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The Oscar-winning director on his new movie about the 1969 moon landing, that infamous best film mix-up, and finding time for a honeymoon

Damien Chazelle, 33, was born in Providence, Rhode Island, to a Canadian mother (a history teacher) and a French father (a computer science professor). He released his first feature film, the jazz musical Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, aged 24, but it was Whiplash that yielded a career breakthrough in 2014. He capitalised on this with La La Land, which last year won six Oscars including best director for Chazelle though it was mistakenly announced as best picture before the award went to Moonlight. His latest film, First Man, follows Neil Armstrong (Ryan Gosling) through years of preparation for the moon landing in 1969.

This feels like a very different film to your last one whereLa La Land was flamboyant and emotional, First Man is reserved and claustrophobic. What persuaded you to take it on?
I liked doing something that felt like the polar opposite of La La Land, just as La La Land felt like the polar opposite of Whiplash, at least emotionally. But I was also just interested in exploring a different world this was my first time doing something that wasnt directly tied to my own life experience.

Were you interested in space travel as a kid?
Yeah, but no more so than your average kid. I would say I was more interested in movies about space travel than space travel itself. I always wanted to do art, whether it was music or movies or drawing or storytelling. Certainly I learned more about space travel by doing this movie than ever before. It took one trip to Houston early on to slap me in the face and go, oh shit, if I actually want to do this I have got to buckle up and learn.

How was this story personal for you?
I related to it as a movie about trying to turn dreams into reality, somewhat similar to La La Land and Whiplash [which was inspired by Chazelles own experience as an obsessively focused jazz drummer]. I also wanted to give a sense of the work involved in becoming an astronaut, which movies tend to obscure the sweaty hands, the vomit on the shirt, the dirty, gritty, cobbled-together aspect of it. When I first saw one of these capsules for real, it was so much less gilded than how I imagined it. I wouldnt get into one for 10 minutes, let alone the time it takes to fly to the moon. I wanted the audience to feel like theyre inside that capsule, screaming to get out.

Watch a trailer for First Man.

Republican senator Marco Rubio raised a stink about you not showing the US flag being planted on the moon. Were you anticipating that reaction?
No, not really. The whole point of the film was to tell the untold story, to look at things that we didnt know, that we didnt see. So it was purely an aesthetic choice there was nothing political in it at all.

Donald Trump joined in, saying: Its almost like theyre embarrassed at the achievement coming from America, I think its a terrible thing I wouldnt even want to watch the movie. Do you feel sad about losing that particular viewer?
I feel sad about losing any viewer. I hope he changes his mind. I think anyone who sees the film will see the patriotism that I think is fully a part of it.

This is your second film with Ryan Gosling. Whats unique about him as an actor?
He does a deep dive [into the character] and has some of Neil Armstrongs obsessiveness and determination to get things right. In between takes hed be huddled off with one of the astronauts we had on set, asking: Did that look OK? Was it this button or that button? For the next scene I have to pull the RCS switch do you pull them fast or slow? Hes just like a hawk for all those things.

Sorry to make you relive the best picture fiasco in 2017, but what was going through your head when the mix-up with Moonlight was revealed?
[laughs] I was so out of it and I didnt really hear what was going on for most of the time. After the Moonlight people started crowding on the stage, someone had to come and explain to me what was happening. What people watching the telecast maybe dont realise is that, when youre in an awards season, youre seeing people from the other films all the time and you become buddies. So that aspect of it was really nice. Who walks home with what prize is maybe a little less important, but I was certainly happy to see it go to them.

Youve spoken in the past about having an obsessive streak with your work. Hows your work-life balance now?
Maybe its better than it used to be. Its helpful to have people to force me to clock off. My wife [actor Olivia Hamilton] is very instrumental in that regard. I think I would be either crumpled up in a corner somewhere or just a lesser human being without her.

You got married recently.
We got married actually we eloped last December. It was our little secret city hall marriage. Weve been trying to find little pockets of time for a honeymoon, but Im afraid we havent managed it yet.

What do you do to relax?
I love reading. Watching films, obviously. Listening to music. Also, its really lovely to be in places like London or Paris and walk the city. Ive always liked that idea of the flneur, the street walker. Just wandering can be endlessly inspiring.

Whats next?
Talking about Paris, Ill be returning there next year to shoot the first two episodes of a Netflix series called The Eddy. Its about a jazz club run by an expat with a motley crew of locals and foreigners who all gather there. It follows their daily life in and out of the club a bit of an ensemble piece. Meanwhile, Im trying to write the next movie, but its too early to say what itll be about. So theres stuff in the pipeline, but Im [also] pretty excited to have a little bit of uncertainty.

