Tag Archives: Babylon

Film Review: Babylon (2022)


In 1926, a Mexican immigrant Manuel ‘Manny’ Torres gets involved with Nellie LaRoy in a wild crazy party run by a film studio executive. Soon, Manny gets a job in the studio and Nellie becomes a star. But fates begin to change when the golden silence meets its voice and the pictures go talkie.


Babylon is a time traveler to America where the booming period of the silent era was soon meeting its end. By that time, many actors and filmmakers had found success and earned a lot of money because watching silent films across America was still fresh. I am talking about feature films in America that began in 1915 when ‘The Birth of a Nation‘ was released.

So this film is not based on a real-life event but is inspired by a few stories of that period. Director Damien Chazelle briefed the audience and puzzled into a story. The purpose is to show that many successful artists and production companies of the silent era couldn’t make it and got liquidated. They lost their way, got vanished. Some tried to work in other business lines, some began to work hard for bread and butter, and some committed suicide.


The film tries to settle the audience in a mesmerizing dramatization of shooting a war scene and the struggle behind arranging the camera and managing the crew in a broad daylight. Shooting a film one hundred years ago was tormenting.

I particularly liked the sequence where Nellie had to shoot in a studio where something repeatedly messes up and has to improve in retakes without any certainty of any error in extreme heat.


A scene where Manny is shocked to witness the audience going berserk in joy about a talkie scene was accurate to the actual footage Damien Chazelle used here. A few of you may have gotten the idea but let me tell you that this was a historic moment during the proceedings of the 1927 film ‘The Jazz Singer‘ when Al Jolson said “Wait a minute, wait a minute, you ain’t heard nothin’ yet”. These were the first spoken words in any feature film. And that marked the end of the silent era.

It was extremely important to show this moment to the audience and I believe it was a fabulous shot.


Were the parties that wild as depicted in the opening sequence? Not sure to what level of craziness can bewilder into assuming it is accurate. It was like The Great Gatsby meets The Wolf of Wall Street one hot evening. I was just lost in a marvelous production and costume designing, and heavily detailed choreography.


Another vital fact from the 1920s Babylon captures is the controversial ‘Blackface‘. It was a kind of makeup to portray a caricature of a black person. Jazz trumpeter Sidney Palmer is requested to use blackface to make his skin further dark for the Southern audience. It was heartbreaking to see Sidney’s reaction. It was an insult and who knows, how often this happened in those times.


Amongst all the performances, Margot Robbie has the standout performance. That display of incredible body language, and mental breakdown, she is a beautiful and exceptional actress. And I feel sorry for her. She deserved the nomination for Best Actress at the Oscars but couldn’t make it perhaps because the film failed at the box office. And this is what I do not like. If the film flops, so goes the chance of getting nominated.


Tobey Maguire plays James McKay in Babylon from Paramount Pictures.

Babylon was financed at nearly $80 million dollars but grossed only $50 million, not domestically but worldwide. This is an outrageous business.

Now, why the film failed at the box office? Screen time is the biggest reason that clocks around 190 minutes! Three hours and ten minutes of showing the audience the transition from silent to sound and how the main characters begin to fade. I am sorry but that is kind of lazy writing that will bore the audience to death.

Damien Chazelle was lost in presenting to us his visual artistry and his idea for glamour, sexuality, hedonism, and a few more. There were many scenes that were needless. The whole Tobey Maguire segment was a waste of time and contributed nothing to the story. In fact, what is the story of Babylon? Maybe I was lost in gazing at Margot Robbie that I didn’t question the story to myself.


Babylon is a beautiful distraction. Perhaps, the film works better if it is rewritten as a musical. Deservingly nominated for both costume and production design. Should have also been nominated for Best Editing. It is a massive blunder! 

Babylon wants us the see the shining stars falling from the sky and fading in the proceeding. It is like our lives; we will gloom once we age. It also shows that if you do not keep it with the world, you will lose the path. The acceptance will diminish. The remembrance will suffer amnesia.

RATING: 6.5/10



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Film Review: Eternals (2021)

For thousands of years, the group of immortals called Eternals have defended planet earth from the unnatural species of predators called Deviants. But in the present day, one of the Eternals finds out that the deviants still exist and they need to assemble to complete the unfinished business once and for all.

I haven’t read about Eternals in comics, so this film is the source of whatever the director felt to make the use of Jack Kirby‘s creations. So on paper, Eternals, I believe, are the strongest group of superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And the group being socially diverse makes sense as the celestial picked his team to find deviants around the world.

A recent winner of the Oscar for Best Director, Chloé Zhao, was roped to work on this MCU project that brought a lot of challenges for the production. Because an Oscar-winning director for a superhero project becomes hyper-interesting as the audience expects the comic-book film to be a well-written and fine productional craft. And then the cinematography, visual effects, and Ramin Djawadi‘s score are other plusses giving a boost to the motive of the story.

But I am looking at the bigger picture. Into its fourteen years of existence and twenty-sixth film in line with the greatest cinematic universe ever, how important is this film for the future? Zhao’s direction does bring new breathing and way of observing a Marvel film but I guess despite having the magnitude of her quality presentation, the plotline is neither apt nor the screenplay is compelling.

If a viewer with a bird’s eye has to scale down a 156-minute film, he/she will certainly realize that there is something really wrong with the film. Let me try to point out why Eternals is not even close to being considered an average film.

One major blemish about the film is the introduction. This group of immortals is new to the audience and we have no idea how they were ever created. A Star-Wars-style intro text is not enough to accept them the way they are. Yes, the intro text emphasizes that they were needed but how these people ever become Eternals, there is no backstory. Instead, we travel time with them and observe how they protect some ancient civilizations and empires from deviants. I felt the dramatizing of old times was taken way too seriously and lost the meaning between the lines. Two of the Eternals are shown to develop a romantic interest in Babylon in 575 BC. Next scene? They are getting married in 400 AD in the Gupta Empire. The same amount of time would have been taken in dramatizing the intro text.

Another factor that ‘may’ have not worked with the audience is that Eternals is very quintessential to MCU aesthetics. They are so close to perfection and lacks human sympathy that was found for almost all the Marvel superheroes in the previous films. Seeing them fighting and killing the deviants straight from the start without knowing their whys and hows makes the purpose bleak.

The middle part of the film is a dead soul. The audience can easily give his/her popcorn to the person on the other seat and leave the theatre giving up. Amongst the team, Sersi (Gemma Chan) was easily the least favorite of all the characters, and she was chosen to lead the group. In the cast, I need to know why such established actors like Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie were part of this project. Especially Jolie, what a terrible waste! Even Kit Harrington is not utilized.

There is no villain in the film. Fine, it is not compulsory to have a villain in a superhero film but the story has to be much captivating; the grip of the screenplay was loose. Eternal is a confusing experiment in which the director struggles to plot the film in a non-linear style and attempts to apply forced humor out of nowhere to keep the audience somehow happy. As the film tries to find its zone of compliments with such an excessive time, the film loses its transmission and drops flat.

Ratings: 4/10