Brad Pitt plays Jack Conrad in Paramount Pictures’ Babylon (Photo: © 2022 Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.)
Damien Chazelleafter making his mark in the industry with titles like Whiplash: Music and Obsession, La La Land: A Love Story or The First Man on the Moon, he seemed destined to talk about him again Babylon. In his latest work with Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and the mexican Diego Calva, It takes us to Hollywood in the late 1920s, where silent films gave way to talkies, taking with them many stars unable to adapt to new times. His film proposal within cinema, always attractive in academic fields and even more so when it comes from a renowned director and with renowned actors, predicted one of the films that would make the most talk in this race for the Oscars 2023 the Reality looks very different.
After its premiere in the United States last Christmas, Babylon It only managed to raise $4.8 million in its opening weekend, a disastrous fact considering that its budget is estimated at around $80 million. Since then (roughly five weeks ago) it has raised $14.9 million, while raising another $13.2 million internationally for a dismal total of $28 million. (Source: The Numbers). The few viewers who saw it weren’t very convinced as its rating got a low C+ rating in polls conducted in cinemas like Cinemascore. The same reactions were also expressed by specialist critics, whose ratings on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes lifted the tape to only 55% positive ratings.
Although there were all kinds of opinions among the ratings and awards such as the Golden Globes won, it was clear that this was not a film that would rise above certain circles, nor become a new bomb on the level of other directorial films like La La Country. and seen onceI fully understand the reasons for your failure.because what Chazelle has done with this project is to fall in love with bombast and his own ego with a film whose ultimate goal is to bring something new and relevant to the public.
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I think his main problem is that we’ve seen too many films dealing with his subject matter, stories about the darkness that the world of Hollywood hides and the difficulty of surviving the paradigm shifts of industry and society. Without going very far, Quentin Tarantino raised practically the same Once upon a time… in Hollywood in 2019, where the characters of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt, who played a well-known western actor and his double, were destined to be pigeonholed as old-fashioned due to the development of the medium. Damien Chazelle’s vision makes a case for depicting the darkness, destruction and underworld of Hollywood rather than the nostalgic touch Tarantino impregnated his film with, but at heart both are dark comedies with dramatic reflections that inevitably draw on the same resources.
Actually during a few moments from Babylon It was impossible not to believe that Chazelle was desperately trying to emulate Tarantino. In a comic sequence, for example, where a whole film crew barely manages to capture the tone of a film, they resort to this very Tarantine resource of overly lengthening the scene, twisting it bit by bit, and drawing the viewer to the same unpleasant and heavy way to bring feeling that his characters live and explode everything with good nerve and skill. Considering that Babylon and Once Upon a Time… share a cast in Hollywood, that feeling is amplified when you see Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt treading virtually identical territory, because even their characters are big Stars disgraced by their arrival at the sonorous have many plot details in common.
I cite the example of Tarantino and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood because it’s the most recent and obvious, but it was also inevitable for me to think that his murky vision of the film industry entails the opposite of the dream factory he’s ushering in introduces hollywoodI’ve seen them in movies with a lot more punch and impact Mulholland Driveor that the succession of excesses shines with an unstoppable rhythm with which it tries to introduce us to this world an attempt to imitate Baz Luhrmann’s cinema. Of course, Chazelle’s soul, particularly in terms of the musicality with which her sequences are captured on screen, is more than apparent throughout the film, but the impression it leaves on me is that of an excessive mix of ideas and cinematic devices that I find boring and devoid of relevant words.
And it is from my point of view that Damien Chazelle has prioritized making a film that allows him to demonstrate his good skills behind the camera, to show that he is also an ace with the usual resources of this type of production and he is also up to the task, the height of Hollywood’s great masters. As a consequence, the result an ego-satisfying project that doesn’t add anything new to this kind of film-within-a-film story that we have seen over and over again.
In fact, my first impression when I saw the trailer was that of being faced with a series of excesses without news, which gave me the impression that there would be a movie that would satiate and bore me, especially given its exaggerated duration of 189 minutes. And indeed, I wasn’t misguided at all, and I imagine the public, upon seeing Babylon’s cold reaction, had exactly the same thought. Hence his big stumble at the box office. And that’s it to see hackneyed ideas again and that with such a grandiose and excessive approach is anything but appetizing.
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