In Damian Chazelle‘s Babylon (Paramount, 12.25.22), Brad Pitt plays a dapper, in-some-ways-John Gilbert-resembling movie star who, shall we say, runs into some difficulty during Hollywood’s transition from silents to sound in the late 1920s to early ’30s. Margot Robbie plays Clara Bow, according to the IMDB.
Pitt was captured yesterday during a break from filming at The Ebell of Los Angeles (743 So. Lucerne Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90005), which is often used for period filming. The Ebell includes a clubhouse building and the 1,270-seat Wilshire Ebell theatre.
“Fellini Satyricon meets Day of the Locust,” posted on 7.21.19: “I’ve partially read a May 2019 draft of Damien Chazelle‘s Babylon, his theatrical follow-up to First Man. Babylon is a late 1920s Hollywood tale about a huge sea-change in the nascent film industry (i.e., the advent of sound and the up-and-down fortunes that resulted) and about who got hurt and those who survived.
“A la Quentin Tarantino‘s Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, Babylon offers a blend of made-up characters and a few real-life Hollywood names of the time — Clara Bow, Anna May Wong. Paul Bern and an “obese” industry fellow who represents Fatty Arbuckle. (I’m presuming there are many others.) I’ve only read about 40% of it, and I’m certainly not going to describe except in the most general of terms. It runs 184 pages, and that ain’t hay.
“Most of Chazelle’s story (or the portion that I’ve read) is amusingly cynical and snappy, at other times mellow and humanist, and other times not so much. It takes place in the golden, gilded realms of Los Angeles during this convulsive, four or five-year period (roughly 1926 to 1931, maybe ’32) when movie dialogue tipped the scales and re-ordered the power structure. Everyone above the level of food catering had to re-assess, re-think, change their game.
“It starts out with a long, bravura sequence that will probably impress critics and audiences in the same way La-La Land‘s opening freeway dance number did. Except Babylon is darker, raunchier. The first 26 or 27 pages acquaint us with the main characters (one of whom may be played by Emma Stone) while diving into the most bacchanalian Hollywood party you’ve ever attended or read about. Cocaine, booze, exhibitionist sex, an elephant, the singing of a lesbian torch song, heroin, blowjobs, and a certain inanimate…forget it.
“Unless Chazelle embarks on a serious rewrite, the 27-minute opening of Babylon is going to seem like quite the envelope pusher. It’s basically Fellini Satyricon meets Day of the Locust meets the secret orgy sequence in Eyes Wide Shot meets the Copacabana entrance scene in Goodfellas. Plus Baz Luhrmann‘s The Great Gatsby meets The Bad and the Beautiful meets Singin’ in the Rain meets The Big Knife…that’ll do for openers.”