A film Mike was doing his damndest to avoid seeing but eventually agreed to, Babylon is an epic period comedy-drama about the excess and industrialisation of Hollywood in the ’20s and ’30s, and an epic bomb at the box office. Its aesthetics, characterisations, use of race and class, vulgarity, set pieces, bizarre ending and more are up for discussion. Did Mike have as terrible a time as he anticipated?
An interesting failure. We struggle a little bit to get a read on First Man, Damien Chazelle’s biopic of Neil Armstrong. Not content to adopt a mainstream tone, not willing to go full art movie, it gets lost in the middle somehow. Mike sees Armstrong as incongruously passive in his own story, his – and, for that matter, everyone else’s – drive for the Moon landing, not believable, ultimately making the landing scene feel cheated, the film trying to convince you of the incredible achievement of the mission only at the last minute.
José finds aspects of the film intriguing, particularly the portrayal of marriage, but finds the sub-pot with the daughter imbalances the film. Mike finds the film misunderstands Ryan Gosling’s style – his minimalism requires rich surroundings off which to reflect, and with so little here, Armstrong comes across blank. José disagrees with this but both of us appreciate the physicality of the space sequences, shot almost entirely with close ups on interiors, though the extension of the shaky cam to the rest of the film is irritating.
A confusing film that we find misguided, and a glance at its opening weekend box office doesn’t bode well. Claire Foy is very good though.
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