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Drama - Historic

Babylon (2022)

Duration3h 09m
RatingsUK: 18, USA: R, Denmark: 15
Source of storyThe film apparently depicts a number of well known incidents and characters in Hollywood history.
DirectorDamien Chazelle
Writers/ScriptDamien Chazelle
StarringPhoebe Tonkin, Jean Smart, Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Olivia Wilde, Karina Fontes, Lucas Haas, Li Jun Li, Eric Roberts, Olivia Hamilton, P.J.Byrne, Samara Weaving, Jeff Garlin, Tobey Maguire, Spike Jonze, Diego Calva, Jovan Adepo
RatingsIMDb: 7.6/10 by 25,058 people .  Rotten Tomatoes: 56% by 320 reviewers. Review2view: 8.5/10.

Summary: This film follows the stories of three people in the hedonistic days of 1920s Hollywood. They are Manuel Torres a Mexican immigrant who starts as a day worker helping with a party organisation, Nellie LaRoy a young woman who is trying to break into the film business as an actor, and Jack Conrad, a silent movie star who is challenged by the arrival of the talkies. In the opening scenes they are all at a party where a young actress dies during a sexual event, to be replaced by Nellie who has crashed the event. At the same party Jack Conrad shows his influence on events, and hires Manuel to be his assistant and Sidney Palmer, a talented trumpet player is featured. All their lives thereafter are linked.

Content: There is quite a bit of both male and female nudity and a lot of sex, mainly seen in passing but in the initial moments features a young woman urinating on a naked fat man. Also almost continues drinking and drunkenness and a bit of drug taking. People are nearly always smoking. The initial party worthy of Hieronymus Bosch, goes on for twenty minutes. Nellie appears in a film for the first time wowing the cast and director. Manny assists Jack on an epic movie set involving a medieval battle. Then we have the talkies by which time Nellie is past her best and Manny has become a producer mainly of Sydney’s short musicals. Jack has problems. In order to pay off Nellie’s gambling debts Manny and The Count descend literally into the dark depths of LA controlled by mob boss James McKay.

A View: I sense that the critics who do not like this are those familiar with Hollywood history, saying really that it has all been done before. Probably true, but it has not been done in quite this way. My wife and I saw it at its first presentation in Madrid to an almost full screening. knowing nothing about it. Since then I have been to see it again. It is not a perfect film, and could easily have been thirty minutes shorter without affecting the story, but this is maybe what you get with a writer/director. But some of the scenes are stunning and others, particularly the first film involving Nellie with sound, are laugh out loud funny. So if I was still designating film in that way, this would be a MUST SEE.

There have indeed been a lot of films about Hollywood. Only recently we had Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, then maybe the most satirical attack on the place Tropic Thunder, and my favourite Wag the Dog.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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