Christopher Nolan La La Land

Unless it’s Steven Soderbergh publishing his exhaustive lists of all of the media he consumes in a given year, or someone like Quentin Tarantino dropping his always-eclectic annual list of favorite movies, we often don’t get much insight into what working filmmakers spend their free time watching. But thanks to a new interview, we know that Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan spent at least six hours watching Damien Chazelle‘s Hollywood throwback musical La La Land, because he says he saw the film three times in theaters.

Speaking with Entertainment Weekly (via The Playlist), Nolan said that he doesn’t make a habit out of going to see films more than once in a theater, but he made an exception for last year’s Oscar favorite:

“The one thing that I did notice changing from when I was a kid is, it’s very rare as an older person — I’m almost 47 now — that I’ll go back to see a film because I enjoyed it in a theater. [Though] I did with ‘La La Land’; I went back to see that a couple of times. That basic joy of the possibility of a new movie and being there on opening night with a crowded audience — I don’t think that ever changes. That’s just a magical experience…Why did I go back? I think I almost went back to see if it was as good as I had thought, and it was, if that makes sense.”

I like the idea that a filmmaker with a long resume of crowd-pleasing movies had to go back to check his own instincts and see if something was as good as he initially thought. The idea that he went back at all shows a willingness to engage with art that should be aspirational for all of us, myself included; instead of taking a stand about something after having only seen it once, he was open to having his mind changed and wanted to make sure he wasn’t just swept up in that high that movie lovers can get just from seeing a film on opening night. I wonder if Nolan heard about the backlash the movie received after its release, and if he wanted to see if the film was deserving of the criticisms it was receiving.

I only saw La La Land once in theaters, and I really enjoyed it at the time. I’m planning on seeing it again at a Rooftop Cinema screening here in Los Angeles late next month; that particular screening is sold out, but there’s one happening on August 2nd that my fellow Angelenos can still attend if you’re interested.

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