Tuesday, January 3, 2017

LaLa Land: Paean to the Car

Opening dance sequence: flying above gridlocked cars. Credit: Lionsgate
You can't set a movie in Los Angeles without involving cars. American Graffiti's thin plot even revolves around the teens who cruise on Saturday nights in their souped up cars.

But LaLa Land both embraces and makes fun of LA's car obsession. The musical starts with an epic traffic jam, one of those gridlocked days when you start thinking that you will never, ever emerge from this mess. Then a woman exits her car - and starts singing. And dancing. Others join in , and suddenly a traffic jam is a chance to actually jam.

Ryan Gosling, too cool for school in his convertible Buick. Credit: Lionsgate
One malcontent doesn't get caught up in the sining and dancing: Ryan Gosling's character, Sebastian, who is too busy fiddling with the cassette )!) player in his vintage Buick. The retro car is cool - it's a convertible - but it also establishes his character as a throwback.

And the other lead, Emma Stone's character, Mia, drives a Prius. This is mocked, too - when the couple leave a party, she says her car is a Prius - and the entire valet stand is filled with Prius key fobs.

Sebastian and Mia meet when she parks her car illegally, it gets towed and she walks into the club where he works.

Though I wonder why she didn't just call an Uber.

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