Emily Jean Stone was born on Nov. 6, 1988 in Scottsdale, AZ. At age 11, she joined a local children’s theater where she performed in numerous plays and was part of an improv troop – an experience that sparked Stone’s interest in becoming a comedic actress. When she was 14, the then-budding comic ingeniously made a PowerPoint presentation titled “Project Hollywood 2004” set to the Madonna song “Hollywood” (2003) to convince her parents to allow her to move to Los Angeles.
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La La Land had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Wednesday, and it seems to have sang and danced its way into critics hearts.
The first reviews of the Los Angeles-set musical — the follow-up fromWhiplash director Damien Chazelle — are overwhelmingly positive, with high praise for stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, who play an aspiring actress and jazz musician falling in love as they struggle to make it in Hollywood.
Read on for takes on the film from those who saw it in Venice. Stateside, it’s set for a theatrical release on Dec. 2.
Pete Hammond (Deadline)
“Coming off the promise of the Oscar winning Whiplash, it will be no surprise that writer/director Damien Chazelle is a talented filmmaker, but that movie did not prepare me for the experience of seeing La La Land, his homage to the great screen musicals of French director Jacques Demy as well as MGM’s golden era. But this is too smart a movie maker to just do a simple tribute to a bygone era, his film starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is a gorgeous romantic fever dream of a musical that should hit contemporary audiences right in their sweet spot. It has been a very long time since we have seen something quite this lyrical, lovely, and most importantly, original on the screen, but at the same time it is a musical that has its feet firmly planted in the real world , even if the one up there on the wide Cinemascope screen is very stylized.”
Todd McCarthy (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Happily, the two leads are clearly entirely in synch with [Chazelle’s] objectives. Sebastian has a certain gruff impatience and short temper born of creative frustration, but the concern and love he feels for Mia doesn’t take long to well up. Gosling may not be a trained dancer or musician, but his moves are appealingly his own and months of piano practice have given him convincing style on the keyboards. Stone is simply a joy as the eternally aspiring actress it’s hard to believe is being passed over. Emotionally alive and able to shift gears on a dime, Stone is all the more convincing in this context as she has the kind of looks that would have been appealing in any era, particularly the 1930s and 1950s.”
Peter Bradshaw (The Guardian)
“It’s an unapologetically romantic homage to classic movie musicals, splashing its poster-paint energy and dream-chasing optimism on the screen. With no little audacity, La La Land seeks its own place somewhere on a continuum between Singin’ in the Rain and Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You, with a hint of Alan Parker’s Fame for the opening sequence, in which a bunch of young kids with big dreams, symbolically stuck in a traffic jam on the freeway leading to Los Angeles, get out of their cars and stage a big dance number.”
Eric Kohn (Indiewire)
“At its best, La La Land probes the irony of its existence, celebrating the greatness of a bygone era in the context of changing times. ‘That’s LA,’ Sebastian concludes. ‘They worship everything and they value nothing.’ But that doesn’t stop him from getting fired up about the underlying power of classic jazz. ‘You can’t hear it,’ he implores Mia. ‘You have to see it.’ To that end, La La Land succeeds in making its sweet imagery sing, particularly with the sensational finale. In a wordless explosion of lights and shadows, Chazelle reignites the movie with fresh context that forces it to get real. Here, he arrives at the wrenching conclusion that even the most vibrant fantasy eventually must fade to black.”
Alonso Duralde (The Wrap)
“TCM addicts will swoon over that traffic-jam number, not to mention a dance sequence that delightfully defies gravity. The vocal duets between Stone and Gosling are charming even though they both have singing voices that might diplomatically be called ‘naturalistic.’ (Similarly, the songs by composer Justin Hurwitz and Broadway lyricists Pasek and Paul aren’t traditional show-stoppers, but they sneak up on you by the second reprise.) … Gosling and Stone’s powerful chemistry is as palpable as it was in Crazy Stupid Love — they were that film’s sole selling point — and each of them conveys their character’s love of the arts and drive to succeed.”
