Less than 48 hours ago, the Academy Awards made history by awarding the Oscar for Best Film to the wrong movie. The mistaken recipient of the award was La La Land, the hugely popular musical which had already taken home six statuettes, including the awards for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Original Score, with a record fourteen nominations.
“I saw the film with my two children, one 18 years old and the other 29,” says Andrea De Micheli, CEO of Casta Diva Group. “Both found it exceptionally boring, whereas I was very impressed, perhaps because I’ve been a fan of musicals since I was a boy. When I was 20 I rented a 35mm copy of 42nd Street, famous for Busby Berkeley’s choreography, so that I could watch it scene by scene on an editing table. La La Land also struck me because it tells the story of the dream of the hero, to open an old-style jazz club, despite living in a world that seems to no longer appreciate jazz (“Jazz is dying”, as the hero says at one point in the movie). And yet we at Casta Diva have just realised this same dream, acquiring last summer Blue Note Milano, which happily attracts audiences of all ages (60.000 a year), who love jazz in all its nuances, including those wonderful pieces by Hurwitz in La La Land.”
The film narrates, with a deep affection for the musicals of the 50s and 60s, a contemporary love story between a jazz musician and an aspiring actress. It was an immediate success and became one of the most awarded movies of 2016, starting with its presentation at the 73rd Venice Film Festival, where Emma Stone won the Coppa Volpi for the best female performance. The film then went on to win seven Golden Globes out of seven nominations (a world record), the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and numerous other international accolades.
The movie’s director, Damien Chazelle, is a 32-year-old musician and screenwriter, whose debut film was Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a feature again based on jazz, which came out in 2009 but was never distributed in Italy. He wrote the screenplay for La La Land in 2010, when Hollywood seemed far beyond his reach. It was only after the success of Whiplash in 2014 that his script caught the attention of the major studios.
Chazelle had always wanted to make an old-style Hollywood musical, but set in contemporary times, in a world where so much often seems to go wrong, especially for young people, even though you could say this wasn’t quite the case for him, considering that at just 32 years of age he has revealed a talent capable of vanquishing the competition to become the youngest ever winner of the Best Director Oscar.
Justin Hurwitz, the composer awarded for Best Original Soundtrack, is the same age as Chazelle, with whom he attended the same course at Harvard University. They had already expressed the idea of writing a musical together in their degree thesis, in which they presented a project about producing a low cost musical.
Jazz and its rhythms permeates the entire film, which celebrates the musicals of the past, reaching number one at the box office both in the USA and Italy.
Luca Oddo, president of Casta Diva Group, adds: “When we began working on acquiring Blue Note, a little over a year ago, we created a code word for the operation, as we always do in these cases. We called it Whiplash, because it seemed to us that Chazelle’s previous movie perfectly embodied the spirit of love for music, and in particular for jazz, which is what animated us. Now, Chazelle, with La La Land, has given us another piece of history, where the hero realises his dream of opening a true jazz club. And the long tracking shot when the heroine enters the club really struck an emotional chord with me. It seemed EXACTLY as if we were entering into our own Blue Note: the same blue walls, the same pictures on the walls, the same lighting. A truly unexpected gift!”