First Man is released on 12 October

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A stupid mistake undermined the academys response to the #OscarsSoWhite campaign but the dream factory has at last extended its repertoire of dreams

The biggest mistakes at the Oscars are usually said to be made by women with their fashion fails. I wont bore you with the details, but last year Kate Winslet apparently looked rubbish in a glossy bin liner, another woman should have been arrested because she looked too casual, the great costume designer Sandy Powell with her wonderful Bowie-esque look was deemed to have made a terrible mistake. This year though, the annual fest of tit tape, weepy self-congratulation and sheer star power will be remembered for more than a frock faux pas: there was a serious cock-up. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced that La La Land had won best picture when actually it was Moonlight. It seems that Beatty was given the wrong envelope, looked confused and passed the buck to Dunaway, who read out La La Land.

Once the La La Land people were on stage, everyone started to realise a mistake had been made and it was up to two of the producers, Jordan Horowitz and Mark Platt to tell the audience: This is not a joke. Moonlight has won best picture. Horowitz was immediately gracious: Im going to be really proud to hand this to my friends at Moonlight. By now the cameras were on the jubilant Moonlight director Barry Jenkins, while presumably several minions who work for PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accountant which oversees the academys ballot-counting, were taken out for ritual slaughter.

The wrong was righted. Beatty tried to explain himself. Twitter was immediately full of wits asking if in fact Hillary had won the election.

Jenkins began to celebrate: Even in my dreams this could not be true. But to hell with it, Im done with dreams because this is true. Moonlight truly won, and it should have done.

The politics of the Oscars were not about the expected Trump-bashing, which we knew would happen, there are no surprises about what Hollywood thinks of the US president. The politics of all this reside in which dreams are realised in this huge culture factory and who those dreams belong to.

La La Land, even if you love it, undeniably rests on the appropriation of black culture. Its very escapism depends on a quest for authenticity for those who can afford to choose their own soundtrack. Moonlight, symphonic, stylised, complex draws on those marginalised by the film industry. Moonlight is about emotional deprivation but it overflows with humanity. Obviously these are two very different movies but they are freighted with what they do and dont say about race.

This is why this mix-up mattered more than a bit of onstage awkwardness. What some people saw in this mistake was again a cultural bias against black art, unconscious though it may be. Some saw a conspiracy. Some saw the biggest award of the night undermined. This is hardly a paranoid reading when we keep seeing award ceremonies where black artists lose Adele winning best album over Beyonc at the Grammys, or the debacle of the Brits which has grime artists perform as though domesticated pets but will not reward them.

I was as delighted to see Moonlight win as I was to see Ryan Gosling sniggering at the side of the stage. My delight is not to do with worthiness but aesthetics, this is a profound and stunning piece of cinema. The fake news was that this was not the best film. The fake news was corrected in front of a huge audience.

Mistakes however when we slip up or misspeak often reveal what is going on unconsciously. The awkwardness around all this is partly because the Oscar factory has faced much criticism over being too white. Now theyre woke. Or at least trying. Mahershala Ali deservedly won best support actor. Viola Davies won best supporting actress for the performance of a lifetime. No one can say this is tokenism. Asghar Farhadi won best foreign film but was not there as a protest against Trumps ban on Iranians.

All these achievements should not be overshadowed by a stupid mistake, but they have been because mistakes somehow reveal a deeper truth which is that movies like Moonlight dont win Oscars. Until they do. The dream factory extends its repertoire of dreams. A different America can see its own reflection. This was a night that belonged not to those who got the wrong envelope but those who pushed the envelope. A brilliant win, make no mistake.

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The director of Whiplash delivers a musical romance that rushes from first love to heartache via showtunes, love songs and free jazz. Propelled by charming performances from its leads, its a sweet-natured drama thats full of bounce

The seasons of a love affair are played out beguilingly in this wonderfully sweet, sad, smart new movie from Damien Chazelle the director of Whiplash and the Venice film festival could not have wished for a bigger sugar rush to start the proceedings. Its 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 Allens Everyone Says I Love You, with a hint of Alan Parkers 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.

To be honest, this is where an audience might find its tolerance for this pictures unironic bounce tested, coming as it does right at the top of the show. It takes a little while to get acclimatised, and for the first five minutes, the showtune feel to the musical score might make you feel youre watching a Broadway adaptation. But very soon I was utterly absorbed by this movies simple storytelling verve and the terrific lead performances from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone who are both excellent particularly Stone, who has never been better, her huge doe eyes radiating wit and intelligence when theyre not filling with tears. Gosling, for his part, has a nice line in sardonic dismissal to conceal how hurt he is or how in love he is.

