La La Land - One Year Later


It was around this time last year I was avoiding reading the reviews about La La Land, the 2016 musical film from Damien Chazelle. I've always been an avid fan of cinema, but never cared for musicals. I love music, so I'm not sure why I didn't enjoy the two mediums mixing together. Whatever the reason, I wanted nothing to do with the latest musical hitting movie theaters around the country.

La La Land hit the big screen nation-wide on Christmas last year. Positive reviews flooded the internet. Everyone who'd seen the film was telling me I needed to see it. Being told daily that I needed to see this musical only keep me away from it. However, several people who know me very well promised I'd love La La Land, so I kept an open mind about seeing it.

A few weeks passed and I had still been able to avoid La La Land. A popular musical film was the last thing I wanted to see. One snowy night my girlfriend and I decided it was time to go see a film with incredibly positive reviews, and it wasn't La La Land. We arrived at our favorite local theater while braving the snowy streets of Omaha to find the showing was sold out. The only other film showing at the same time? La La Land.

"Fine. Whatever. Let's just give it a shot," I said, and purchased two tickets for La La Land.


Last week I cried while listening to the La La Land soundtrack. I've cried every time I've watched La La Land. Needless to say, I love it.


My love for La La Land is based more on personal emotions than anything else, but even without that connection it would still be one of the best films ever made, in my opinion.

The cinematography is some of the most impressive I've ever seen. Much of my obsession with film stems from my interest in cinematography, and La La Land is perfection in this category.


I have an unhealthy obsession with color. I've studied colors and color theory since I was in middle school. The color usage in La La Land is outstanding. Some films don't pay much attention to the use of color, and sometimes that's fine. In this case, color elevates each and every scene in the film. Without the spectacular attention to color application this film wouldn't be as strong.


The music and choreography in La La Land are out of this world. As someone without talent in this category, I am completely in awe.

Perhaps the most recognizable category in regards to what makes for a good film is the acting. In La La Land, the acting is top notch. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are completely wrapped up in their characters. The acting brings every emotion from the script to life. Ryan Gosling is incredibly impressive in his performance, especially for learning to play all the songs on piano. Emma Stone put together the best performance I've ever seen. These two actors were beyond outstanding.


With all these categories surpassing expectations, this film is already one of the best I've seen. Add in the personal connection, and it becomes my favorite of all time.

For those who are unfamiliar with the basic plot, La La Land presents us with two characters living in Los Angeles trying to make their creative dreams come true. For those who are unfamiliar with me, I'm living in Omaha trying to make my creative dreams come true. Many of my experiences and emotions were mirrored perfectly in La La Land. I felt as if the characters knew me. I have never felt this way about any movie before, and it's almost too much to handle. I had no idea how much La La Land would connect with me.


The most painful part about this connection is the message it presents upon completion of the film. I won't spoil the ending for those who still haven't seen it, but I will say the ending is painful. So painful I almost didn't leave the theater. For many, it's just another story, just another film. For me, it was like watching a film about myself.

One of my favorite things about movies is the concept of each viewer having a different experience. It's one of the primary reasons I became a filmmaker. I'm not writing this piece to try to persuade anyone or promote anything, but rather to share my experience.


La La Land may very well be my favorite film of all time. That's not an easy accomplishment.

-Ben Matukewicz

Ben Matukewiczfilm, movie, music