La La Land: A Lovely Night
We don't often make big plans on a week night, but we recently dashed off after work one day for a weeknight date night in Logan Square. Knowing that we would be tight on time we both wore transitional pieces that would work for the office and for an evening out. We met up at Wasabi to slurp down a bowl of ramen before heading out to see La La Land (the hype is real! seriously, go see it if you haven't) at Logan Theatre. Afterwards, we found ourselves discussing the movie the whole way home from the theater and wanted to share a few themes and quotes from the movie that resonated with us (warning, contains MINOR spoilers):
"I'm so tired of being embarrassed."
There's a point in the film when Mia seems to be failing at her dream and screams "I'm so tired of being embarrassed!!" As Mia felt after failed audition upon failed audition, we've often similar feelings way about our own endeavors. When there seems to be an endless number of individuals already out there who, in some way or another, are achieving success in specific areas of life, why keep trying? Why continue to put yourself out there at the risk of failure or embarrassment? When you have an artistic vision, or goals and dreams that are specific and unique, it can still be tempting to conform to easy shortcuts or established formulas that will promise you success, which leads to the next point....
There is a tension between holding true to your vision and identity, and trying to achieve success.
Near the start of the film, we learn that Seb (Ryan Gosling's character) has an idealistic and ambitious dream to "save Jazz". His mother, his sister, and even his budding relationship with Mia are unable to change his mind about the way he will pursue his dream to save Jazz. Old school, improv heavy, feel-the-music-in-your-soul, Jazz. Yet, as time progresses he succumbs to pressures (one could argue they are merely perceived pressures) to be a provider. His dream bends just a little in pursuit of a paycheck. It clearly eats away at him, but he makes small and intentional decisions to sell out. He's still playing "jazz"...but not "Jazz". What the film does so beautifully is it makes us FEEL the same tension that Seb felt. It shows us how an overheard comment from Mia's mother gradually allowed him to justify his new opportunity. In a telling scene, we see that Seb views this opportunity as a step towards making his real dream become a reality. But what he eventually comes to realize is that he's getting sucked into a spiral of adulting and dependence on his stable job and his real dream is slipping farther out of reach in the process.
This point resonated with us deeply. We have goals and dreams, and it's SO easy to give up certain aspects of our vision in order to take some steps forward. This thought has prompted us to consider if our time is aligned with our real goals or if we too are passively trading in our ambitions for comfort or quick successes that don't align with our vision.
"People love what other people are passionate about."
Seb's dream is to save Jazz. Our goals are not quite as ambitious but we do want to be true to the things we are passionate about, one of which is being authentic and transparent.
To be honest, since our fun date night last Thursday, life has been way too full, there's been a decent amount of tears and we've been filled with stress over work and how little time there is for connecting with the people we care about.
"I'm letting life hit me until it gets tired. Then I'll hit back. It's a classic rope-a-dope."
As in the film, this is where life can become really beautiful. When life seems to be whaling on you again and again with no apparent option for a comeback, it can look (and feel like defeat), but if we can endure these seasons, there is an amazing moment just waiting to happen where the proverbial opponent wearies and we are able to make the astonishing comeback. We could relate to Seb's position as he uttered this line just waiting for his moment, and we hope that as we continue to share with you what we're passionate about, eventually we'll be able to accomplish our dreams while we stay true to our vision.
Apart from these meaningful themes in La La Land, we also just genuinely enjoyed certain aspects of the writing and cinematography. As we shared in our last post, it's all in the details. In La La Land, we see much of the story unfold at a macro level. Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. Repeat. However, our favorite scenes were those that zoomed into the moment and explored the granular beauty unfolding in Seb and Mia's relationship.
The cinematography of La La Land was sneaky good.
Case in point: one of our favorite scenes from a cinematography perspective found Seb and Mia on their first real date at a movie. Damien Chazelle (director) perfectly captured the anticipation and excitement of that first time holding hands. The way the camera panned from Seb to Mia, his hand then hers, the subtle sliding of Seb's fingers to a position where they would be within reach of Mia's. They both moved ever so slightly closer and closer towards that mysterious and beautiful other hand, anxiously waiting to see if your sly movements will be met with equal desire, the release of breathe that's been held captive as fingers finally interlock. It was beautiful and nostalgic- reminding us of our own early days of dating :) (we might just have to share some of those stories soon!)
Hope that you will check out La La Land!
With love from Chicago,
Daniel + Jennifer