“La La Land” is a tale of two struggling young artists in love in Los Angeles. Appropriately, the look of the film combines the intensity and dreaminess common to both art and amour. With nods to MGM musicals and French New Wave films, and nostalgic settings across L.A. and its surrounds, the production design of La La Land — now Oscar nominated — nonetheless feels modern and fresh. Here's a closer look at five of the 48 locations featured in the film that embody its distinctive charm.
“This sextet is a long jump ahead of most of the jazz squealers, howlers and blasters who rend the night from one end of L.A. to the other,” entertainment editor Dick Williams wrote in the Los Angeles Mirror in October 1954. Williams was taking in the scene at the Lighthouse Cafe in Hermosa Beach. The low-lit, brick-walled jazz club appeals to pianist Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), naturally, and appears in several scenes between him and Mia (Emma Stone).
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The most-visited public observatory in the world is perched on Mount Hollywood’s southern slope, overlooking the Los Feliz neighborhood in central Los Angeles. In homage to the James Dean classic “Rebel Without a Cause,” which reaches its climax here, the “La La Land” team set a whimsical date scene around the observatory’s exhibits and hillside views. The planetarium, however, was reproduced on a soundstage.
It wouldn’t quite be an L.A. movie without a shot of the ocean, and the Pacific views from Hermosa Beach Pier do the trick. But it’s the slightly weather-beaten look and off-the-radar feel of the pier – compared with more popular counterparts in Santa Monica and Malibu – that give Sebastian’s evening stroll its perfectly melancholy vibe.
This grand old theater, one of the few remaining in Pasadena, dates to 1925 and maintains much of its original look. Newer additions, like the Art Moderne marquee, together with elaborate touches, like Romanesque winged torsos, amount to a singular venue that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Rialto closed to the public in 2010, making its appearance in “La La Land” all the more romantic.
A legendary hideout for the Hollywood elite, this castle-like property looms on a hilltop over Sunset Boulevard. So, it seems fitting that once Mia has become a star and returned to Los Angeles for a visit, she holes up here.