film reel image

film reel image

Monday, December 26, 2022

Babylon 2022 * * * Stars


2022's Babylon is a 189-minute flick in which the running time is what it is. Oh well. What's on screen doesn't drag. In fact, it hits you in the face or should I say, the groin. Basically what we have here is the equivalent of an actual film doing cocaine and getting high on its own supply. A muscle-man eating a live rat, sexual relations in public, drugs and drink, death on set, rattlesnake blood-sucking, an elephant defecating, people vomiting. I mean was 1920s and 30s Hollywood really all about this? I guess so according to helmer Damien Chazelle. Better stay out of his way people. 

Chazelle becomes a different director here than I remember. It's like he got bored, felt restless, and decided to channel his inner Paul Thomas Anderson and/or Martin Scorsese. Whip pans and zooms and mighty tracking shots and extreme fast cutting and movie-within-a-movie scenes oh my! Oh and I did mention there's a hundred or so actors in almost every frame? Yup, the scope, energy, and breadth are impressive but you want to say to Damian, "how about finding your own voice dude". You have a made a less tighter, less cohesive version of Boogie Nights and/or The Wolf of Wall Street. Um, thanks for the valiant effort. 

That's not to say that Babylon isn't worth recommending. I mean it's like watching a series of cinematic car accidents that you can't look away from. And yeah, you want to see the next one (and the next one). Chazelle's look in Babylon is all scorched and sprawling, with hazy malaise and saturated, beige hues. His actors (Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva) produce solid performances whether they are given time to breathe or forced to wade through mounds of turpitude. 

Now would I cut the last 7-10 minutes that are a montage of film histrionics shown to be self-indulgent and/or without necessity? Oh you betcha. And would I find a new editor and re-shoot Babylon so it doesn't feel so darn spasmodic? For sure. As a naughty love letter to the almighty Golden Age, Babylon could actually be called, Babylon "and on and on". Natch.  

Written by Jesse Burleson

No comments:

Post a Comment