Modern Twist on a Musical – ‘La La Land’ Movie Review

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By: Ashley G’18 and Britney Y’18

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land follows a jazz pianist named Sebastian, played by Ryan Gosling and an aspiring actress named Mia, portrayed by Emma Stone. The movie takes place in modern day Los Angeles but also pays tribute to classic musicals such as Singing In the Rain and The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

When watching La La Land, expect the film to be filled with mellifluous tunes and a variety of dances, from tap dancing to ballroom dancing to modern dancing. Although the movie is mainly about two struggling artists trying to achieve their dream, it also incorporates a love story.

The film includes a variety of scenes that take place in some popular locations in LA. There is the Griffith’s Observatory, The Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach, the back-lot of the famous Hollywood Center Studios, and many more.

Our reactions to the two hour movie were along the same line. We both believe Chazelle successfully captured and displayed the emotions, trials and tribulations of a person in the arts industry. Being a creative artist exposes you to excessive rejection and embarrassment– especially if you’re constantly going to castings for films, TV shows, etc. Throughout the movie, a recurring theme is “rejection can really beat a person’s self esteem.” However, Chazelle’s movie also displays the idea that with an encouraging person by your side, nothing is impossible.


Britney’s Rating: ★★★★☆

Personally, I thought this movie was brilliant. However, it was a little confusing for me to follow in the beginning considering I did not know what the backstory of the movie was. Before watching it in theaters, I expected it to be the usual boy meets girl, girl meets boys, they fall in love, the end. To my surprise, Chazelle did a wonderful job creating a unique storyline for the movie to engage his audience. Furthermore, the soundtrack to the film is entirely original. If you’re a music geek like me and you play an instrument, it’s almost impossible not to become obsessed with the songs. In fact, I looked up the music sheets of the soundtrack so I can play the music myself. Here’s a fun fact, Ryan Gosling learned piano in 3 months just to play his role in the movie!

Ashley’s Rating: ★★★★★

Since the day I watched the first trailer, I had been eagerly awaiting the premiere of this film. The idea of an original jazz musical with a modern twist on classics drew me in, and I had a feeling that it would have a lasting impression in one way or another. Just as I anticipated, the film proved to be original, inspiring, magical, and genuine. Chazelle brought out the best of the old and new in a way that complimented the other. I appreciate and admire the creative decisions that went into the film, from the camera directions, to the choreography of the dance numbers and the one shot scenes. In addition, the soundtrack includes an eclectic range of songs composed by Justin Hurwitz, with upbeat and tuneful scores, piano solos, as well as graceful symphonies.It also showcases meaningful lyrics and the smooth sound of the double bass and the vibrant trumpet. With that being said, I encourage anyone with even the slightest bit of interest to watch it. After all, it won all seven of the categories it was nominated for in the Golden Globes!

Senior Interview with Sandra Cantillo

By: Ashley Gong & Britney Yee

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Ranking 9th in the individual borough competitions and achieving a high score of 202, Sandra Cantillo demonstrates one of her many assets on the QHSS Girls Bowling team. However, that’s not all to her; she loves helping her schoolmates and putting smiles on others’ faces as well.

Like all specialized high school students, Sandra took the SHSAT exam and got accepted to our school. What differentiates her from our fellow schoolmates is that she has a very optimistic outlook on life and carries herself in a way that exudes positivity.

We asked her a couple questions regarding school and her life, ranging from the best academic advice she has received to the funniest moment in her life so far.

Q- What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of?

One accomplishment I am most proud of is competing in my first smoker. It was my first amateur fight in a ring,and I was so nervous but also excited to be doing it. I was training for a good 4 months, where I had to go through gruesome workouts and countless sparring sessions. However, once I got into the ring, I knew that all those months of training paid off, and it was the best minutes I ever experienced.


Q- Who is your role model and why?

One of my role models is Toph from Avatar the Last Airbender. She was born blind and treated condescendingly by her parents because if it, but she didn’t let that stop her from becoming one of the most powerful earthbenders of her time. She choose to take the harder road in life and accompany the Avatar. Also, she was a very skilled fighter and I’ve always admired her approach in a fight.

Q- Where do you see yourself in the future?

In the future, I see myself working for a government agency such as the FBI or CIA. I would probably have my own home with maybe a husband and children to come home to but definitely at least one dog, preferably an English Bulldog named Leo or Gaia.

Q- Describe your high school experience in 5 words.
Stressful, crazy, fun, new friends.

Q- What’s the best academic advice you’ve ever received?
The best academic advice I’ve ever received is to not stress too much when you fail a test. For me and countless other students in any high school, there is so much pressure to get the highest scores and so much worth in your overall average. Before high school, I was so used to getting the highest grades and being considered the “smartest” but once I entered QHSS and became surrounded by others equally as smart, I didn’t know how to process not being the best. Eventually I learned that it’s okay not to be the best, it’s okay to fail a test. There will always be a next time and in 5 years, people will not remember you for how well you did in school, but who you were.

Q- What is your favorite subject that you have taken in this school, and why?

My favorite subject would probably have to be Trig or Precalc because math is like a puzzle that at first seems impossible, but once you start to break it down and apply everything you learn, you are able to solve. Mainly I love how everything in math is connected and once Mr. Lopez shows you the relationship between two things, your mind is literally blown and the whole class just goes “WOW”.

Q- Tell me about the funniest moment in your life so far?

The funniest moment of my life would be when I was about 5 years old and just learned how to write. One day, my dad and I were together and I must have done something bad so he scolded me. I felt so hurt that I made a plan to run away. I took my sister’s backpack and put my stuffed pig in it along with a pair of underwear and a couple of chewy granola bars. Before I left, I made sure to write a note to my dad that said “Me no love you no more, Love Sandra”. I was only five years old and the only ending they taught me was Love. I left the note on the table and walked right out the door to my neighbor’s house where I was fed chocolate chip cookies and milk. My neighbor did call my parents so they wouldn’t worry and eventually I got homesick but that was my first runaway story.