A Lovely Night – Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)

A Lovely Night - la la land.jpg

According to Oscar-nominated cinematographer Linus Sandgren, the roughly six-minute uninterrupted take, which was shot in September 2015 in Griffith Park overlooking Burbank, required a lot of careful planning.

“We found a very remote spot — a paved road with no streetlight,” he says. “We wanted to shoot it in one take to give the audience that sense that it was happening for real. To do that, we had to shoot on a crane. There were 27 different marks on the crane to hit, and the actors had to hit their marks as well.”

Perhaps my least favourite genre in cinema was the musical, that is until I saw La la Land.

Wikipedia: La La Land is a 2016 American romantic comedy-drama musical film written and directed by Damien Chazelle. It stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress, who meet and fall in love while pursuing their dreams in Los Angeles.

When I first saw La La Land I was pleasantly surprised, but not astounded. In the days following I was perplexed why the movie stayed in my psyche until I felt this insatiable desire to revisit it again at the cinema. What I didn’t see in it the first time I saw more of in the second and what my ears didn’t hear in the first they did so in the second. This went on and on until I saw La La Land in the cinema 5 times! That is my cinema attendance record for any one movie. Suffice to say I was entranced by the movie.

May be I was part of a lost generation in the appreciation of the ‘musical’ and La La land acted like a portal to transport me back to a time when cinema was grandiose. La la land represented that kind of movie they just don’t make anymore. It’s a montage of sorts of all that was great about cinema in particular 50’s Hollywood musicals. It’s a wonderful family movie as well, at least for this family. My kids are crazy for it like their Dad. It currently sits 8th in my all time favourite movie list. Oh, and when it lost to Moonlight at the 2017 Oscars I was pissed. Just like when Roma lost this year to the Green Book.

From the page seeing-stars: This song ‘A Lovely Night’ was filmed near the top of a 1,640-foot mountain in Los Angeles’s Griffith Park. The lovely night scene was shot in a single unbroken shot. Mia and Sebastian the two protagonists go looking for a car and end up stumbling across a wonderful sunset view of Los Angeles from a hill top vantage point. In the song Sebastian laments that such a wonderful spot is wasted on the two of them since they clearly have no chance of romance.

‘We’ve stumbled on a view
That’s tailored-made for two
what ashame those two
Are you and me’

The song evolves into a competitive dance number (such as the one at the top of this page) have become the iconic poster image of the movie.

‘After plenty of rehearsals, Chazelle filmed two takes once the sun was in the desired spot, one at 7:20 p.m. and one at 7:30 p.m. The following day, the schedule was repeated, and the take filmed at 7:30 p.m. on the second day became the one that appears in the movie’.

1. Hollywood Reporter – How la la land got 6 minute sunset dance just right.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

Posted in Movies and TV, Music
11 comments on “A Lovely Night – Justin Hurwitz (La La Land)
  1. I agree. La La Land is a superb film about the exuberance of and dedication to artistry and how romantic love, yes, even the emergence of a soul mate can intrude on that exuberance and dedication. Excellent post.

    • Hey, thanks for commenting. I like your description of the film. Some people didn’t like how it ended, but I thought it was ingenious how he presented the ‘sliding doors’ (what-if) scenarios in that spectacular old Hollywood 50’s musical format. Also the chemistry between the protagonists I found so alluring. Humour is used so well throughout too.

      • Right. The chemistry is alluring, no doubt. We root for this couple. We are invested in them. I think the opening sequence, with all the dancers, entertainers, etc., making the best of the horrid traffic jam…Wow! It is one of the best choreographed scenes in cinematic history. Like you, musicals are probably my least favorite genre, right behind romance and horror, but La La Land is one of my favorite films. To me, it’s superb and it really couldn’t end any other way. That’s what the whole film is about. Sacrificing for the sake of your art. Sorry to go on and on. I just love this movie.

      • We are completely in sync on this movie! I agree the choreography in the opening sequence is nothing short of astounding and one of the best in cinematic history. What I found transformational about this movie is how it rejuvenated my love in old cinema, and like you I experienced a new-found appreciation in the musical genre itself. I find I can’t go a few months without seeing this movie because I get withdrawal symptoms lol I’ve lost count how many times I’ve seen it. Don’t be sorry. It’s wonderful to share this passion for the movie with someone similarly crazy about it! Haha

      • Nadine says:

        I am on this completely on this train with you both, and you’ve said it all beautifully…

        This movie was brilliant; among the top films of all time in terms of embodiment of (and ambivalence in) the artist’s journey, alongside the development (and dispersement) of profound interpersonal relationships.

      • All aboard the La La Land express Choo Choo! Haha. I loved your compelling description of the movie. Thank you so much for commenting.

  2. I forgot to mention while the soul mate could intrude on their dedication perhaps long-term, they mutually propelled the other to realise their passions. Mia challenged him to open up a Jazz club called Sebs and he came all the way out to her family home to bring her back to Hollywood.

  3. Sheree says:

    I don’t like musicals but maybe I should watch this film.

  4. krc says:

    i dont care for musicals either

    so maybe ill chk this out n might change my mind too

    thanks for sharing

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