Lights! Camera! Cocaine!
What a way to return to the theatres in 2023.
Academy Award winning director, Damien Chazelle, chronicles the decadence and depravity of Hollywood during its turbulent transition from silent to sound film in this audacious epic.
Buckle up, baby. Because if it’s labeled debacherous by the your Average Joe, Babylon has it.
Imagine if Boogie Nights and Singin In The Rain had a baby? Well, that’s Babylon.
Sex, drugs, an elephant defacating on the camera, more sex, more drugs, LOTS of Margot Robbie dancing seductively, the triumphant return of Brad Pitt speaking in Italian, even more drugs, a movie montage starring Avatar, and my new nightmare fuel, Toby Maguire — all stuffed into a 3 hour and 12 minute spectacle and set to an electric score by Justin Hurwitz.
This time period in the Hollywood has been glorified throughout the years, to the extent that we often forget what a chaotic time it was for the industry and those part of it. Making movies wasn’t all glitz and glimmer. It was dirty, grueling work. They worked hard and partied harder to make the magic that we call “the movies”. And I commend Chazelle for showing this chapter in filmmaking so honestly.
And it’s clear he had an absolute blast creating Babylon. It may not be the love letter to film that we are used to seeing, but you can feel Chazelle’s appreciation for film history and every person involved in it.
Now. Did Chazelle go a little overboard in this project? Yes.
For crying out loud, it’s got a runtime rivaling Avengers: Endgame and Avatar: The Way of Water. The sucker is Baby-LONG even if its high octane energy and quick pace keep the narrative flowing. But it’s the excess that often left me lost.
Many portions (particularly those with rattle snakes, alligators and a giant chunk of the third act) didn’t really feel necessary towards the overall plot. It just felt like added shock value. And after the insane bash the film begins with, we get the picture.
Nevertheless, the ensemble did a fantastic job with the material, specifically Margot Robbie, Jean Smart and newcomer, Diego Calva. Their fearless commitment to the narrative is jaw-dropping and I commend them.
So, was Babylon my favorite from Chazelle? No. Sorry I found Whiplash and even La La Land to be superior.
But did I enjoy the wild ride? Yes. Definitely. And will I be blasting “Voodoo Mama” all night and dance around the kitchen? Hells yes.