Damien Chazelle might be a bit of a cornball. The youngest Best Director winner in Oscar history has just one feature that could be categorized as cynical: Whiplash. And even Whiplash is the story of something Chazelle deeply, sincerely loves—jazz—getting desecrated by pointless machismo, his true passion underlying and fortifying the poison. La La Land keeps the subject matter but switches the tone to straightforward romance. First Man, the Neil Armstrong biopic Chazelle directed from a script by Josh Singer, is a subversion a little too subtle for its own good, adding psychological layers to historical hero worship but keeping the foundation intact.
Perhaps this is why, despite being young, talented, and successful, Chazelle is not exactly cool.
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