5 books to read immediately if you liked Babylon by Damien Chazelle

At the beginning of the year, one film is on everyone’s lips and attracts all eyes. Then La La LandDamien Chazelle returns to the City of Angels and delivers a dazzling cinematic gesture. babylon is a film as disproportionate as the era it chronicles, the transition, at the end of the 1920s, from silent cinema to talkies.

In this grand, intoxicating but above all cruel and devastating tableau, the wonderful director tells everything about the Hollywood paradox, a heavy dream machine but a merciless machine for crushing creatures. A theme that has been addressed by many writers of trashy works that have become cults. Small bookcase perfect to end your cinema dreams.

Hollywood Babylonby Kenneth Anger (Tristram)

See also Konbini

Said to be a source of inspiration for Damien Chazelle when writing his film, Hollywood Babylon today it is considered a cult book and a monument of the underground, but for a long time it was attacked, censored by the authorities and part of the press because of the sulphurous and scandalous picture painted by its author of the dream machine. Born in 1927, the year of the release of jazz singerthe film that will teach the seventh art in the age of talkies, grandson of a famous costume designer, Kenneth Anger has been rushing around studios since he was old enough to walk.

For years, he rubbed the shoulders of Hollywood’s first golden age and was a privileged witness to a glorious and evil era that bred depravity and vice. Totally insane director, obsessed fetishist and self-confessed satanist who would end up tattooing Lucifer on his chest, Kenneth Anger is the epitome of this insane Hollywood decadence. But, instead of just embodying it, he also decided to say it.

First published in France by Jean-Jacques Pauvert, the publisher of the Marquis de Sade, which gives you an idea of ​​the themes covered in the book, Hollywood Babylon is a terrifying dive into the darkest recesses and the most horrific secrets of the city of angels, between orgies, wildfires and suppressed crimes.

For years, Kenneth Anger carefully collected photos, cut up newspapers, picked up stray objects and recorded the wildest rumors in order to, one day, unpack everything. Charlie Chaplin’s pronounced taste for very young women, Marie Prevost’s tragic fate, discovered in her apartment half-devoured by her dachshund, Johnny Weissmuller’s unhealthy jealousy as his wife walks with his cat exposed at night, the beating that Sean did. Connery to a former bodyguard of Capone: Hollywood has never been told so brutally and we savor the blessed time when the people’s press is entrusted to the craziest writers.

I’m Fatty by Jerry Stahl (Rivages)

If there is a tragic fate that alone tells the story of the irrational madness of the early hours of the Hollywood industry, it is Roscoe Arbuckle’s. In the early 1920s, this corpulent actor and director nicknamed “Fatty” was one of the biggest stars of silent cinema and the rival of Charlie Chaplin.

In more horrifying gags – it’s to him that we owe the invention of the cream pie – he makes all of America laugh his ass off by teaming up with the merry troublemaker who has come to trouble a puritanical and corseted country. But everything changed when, the day after a drunken night in San Francisco, he was charged with the rape and murder of a starlet named Virginia Rappe.

This explosive story, the bad boy of American letters Jerry Stahl, former sulfurous pen of the men’s press, screenwriter of Twin Peakswriter destroy and repentant addict tells it in an incredible novel. It traces the crazy rise of a kid from Kansas who was rejected by his family because of his weight and finds safety on the boards, he describes the terrible vices of Hollywood, a dream machine that crushes creatures in his path, above all he destroys one. through one the cogs of an abominable media and political machine that, in its desire to end the loose morals of this evil world, sacrificed the career of a genius and the life of an innocent.

“Maybe Hollywood is so bad that a 200-pound Jesus had to die to pay for his sins.”

Ecstasy and I, the crazy autobiography of Hedy Lamarr (Seguier)

Like Hedy Lamarr’s life, her biography goes all over the place and you have to stay. But how fascinating to discover an unjustly forgotten figure in cinema. Her life is a novel of adventures carried out by a femme fatale with a strong character who was never afraid to tell people their four truths. In Ecstasy and meshe tore down her statue of a Hollywood goddess openly and without remorse.

The rebellious young Austrian between the wars, who introduced herself as the first porn actress in history with her role in Ecstasy (1933) and this close-up of a simulated orgasm, the imprisoned wife of a rich industrialist, escapes from her golden prison by drugging a governess, the most beautiful woman in the cinema, the only actress who able to negotiate his contracts personally with the terrible Louis B. Mayer, the sex maniac with many escapades, even the inventor of Wi-Fi: we travel through the thousand lives of an icon who always refuses to be imprisoned in starlet status and simple object of desire.

Three women are missingby Hélène Frappat (Actes Sud)

In the big family of the seventh art, I like the mother first, Tippi Hedren. Unforgettable star of Birds, she fell victim to director Alfred Hitchcock’s unhealthy obsession with advances throughout the film’s production and even went so far as to forcefully kiss her before doing everything to blacklist her for her refusal to comply. I Like Women Too, Melanie Griffith, Title Role In Cult 1980s Film Working Girls, the object of sulphurous fantasies that throughout his life was the favorite victim of the American tabloids. I finally want the granddaughter, Dakota Johnson, incarnation of the greatest phenomenon of soft porn of our time, Fifty Shades of Greyand sexualized actress since her debut in front of the camera.

In the purest tradition of American non-fiction narrative, Hélène Frappat, Cahier du Cinéma critic, leads the investigation and recounts the turbulent fate of this line of women shaken by the brutal Hollywood machine, victims like so many others other than misogyny, excessive sexualization. and male violence.

Zeroville by Steve Erickson (Actes Sud)

Like Many, the character played so well on the screen by Diego Calva, Vikar, the hero of Steve Erickson’s novel is a devoted pushover to the great Barnum of the film industry, an “autistic filmmaker” who loves movies. cinematic story that speaks only in quotes from his favorite movies and proudly wears a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on the back of his head. He arrived in Los Angeles at the end of the 1960s and discovered a world that was the opposite of his cinephile fantasy.

From misadventures to misunderstandings, he encounters strange and abominable encounters that they will never forget and realizes that Hollywood has become an evil kingdom. Slowly, he closed himself in on this sweet illusion that had haunted him since he was a child. Cinema is a world in itself, parallel to the real world, which, somehow, deserves to be experienced.

disillusioned noir romance, Zeroville is a heartfelt cry uttered by an emeritus critic who mourns the death of the cinema he loves. A cult book, released on the screen by James Franco three years ago. An actor accused of harassment, who better than him to symbolize the frustration of the dream machine…

babylon is currently in theaters.

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