Owen Gleiberman (Variety)
“La La Land isn’t a masterpiece (and on some level it wants to be). Yet it’s an exciting ramble of a movie, ardent and full of feeling, passionate but also exquisitely — at times overly — controlled. It winds up swimming in melancholy, yet its most convincing pleasures are the moments when it lifts the audience into a state of old-movie exaltation, leading us to think, ‘What a glorious feeling. I’m happy again.’”
The actress who appears opposite Ryan Gosling in the musical, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, said the point of the film is to “let go of cynicism.”
Damien Chazelle’s new film La La Land is a welcome respite for moviegoers lamenting the general dark and dreary plots hovering over the general state of studio films. The young Oscar-nominated director (best adapted screenplay for Whiplash) has delivered a tour de force that pays tribute to European musicals of the ‘60s and ‘70s in his third feature film.
Emma Stone stars as Mia, a barista working on a studio lot in Los Angeles trying to make her way as an actress through humiliating audition after humiliating audition. She meets Sebastian, a down and out pianist who can’t find anyone who appreciates his love for jazz history. Over the seasons and sites of the city they falls in love, while breaking into classical song and dance, struggling to keep their relationship together over career difficulties and successes.
Even the most cynical audience member will have a hard time not smiling at the opening number, which turns a traffic standstill into a multi-car song-and-dance number on an extended city off-ramp. Indeed, both early morning press screenings caused journalists to burst into applause 10 minutes into the film. Early reviews and warm praise are already generating Oscar buzz.
At the press conference Chazelle, who arrived a week early to travel around, proclaimed his love for Italy and said before starting any questions, “I heard last week about the earthquake that hit and I want to say that on behalf of the film, our thoughts and prayers go out to anyone affected by it.”
Earlier in the day festival director Alberto Barbera and Jury President Sam Mendes kicked off the press activities, where it was announced that the Biennale was setting up a fund for the earthquake victims and La La Land studio Lionsgate would be the first to donate. It was announced last week that the opening night gala for the film would be canceled out of respect to the victims and that proceeds from the Architecture Biennale tickets for select dates would be donated to relief efforts. The central Italy earthquake claimed almost 300 lives.
Chazelle, whose first feature Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench was a musical, explained why he loves the genre so much. “Now more than ever we need hope and romance on the screen, and I think there’s something about musicals that just get at something that only movies can do,” he explained. “That idea of movies as a dreamland, movies as the language of our dreams and movies as a way of expressing a world in which you break into song, that emotions can violate the rules of reality.”
He admitted that it was a challenge to place a musical in today’s world, but he was able to fall back on the timelessness of classical musicals to find his way.
“I think there’s a way that the older musicals are timeless and it has a way to do with their simplicity,” he explained. “How do you justify a musical today? The way to justify it today is actually going back to a lot of those traditions. No one breaks into song unless it’s emotionally justified in some way. But once you allow yourself that possibility, then you have a responsibility to go all the way.”
For Stone, who has always loved musicals, it was a perfect fit for her. “I went and saw Les Miswhen I was eight on stage. So bursting into song has always been a real dream of mine.”
She was also very much drawn into the film by its pointed hopefulness. She referenced Conan O’Brien urging audiences to “let go of cynicism,” she paraphrased. “I think something about Damien and what Damien created, and the hopefulness and the joy and the beauty of this medium, is that this story is in no way cynical.”
“It’s about dreaming and hoping and working towards something to achieve something,” she continued. “And I think young people have fallen into a lot of cynicism and making fun of things and pointing out the flaws in everything. And this movie is anything but that and it’s a huge joy to be a apart of it.”
Stone said it was also a pleasure to work with her friend Gosling again. “Once you’ve learned to ballroom dance with someone, you’ve learned everything you need to know,” she said. “He’s very good at leading.”
But that was nothing compared to her praise for Chazelle, who she compared to her character Mia as “being a young person that’s putting yourself out there, creating something from scratch with all your heart, he’s doing that.” She also said that the fame hasn’t gone to his head and called him easily the most collaborative writer-director she has ever worked with, while staying true to his vision.
