In Love With The La La

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On a cold Friday night in the hazy winter light. 
I had seen a film ever so magical, so wonderful. A delight. 
The colors that graced the screen so vibrant and vivid. 
The music so variant. It was both bold and timid 
The dancing had captured my heart in an instant 
My own memories of tap dancing, jazz piano, and musicals had been so distant 
This film I’m describing in none other than La La Land 

Please watch it if you love Los Angeles, fleeting dreams, or swing & big band.


**I couldn’t help myself but make a rhyme scheme introduction on quite possibly one of my favourite movies of all time.
I know I know I know guys, this is a big statement to make! Have no fear, I fully support this film from within my bones.
Before I gush on about the Top 10 Reasons why I’m in love with La La Land, I have to preface that I have a long running background in dance, piano, & musical theater. I’m also a classic film enthusiast so every single easter egg was a slice of intense joy for me. My perspective is completely bias, but after seeing this movie with various audiences (ranging from having no musical background to die-hard fans of overtures and 4 chord minors) there are overall themes that run through this film that are universal to anyone whose ever had a dream they wanted to pursue.
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( image via Google)
10. The Opening Sequence featuring CinemaScope 
If you aren’t familiar with 1950’s classic films by MGM, the widescreen lenses they utilized during that era were CinemaScope lenses. These lenses were integral for motion pictures at the time to capture everything in frame. From panoramic views to sweeping perspectives capturing long sequences of choreography, the fact that La La Land was shot with these infamous industry lenses is a simply sweet homage to the classics.
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(image via Summit Pictures)
9. Damien Chazelle and his personal story
There are directors that self impose their narratives in the work they do, but often do so in a way that is glorifying and centralized, Chazelle however inserts his personal experiences through struggle. He loves jazz music and musicals, but his cumbersome fear of stage fright kept him from the spotlight. I had rewatched his film Whiplash prior to seeing La La Land. The film Whiplash is Chazelle’s exploration of when he was a jazz drummer in high school and in contrast to La La Land, both films portray the process of achieving one’s dreams. One situation that is isolating and self-centered (Whiplash) and another that is communal and almost altruistic (La La Land).
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(image via Summit Pictures)
7. The Non-Cliche Iconic Landscapes of Los Angeles
Having seen this movie with company from both LA and far from LA (London, in fact) there are variable differences on what people would like to see about Los Angeles in the movies. My British friend complained that they didn’t see the Hollywood sign; my Los Angeles friend loved that there was a scene at Watts Towers. Overall, I’m quite enamored at the fact that Chazelle didn’t choose the road most taken when it comes to filming in Los Angeles, his implicit direction to show some “uncommon but familiar” landmarks that ground the nature of this city is to my liking.
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(image via Summit Pictures)
6.  The Subtle Jokes About Los Angeles 
I went to college in Los Angeles county and became acquainted with all the Los Angeles stereotypes. This film captures these seemingly real stereotypes and situations in such a light-hearted humorous way; from Prius popularity to gluten free galore it also portrays that although this city is filled with dreamers where everyone is trying to make it, there is room to find your “tribe” or “squad” in the immense demographic that is the people of Los Angeles. In a city full of people playing professional make-believe, I’ve  made an immense amount of authentic friendships that last a lifetime.
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(image via Summit Entertainment) 
5. The Title’s Double Meaning
Not only is LA known for its moniker “La La Land” but La La Land is defined as “a fanciful state of mind” in which the cinematography captures so effortlessly in many frame by frame moments. It toggles the boundaries of reality and disillusion through dream like sequences. I’m a sucker for things with depth and the movie title’s double meaning adds another layer.
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(image via Miguel Aguilar) 
4. The Production Collaboration + Minimal Post Production Editing 
Due to the nature of making this film in the 1950’s technique, Chazelle’s objective to take elongated one camera shots with minimal takes was an operation of meticulous proportions. In addition, I’m appreciative of the use of the actual landmarks and the minimal use of a soundstage/ set. It is rare nowadays to see a film without some sort of CGI, multiple takes and multiple cameras used, so this film felt like a visual breathe of fresh air. It is relaxing to the eyes; you’ll experience it once you see it.
 
