Babylon is the worst movie of 2022

“Babylon,” released today, is a movie about Hollywood excess. It began in the 1920s in the early days of cinema, as the industry transitioned from silent pictures to talkies. Margot Robbie plays young star Nellie LaRue who wants to make a career for herself, burns brightly and then falls apart. Brad Pitt plays yet another A-list actor destined to be irrelevant. Diego Calva stumbles upon an executive job in Hollywood and tries to steer Robbie’s career while protecting her from her worst impulses (her New Jersey accent and cocaine). Directed by Damien Chazelle of “La La Land” fame. It was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, and it’s the worst movie I’ve seen in years.

The aesthetic is best described by a magazine ad for the fragrance. The movie is so maximalist, so it’s laced with textured set pieces, so glossy with sensory overload that you can almost smell it. But it’s good not to smell, because for the first five minutes the elephant poops right into the camera. Within the next ten minutes, every variety of bodily fluids imaginable gushes from the rich orifices of a Hollywood ball that is one part “Eyes Wide Shut,” one part “Phantom Thread,” and one part “Family Guy.” It’s like “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood,” if Quentin Tarantino directed it as a teenager.

The budget of the film is about 80 million dollars. I suppose when you make a hit movie like “La La Land” and feature what is essentially an odd companion piece, the blank checks start to come in. I’m a sucker for blockbusters and charisma taps like Robbie and Pete, which is probably why this movie bothered me so much.

Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad and Diego Calva plays Manny Torres in “Babylon”.

Scott Garfield

The story line is the rise and fall of LaRoy’s career, which has been affected by the development of the film industry. But as far as plot is concerned, watching this movie is like watching a train moving from a 1920’s station to a 1930’s station. There are bumps along the way, but overall it feels like a bunch of scenes passing by a window, each with a million viewers. -dollar price. There are several drawn-by-numbers characters who are in theory supposed to show the prejudices of the era — Jovan Adepo plays a black trumpeter forced to wear blackface, while Lee Jun Lee is a lesbian singer whose career fails to take off due to her race and sexual orientation — but the film quickly erases their experiences. So much so, that it was almost best for Chazelle to ignore them entirely.

Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad in Paramount Pictures' Babylon.

Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad in Paramount Pictures’ Babylon.

Paramount Pictures

Back to Ruby, who’s doing everything she can to make this movie work. As usual, her star power is formidable, and LaRoy’s voraciousness for fame sounds like the idea well executed in the movie. Brad Pitt, on the other hand, is on autopilot, churning his scotch glass like Bill Murray dialing in the Suntory commercials in “Lost in Translation.” Tobey Maguire makes an awkward appearance as some kind of drug dealer, and he’s involved in the worst makeup job since Tom Hanks in “Cloud Atlas.” Flea and Albert Hammond Jr.



Margot Robbie plays Nellie Laroy

Margot Robbie plays Nellie Laroy in “Babylon”.

Paramount Pictures

Like most people, I enjoy the excess of a screen. Of course, “Babylon” is meant to be a cautionary tale, but there’s no Wolf of Wall Street-style fun here. Primal ideas like “Let’s make Margot Robbie fight a snake” are winning ideas, but they’re inexcusably executed. Other interesting fantasies, such as a drug-fueled trip to the Dante-style underground synthesizer of sin, are based on gruesome visuals worthy of an NC-17 rating. The fact that Maguire, of all people, brought his 16-year-old daughter to a movie premiere is criminal.

By the end of the show, I had this sinking feeling that everything I know about movies is probably wrong and that I’m going to be screaming into the clouds because “Babylon” attracts Oscar voters. (It scored five Golden Globe nods.) Perhaps my deep dislike of “Babylon” stemmed from an inner flaw, to the point where I somehow saw a different movie.

But even though you can find plenty of rave reviews swirling around the word masterpiece, the 58% score from Rotten Tomatoes gave me some relief. The top quote from New York Times critic Manohla Dargis is a great TL; DR’s summary of my feelings: “What’s missing is the one thing that defined the Silent Era at its greatest and to which Chazelle remains bafflingly oblivious: her art.”



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