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Ryan Gosling

'La La Land' seriously misunderstands music. So why are its songs pretty great?

'La La Land' seriously misunderstands music. So why are its songs pretty great?

To prepare for the role of Sebastian — the hardheaded jazz preservationist in Damien Chazelle’s “La La Land,” which is nominated for a record-tying 14 Oscars at Sunday’s Academy Awards — Ryan Gosling says he spent three months learning to play piano.

“It’s a lot of time alone, and you become quite anti-social,” he told ABC’s “Nightline” of the experience. “Every time I tried to have a conversation during that rehearsal period with anybody, it was a bit like Bambi on ice.”

He needn’t have taken it quite so seriously.

A lavish movie musical set amid Los Angeles’ young creative class, “La La Land” is dimmest in its depiction of how musicians think and behave. Whenever we...

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