La La Lent – 20 Posts for Lent Drawing on the Film La La Land

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La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
The title of this film is surely a clue to its message. The world of movies, success and celebrities can be a mad place. A place where perhaps common sense is put on hold. Yet many of us still long for fame and stardom. As if it is not enough to be ‘ordinary’. We sense that life should hold more. Maybe it’s a sign that we were made for more.
‘Our hearts are restless until we find our rest in You.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
The film opens with a huge song and dance number about it being another wonderful day, and yet everyone is stuck in traffic. What do you think about this? Putting on a show of joy for others when life may in reality be difficult. It’s not easy to be honest about our struggles.
‘You’ll know the truth and it’ll help set you free.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
The folks in the huge opening number sing of their desire to reach for the stars. Battling on even when they are rejected. This is their dream. And they will do what they can to realise it. Keep on knocking. Hang on in there. Perseverance is one of life’s big challenges. Many of the biblical heroes had to hold on a long time. Often the journey changed them.
‘We are hard pressed, stretched, but don’t give up.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Mia works in a coffee shop in Hollywood but longs to be famous. When a film star walks in one day everyone stares. She is given free coffee, but we hardly see her face. She is not seen as a real person, she is a ‘star’, an entity, fame has robbed her of her humanity. She has become merely ‘a thing’ to aim for… Jesus always treated folks as humans.
‘A vast crowd was waiting and he had compassion…’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
At Mia’s first audition she is acting her heart out, yet those watching are clearly distracted. Paying more attention to a messenger in the background. Mia leaves feeling marginalised and disregarded. Ever felt that way? Overlooked by others? Relegated because you weren’t ‘right’?
‘Let me see you and hear you,
I love your face and I love your voice.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
When Mia returns to her flat her friends try to persuade her to go partying, singing of the possibility that she may be found by someone in the crowd. A longing to be known, recognised, respected. The carpenter from Galilee was often amongst the crowd, looking ordinary, and yet folks who met him knew themselves to be valued, appreciated, rescued… having been found by him.
‘Why waste resources on what does not satisfy, come to me and receive full and free life.’
‘…you are precious to me. You are honoured and I love you.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
When Mia wanders into a club she sees Sebastian playing piano and realises she misjudged him on their first brief encounter. There is more to this guy. It’s within us all to misjudge others. Easy to box people. Misread them. It’s only as we come closer that we discover something of the real person. As many folks have found with Jesus.
‘People look at the outward appearance, God looks within.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Sebastian has a plan, but it has gone wrong. In his own words – he has been Shanghaied. He tells his sister Laura he is going to let life hit him till it gets tired. It can seem like that, as if life just pummels us. It ambushes us. This world is a strange mixture of the broken and the glorious. The grit and the glory. Jesus understands. He grew up in an oppressed country, in a poor community. He was let down by friends and ambushed by enemies.
‘He was despised and rejected, a man of sorrows, used to grief.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Sebastian loves Jazz, yet is stuck playing Christmas ditties for money. But he can’t help himself. When he thinks no one is paying attention he starts playing the stuff he loves. The music he was born to play. It costs him. He is fired. At times going against the norm is costly, going against the peer pressure, with your own vision, can leave you out in the cold.
‘The road to life is a narrow one, but worth every step.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Mia approaches Sebastian in the club, wanting to congratulate him on his playing. She loves it if no one else does. But she does not know he has just been fired. He shoulders her out of the way even as she speaks. In effect he dumps his anger and pain on her. Easy to do. So easy. To take out our frustrations on the wrong people.
‘Be kind to each other, tender-hearted, as He is kind.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
When Mia first dances with Sebastian she quite obviously sits down and replaces her high heels with flat shoes. Ginger Rogers once claimed she did all the dance moves Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels! Tricky. However, often in real life people don’t dance in high heels. So Mia slips on sensible shoes. The camera pans up over their heads, then back down again. In previous musicals the sets and the costumes would have changed magically. But not here. Everything is still the same. We may aspire to gloss and glamour but that can constrict us. Jesus spoke of reality setting us free. The truth, he said, is liberating. Real, not ideal.

