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Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie Fly in Hollywood Tale – Deadline

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After huge success and Oscars for films ranging from Whip for La La Land for first man, Writer-director Damien Chazelle has returned to an early dream project first envisioned 15 years ago – a no-holds-barred vision of early Hollywood, a time when not only were movies transitioning from silence to sound, but the very Los Angeles was booming from desert to volume. metropolis. People were caught in a turbulent period of change, and it didn’t always work out for some. As witnessed in the resulting film and years of meticulous research, Babylon is a sight to behold, a decadent, free, sometimes even moving look at a host of dreamers, stars, fringe players, and all who wanted a piece of a world that felt out of control, uninhibited and full of promise – and fall.

With over 100 speaking roles and a widescreen full of extras, Chazelle has created a vision of Hollywood at the time that seems startlingly original yet oddly appropriate from the man who saw another set of Hollywood dreamers through a more romantic, contemporary lens in La La Land. That film made him the youngest ever Academy Award winner for Best Director, it also received 14 nominations and won six. He seems drawn to the intrigue of those arriving in this city, separated by several generations, but he still finds LA a magnet. At the Babylon it’s breathtaking to see the transition from a wild and adventurous new world to something that will be more controlled and professional when you start talking, but the view from above and below before you get there is a wild ride like no other in recent cinema. .

RELATED: ‘Babylon’ Trailer: Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt and Diego Calva Lead in Damien Chazelle’s Old Hollywood Epic

That seems to be the goal here. Chazelle would host screenings of some of the most ambitious and risky films of all time for inspiration during the early days of writing this Hollywood epic. He and his associates watched everything from movies like DW Griffith Intolerancefirst Academy Award winner for Best Picture wings🇧🇷 The sweet life and Citizen Kane for Cabaret🇧🇷 Chinatown, The Godfather Part II, Nashville, Apocalypse Now, There Will Be Blood and more. You get the idea. if Babylon, at 3 hours and 9 minutes, doesn’t reach those heights, it’s guaranteed to be a film that sticks in your head, a swinging journey for the fences through an unimaginable rabbit hole of excess and jaw-dropping behavior that is alone in 2022 and more than deserves its stripes.

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Story-wise, it focuses on a few main characters, including Manny Torres (a breakout role for Diego Calva), a young Mexican with hopes of working in movies. He finds an open door at a wild party hosted by a top executive (Jeff Garlin), where he promises to deliver an elephant (!) to liven up proceedings (he wasn’t real, PETA, but you could have fooled me). Literally colliding with this meeting is aspiring actress Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), who drives her car straight to the entrance and then dives into all of this meeting’s completely unhinged, densely populated denizens, people who snort what appear to be mountains of cocaine. , dance until dawn, get naked and mock and seem to have no limits.

Strolling through it all is Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), a major silent movie star who is shown driving in the heat of an argument (Pitt using a hilarious Italian accent to do so) with soon-to-be ex-wife Ina (Olivia Wilde in a cameo) fun special). Manny befriends Nellie, and watching the madness here is Elinor St. John (a fantastic Jean Smart), the best gossip columnist you’ve ever seen and written about. It’s a colorful thing.

Diego Calva and Brad Pitt

We can follow these characters as Nellie rises, Jack falls, Manny finds himself in both right and wrong places, and their individual destinies take fascinating and somewhat unexpected turns. There are many others that we found. An Anna May Wong-inspired performer, the stunning Lady Fay Zhu (Li Jun Li), who does other odd jobs to make ends meet besides singing ditties like “My Girl’s Pussy” (a true song of the era); black jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer (a great Jovan Adepo), who finds increasing success as his musical talents meet the needs of an industry entering the sound age; Ruth Adler (Olivia Hamilton, also a producer on this film), a driven, rat-a-tat-tat director with clear visions for her film; his assistant director Max (a hilarious PJ Byrne), who is clearly heading for a nervous breakdown in one of the from Babylon noisy landmark scenes in which Nellie, in a first role, fails to hit her marks; and the imposing and psychopathic James McKay (Tobey Maguire as you’ve never seen him), a shady criminal who causes problems for Manny and Nellie.

margot robbie

flea (yes, This one Flea) plays a studio repairman; Max Minghella is the legendary child prodigy of the Irving Thalberg studio; Rory Scovel plays the Count, who wants to act but survives by supplying the drugs everyone needs to operate at these levels of madness; Eric Roberts as Nellie’s father; Katherine Waterston as one of Jack’s many wives; and so on. The extras are too many to count, but all seem comfortable in various stages of orgiastic nudity. For a film made during Covid, the sheer scope and scale displayed here is something to behold.

'Babylon': Damien Chazelle and Matthew Plouffe on Making the Film [podcast]

Damien Chazelle


This is a film that takes twists and turns, with Chazelle packing almost too much, but it feels like exactly what this vision of early Hollywood demanded. Remarkably, it manages the shifting tones from fun comedy (in that endless takes scene for Nellie) to epic location shooting to raucous parties and pretty much anything else you can imagine. By the end, when Maguire steps in (he’s also an executive producer), that tone drastically changes and becomes almost too dark and too gruesome to meld with everything that’s come before. But the film recovers splendidly with a coda set years later in a theater presenting a new film musical, Singing in the Rain, whose plot is famous in the same period of the 20s, when the silences gave way to the spoken ones. It’s the perfect homage to Chazelle.

In terms of production, Babylon is top of the line, with crisp cinematography by Linus Sandgren, lavish costumes by Mary Zophres, superb production design by Florenzia Martin and Anthony Carlino, and a great score by Justin Hurwitz, Oscar-winning composer of La La Land who collaborated with Chazelle in all of her films.

Jean Smart

Robbie is simply sensational here in a performance that really hits the spot. Smart is chilling, particularly in her brilliantly acted key scene with Pitt, where she tells the sad truth about her fading career to Jack. Pitt is absolutely flawless here too, and wonderfully natural in an almost wistful turn here like a star who knows his time is fleeting, a glimpse once upon a time. other Hollywood. Calva is a great find.

Babylon may not be for everyone. This is no cookie cutter stuff, and Chazelle doesn’t hold back. It can be exhausting at times, but as something wholly original and catering to the spirit of filmmakers willing to take a turn, this is refreshing as hell. The producers are Marc Platt, Matthew Plouffe and Hamilton. Paramount opens on December 23rd.