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(image via Summit Entertainment)
3. Ryan Gosling + Emma Stone’s Chemistry 
Originally, Miles Teller and Emma Watson were cast to play the roles of the two lovebirds.  Due to conflicting filming schedules, Chazelle went with Gosling and Stone instead. Prior to this film, the pair starred in two roles together. If you have ever seen the 2011 movie  Crazy Stupid Love their chemistry was very natural. Both of these actors’ dynamic emotional range is versatile as well. During the filming process, Chazelle, the screenwriter, and both of the actors were integral in the development of Mia and Sebastian. The result? Absolute chemistry. If you pay attention closely, the behaviors/dialogue of one transfers onto the other in the same fashion as a real relationship.
2. The Music 
The composer of the musical score is James Hurtwitz. He also has worked with Chazelle on his two prior films Whiplash and Guy And Madeleine On A Park Bench. The thematic musical score has five main melodies from it’s five main songs. If you listen to the film’s soundtrack closely you can hear each one of the five songs transposed in a different key and tempo throughout the film to convey the emotional atmosphere. The film’s soundtrack is really meant to be listened as a whole, each song advancing the narrative. Creating together an amalgamation of scenarios that define the human condition when it comes to trying to achieve your dreams.   In the process of composing the musical score for La La Land, Hurwitz compiled roughly around 1900 piano demos to show to Chazelle as well as the lyricists Justin Paul and Benj Pasek. Paul and Pasek also wrote original music for one of my favourite shows, Smash.
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(gif via Summit Entertainment)
1. The Dancing + Rehearsal Process
All strengths put aside, if there could be one reason and one reason only for me to love this film, it has to be the dancing. I’m a sucker for dance movies, but lately the movies that have come out in recent years didn’t have a narrative I was fully invested in. The plots were predictable and the choreography (or lack thereof) was inundated with tricks and gimmicks. La La Land however heavily pays homage to cult film dance classics such as Sweet Charity, Singing In The Rain, Umbrellas of Cherbourg and many others. Iconic sequences of choreography recorded in beautiful one camera one take constraints (like the Old Hollywood movies did) effectively hones in on the beauty that happens when dancers, dancing, and a compelling musical score converge together. Mandy Moore, the choreographer also created these pieces to be accessible due to the capabilities of the actors. She wanted the choreography to to be approachable and realistically anchored in everyday movement that (when shot on camera) would blur the dreamlike dance sequences and dialogue seamlessly.
Prior to the four month filming process, Gosling and Stone had a three month rehearsal for both the dance choreography and the learning of the piano. Although the rehearsing schedule was rigorous, it was beneficial in the long run.
In addition, if I could shamelessly plug in another aspect as to why I love this film so much, a couple of my favourite dancer friends from the YouTube community also make an appearance in the opening number (ahem,Jilly Meyers, Dana Wilson, and Galen Hooks to name a few) and it’s rewarding to see other dancers that I’ve watched on YouTube/had taken workshops with for  years, finally get the recognition they so well deserve.
If you have read this far, I applaud and appreciate you. Leave comments if you have other reasons as to why you love La La Land too!
Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat

Falling Back Into The Urban Fabric

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A night last week was a turn of events that lifted my spirits in the most connective way possible. My previous post about “Intimacy” and sharing a human experience left me feeling despondent with a craving to discuss bigness, not business. I missed observing all the walks of life that inhabit the fabric of the urban environment. Lately though, I got my “dose” just as unexpectedly.
My cousin invited me to a multi-medium art show in the heart of a bustling downtown and I almost hesitated because I didn’t want to go alone. Had I made the decision with my fear I would have missed out on a soul-soothing experience.
The event was called “FUTURES” and it was sponsored by the organization RAWartists.org. This showcase featured artists of all different mediums. From makeup and fashion to music and dancing this event had it all. It took residency in the House of Blues performance venue for a night and it was something to experience as with anything that is ephemeral in nature.
I was uncomfortable at first, because I came alone and didn’t know anybody except for my cousin whom was busy selling her handmade jewelry, but after a beer I became more conversational (huzzah for a little bit of carbonated liquid courage eh?) and I met some creative souls over conversation I won’t forget.
I had conversations about things I missed talking about when I was in college. Amongst these conversations were topics of the following:
  • The importance of narrative driven design
  • Instagram and the consciousness of light, shadow, tone, and texture of a photo
  • How to write socio-political rhymes for a modern “twerk & bae” audience
  • The materialization of an idea and the logical process of starting
I sound so elitist with my art & design jargon, but I just miss talking BIG ideas; things regarding the creative process whatever the medium may be. I still have hopes to search for conversations like the ones I had that memorable night. Or maybe my INFP personality is just overly-romanticizing things.
Whatevs, I’m slowly sipping away at my flat white and enjoying this pitter patter of the rain that is currently storming through the Southern California skies. Here’s to a Lazy Sunday of mental preparation for this beast we call Mondays.
So, this is to you, my reader/subscriber to my thoughts.
I hope you find yourself in good conversation over this next week. We all need it.
Indelible Gratitude,
-Kat

