Jazz takes centre stage in new movie La La Land

A second film from the writer and director of Whiplash

Damien Chazelle, the talented young writer and director behind ‘Whiplash’, is back with a second movie centred around a jazz musician – and it’s already generating Oscar-buzz. In this case, Sebastian is a pianist played by Ryan Gosling who’s trying to follow his dreams in Los Angeles, with aspirations to open his own jazz bar. He’s studied the great players like Monk and Brubeck but is frustrated playing cheesy Christmas songs in a restaurant and eighties pop covers at pool parties. John Legend makes an appearance as a gifted jazz guitarist who’s moved his music into the mainstream, advising Sebastian to do the same.

Gosling stars opposite a young actress, played by Emma Stone, who also has to compromise to make a career. They have a shared love of classic movies and this is reflected in Chazelle’s direction – with obvious nods to ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ and ‘Rebel Without a Cause’. The film was shot in classic CinemaScope and moves as easily between speech and music as between real life and fantasy sequences.

The soundtrack is composed by Justin Hurwitz who also worked with Chazelle on Oscar-winning ‘Whiplash’ (the two friends were roommates at Harvard). Ryan Gosling is understood to have learned all the piano pieces by rote ahead of the shoot.

This week, ‘La La Land’ leads the Golden Globe nominations with 7, including Best Picture.

Damien Chazelle joins Nigel Williams to talk all things jazz on his Saturday morning programme on December 17th at 10am.

‘La La Land’ gets its full UK release on January 12th 2017.


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