“That’s just rare of anyone of any age who has made a jillion movies,” she said of the 31-year old director. “He’s truly extraordinary.”
Chazelle also explained his idea of romance. “A lot of things can happen after ‘happily ever after.’ But when you have two people who share a memory, there is something very pure and nothing an taint that memory,” he said. “The idea was to take the old musical but ground it in real life where things don’t always exactly work out.“
VENICE — Stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and director Damien Chapelle wowed the Venice Festival Wednesday morning with “La La Land” – and it took just 10 minutes.
And the Venice reception, if the first press screening and early reviews are anything to go by, will do nothing to stem the groundswell of opinion, backed by a terrific buzz on the movie before it even world premiered at Venice, that
“La La Land” is most certainly a serious Oscar contender in many departments.
Journalists – most Italian, but with a significant minority of international scribes – burst into spontaneous applause at “La La Land’s” first press screening after the musical’s first scene – a spectacular sustained single-shot song and dance number staged in an early morning tail-back on the L.A. highway.
Warm applause broke out at the end of the movie – which is pretty rare at Venice, where movies by venerable auteurs can be boo-ed.
As journalists and fest heads spilled out into the morning sun, on a beautiful day on the Lido, there was wide-ranging almost unanimous praise for Venice’s opening night film.
“La La Land” makes your heart beater faster and gives you a smile, which very few festival movies do these days,” said Karlovy Vary artistic director Karel Och.
He added: “And ‘La La Land’ is about Hollywood, the film industry and America,” predicting a strongly upbeat reaction for the movie in the U.S.
“It was pure poetry. They are incredible actors and singers,” said Tiziana Mantovani, an Italian journalist.
YAHOO! Venice (AFP) – A bewitching musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone will open the Venice film festival Wednesday, kicking off a US-heavy line-up of flicks vying for the coveted Golden Lion.
Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land”, described as a tribute to the Golden Age of American musicals, reunites the stars, who appeared together in the 2011 romcom “Crazy, Stupid, Love” — but with oodles of singing this time.
This world premier of the tale about a struggling jazz pianist and his actress girlfriend is the first of 20 films in competition at the 73rd edition of the world’s oldest film festival, which runs from August 31 to September 10.
The festival’s artistic director Alberto Barbera described the flick by the director of Academy Award-nominated “Whiplash” (2014) as a movie “that does not merely reinvent the musical genre, it gives it a brand new start”.
This year’s line-up on the glamorous Italian island is notable not only for its A-list headliners, from Denzel Washington to Michael Fassbender, but also for the profusion of genre movies, he said.
Dystopian love stories, period dramas, adventure epics, revised Westerns and sci-fi thrillers are all showing at the Lido extravaganza, where Hollywood’s creme de la creme rock up in water taxis to dazzle on the red carpet.
– Virtual reality religion –
And Venice will be the first festival to host a special virtual reality viewing salon. A 40-minute preview of “Jesus VR” will see viewers “experience” the birth of Christ in the first virtual reality feature-length film ever made.
The beach-side festival has restored its reputation as an awards-season platform by producing the last two Best Picture Oscars, “Spotlight” and “Birdman”, in a challenge to the mammoth Toronto film festival.
All eyes will be on the jury, lead by British film director Sam Mendes, for hints as to the next Oscar favourite.
Security is high at the venue, with road blocks and bag checks after the summer’s jihadist attacks in Europe.
While champagne corks were popped and canapes scoffed at luxury Venice hotels on the eve of the festival, the gala dinner on the opening night was cancelled as a mark of respect following a deadly earthquake in Italy.
Films battling for the Lion include Iranian-American Ana Lily Amirpour’s “The Bad Patch”, set in a Texas wasteland and starring Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey, as well as Derek Cianfrance’s romantic period drama “The Light Between Oceans”, featuring real-life couple Fassbender and Alicia Vikander.
– Cigarette-smoking pope –
The pair, who famously met and fell in love on the set of the World War I period drama, play a lighthouse keeper and his wife who have problems conceiving but take in a baby girl washed up ashore in a boat.
