Movies have always been about style, originality, and pushing boundaries. Directors like Spielberg, Tarantino, and Scorsese have always been those people who have done just that. But, as they are getting up in age, movie lovers must find the next batch of filmmakers who are willing to pay attention to details. For me, the guy that will lead that charge is 31 year old Damien Chazelle.
Chazelle's story is one that is kind of an underdog tail. His life is like a biopic that displays a person who no one believed in. Much like Chazelle, this character would eventually triumph over the doubters. From the start, Damien was one of those dreamers who used his personal anecdotes to portray his characters in cinema.
While enrolled at Princeton High School, Chazelle pursued a career as a jazz drummer. This dream would eventually fall short for him as, he realized that he didn't have the talent that could get him far in that profession. He also had a very harsh musical director that he kind of despised. So, Damien would decide to instead turn his attention to a filmmaking career.
Music would definitely be one of the major inspirations for Chazelle's three films that he would eventually create. His first official written work was, "Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench." It was basically a mix of gritty jazz performances and tap dances displayed in a cinematic manner. While it didn't receive that much attention, the film was definitely a foreshadowing event of his next projects.
One aspect to note is, studios never really believed in Damien to start with. Chazelle and his college roommate Justin Hurwitz always had the dream of writing a modern day musical for the big screen. Producers however, believed that this was too risky and felt that they wouldn't make money off of the idea. Damien needed to try something else to get heard.
Then, 2014 happened. Chazelle still decided to use his personal experiences to create a cohesive film but, he took a bit of a darker route with his next movie, "Whiplash." He honed in on his troubles that he faced while in high school with his relentless music teacher.
However, in this film, the student played by Miles Teller was actually talented with the drums. J.K. Simmons played the harsh music director. At the age of 29, Chazelle showed a technical ability that not many filmmakers have in today's day and age. I have never seen such rawness on display when it came to showing the life of an aspiring drummer. It was truly blood, sweat, and tears.
After this creation, studios finally started to notice Chazelle and respect him as an expert in filmmaking. The musical that him and his roommate longed to make was finally becoming a reality because of "Whiplash." Two years later, the fans were treated to "La La Land." All questions aside, this was another masterpiece.
It seemed like with this movie, Chazelle took the skills he learned from "Whiplash" and enhanced them even more. "La La Land" was definitely one of the hardest movies to make. With that in mind, the way Damien moved with the camera was quite astounding and flawless. It was some of the best directing that I've seen in a few years. Not to mention, he was able to create a grounded musical masterfully.
Chazelle has already won best director for "Whiplash," and he will surely do it again for "La La Land" this year. Now that he is starting to gain mainstream success, Damien will continue to be one of those directors where you have to see every movie he puts out. This is similar to guys like Spielberg or Tarantino. With that in mind, I predict Chazelle to be the most important filmmaker of our time when he retires.