Review: The Menu and Babylon
Happy New Year! A Double Feature Review!
The Menu is a twisted yet delightful black-horror comedy that will cleanse your palate. Director Mark Mylod (HBO's Succession and What's Your Number?) delivers a wicked new film that's chock-full of social commentary and eat-the-rich atmosphere. Without giving too much away: The Menu follows a young couple (a wonderful Anya Taylor-Joy and a wild Nicholas Hoult), who travel to a remote island to eat at an exclusive restaurant where the chef (a terrifying Ralph Fiennes) has prepared an elaborate menu for his guests. However, there is a catch, and some shocking surprises come along with it. The cast (Fiennes, Taylor-Joy, Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Reed Birney, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo) are all top-notch throughout. Especially Chau, as she is a scene stealer. The script (writers Seth Reiss and Will Tracy) works with what it's trying to do. In the end, you'll laugh, scream, and maybe even be a little hungry for a cheeseburger after the credits start rolling. 4/5 stars.
Now streaming on HBO Max
The Menu is rated R (Restricted) For Some Sexual References | Language Throughout | Strong Violent Content.
Directed by Mark Mylod
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Anya Taylor-Joy, Nicholas Hoult, Hong Chau, Janet McTeer, Reed Birney, Judith Light, and John Leguizamo
Damien Chazelle's (Whiplash, La La Land, and First Man) Babylon is a whole lot of movie: it's both dazzling and dizzying throughout its entire 189-minute runtime. I appreciate what Chazelle was trying to do here as he takes some big swings (a 30-minute cocaine and orgy sequence to open the film). Not everything works in Babylon, but it dies trying. The camerawork (Linus Sandgren) is breathtaking, while composer Justin Hurwitz's (Whiplash, La La Land, and First Man) score roars. Hurwitz is a force to be reckoned with, as he's the front-runner to win his 3 Oscar with this superb score. In addition, there's some impressive editing by editor Tom Cross (La La Land and No Time To Die). Babylon borrows heavily from Singin' in the Rain (1952), as we see the chaotic transition of 1920s Hollywood moving away from silent features and towards the "talkies" (pictures with sound).
Yet, Chazelle knows his storyline is similar to Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain, so he pays homage to that classic film throughout. However, where Singin' in the Rain showcased the bright and sunny side of Old Hollywood, Babylon takes the darker route. Here, Chazelle explores the grim and very real underbelly of La La Land scene after scene. The actors consist of Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, and Li Jun Li, who all give superb performances. Personally, Robbie and Calva stood out the most for me. Not to mention, a terrifying cameo by Tobey Maguire. Babylon will not be everyone's cup of tea, as it has been deeply polarizing among critics. Yet, I would argue that this is good because it could lead us to deeper conversations about the art of the medium. So buckle up because Babylon is a wild 3-hour ride. 4/5 stars.
Babylon is rated R (Restricted) For Drug Use | Bloody Violence | Graphic Nudity | Pervasive Language | Strong & Crude Sexual Content.
Directed by Damien Chazelle
Starring Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Jovan Adepo, Li Jun Li, and Tobey Maguire.
Best Films of 2022
2022 concluded as another excellent year for cinema. While movie theaters have slowly started coming back to a fitting form. This year brought some wonderful surprises from big-budget blockbusters, horror films, romance films, indie darlings, and animation. Yes, animation is cinema. Here are our picks for the 30 Best Films of 2022. Enjoy! — Arnold At The Movies
For Your Consideration:
Cup Of Soul Show
In Their Own League
Mashley at the Movies
Mike, Mike, and Oscar
The Movie Oracle
Next Best Picture
Reos Positive POV
The SoBros Network
Untitled Cinema Gals Project