Why Damien Chazelle Is Spiritually Incapable of Making a Movie Sans Jazz?

Not all of Damien Chazelle’s films are related to or revolve around jazz. However, those that matter are. His debut independent film, Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, and the nearly Oscar-winning La La Land both have jazz-obsessed male leads, while the psychological drama Whiplash focused on an abusive drum teacher whose rigorous instruction stripped the genre of all its intrinsic flavor. With Babylon, a Hollywood epic set in the decadent jazz age, Chazelle now goes back to his roots. The film planned its release for December 23, paving a well-worn path to the Academy Awards. Whether or not it’s Oscar bait (it is), Chazelle crafts his most interesting films on the things he enjoys (jazz).

The film planned its release for December 23, paving a well-worn path to the Academy Awards. Whether it’s Oscar bait or not (it is), Chazelle makes the most interesting movies when they’re about the things he enjoys, like jazz, so maybe this new project will result in some lovely music. On September 13, the first teaser for Babylon was released, offering us a glimpse into the universe of the movie, which is amphetamine- and alcohol-fueled (or a Baz Luhrmann–inspired excuse to get Margot Robbie to do her default American accent).

The movie is clearly taking some big swings (and we’re not talking about dance moves) based on the full trailer, which debuted on November 28. Tobey Maguire’s yellowed teeth, Margot Robbie’s icing of her nipples, and Brad Pitt almost getting Gatsbyed are just a few examples. Here is everything we currently know about the cast, the story, and the release date.

BABYLON | Official Trailer (2022 Movie) – Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Tobey Maguire

What’re the bebop basics of Babylon?

Damien Chazelle wrote and directed the film, as he has done with his previous productions. We also know that it’s a group effort featuring Diego Calva from Narcos: Mexico, Brad Pitt from Bullet Train, and Barbie Girl Margot Robbie. Pitt and Calva are shown in new pictures sitting around champagne bottles in tuxedos, while Robbie is seen crowd-surfing at a nightclub in a scarlet dress with a high slit.

Fun!! Additionally, Pitt portrays an aged movie star who is reflecting on his life in a mirror, which is a reflection of his own reality. The Godfather, La Dolce Vita, and Nashville, among others, were among the « old-school epics that managed, through a handful of characters, to portray a society transforming, » according to director Damien Chazelle.

Brad Pitt and Diego Calva
Brad Pitt and Diego Calva

Is Babylon about Babylon?

Chazelle most likely chose the term Babylon for the corrupt civilization rather than the ancient empire. The initial stills from Paramount Pictures show that the film is set in the 1920s, when Prohibition is very popular. But it doesn’t matter because the first really renowned Hollywood stars are present, along with trombonists, flappers wearing elaborate headdresses, and cigarette smokers who are cross-dressing. According to the official synopsis, the movie is set in 1920s Los Angeles amid the transition from silent to talkies.

While some movie stars succeed in the brave new world of synchronized sound, amassing fortune and power, we can presume that others fade into obscurity, leaving them with nothing but the vices they indulged in during the decadence of Hollywood’s fledgling golden age. According to Chazelle for Vanity Fair, « everything is moving below people’s feet, and I became really captivated by the human cost of disruption at that magnitude, at a period when there was no road map, when everything was just fresh and wild. » Look elsewhere if you’re seeking for a historically accurate or true-to-life inspired movie, as director Damien Chazelle noted that the movie is « largely fictional. »

Along with Li Jun Li from Sex/Life and Jovan Adepo from Watchmen, P.J. Byrne, Lukas Haas, and Olivia Hamilton will all make an appearance. Additionally, Chazelle was able to secure Spider-Man alum Tobey Maguire and Hacks’ current actress Jean Smart. According to reports, the film will also star Max Minghella, Rory Scovel, Katherine Waterston, Flea, Jeff Garlin, Eric Roberts, Ethan Suplee, and Samara Weaving. Last but not least, drama queen Olivia Wilde will make an appearance.

What else has Chazelle said about the movie?

Li Jun Li
Li Jun Li

A production is promised by the author-director. He told Vanity Fair, « It was absolutely the hardest thing I’ve done. » Just the logistics of it, the number of characters, the size of the set pieces, and the amount of time the movie covers all conspired to make it exceptionally difficult, but it was an exhilarating challenge to take on. Although he doesn’t explicitly say it’s a part of his entire jazz act, that’s okay for the time being. Jazz, after all, is about the future.

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