Comedy / Drama / History

Plot summary

Uploaded by: FREEMAN

Top cast

Margot Robbie Photo
Margot Robbie as Nellie LaRoy
Brad Pitt Photo
Brad Pitt as Jack Conrad
Samara Weaving Photo
Samara Weaving as Constance Moore
Olivia Wilde Photo
Olivia Wilde as Ina Conrad
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1.7 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
3 hr 9 min
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3.49 GB
English 5.1
23.976 fps
3 hr 9 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by drownsoda908 / 10

A scabrous, ambitious, Ken Russell-esque love (and hate) letter to cinema

"Babylon" tracks the career of Manny Torres, an aspiring filmmaker from Mexico who crosses paths with fellow aspiring starlet Nelly LaRoy at a bacchanalian party one night in 1920s Los Angeles. The film also follows several other characters at the same party, including movie star Jack Conrad, cabaret performer Fay Zhu, tabloid journalist Elinor St. John, and musician Sidney Palmer, as each rise and fall in their respective careers spanning the end of silent films and the beginning of sound productions; each of the characters cross paths throughout as they navigate the shifting business of Hollywood.

This large-scale epic from Damien Chazelle is, in a word, ambitious, both in scope and mere technicality. It opens with an utterly ravishing, debaucherous party sequence that captures the maddening spirit of roaring twenties Hollywood, setting a visual bar that is fairly high. While there are a number of fantastic sequences throughout the film, this key party sequence where each of the characters are introduced/first intervene is, without a doubt, the highlight of the film. While its characters are fictional, the screenplay blends them in with passing names of real-life historical Hollywood figures, as well as thinly-veiled references to others.

Firstly, it almost goes without saying that "Babylon" is gorgeously photographed. The performances are also uniformly solid. Diego Calva is a likable presence as the centerpiece character, while Margot Robbie's portrayal of the brash and troubled Jersey girl flying by the seat of her pants is comical and poignant by turns. Brad Pitt fittingly plays the drunken but goodhearted movie star, and Jean Smart is also a welcome presence as the curt and astute gossip columnist, ostensibly based on Louella Parsons (or a writer of her ilk).

The film is consciously over the top, at many points capturing the madcap spirit of something the late Ken Russell would have directed. Its first three quarters are particularly outstanding, and demonstrate the realities (and technicalities) of how the transition from silent films to motion picture talkies posed legitimate, career-altering (or more often, career-destroying) challenges for nearly everyone who was part of the business. Chazelle projects this theme to the audience in one memorable and protracted sequence in which Robbie's character (along with the sound man) struggles, fails, is interrupted, and struggles again to perform a simple one-page scene. The nuts and bolts of these logistical challenges in a then-fledgling industry are perhaps the most intriguing components of the story, highlighting just how vastly different (and more arduous) the process was of making a sound picture for the actors and filmmakers accustomed to the established ways.

By the time it reaches its final act, however, the viewer does get the sense that the project is beginning to implode under its own weight to some degree; the focus on certain characters ebbs and flows, and the film begins to lose some steam. It is revived somewhat by an insane sequence in which Torres and another crew member of his film studio (in an attempt to save LaRoy from reckless gambling decisions) cross paths with an eccentric crime boss played by Tobey Maguire, and journey into a subterranean gathering place for the city's debaucherous denizens, who have literally gone underground following the more reserved moral code of the 1930s. The garish and ghoulish sequence feels like a tour of Dante's Inferno (probably quite intentionally),and is almost more madcap than the opening party sequence.

The film grinds to a somewhat abrupt halt as each of the characters' lives and careers face further significant devastation in the last thirty minutes, and the sense of tragedy that one might expect to feel is strangely absent, perhaps because these characters are in and of themselves larger than life, even cartoonish at times; still, I felt that there was an emotional core missing as their stories are resolved. The film ends on a profoundly cynical note, showing Hollywood as a place that metaphorically devours its own, only to be constantly replenished by the unending stream of those who make pilgrimage there, seeking to etch their mark in the tapestry of cinema. The observation is astute, and the implications are splashed across the screen in a century-spanning montage of snippets from the earliest films to contemporary ones.

All in all, "Babylon" has many strong points: Mainly its visuals, sturdy performances, and focus on the industrial realities of early filmmaking that most 21st-century viewers would take for granted. It eventually grows a bit long in the tooth into its third hour, and loses some tenacity, but not enough so that the film entirely collapses in on itself (though it comes close). If nothing else, it earns its keep as an ambitious and scabrous love (and hate) letter to cinema. 8/10.

Reviewed by CANpatbuck36648 / 10

Babylon is Destined for Polarizing Feedback but It's a Bumping and Crazy Party for Better or Worse

After an "interesting" opening scene about our main character Manny (Diego Calva) trying to get an elephant up to a party in Bel-Air, Babylon floors the gas pedal and barely comes up for air for the rest of the run time. I wanted to credit Damien Chazelle and his team for providing a unique experience in regards to pacing, setting and tone. The expression "fever dream" is overused but Babylon is captured in such a chaotic and constantly shifting way that kept me enraptured. The movie looks fantastic and even if you don't have an interest in this period of cinema, I don't doubt that Babylon will still pull you in. The costuming and sets are dynamic and show how disorganized and tumultuous early Hollywood was. I was hooked from the get-go and for all the movie's flaws, its presentation is vibrant and fast-moving to keep help you entertained.

