BABYLON – Rated R – 3hrs 9mins

WRITER & DIRECTOR:  Damien Chazelle

STARRING:  Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Jean Smart, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, and Toby Maquire

The era is circa 1926. The epic background is a newly evolving, over self-indulgent Hollywood, that is staking its life on taking  movies of all genres to the next level, beckoning for the viewer to venture to the movie theater, just to take a peek.  That is, until the 30’s role around, and talkies become all the rage…stifeling to many careers to count, in the path of progress in movie making…

This is the premise of Damien Chazelle’s very opulent and debaucherous take on old-Hollywood, and the men and women who forged their own paths through the beginning of cinema.  And as we venture into Chazelle’s take on the depravity of early Hollywood, we meet silent screen leading man Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), bringing his manlyhood to the silver screen, in as many productions as he possibly can, I mean after all his is a leading man! And as the chaos of movie making brings joy to his heart, finding a woman who is willing to play his damsel in distress in real-life, isn’t quite working out for this very debonaire lady’s man…

And while Jack tries to keep his career afloat, and his love life out of the columns of Elinor St. John (Jean Smart), gossip columnist to the Stars…two unknowns in Hollywood are sizing up their chances at making it big! Frist off, is the totally driven Manny Torres (Diego Calva), who has been paying attention to the high rollers in the business of making movies, and is willing to do anything to get noticed, and comprise a career of his own, making movies like those he has been admiring from afar.  Next up. is the screen siren hopeful, Ms. Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), who gorgeous looks and incomparable charms allow her to get noticed, as she tries to start a life on the big screen, just like every other girl in Hollywood is only dreaming of…

And as the world of cinema continues to explode all around them, we find that whether you are an actor, a producer, or an extra…this allustreous time in movies will take its toll on you, as pictures with sound become all the rage!

I give BABYLON a rating of 5 out of 5 Stars:  This film transcends everything I love about cinema, and makes it explode upon the screen.  Talk about making a movie, about making movies…Chazelle has created a film that will stay with you long past the end credits, and not because of it’s length on the screen – which is another comfy seat destroyer at 3 hrs and 9 mins – but because it is so filled with the opulence of old Hollywood, fabulous characters, and elephants and alligators that you definitely won’t soon forget!  Pitt is picture-perfect, playing the leading man of film in the 20’s, managing to prove that he can still flash those piercing blue eyes, and smashing good looks to draw you into any character he ops to play, only this time he is forging into a world that seems to have forgotten the greatness of his past in cinema, as he painfully faces what his future in cinema may, or may not hold.  Margot Robbie manages to give the performance of her career under Chazelle’s direction, as without her fierce performance as Nellie LaRoy, throughout almost every frame of this beautifully crafted menagerie, this film, and this storyline just wouldn’t stand up.  BABYLON truly is “her masterpiece”, as this exceptional performance allows her persona to totally captivate the screen, thus proving that she truly is a Star on the rise in Hollywood today, not just playing one in this film.  Diego Calva’s performance is picture perfect too, playing the foreigner that wants nothing more than to be a part of the wonderful film making process, even though it seems that his ideas, even as great as they are, may not come to fruition until it’s too late for him, and the love of his life!  Two other stand-out performances for me in this magical array of mayhem, are by Jovan Adepo as Sidney Palmer, the exceptional Trumpet player, who finds that the world of silence giving way to pictures with sound, is about to totally jumpstart his star-power on screen!  Another exceptional performance, though not as big as those previously mentioned was by Li Jun Li, as Lady Fay Zhu, who manages to light up any room she is inhabiting not only with her beauty, but with her sense of seductiveness and mystery that literally will overcome your soul.  I even got an additional viewing of this film with my hubby in tow…having orignally viewed it at the CCA screening in Los Angeles, and I was astonished that he absolutely loved everything about it too, and he has shared with me many times over the years that I have tortured him with too many awful films to count, he absolutely enjoyed every minute it!

And as 2022 comes to a close – and the year of making movies about making movies comes to a close too, BABYLON hits all the cinematic chords for me, in a very seductive, and over-indulgent way, making this film my #1 film of the year !  This film for me is one of the cinematic masterpieces of our time, as BABYLON stands right beside another of Damien Chazelle’s masterpieces for me – LA LA LAND – as it serves as one of the most breathtaking experiences I have seen on screen all year, and I hope that when you are finished taking it all in, you’ll feel as excited about cinema as I do…each and every day of my life!

5 out of 5 Stars / #1 Film of the Year

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