‘Babylon’ review: Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie star in Damien Chazelle’s wild, turbulent journey through early Hollywood

After massive success and oscar for movies ranging from injury to me La La Land to me first man, Director/writer Damien Chazelle returns to an early dream project first conceived 15 years ago, an uninhibited look at early Hollywood, at a time when not only were films transitioning from silent to sound, but Los Angeles itself was thriving from desert to bloated metropolis. . People have fallen into turbulent times of change, and for some it hasn’t always worked out. As seen in the resulting film and years of careful research, Babylon is a sight to behold, a decadent, free, and at times poignant look at a series of dreamers, stars, fringe players, and everyone who wanted a part of a world that feels out of control, uninhibited, full of promise–and downfall.

With over 100 speaking roles and a widescreen chock full of extras, Chazelle has crafted a vision of Hollywood for the time that feels startlingly original, yet oddly fitting for a man who viewed Hollywood’s other set of dreamers through a more romantic and contemporary lens in la la land, The film, which would make him the youngest director ever to win an Academy Award, has 14 nominations, winning six. And it seems that he is drawn into a conspiracy of drifting into this city, separated by several generations, but he still attracts Los Angeles. in Babylon It’s impressive to see the action-packed new world transition into something that’ll be more controlled and action-like once the talking starts, but the view from above and below before it gets there is a wild ride unparalleled in modern cinema.

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That seems to be the goal here. Chazelle would host screening room screenings of some of the most ambitious and risk-taking films of all time in order to inspire the early days of writing this Hollywood epic. He and his cohorts were watching everything from the likes of the huge D.W. Griffith intolerance to me wings to me the life is Nice to me Nashville to me Citizen Kane to me Chinatown, The Godfather Part 2, Apocalypse Now, There Will Be Blood, Cabaret and more. You got the idea. if Babylon, At 3 hours and 9 minutes it doesn’t quite hit those heights, it’s guaranteed to be a movie that will stick in your head, a seesawing-for-the-fences journey through an unimaginable rabbit hole of over-the-top and jaw-dropping behavior that stands alone in the year 2022 and earns more than its stripes.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Storywise focuses on a few main characters, including wide-eyed Manny Torres (a breakout role for Diego Calva), a young Mexican hopeful of finding work in films, who finds an open door at a wild party thrown by a top executive (Jeff Garlin). ), where he promised to deliver an elephant (!) to activate the actions (it wasn’t real, Beta, but you could have fooled me). Bumping into this pool is wannabe actress Nelly LaRue (Margot Robbie) who drives straight to the entrance and then dives into all the totally deranged and overpopulated residents of this pool, people sniffing what looks like mountains of cocaine, dancing until dawn, striptease and debauchery, and it seems like it’s not her. border. Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), a major silent movie star who is first introduced in the midst of arguments (Pitt used a hilarious Italian accent for this) is hanging out with his ex-wife Ina (Olivia Wilde in a hilarious cameo). Manny Neely befriends, and notes the madness here, Elinor St. John (the wonderful Jane Smart), the gossip columnist who has seen everything and written everything. It’s colorful stuff.

Diego Calva, Brad Pitt

Diego Calva, Brad Pitt

We have to follow these characters as Indigo rises, Jack descends, Manny finds himself in both the right and wrong places, and their individual destinies take fascinating, somewhat unexpected turns. There are many other people we meet. The amazing performer Anna Mae Wong has inspired Ms. Fei Chu (Lee Jun Lee) who works other odd jobs to survive as well as sing songs like “My Girl’s Pussy” (an actual song from the period); black jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer (the great Jovan Adepo) who finds success when his musical talents meet the needs of an industry transitioning into the sound age; Ruth Adler (Olivia Hamilton who is also a producer on this film), a rat-type director with lucid visions for her film; Her assistant director Max (Fun Man, J. Byrne) who is clearly heading for a nervous breakdown on one of the Babylon risqué signature scenes where Nellie, in her first role, can’t quite hit her marks; and the imposing, psychopathic James McKay (Tobey Maguire as you’ve never seen him), a shady criminal who causes trouble for Manny and Nellie.

Margot Robbie

Margot Robbie

flea (yes, that Flea) plays the fixer-upper in the studio. Max Minghella is legendary studio boy wonder Irving Thalberg; Rory Scoville plays The Count who wants to act but survives by providing the drugs everyone needs to function at these levels of insanity; Eric Roberts as Nellie’s father; Katherine Waterston as one of Jack’s many wives. And on and on. The number of extras is too many to count, but they all seem comfortable in various stages of Orgiastic dressing. For a film made during Covid, the scope and scale on display here is something to behold.

Damien Chazelle

This is a movie that twists and turns, with Chazelle packing almost too much, but it looks exactly what early Hollywood required this film to be. Remarkably, he manages to shift tones from slasher comedy (in this endless spectacle of Nelly), to epic location shoots, to wild parties, to just about anything you can imagine. Eventually when Maguire (who’s also an executive producer) comes along that tone changes dramatically and becomes too dark and horrific to blend in with everything that came before, but the movie makes a nice recovery with a coda set years later in a theatrical run. new musical movie, singing in the rain, The plot is reputed to be set in the same period of the twenties when silence gave way to speaking. It’s a perfect tribute from Chazelle.

production wisdom Babylon Topping off sharp cinematography from Linus Sandgren, sumptuous costume design by Marie Zofres, superb production design from Florence Martin and Anthony Carlino, and a great score from Academy Award-winning composer Justin Horowitz. La La Land who has collaborated with Chazelle on all of his films.

Jean Smart

Jean Smart

Robbie is simply sensational here going for the broken performance that really lands her. Smart is chilling, especially in her brilliantly rendered main scene with Pete where she presents the sad truth about his lackluster career to Jack. A perfect home here too, and wonderfully normal at a semi-sad turn here as a star who knows his time is running out, once upon a time glimpse in else Hollywood. Calva is a major find.

Babylon It may not be for everyone. These aren’t cookie cutters, and Chazelle isn’t holding back. It can be stressful at times, but as something completely original and soul-searching for filmmakers who are ready to rock, it’s very refreshing. The producers are Marc Platt, Matthew Plouffe, and Hamilton. Paramount opens wide on December 23rd.

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