Judging from the sprawl, spectacle, and general excess of Babylon, I can only assume that the success of Whiplash and La La Land earned director Damien Chazelle a blank check. More the pity that he spent it on this navel-gazing love letter to Hollywood, from Hollywood, as if anybody needed another one of those. Babylon is not very loving, as love letters go.
When you can see through the effluvia (human and animal) splattered across the screen, its thesis is punishingly obvious: Hollywood is a grotesque meat grinder that consumes and discards beautiful young people, while preserving them forever in celluloid amber. It’s a dream factory, vomiting and excreting fantasies that are ersatz, ephemeral, and as worthless as prop money that washes away in the rain. Yes, and? Tell us something we don’t know.
Extra credit to Chazelle for properly citing his sources in a pre-end-credits bibliographical appendix, even if it is in the form of a typical film geek’s YouTube supercut. Hey, maybe you’ve seen 2001: A Space Odyssey? It’s pretty great, you should check it out!
After suffering through these three hours of torture, the Paramount+ algorithm recommended Wolf of Wall Street, which is (chef’s kiss) A+ if-you-liked-this-cocaine-movie-you-may-also-like-this-other-cocaine-movie pattern matching.