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La La Land​ director Damien Chazelle’s film Babylon is more hysterical than historical. It received very mixed critics but who reads movie critics anyway, right? The film has already flopped in the US.


If you want to see crazy Hollywood parties in a three-hour extravaganza with a lot of cocaine, orgies, elephant shit, a man eating live rats, a rattlesnake chomping a woman’s neck, and an obese naked man giggling as a woman pees on his belly, it’s your kind of a film.


But if you want to see Brad Pitt with a cast of literally thousands, naked breasts, exuberant cursing, and Hollywood’s transition to the talkies with the proposition that more is more, Babylon is a marathon of excess and an overstuffed mess, and it is still your kind of a movie.


People go to the movies to escape from reality and their problems. As they say, Movie stars never die. These platitudes are embedded within a scabrous vision of Hollywood, to intentionally jarring effect. Babylon wants to plumb the cruelty, corruption and depravity of the film industry and at the same time celebrate the immortal wonder of cinema. To do so, the director dives into a Fellini-esque satire and elegiac reflection on passing glory and crashed dreams.

Video © Paramount Pictures




It’s Los Angeles in 1926, the year before The Jazz Singer delivered a fatal blow to silent film. The story follows two silver-screen dreamers, Mexican-American wide-eyed immigrant Manny Torres (Diego Calva) and a wannabe movie-star from New Jersey Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), both fictional amalgamations of real-life figures, as almost all the characters in Babylon are. They sell their souls, and rise to stardom from the foundational days of motion pictures.


It was the time when movies were shifting from silents to sound, and the art of cinema was built from the ground in the unregulated industry with zero rules, very little restraint and wild west lawlessness that took LA by storm. A movie set is “the most magical place in the world”, according to fading matinée idol Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), the man of the hour.


Viewers steeped in the period will recognise details scavenged from the lives and careers of Clara Bow, Jeanne Eagels, John Gilbert and Anna May Wong, as well as an homage to Morocco (1930) and recreations of scenes from MGM’s The Hollywood Revue of 1929. Many sequences were lifted from other films, and those who spot these Easter eggs are less likely to be impressed by Chazelle’s research. Does Pitt meant to be the silent-movie star John Gilbert? Is Clara Bow Nellie LaRoy? Surely Li Jun Li’s vampy Lady Fay Zhu is the disguised Anna May Wong, the ground-breaking Chinese American star.


Babylon’s determination to wallow in decadence leads it to portray an artistically glorious period as one of decline and feverish hedonism. The film has a spare-no-expense gigantism. Babylon is delivered in an over-choreographed, rocket-powered hyperactive tones that would make Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge look like the slowest version of works of Hungarian director Béla Tarr.

Towards the end, we are invited to a concluding section that jumps forward to 1952 when Manny visits a cinema, watches Singin’ in the Rain, and weeps. One could watch that sublime, seemingly effortlessly filmed delight over and over again but Chazelle is not done yet.


He adds another 15-minute scene, an out-of-the-blue coda, plunging into an everlasting montage of modern film classics of cinema’s greatest hits that is more like a crash between Cinema Paradiso and Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, a ludicrous time-jumping tumble. Chazelle’s multiplex-style ending is nothing but a frenetic crescendo, loud and unclear.

ratings 6 / 10

/ Zoltan Alexander


'Cinema can fill in the empty spaces of                your life and your loneliness.' Pedro Almodovar




Recently released feature debut Without Air (2023), directed by Katalin Mondovai, explores oppression and homophobia through a high school scandal in today’s Orban’s Hungary and the local Hungarian minority in Romania.


We would simply wish this film would be fiction, but unfortunately it's not. It is based on a true story in a conservative school somewhere in Eastern Europe. The precise location is not revealed, although, the entire film was shot in a city near Cluj (Romania), that looked like a depressing, narrow-minded and backward place from forty years ago.


