Damien Chazelle’s latest movie is a perfect example of why movies were created to be shown and enjoyed on the big screen. In an age in which seems that streaming platforms are the only viable way of enjoying movies going forward, Chazelle’s latest foray into the cinematic landscape is here to prove that’s not the case. It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride that grabs you from the word go, and never lets go. A touching portrait of a bygone era, and a set of characters larger than life, where excess was the norm, and Hollywood had not yet been tainted by the notions of double morality that still seem to plague, nowadays more than ever, the American cinematic industry at large.
Headed by a strong cast, gorgeous Cinematography, lavish Production and Costume Design, and amazing Sound Design, this is a strong start to the beginning of the year as far as movies are concerned. It’s a visual and sonic assault to the senses unlike anything I’ve seen lately. Why this exquisite piece of cinematic art got ignored by both audiences and critics, is beyond me. If there’s one thing that I can fault from this movie is that, despite its lengthy running time (which I didn’t feel one bit), it doesn’t really give enough time for some of the characters to breathe. Characters like Trumpetist Sidney Palmer, Hollywood chronicler Elinor St. John, Agent George Munn, and Cabaret singer Lady Fay Zhu, all wonderfully played by Jovan Adepo, Jean Smart, Lukas Haas, and Li Jun Li respectively, are kind of left to their own devises within a larger narrative that focuses mainly on the main three characters played by Brad Pitt ( in one of his best ever performances as over-the-hill Silent cinema leading man Jack Conrad), Margot Robbie as the exuberant, foul-mouthed, up and coming starlet Nelly LaRoy, and Diego Calva as Hollywood jack-of-all-trades turned Producer Manny Torres, who’s basically the audience’s narrator. I have the impression that, judged as a whole, the movie sometimes feels more like a collection of vignettes, albeit brilliantly done (the craziness of the desert shoot, the frustrating first attempts of the Kinoscope crew to shoot with sound, just to name a few), than a cohesive entity. Those few qualms aside, one cannot help but to be swept up by the story, characters and the general enthusiasm demonstrated, time and again, by Chazelle in trying to put onto the big screen the most beautiful love letter to his trade; Cinema. This is a must see for cinema buffs like myself, and THE reason why movies have to be seen on the biggest screen possible.
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