Early Os­car favourite emerges

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

THE be­witch­ing musical La La Land star­ring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone won the cov­eted Toronto film fes­ti­val au­di­ence prize on Septem­ber 18, giv­ing it a leg up on the com­pe­ti­tion as the Os­cars race takes shape.

The joy­ful, quirky film by Damien Chazelle about a strug­gling jazz pi­anist and his ac­tress girl­friend in Los An­ge­les pays trib­ute to the Golden Age of Amer­i­can mu­si­cals, hon­or­ing clas­sics from Top Hat to Sing­ing in the Rain to Grease.

It also re­unites Gosling and Stone, who starred to­gether in the 2011 ro­man­tic comedy Crazy, Stupid, Love – but with oo­dles of sing­ing this time.

Stone plays Mia, a wide-eyed ro­man­tic who goes from au­di­tion to au­di­tion – of­ten failed – in her quest to make it big, while Gosling is Se­bas­tian, a jazz pi­anist with a mis­sion to save the medium, but who strug­gles to pay his bills.

The pair meet – in one of LA’s fa­mous traf­fic jams and then at a bawdy celebrity party – be­fore woo­ing each other in tap- and ball­room­danc­ing se­quences rem­i­nis­cent of Hol­ly­wood icons Fred As­taire and Ginger Rogers.

“Now more than ever we need hope and ro­mance on the big screen,” said Chazelle, 31, a for­mer jazz mu­si­cian whose film Whiplash (2014) took home three Os­cars out of five nom­i­na­tions.

“There’s some­thing about mu­si­cals. They are movies as a dream­land, ex­press­ing a world in which you break into song, in which you can vi­o­late the rules of re­al­ity,” said Chazelle, the film’s writer and di­rec­tor.

La La Land opened the Venice Film Fes­ti­val in late Au­gust, earn­ing ac­co­lades from crit­ics and movie­go­ers, be­fore screen­ing in Toronto – a bell­wether for Os­car-con­scious stu­dios and dis­trib­u­tors.

The pic­ture bursts with en­thu­si­asm and hap­pi­ness from the open­ing scene: a big dance num­ber on a free­way with men and women dressed in sun-kissed yel­lows, rich reds and blues danc­ing on their cars.

Chazelle said he had brought the love story into the mod­ern day by set­ting it in Los An­ge­les, whose nick­name La-La Land also refers to a eu­phoric, dream­like men­tal state.

Chazelle, who has lived in the sprawl­ing south­ern Cal­i­for­nia me­trop­o­lis for al­most a decade, said it was “a city of lone­li­ness when you first live there, not a city that of­fers it­self up.”

In past years, films such as 12 Years a Slave, The King’s Speech and Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire went on from win­ning the Toronto film fes­ti­val peo­ple’s choice award for best pic­ture to take the top hon­our at the Os­cars.

Ear­lier this year, Toronto au­di­ence favourite Spot­light beat all pre­dic­tions to win best pic­ture at the Academy Awards.

Run­ners-up for the Toronto prize this year were first-time film­maker Garth Davis’s Lion, and Mira Nair’s Queen of Katwe star­ring Os­car win­ner Lupita Ny­ong’o.

Queen of Katwe chron­i­cles the true story of a Ugan­dan girl who pur­sues her dream of be­com­ing an in­ter­na­tional chess cham­pion.

Lion, an­other pow­er­ful real-life tale, fol­lows a young In­dian boy on a 25-year jour­ney to find his fam­ily af­ter be­ing sep­a­rated and lost nearly 1000 miles (1600 kilo­me­tres) from home.

Adapted from Sa­roo Bri­er­ley’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy A Long Way Home, the film stars Dev Pa­tel, Ni­cole Kid­man and Rooney Mara.

Toronto jury prizes also went to Pablo Lar­rain for Jackie, Maysa­loun Hamoud’s In Be­tween, Mbithi Masya for Kati Kati, and Feng Xiao­gang for I Am Not Madame Bo­vary. – AFP

Photo: AFP

Emma Stone (left) and Ryan Gosling star in La La Land, which re­cently won the Toronto Film Fes­ti­val au­di­ence prize and has been slated as an early Os­car fron­trun­ner.

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