent doesn’t truly harpoon the film, but it creates an obvious issue.

The basic lack of originality on display also turns into a problem. As mentioned, Land demonstrates obvious influences, and Chazelle can’t find much creative to do with the material.

Essentially an update on Singin’ in the Rain, the film’s light mockery of Hollywood offers the most entertainment. Scenes in which Mia auditions for movies/TV amuse, and we get other bits of gentle satire that work.

When they avoid singing/dancing, the leads prove fairly likeable, too – though Gosling can find it tough to overcome the jerk factor inherent in Sebastian. He’s so arrogant, pretentious and full of himself that it becomes tough to figure out why Mia falls for him – beyond Gosling’s looks, of course.

Granted, Land manages to allow Sebastian grow and seem less irritating, though it doesn’t pull off this shift in a logical manner. He essentially goes from Uber Prick to Best Boyfriend Ever at the drop of a hat, and this seems less than convincing.

Still, Gosling’s natural charm helps make this work, and he and Stone do share a nice connection. Their chemistry almost makes this an engaging film.

Almost, but not quite. Land feels too much like homage and less like its own product.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B

La La Land appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.55:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an appealing presentation.

Overall definition looked positive. A sliver of softness crept into some wider shots, but the majority of the movie offered nice delineation and accuracy. No issues with moiré effects or jaggies materialized, and I witnessed no signs of edge haloes or source flaws.

Though not to an extreme, Land opted for a mix of teal, amber and orange. Despite the limitations of these choices, they boasted pretty good vivacity and represented the intended hues. Occasional other colors emerged as well, so those added some variety.

Blacks seemed dark and dense, while low-light shots offered good smoothness and clarity. Ultimately, the image was more than satisfactory.

In addition, the movie’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack suited the material. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, music dominated the proceedings, and the many songs used the various channels in an involving manner.

Effects had less to do, as they focused mainly on ambience. Given the emphasis on music, that was fine, and the sides/surrounds provided enough material to succeed.

Audio quality also pleased. Again, music became the most dominant aspect of the mix, and the songs/score boasted fine range and impact.

Speech came across as natural and concise, whereas effects seemed accurate and realistic. Nothing here dazzled, but the track worked for the movie.

As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Damien Chazelle and composer Justin Hurwitz. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project's origins and development, story/characters, influences and inspirations, songs and score, cast and performances, editing, cinematography and design choices, and related areas.

Old pals, Chazelle and Hurvitz enjoy a nice banter/chemistry, and that helps make this a lively chat. They cover the various production areas well and turn this into an entertaining and informative discussion.

10 segments appear under Featurettes. Via “Play All”, these run a total of one hour, 19 minutes, 58 seconds and offer notes from Chazelle, Hurwitz, producers Fred Berger, Jordan Horowitz and Marc Platt, location manager Robert Foulkes, choreographer Mandy Moore, director of photography Linus Sandgren, costume designer Mary Zophres, production designer David Wasco, set dresser Sandy Wasco, piano teacher Liz Cannon, executive music producer Marius De Vries, lyricists Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, and actors Reshima Gajjar, Emma Stone, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, JK Simmons, and Finn Wittrock.

These featurettes look at the opening musical scene, the party sequence, Gosling’s piano lessons, the film’s origins and development, influences, story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, music, and various design choices.

Inevitably, some of the info in the featurettes repeats from the commentary. Still, we get a nice mix of perspectives and behind the scenes footage, all of which help make this a good collection of programs.

With Damien and Justin Sing, we find demo versions of two songs: “What a Waste of a Lovely Night” (1:55) and “City of Stars” (3:13). As implied by the title, these offer early renditions from Chazelle and Hurwitz. They’re a nice addition.

Under “Marketing”, we get three trailers as well as a Poster Gallery. It shows 7 images, some of which offer interesting twists for the promotional art.

The disc opens with ads for Dirty Dancing and Lion.

A second disc delivers a DVD copy of La La Land. It includes the commentary and two of the featurettes but it omits the other extras.

An homage to classic Hollywood musicals, La La Land keeps us moderately engaged via the charm of its stars. However, the movie seems too derivative, and it falters in too many other ways to become a strong musical in its own right. The Blu-ray brings very good picture and audio as well as a selection of bonus materials. Land lacks the originality it needs.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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