Screening Room: ‘Babylon’

Damien Chazelle’s rollicking and ridiculous epic cautionary tale, Babylon, opens next week.

My review is at PopMatters:

Babylon has buckets of frenzy and excess at a wildly uneven three hours. That is not always a bad thing. Given the mid-to-late 1920s Hollywood setting, low-key would have been a betrayal. It’s the silent era pinnacle when entrepreneurial nobodies made quicksilver fortunes by producing gauzy cinematic fantasies with hubris, moxie, and artistry. Chazelle’s Hollywood is a playground where boozing heartthrobs like Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt) and drugged-out bombshells like Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie) put the pedal to the metal without consequence based solely on how good they look on that screen. It is also a place where a striver like Manny Torres (Diego Calva) can transform himself from gofer to director, and jazz musician Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) can vault from the bandstand to stardom. As Penny Lane would say in Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous’ Penny Lane would say, “It’s all happening”…

Here’s the trailer:

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