Movie review: Baby Driver

Movie reviews

Hello!

An original movie, in this day and age, is a rarity, and that makes Baby Driver ten times more special than it already is. Let see whether the film can live up to the hype, whether it can prove the worth of original material, and whether it can act as the comeback of Edgar Wright! Plus, can it just be a fun and enjoyable summer movie?

IMDb summary: After being coerced into working for a crime boss, a young getaway driver finds himself taking part in a heist doomed to fail.

Edgar Wright

Baby Driver was both written and directed by the coveted auteur Edgar Wright (one of the few auteurs working in Hollywood). Wright is best known for creating The Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and cult classic Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. He also worked on the Marvel project Ant-Man before parting ways with the studio. Even though he left Disney/Marvel, he did live to make another movie and Baby Driver very much proves that his career is far from over. So, on a side note, Lord and Miller situation (them being fired from the Han Solo movie) might also turn out fine.

Writing

I very much enjoyed the writing for Baby Driver. The story was tight and simple, but yet also complex and unique. Let’s begin with the main character of Baby – I don’t think I can name another recent character that was so extraordinary. His love for music and driving, his sense of style (those glasses – brilliant), his relationships with his mother, girlfriend, and the deaf foster dad, and a good heart made him not only a relatable but extremely likable lead. And yet, he also had unexpected qualities (like the idea for that brutal kill or just bravery enough to kill). Also, the fact that the movie acknowledged that there are different ways to enjoy music (by hearing AND feeling it) was so great.

The romantic plotline also actually worked, which it rarely does in an action film. I loved the ending shot in black and white: they looked like a couple of criminals from a 60s movie. All the main criminal characters were amazing too and I loved the fact that all of their arcs had a definitive ending and that they weren’t dropped halfway through the runtime. My only gripe was that I didn’t think that Kevin Spacey’s character’s change of heart fully worked. The film also had wonderful humor, some of my favorite parts were the kid in the post office and the butchery metaphor. Lastly, I loved how Wright paid dues to other movies, by either giving them a shout-out or just showing a clip from them on TV. Baby Driver was, truly, a film written by a movie lover for movie lovers.

Directing

From the trailers, Baby Driver seemed like a super fun movie but I didn’t feel that it had the signature flavor of Wright. I was kinda right – Baby Driver was his lowest energy project yet (although it did dial everything up for the finale) and his most mainstream film so far and that is not really a bad thing. It was basically something different yet familiar. I loved all the action sequences and enjoyed the irony of Baby also having to run rather than drive in one of them. I was also impressed by the long takes, especially the one that followed the opening car chase. The signature close-ups were also neat.

Plus, I liked the fact that they used normal looking cars, not super expensive and super fast ones. Thus, Baby Driver was a celebration of driving – a thing that The Fast and The Furious used to have but lost completely in the later installments. Lastly, I cannot write a review for Baby Driver without mentioning the editing and the soundtrack. This is how you edit the visuals into the music. King Arthur and Suicide Squad should watch and learn.

Acting

Baby Driver’s cast was marvelous: it consisted of both proven actors and some up-and-comers. Ansel Elgort (TFIOS, Divergent) was spectacular, they way he acted into the music/with the music was just thrilling to watch. Lily James (Cinderella) was good as his girlfriend: they looked cute together and had chemistry. The cinema veterans Kevin Spacey (House of Cards), Jon Hamm (Keeping Up With The Joneses was actually not bad), Jamie Foxx (Sleepless was the best movie of this January – not much but something), and Jon Bernthal (The Accountant) all brought their A-game and appeared to be having a ton of fun with this picture. Lastly, an unknown (to me) Mexican actress Eiza González was an amazing badass to watch as well.

In short, Baby Driver is the best version of Drive meets American Grafitti. It has great action, funny jokes, cool editing, spectatcular soundtrack and it’s Edgar Wright at his best, even if that ‘best’ is a bit different than we are used to.

Rate: 4.5/5

Trailer: Baby Driver trailer

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Movie review: Sicario

Movie reviews

Hello!

