“I’m just overwhelmed,” said Damien Chazelle. Although the wunderkind director, who received his first Oscar nomination for last year’s “Whiplash” could have easily been referring to the scene at Chateau Marmont’s Bungalow One, he was speaking of the praise for his new film “La La Land,” which had a post-screening reception Monday night in Los Angeles. “To have people respond so well to it is this added surreal thing,” Chazelle said.
Guests Marlee Matlin and Laura Dern were among those who loved the film. “I’m so moved and broken open and blown away by it,” said Dern, while waiting for the movie’s star, Emma Stone, to arrive. The reception was meant to have been hosted by Bradley Cooper, a last-minute no-show, but Stone didn’t disappoint.
Although her handlers prevented her from doing interviews, she cooed, “It’s so good to see you,” as she hugged Dern and signed fluently with Matlin before heading into the crowd.
Chazelle said of his leading lady, “I think she has this rare combination of being able to be so movie star-like yet so intimate and present on-screen. I think she’s one of the greatest actresses around right now.”
The film, which chronicles a struggling actress (Stone) and musician (played by Ryan Gosling) through vintage song and dance numbers, mirrors Chazelle’s own journey. “The whole thing of being a director has felt like a dream. I moved to L.A. to make movies. Making this movie for six years, it felt like a dream that would never come true,” he said. He took special care with the costumes, designed by Mary Zophres, saying, “I tried to figure out a way that they could be both old-fashioned and new.”
While the film is drawing comparisons to George Gershwin, it might be a while before Chazelle tackles music in film again. “All I know for sure is I want to try non-music related things next,” he said.