Among the most anticipated premieres is legendary director Terrence Malick’s 3D documentary about the birth and death of the universe. “Voyage of Time”, a project 40 years in the making, is narrated by Cate Blanchett.
Mel Gibson will be making his directorial comeback after a 10-year break with “Hacksaw Ridge” about a World War II army medic who was the only conscientious objector ever to win the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Former creative director at Gucci, Tom Ford, who wowed critics and the public alike with his directorial debut “A Single Man” in 2009, is back with “Nocturnal Animals”, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
And there is already a buzz about the out-of-competition offering “The Young Pope”, a 10-part series by HBO telling the life of fictional Pius XIII, with a cigarette-smoking Jude Law as the first American pontiff in history.
Emma Stone will be attending 2016 Venice Film Festival to to promote her new movie ‘La La Land’ during 73rd Venice Film Festival in Venice, Italy.
With swoon-worthy trailers saturated in lovely imagery and memorable music, Damien (“Whiplash”)Chazelle’s “La La Land” looks like a cinematic dream come true. Reuniting “Crazy Stupid Love” (and the more forgettable “Gangster Squad”) costars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, the film features Gosling playing a jazz pianist and Stone playing the actress he falls in love with. Much singing and dancing follows. Venice artistic director Alberto Barbera had some lofty praise for the film, which will be the opener for the 73rd festival stating that “La La Land” “does not merely reinvent the musical genre, it gives it a brand new start.” Barbera also added that the film is Chazelle’s “definitive, albeit precocious, consecration among the great directors of Hollywood’s new firmament.” Heady praise indeed, and lest you think it’s so much lather, remember that Venice has debuted awards behemoths “Gravity” and “Birdman” in that very slot in recent years.
After premiering three major Academy Award winners in a row, the world’s oldest film fest is once again Hollywood’s awards-season launchpad.
The past few years, while Toronto bickered with Telluride over which festival could screen which premiere when and where, Venice — after some decidedly lackluster editions — took the high road and worked on improving. The result? It’s back on top after a scorecard that saw successful Oscar wins for Venice premieres three years in a row: Gravity, Birdman and, last year, Spotlight. Hollywood has taken notice. The festival is filled with studio titles this year, which means the red carpet will be filled with A-list talent. The four premieres that already are garnering awards buzz:
With Venice proving to be a good luck charm at the Oscars, one young contender seems to be taking the hint. Damien Chazelle is following up his 2014 best picture nominee Whiplash with festival opener La La Land. The musical stars Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist who falls in love with an aspiring actress (Emma Stone). The Venice committee, after watching the film, immediately offered Lionsgate the opening slot. “I was so honored to get the invitation to open Venice,” says Chazelle. “It’s the kind of place that seems to belong in a dream. That’s the feeling I wanted to capture with this movie: the way things look and sound in a dream, the magic and the romance of it all.”
Chazelle adds that it was a natural choice to follow up his critically acclaimed Whiplash with the challenging genre of the musical. “The thing I love about musicals is that everything is possible. You can combine all the arts — music, dance, painting, theater — to collectively produce an emotion that can’t be conveyed by words,” he says. “I wanted to try and make a film that told an honest, intimate story but also allowed for that kind of big-screen moviemaking.”
Festival director Alberto Barbera believes that the film, a tribute to old Hollywood musicals, is a natural candidate for the Oscars. “It has all the elements,” he says. “It’s a wonderful story, a classic film. It’s extremely well done with two outstanding lead performances. You have to go back to the ’60s and ’70s to see something that is similar to those performances. It has beautiful music, beautiful dance performances. Everything in the film is definitely outstanding.”
While Lionsgate is planning a big launch at the festival, unfortunately Gosling will not be present, as he couldn’t escape filming duties for Blade Runner 2. Stone will be back in Venice after her 2014 success withBirdman led her to an Oscar nomination.
The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) has announced its film lineup for its 41st edition and this year’s prorgamme is overflowing with A-list talent. The list of star-studded films includes Ryan Goslingand Emma Stone’s romantic drama La La Land. The 10-day festival kicks off on Sept. 8.
La La Land: Starring Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, and Rosemarie DeWitt