BABYLON – Review by Susan Granger

Babylon is a grotesquely graphic, three-hour mess of a movie about early Tinseltown!

Focusing on an era of decadent, depravity that’s the antithesis of his musical fantasy La La Land (2016), writer/director Damien Chazelle’s saga begins in the Roaring 1920s as Manny Torres (Diego Calva), an ambitious Mexican production assistant, navigates the tortuous hills of Hollywood to deliver a ‘live’ elephant to an extravagant, coke-fueled Bacchanalia, a messy job that doesn’t end as expected.

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BABYLON – Review by Pam Grady

You have to hand it to Damian Chazelle, who should win all the awards for forewarning the audience of the three-hour-long punishment-to-come when one of his opening images is of an elephant in closeup. From the rear. Defecating straight into the camera lens. Well, shit…This is not a love letter to cinema, more like hate mail, odd coming from a director who has been treated well and lauded by his industry. And good grief, don’t summon the ghost of Singin’ in the Rain if it only serves to remind people that, yes, there are far better movies about moviemaking out there than Babylon.

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BABYLON – Review by Diane Carson

Babylon traffics in riotous, bawdy, revolting excess. titles should reveal something significant about a film, so let the title Babylon serve as an announcement and a warning. Prepare, then, for wild sexual orgies, plenty of pills and drugs, tons of alcohol, projectile vomiting, explosive defecating near and on individuals, plus gratuitous, pervasive, obscene cursing. And that’s just the first half of this three-hour plus extravaganza.

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BABYLON – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

A messy, bloated epic about Hollywood’s early years, Babylon is more interested in shattering the mythos of movie magic than indulging in any. Like this year’s The Fabelmans and Empire of Light, it shows characters gazing rapturously at the silver screen, but it spends the bulk of its time on behind-the-scenes grime—and rubbing our noses in it. In the opening moments alone, a frightened elephant takes a dump on a handler.

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FIRST MAN – Review by Brandy McDonnell

The movie’s pre-release controversy over Chazelle’s decision not to include a scene of Armstrong planting an American flag on the Moon – which in the context of the film would be incredibly out of place – illustrates just how valuable what the filmmaker is doing with “First Man”: allowing us to know one of our most revered American icons as someone who was a man, first.

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, December 5 – December 9, 2016: La La Land

La La Land, the latest from director Damien Chazelle, is an homage to the acid-bright technicolor extravaganzas of old Hollywood. Romantic and swoony to be sure, but leavened with a modernist twist that cuts the schmaltz. Opening Dec. 9, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is La La Land. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Oct. 6-12: WHIPLASH

Opening Oct. 10, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Whiplash, which stars Miles Teller as an aspiring drummer whose passion for music is put to the test when he enrolls in a prestigious New York academy and comes up against a sadistic tutor (JK Simmons). It’s taken just a year for writer/director Damien Chazelle to adapt his Sundance winning short into a feature, and the result is a passionate, inspiring look at the true cost of artistic ambition. Read on…

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