Babylon ★★★½

"The man who puts gasoline in your tank goes to the movies why, why, why? Because it feels less alone there. Don't we owe him more than the same old shit?"

I have strange Chazelle rankings where I think First Man might be a masterpiece, Whiplash is very good if maybe a little overrated, and while I respect it I highly doubt I'll ever be compelled to watch La La Land again. He's clearly an excellent craftsman and it's on full display here, though I'm leaning toward it falling into the LLL category - where that craftsmanship becomes the primary focus to a distracting degree.

I think I prefer him working in the more grounded character dramas where his work behind the camera accentuates the story rather than dominates it. We get some montages at the end that prompt the viewer to get emotional over The Movies rather than the characters and that's my ultimate problem here.

That said, clearly this is part of the point in a movie about the Magic of Movies and specifically about technical progress and the human lives it sometimes leaves behind. For the most part it manages to stay pretty engaging for the interminable runtime which is itself a high accomplishment. Not my favorite of his but rounding up a bit for the ambition and the setpieces.

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