Women Crush Wednesday: My Mentors

Ever since I could remember I’ve always found comfort within the pages of the books I read. Whether they were books of tales and treason or books that were simply conversational, a book well read is a book well loved in my mind.
It’s been awhile since I’ve carved out time for myself to sit down and read for the sake of pure enjoyment, but I’m glad I finally did it. In addition, I’m also glad that I finally had the chance to read “I AM THAT GIRL” by Alexis Jones.
Within the first section of the book, she recounted her list of personal mentors that she kept in her arsenal for pure guidance and it motivated me to quickly (but insightfully) jot down my own potential mentor list. Without further adieu “The List”..done in sections because I have many mentors.
This section I would classify as my Arts + Media segment. It was really hard to augment my list of 15 down to 5, but here you go..
Insecurities
A. Sophia Bush:

Otherwise known in my book as Ms. Brooke Davis. In my teenage years I grew up watching OTH and in one particular episode where Brooke + Lucas had a classroom by themselves and they shared an intimate moment about Brooke’s insecurities. The scene itself was so moving to me and I was instantly captured by the layers of this character. Fast forward a couple years and I have come to discover that Sophia Bush wrote the foreword to one of my recent favorite reads, I AM THAT GIRL. She’s such a strong female role model in the entertainment industry and I can only hope to learn from her wisdom.

B. Kelsey Zahn Melton:

I first saw Kelsey’s work in Darling magazine roughly two years ago. When I saw this image pictured above, I was magnetically drawn to it. I needed to know the stylist behind this image and there I saw her name. From then on I followed her blog and later on realized that she is a stylist for one of my favorite bands in existence. I became pseudo obsessed with her blog and her writing style. Every blog entry I read, I felt like I was sitting in a coffee shop having a conversation with her, existing in her words of benevolence. Dear Kelsey, if you ever read this, please know that your writing, your creative headspace matters to me. You’re incredibly insightful and seemingly kindhearted. I hope to encounter your beautiful soul whilst walking along the streets of Los Angeles one day (in a beautifully crafted coffee house, for sure).

C. Claire Marshall :
Everyone has their favorite YouTuber, mine happens to be Claire. I first watched her vlogs when she first moved to Los Angeles. There was something captivating by the way she presents herself through her videos and the heart-to-heart videos that she would post on YouTube from time to time really resonated with me. They enraptured me in a way that was raw, real, and seemingly comprehensive. Her video, “Mary” is incredibly well thought out and really draws on the side of vulnerability that in turn exemplifies one’s strength. Like Kelsey, I also hope to meet Claire amongst the streets of LA one day. Albeit, I’ll be speechless, but then I’ll regain my composure (ideally).
D. Tatiana Maslany:
I was first acquainted with Tatiana Maslany through my cousin Austin. For those that don’t know, she’s an incredibly actress and leading lady of the television show Orphan Black. I quickly became addicted to Orphan Black and couldn’t have enough of it. One fortunate summer, I was able to attend a Nerd HQ panel during Comic Con and I got to witness her cognitive genius when it came to acting. An audience member inquired about her process when it came to getting into one of the twelve characters she plays in the show, and her response about how she compartmentalizes each character with a different genre of music. The way she talked about music and acting was hypnotizing to say the least. Not to mention her choice in music was equally on point.
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E. Lesley Vamos:
Whilst in my freshman year of college in 2009, I frequented other campuses on the weekends and I came to meet this amazing soul in a boba shop in Irvine. She was a quirky looking girl sitting in the corner with her sketch book in tow glancing inquisitively at my cousin and I. After receiving our beverage order, we came to talking. I’m a shy person by nature until I find a common ground the converse about, with Lesley, conversation was easy, normative, and enjoyable. Within the forty-five minute conversation we shared, I learned about how she went to art school in Sydney and how adventurous and witty her personality is. This past Comic Con, we finally met again after five years, and the tempo of our conversation hadn’t changed. She also shares my love of Oprhan Black/ all things Tatiana Maslany with me, so it’s only natural that her name is added to my mentor list.