While Babylon is distinctive with its look and pacing, when it comes to the characters, things are a little more familiar. Conrad and LaRoy are loosely based on a couple of people from that era but the lessons the movie wants to teach us about Hollywood chewing up and spitting out talent are pretty routine. I think Babylon is effective at getting those across but I was a little let down that the movie starts so bombastically and then quietly tip toes into conventionality by the end. Some characters are meant to be less distinctive (Manny is the audience avatar for example) but while I wish they were a little more fresh, I did want to follow them throughout the length of the movie.

Damien Chazelle has enough of a name now that he could probably get any actor/actress he wanted in his cast. He still attracted some big and interesting names for Babylon. I think every member of the main cast did a fantastic job and it's a credit to them and Chazelle for getting the most out of his performers. Brad Pitt's the biggest name and I really enjoyed the work he put in as Jack Conrad. He's appropriately funny in Conrad's lush and over-the-top behaviour but he garners some genuine sympathy for him when the world turns against him. Pitt could have played it so big that he came off as an entitled prick but there's some warmth and passion to Conrad and Pitt gets that across. I've always liked Margot Robbie and she's on point here as Nellie. She throws herself into it completely, there's a surprising amount of physicality and nuance in Nellie's whirlwind behaviour. Much like Pitt, she's really funny when she is given the opportunity to be. Despite the pretty telegraphed arc for her character, you understand why Manny can't resist Nellie even when it's crystal clear she's bad news wrapped in pretty packaging. I would hope that Pitt and Robbie both get awards consideration for their work here. Diego represents the audience, he's witnessing all the craziness and has to go along with it. He's a pretty blank slate but there's enough from Diego that his character is distinct and you understand his motivations. I want to credit Li Jun Li and Jovan Adepo as Lady Fay Zhu and Sidney Palmer respectively. Their characters are written with a heavy hand but both are sympathetic and have their respective moments. The oddest casting is Tobey Maguire as threatening mobster James McKay but Maguire's surprisingly good at being a creepy underworld figure.

Getting to the negatives, Babylon is a movie that indulges in the exact same vices that it's lambasting. As a film, Babylon's determined to show all excess and hedonism of the era in all its "glory." I appreciated some of this but there are moments where the movie gets pretty gross (there's an early scene involving a elephant that is going to shock people) and while I get what Chazelle and his team are trying to show, was it really necessary? I'd argue not. Babylon's lengthy run time is also going to drive some people away but it also has an affect on how the story twists and turns. Characters that started out with more depth gradually turn more generic (Nellie specifically comes to mind) and you could have easily trimmed some of the fat off this movie. The total length of Babylon feels a little self-indulgent and while the previously mentioned frenetic pace keeps you guessing, it saps some of the ending's impact. I got what the movie was trying to say with its wrap-up but I can't deny I was bouncing in my seat in anticipation of getting to leave.

Just like the lavish and insane partying that Babylon presents, you have to choose to take the hit of whatever your poison of choice is and dive in headfirst or not to indulge and slip out the back. Babylon is going to be an incredibly polarizing film and while I enjoyed large parts of this movie, there were also many scenes that fell flat for me. I'd grade Babylon somewhere between a 7 and an 8 but I'm rounding up because there are moments where Babylon has some real cinematic magic. I'm not comfortable wholesale recommending Babylon, if you're interested in a Wolf of Wall Street style comedy about the excess of Hollywood in the 1920s that gets pretty dark, check it out.

Reviewed by cardsrock8 / 10

Excess is the name of the game

Whether it be orgies, showcasing various bodily fluids, plot threads, or the runtime of the film, Damien Chazelle is fully unrestrained in his latest film. La La Land and Whiplash are some of my favorite films and I'm a big fan of Chazelle's directorial style. He shows flashes of that brilliance often throughout Babylon, but does indulge in his most extreme tendencies as well in this modern Hollywood epic.

There is a lot I liked here. The opening sequence is a sight to behold and had me mesmerized with its vibrant energy. The film chugs along at a good pace for the next two hours to the point I really didn't feel the runtime for most of it. It's the last hour or so where Chazelle loses the story a bit. There were several instances where I thought the film was over, but another scene would pop up next. The runtime really feels unnecessary and there's honestly whole plot lines that could be cut out that wouldn't affect the film.

Justin Hurwitz has composed another terrific score (with some nice hints of La La Land) and the photography, costumes, and production design are all stellar. Outside of some shoddy editing, especially a bizarre movie montage at the end that really did not gel, the technical aspects of the film are quite an achievement.

Chazelle really needed someone to tell him no with this film. Some better editing combined with some self-restraint and this would be much closer to the epic masterpiece status he's clearly aiming for. As it stands, it's a pretty entertaining tale of excess and fame in early years of Hollywood.

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