Without Air is a claustrophobic film about the lack of freedom of expression, and a witch-hunt, that lead character has to live through. It is a humiliating and moral execution of a young literature teacher, due to a film she recommended to her class on Rimbaud’s forbidden love affair.


Indeed, how could we live without air?

Full article will be published shortly.


ratings 4.5 / 10

Without Air” by Katalin Mondovai / 2023 (Hungary) 

/ The Instigator

Screenshot 2023-05-05 at 07.24.43.png

Photo © Jack Garofalo



16 - 27 MAY 2023


Côte d’Azur, 1 June 1968.


A young, blond actress is standing on Pampelonne Beach, near Saint-Tropez, (France), for the shooting of La Chamade by Alain Cavalier, adapted from the novel by Françoise Sagan.


She plays Lucile, who leads a superficial life, and has a taste for luxury. Her heart beats frantically, just as the heart of the cinema that the Festival de Cannes celebrates every year. A pulse of the 7th Art that can be heard everywhere.


She is the ultimate muse of Jacques Demy, Agnès Varda, Luis Buñuel, François Truffaut, Marco Ferreri, Manoel de Oliveira, André Téchiné, and Emmanuelle Bercot amongst many others. For over 60 years, she is the link between them all, however, Miss Deneuve is far from what is conventional or appropriate. Without compromise and always in tune with her convictions, even if it means going against the waves. The greatest star, an icon who has never stood still.


Where would the French cinema be without her?

The actress of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Peau d’Âne, and The Young Girls of Rochefort by Jacques Demy, Repulsion by Roman Polanski, the unforgettable Belle de Jour by Luis Buñuel, Indochine by Régis Wargnier, The Last Metro by François Truffaut, or in 2000, Dancer in the Dark by Lars von Trier that was her second Palme d’Or in her filmography. In 2005 she received an Honorary Palme d’Or.


The official poster of the 76th Festival de Cannes was created with Jack Garofalo’s infamous photo taken on the set of La Chamade, in 1968.


76th Festival de Cannes, Cannes (France)

16 - 27 May 2023

/ The Instigator

Video © Universal Pictures



Is TÁR a slow-motion car crash?


TÁR is a sensual psychological drama written and directed by Todd Field. Cate Blanchett is magnetic. Her character is monstrous. With a dash of Fran Lebowitz, Blanchett plays the downfall of fictional German composer and conductor Lydia Tár. Her ego matches her professional reputation. At the same time, she is accused of sexual abuse, she is a monster, a capricious narcissist who charms and terrorises a series of young women, all rising stars in classical music.


In Field’s outrageous and delirious drama, Blanchett’s performance pierces like a conductor’s baton through the heart. The “maestro”, as addressed by her colleagues, invented herself through conducting. She wears a two-piece black suit with an open-necked white shirt. Her face is a hard mask of contempt. She is demanding, determent, autocratic, with a rockstar attitude and an international lifestyle.


Although, she is married to her first violinist (played by Nina Hoss), with whom she has a child, there are problems in Tár’s life. She runs a mentoring scholarship programme for women, and there are rumours that it is a source of young women with whom Tár has affairs.


She has a job that comes with territory. Her assistant, (played by Noémie Merlant, a would-be conductor) is another person she is keeping an emotional string on, and becomes obsessed with her. Tár has tendresse for a new cellist and her loss of control is due to her intense reaction to Elgar’s Cello Concerto that she wanted to perform with her protégé.

TÁR is a phenomenal picture, supported by top-tier crew, from Bina Daigeler’s costumes (Tár’s tailored suits are a kind of intellectual armour) to Florian Hoffmeister’s camerawork. The music throughout the film amplifies the violence beneath the surface. Tár is heading into crisis with a hurricane force of paranoia, brilliantly conducted to the film’s deeply mysterious and surreal final section.