Sunset pairing Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling in La La Land

The two of them get a meet cute in the traffic jam. Stone is Mia, a wannabe movie star like pretty much everyone else, and while waiting, she is distractedly going through her pages for an audition she has later in the day. Chazelle, incidentally, creates a mischievous reveal in which we are later struck by the dull listless way she runs the lines to herself, and the passionate way she sells them later to the producer. I wonder if the director was influenced by Naomi Wattss actress in that other La-La-Land extravaganza: Mulholland Drive, by David Lynch.

But she doesnt notice the cars ahead starting, and holds up the driver behind her: a disagreeable guy in a macho convertible, who pulls belligerently round to overtake, scowling at Mia and receiving the finger in return. This is Seb, played by Gosling, a pianist and jazz evangelist who is living a scuzzy apartment in the city.

A little like Mr Fletcher, the terrifying jazz teacher played by JK Simmons in Chazelles Whiplash, Seb is a purist and an uncompromiser, a difficult guy to get to know or like. He is lonely and unhappy, claiming to his exasperated sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) that he is just playing rope-a-dope with life and fate, waiting for them to wear themselves out beating him, after which he will come storming back. Seb is fired from a restaurant, where the manager (a cameo for Simmons) is enraged by his tendency to favour brilliant free-jazz improvisations instead of the tinkling background music he gets paid for. But it is here, again, that Seb meets Mia, and then again at a party, where Seb has humiliatingly got a gig playing synth in an 80s-style band. It is fate.

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Musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone picks up festivals Peoples Choice award, as Lion and Queen of Katwe named runners up

La La Land has taken the top honour at the Toronto film festival. The Los Angeles-set musical world premiered on the opening night film of the Venice film festival and screened in Telluride, before debuting in Toronto. The movie – Damien Chazelles third – has attracted raves from reviewers, with especial praise for Emma Stones performance as a struggling actor, whose relationship to her jazz pianist boyfriend (Ryan Gosling) becomes strained when his career begins to overtake hers. Stone was named best actress at last Saturdays Venice film festival awards.

The film is the follow-up by Chazelle, 31, to audience-pleasing drumming drama Whiplash, which won three Oscars, including best supporting actor for JK Simmons. La La Land is his second musical, following Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a little-seen micro-budget jazz musical, originally planned as his thesis project for Harvard Film School (he briefly left Harvard to focus on finishing the film).

La La Land is about the city I live in, its about the music that I grew up playing, its about movies that I grew up watching, Chazelle told the Guardian in Telluride, before screening it in Toronto. Even the big spectacle of the movie feels private to me in that way.

The Peoples Choice Award is a proven indicator for future awards glory: past winners which have proceeded to the bag the best picture Oscar include Slumdog Millionaire, The Kings Speech and 12 Years a Slave.

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(CNN)In a pop culture landscape full of antiheroes, gloomy movies, and dark TV shows (literally), the new yet retro Hollywood musical “La La Land” is notable for featuring a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors.

The film which stars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone as Sebastian and Mia, two artists who fall in love in a fantastical Los Angeles filled with singing and dancing, added to the list of accolades it has already gotten on Monday when it enchanted audiences at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Those in attendance for the screening in Toronto even cheered following some of the film’s multiple musical numbers, making the experience feel more like a Broadway show than a movie.
    The film, which was directed by Damien Chazelle and is being distributed by Lionsgate, was easily the most anticipated film of the festival. It came into Toronto having garnered acclaim from a number of movie critics and even Tom Hanks.
    Following its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and screenings at both Colorado’s Telluride Film Festival and Toronto, “La La Land” is now on, if not at the top of, many critics lists of early Oscars favorites.
    Its position on these lists make sense for reasons even beyond the great early reviews. Chazelle’s last film, “Whiplash,” was the darling of the 2014 season. Plus, Hollywood loves to give awards to films about Hollywood (“Argo,” “The Artist,” etc.) and as much as this is a love story between the characters played by Gosling and Stone, it’s also a love story about Hollywood itself.
    The Toronto Film Festival was packed with movies that are intensely powerful (“The Birth of a Nation”), emotional (“A Monster Calls”) and thought provoking (“Arrival”). But “La La Land” is the one that feels most like Hollywood at its purest.
    The film, down to its art deco title font, seems like something out of a time capsule from Hollywood’s golden age.
    Chazelle structures it as a love letter to that era while not letting the story of Sebastian and Mia’s modern romance get bogged down in nostalgia. Most interestingly, he crafts “La La Land” as a story in which reality and fantasy are in conflict with one another and leaves moviegoers to choose which is truer.
    “La La Land” doesn’t hit theaters until December. When it does, though, it’s bound to win awards. It could also find itself bringing in solid box office numbers from audiences who, after distressing news cycle after distressing news cycle, may be in need of a world where people sing in L.A. traffic.

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