When Damien Chazelle tried to resurrect the movie musical with his debut feature, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench
(2009), he was constrained by the modest means of a Canadian indie; now, having made a name for himself with the Oscar-nominated jazz drama Whiplash
(2014), he returns to the challenge with $30 million behind him, and the result is dazzling. The story, a star-crossed romance between a down-and-out actress (Emma Stone) and a brooding jazzbo (Ryan Gosling), may echo Martin Scorsese's New York, New York
(1977) and, earlier still, George Cukor's A Star Is Born
(1954). But the musical numbers are distinctly Minnellian in their sense of lovers being swept away by the whirlwind of their mutual regard; in one particularly grand scene, shot inside the planetarium of the Griffith Observatory, the characters glide into a pas de deux and ascend into the heavens. With John Legend, J.K. Simmons, and Rosemarie DeWitt.