No other actress could have delivered the necessary hauteur for portraying a great musician heading for a total collapse but Blanchett. During her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress at the BAFTAS earlier this year, the actress thanked the TÁR producers for “holding their nerves” in making the film.

ratings 8.5 / 10

/ Zoltan Alexander

Video © Searchlight Pictures



The film opens with Margot (Anya Taylor-Joy) and Tyler (Nicholas Hoult) waiting for a boat to take them to a small island for diner, to an exclusive restaurant, the “Hawthorne”. Margot smokes a cigarette and her gourmet fanboy Tyler tells her not to because it will ruin her palate. She looks around and notes that the boat is a bit small but he tells her there will only be 12 guests tonight.


THE MENU, directed by Mark Mylod, is a satirical thriller, razor-sharp in its social commentary that offers many surprises. Parallels can very easily be drawn to other forms of art and even to the industry than food, giving the movie a wonderful edge. A very meta experience if you like.


Haute Cuisine is not so much about eating as worshipping the chef’s ego. Tonight’s menu is created by the renowned chef Slowik (Ralph Fiennes) sporting joylessly with an expression of patrician displeasure. The guests are ushered in with a cult-like devotion by the ferocious Maître D, Elsa (Hong Chau), and go through a series of courses that tease and challenge them.


They are a tasteless bunch: a trio of braying investment bankers, a needy movie star, a restaurant critic, and a miserable wealthy couple. Then there is Margot, the last-minute date of fanboy Tyler. She is more interested in sneaking a cigarette than playing up to the chef’s sous vide technique. She is the one errant ingredient on the menu. From course number four, the story becomes a malicious revenge, and very intense.


THE MENU is poking fun at the world of gourmet restaurants, the critics, and their never-happy, ultra-wealthy guests where money is no object. They go because they can, as simple as that, so they can say they’ve been there plenty of times. But ask them to mention one dish on the menu or anything about the experience or the place, and they will come up short.


Being well-off is not the problem, it’s being indifferent cynical, and judgemental that is so typical now of our life with very few exceptions.

ratings 9.5 / 10

/ Zoltan Alexander


Video and Photo © Academy Awards






Everything Everywhere All at Once has dominated this year’s Academy Awards Ceremony, being nominated for 11 Oscars and winning seven awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress.


Malaysian Michelle Yeoh has become the first Asian actress in the 95-year history of the Oscars taking home the statuette.

A major night for Asian and Asian-American representation.


The film is a surreal, inter-dimensional rupture, an absurdist comedy-drama, written and directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, about a middle-aged Chinese immigrant who got drawn into an insane adventure with her newfound powers. She fights the bewildering dangers from multiverses, in which she alone can save existence by exploring other parallel universes and connecting with lives she could have led.


For all the little boys and girls who look like me watching tonight this is a beacon of hope and possibility,” Michelle Yeoh said before adding: “Ladies don’t ever let anyone tell you 'You are past your prime,' NEVER give up.

/ The Instigator

Video © National Theatre








Witch-hunt is beginning in Salem.


Olivier Award-winner Lyndsey Turner directs The Crucible, an electrifying new production with designs by Es Devlin, in a magnificent restaging of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece,

Raised to be seen but not heard, a group of young women suddenly find their words have a terrible power. As a climate of fear spreads through the community, private vendettas fuel public accusations and soon the truth itself is on trial.

/ The Instigator

Video © National Theatre







The Tony Award®-winning Best Play makes a triumphant return to London. 


On a cold September morning in 1844, a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York Dockside dreaming of a new life in the new world. He is joined by his two brothers, and an American epic begins.

/ The Instigator










Nightlife, black-ties and bursting creative energy stand in stark contrast to the rising poverty and unemployment rates. The economy, the culture, and the government are all undergoing radical, unseen changes. Prices are skyrocketing, and the porn-industry is boosting. The country is in turmoil, on the brink of collapse.


We are, however, not writing 2023 London but 1923 Berlin. Back to the roaring twenties, to Babylon of pleasures.


If the end of the world is coming then why not party the nights away?

ratings 9.5 / 10

/ The Instigator



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