I saw La La Land on Monday. I enjoyed the film; the acting was good, the story was well told, I liked the music and it was well shot. But it made me think about the role of nostalgia in film.
Film is an art form, and like any art form, film has changed drastically in the past 100 years. We ended up discussing that today briefly at work, when we were discussing ’80’s movies. My co-worker even placed 1984 as the last year of the 80’s film. (For the epitome of the 80’s movie, see Flashdance. That film eightied more than any other film ever eightied before.)
Naturally, artists are inspired by their predecessors. But what do we make of films that are incredibly nostalgic, and self-referential?
When I watched La La Land, I kept thinking about the movie The Artist. They are both done in the style of an earlier form of film (silent films and the 1950’s musical). But how well do they hold up? I have not seen The Artist in several years; I don’t know if the conceit of the silent film in modern day holds up. Will La La Land hold up in future years?
I have no idea. But I do know that the audience in my theater burst into applause after the opening number.
Postscript: The movie itself is aware of these dangers. A key exchange between two characters points out that a person who consistently looks to the past can never be a revolutionary.