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Mia is back in the coffee shop, dealing with difficult customers and an unsympathetic boss. She has an audition planned but the boss isn’t interested. When Sebastian walks in Mia then disregards a customer, leaving her in limbo. How do we relate to others? Michael Caine suggests we treat the next person as if they are our dream date/boss/client. Because he says, it’ll make you a better person.
‘Show respect, you might be entertaining an angel!’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
As they walk through Hollywood Sebastian tells Mia that in Los Angeles, they worship everything and value nothing. I guess worship is about the energy, time and resources we give to someone or something. So we’re all worshippers really. It’s just a question of what or who we worship. But what about valuing, what does ‘valuing’ really entail?
‘…with all your heart, all your mind, strength and soul.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Mia admits that she actually hates jazz. Sebastian is horrified and takes her to a club to experience some, rather than just hearing it in a lift, or as background noise at a party. We can take against something because of past baggage, not giving it a chance. We perhaps can’t hear or see something clearly until someone else helps open our hearts and minds. Until we stop and take time.
‘Taste and see, come closer, discover the LORD is good.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Sebastian has a vision. He believes jazz is dying and so he is going to have his own club where the music can be celebrated. Where it can grow and flourish. The majority may not be interested but that does not make them right. Jesus had a vision. He saw God very differently from those he met. So he started a kind of ‘club’ and invited those he met, those he meets, to come and see what’s going on.
‘Come with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
When musician Sebastian sings City of Stars, he wonders if he will he ever make it in Hollywood. Later, when he and Mia sing this together, they sing of something else, of the longing to be loved, rather than being famous. They say we all want to know that we are okay, that someone is there to tell us we are all right. We matter. This was a message embodied by Jesus to those he met. Not just a miracle working story-teller, but a sign of God with his people, valuing them, beside them in their questions and longings.
‘He has sent me to release captives, to bring good news.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
Mia goes to yet another audition and once again, within seconds, she is quickly dismissed. She tries to put a brave face on it but feels demeaned and belittled. Then, whilst driving home she spots a cinema which reminds her of Sebastian and his recent invitation to see a movie together. She smiles to herself and her gloom lifts. His interest in her and his encouragement mean a lot. Encouragement is a powerful tool for change.
One that can be quickly overlooked.
‘I hope to visit you with a happy heart, and we can be an encouragement to each other.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
When Mia and Sebastian go to see Rebel Without a Cause, but the film burns through at one point, bringing the show to a grinding halt. This movie is full of moments when reality keeps breaking in and jarring the magic. Mobile phones interrupt, this movie breaks down, and at one point a smoke alarm stops everything. This reminds me of a quote from another movie, ‘Life is full of interruptions and complications.’ It sure is, and though we often reach for the stars, we find ourselves crashing in the dust. The good news about God is that he understands our lives are full of dust… and crashing.
‘How knows how weak we are, he understands we are dust.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
In yet another audition Mia finds herself treated rather differently. The casting couple recognise that she is a gifted storyteller and simply ask her to tell them a story of her own choosing. For once Mia can be herself, no longer putting on an act. They give her their full attention as she tells of an aunt in Paris who mistakenly leapt into a freezing river. She then sings of the mistakes we make in life. An honest heartfelt song about reality. ‘Here’s to the hearts that ache, here’s to the mess we make.’
‘Lord, you understand me so well, you know everything about me, every feeling, every action, every thought. Every dream, every triumph, every sadness, every mistake.’

La La Lent
20 Bite-sized Reflections
Drawing on the movie La La Land
When filming was finished director Damien Chazelle grabbed a handheld camera and began filming the sunset. The producer realised that Damien didn’t want the experience to end. It was too good. Those moments, those times in life, when we sense something good going on. A glimpse of something ‘other’. Might they be a reminder of the way Life was intended to be? When was your last Life moment… however short?
‘The heavens speak of your glory, the earth your wonders.’

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