Tinsel Town, Studio City, La La Land… whatever you call it, Hollywood has always been a source of stories. Since the film industry settled in LA its tendency for self-reflection has played many times over on screen, and it seems we, the audience, cannot get enough of it.
Last year’s Trumbo considered the career of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and the period of the Hollywood Blacklist, a time of film industry in-fighting and attack on the freedom of the arts, Hail Caesar reinvigorated audiences’ love for tap-dancing sailors and now La La Land returns the Hollywood musical back to the top of its game. It has won big at the Golden Globes already (a record-breaking seven awards across acting, directing, script, music and overall film categories) and looks set to repeat this at the Oscars.
Surely the very antidote to a time of austerity and upheaval, this film represents a return to a familiar palate and a reassuring world of glamour, romance, soft-focus and great tunes.
Hollywood musicals have never really gone away, rather they have evolved speaking to different audiences than perhaps they did before.
You only need to consider the popularity of High School Musical, the re-make of Hairspray and how many times you’ve heard the song Let It Go (dare I say too many?), to realise that the love of a good show-tune never faded.
My personal favourites straddle genres completely: on one hand, West Side Story, a romantic sweeping drama with ballet, and on the other Cry Baby, a trashy John Waters rom-com. In the world of musical cinema there really is something for everyone.
However, Hollywood hasn’t always presented such rose-tinted visions of itself in films, Sunset Boulevard being the most famous example of a gothic Hollywood tone.
Mulholland Drive, due for a re-release this spring, focused on the lies and upside-down realities of Hollywood, and many others tell stories of LA’s darker side.
Throughout January and February at The Showroom we present a season of film to show some of Hollywood’s other facets.
Hollywood Be Thy Name will bring classics back to the screen, including John Schlesinger’s adaptation of Nathanial Green’s Depression era drama Day Of The Locust, screwball comedy in the form of Sullivan’s Travels and the much-loved, often sent-up biopic of Joan Crawford, Mommie Dearest.