Epic new drama Babylon runs three hours in length, is rated 18 and plunges viewers into the murky excesses of early Hollywood. And with La La Land director Damien Chazelle at the helm, it's a feast for the senses, even when what you're looking at defies description (or makes you turn away).
The handsomely mounted movie is akin to an improvisational blast from a jazz trumpeter: loud, raucous and sinfully entertaining. A strong cast is headed by Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie as, respectively, an ailing silent movie star and the wild new arrival on the Tinseltown scene. With moving pictures about to transition from silent into sound, many players threaten to be left on the sidelines as a new generation struggles to adapt to a bold new way of working.
Pitt and Robbie's characters, Jack and Nellie, are filtered through the perspective of Manny (Diego Calva), a relatively innocent outsider looking to rise up the filmmaking ranks. Manny's journey is given an epic sweep by Linus Sandgren's whirling, often unbroken camerawork and a full-throttle score from La La Land's Justin Hurwitz, whose creations are regularly performed within the context of the scenes.
One of the film's key characters is jazz performer Sidney, played by actor Jovan Adepo (Fences). His destiny is as important to Babylon's fabric as any, so hear from Adepo in the following video as he explains Sidney's arc and why the spirit of jazz courses through the movie.
Babylon's design is also critical to pulling us into the lives of these characters. Credit goes to Florencia Martin who recently styled Paul Thomas Anderson's whimsically nostalgic L.A. story Licorice Pizza. In the following extract, she reveals the astonishing amount of research and craft that was needed to bring early Hollywood to the big screen.
Click here to book your tickets for Babylon, releasing at Cineworld on January 20. Will Babylon be a frontrunner in the forthcoming Oscar nominations? Find out more by checking out our 2023 Oscar predictions.