Let’s continue a great fall film season and review Sicario! Sicario means ‘hitman‘ in Spanish and if you want to read my other review of the Hitman film, you can find it here. BTW, this ‘hitman‘ is much better than that Hitman.

IMDb summary: An idealistic FBI agent is enlisted by an elected government task force to aid in the escalating war against drugs at the border area between the U.S. and Mexico.

Story and Writing

Sicario’s script was written by Taylor Sheridan. He is a TV actor and this was his first screenplay. For a debut script, this one was definitely not bad, however, not what I expected it to be. Trailers advertised this film to be an action/drama/thriller, but for me, Sicario felt like a very violent and realistic documentary. Let me elaborate. Hollywood action films usually have a 3 part structure – introduction/establishment, journey/test, and final/resolution – and their narratives have a deadline. Documentary’s, on the other hand, have no real structure and, as a result, no real resolution. And Sicario is that type of film – it shows the viewers only a glimpse, an episode of life on the U.S. – Mexico border. It also fights a small scale battle and does not try to tackle the bigger problem. All of these choices, made by the creators, to narrow down the huge theme of drug cartels, illegal immigrants and smugglers to a specific event meant that the film was very realistic – it didn’t solve a lifelong problem in 2 hours but it tried to move forward with the solution. I also liked how there was no real resolution in the end and no really happy ending. It’s an open ending and anything can happen after the credits start.

In my Anthropology class, we have just finished studying migration and one of the examples that we discussed was the problem surrounding U.S.- Mexico border. We watched a few documentaries, one of them – Which Way Home (directed by Rebecca Cammisa in 2009) struck me the most because it showed children trying to migrate and look for a better life. While their journey seemed dangerous to me then, now, after watching Sicario, I cannot even begin to imagine what horrors are waiting for them on the way. Sicario was extremely violent and it showed the raw, un-retouched and real violence. It’s definitely not an example of a highly choreographed action flick where no real damage is done. The character’s reaction’s to the violence and also very truthful.

Although this movie didn’t have a lot of action scenes, it’s had an amazing suspense. The viewers were held on the edge of their seats because the future was highly unpredictable and nobody knew what will happen next and what the final outcome will be. There weren’t a lot of clues in the film and the plot might have been hard to follow at times, but this was where the suspense and the feeling of a threat really helped this film, by keeping the viewers engaged even if they did not know what was happening.

Directing and Visuals

Sicario was directed by French-Canadian director Denis Villeneuve who has previously worked on critically acclaimed Prisoners and who will also contribute to the currently untitled Blade Runner sequel. On a side note, I’ve only watch Blade  Runner for the first time last night and really enjoyed it, though it was quite hard to get used to the slow pacing since I’m used to science fiction movies to be action-packed.

To my mind, Villeneuve did a great job as a director of Sicario and his style really added to the suspense of the film. I especially liked the shots were the characters seemed to disappear into the horizon. The night vision scenes were also interesting – it looked like you were in a video game, actually trying to find something yourself. I’m guessing that that effect was achieved through green lenses either in production or through green filters in post-production.

Acting

This movie had lots of characters, but it mainly focused on 3 of them. I will also talk about a few supporting actors.

  • Emily Blunt as Kate Macer. With every movie I watch, I become a bigger fan of Blunt. She only popped onto my radar last year with Edge of Tomorrow and Into the Woods (that Oscar nomination should have been awarded to her and not to Meryl Streep). She was also really good in this film, you could feel her character’s hopelessness and desperation. I would say that her character had a negative development – everything went downhill for her, starting with the opening scenes of the film. Next year, Blunt will be starring in The Huntsman (Snow White and The Huntsman prequel/spin-off) and I’m still hoping that Marvel will choose her for the part of Captain Marvel. She has also been chosen as the new Mary Poppins.
  • Benicio del Toro as Alejandro Gillick was also amazing in the film, but that really was not that surprising. I loved the shadiness oh his character and felt kinda bad for him because Blunt’s character did not want to trust him based on his race/nationality. However, in the end, she might have been right to do that. Del Toro is also an MCU actor (on top of being in a bunch of other amazing films), so if Blunt becomes Captain Marvel, they can have a reunion! Benicio will also be a part of Start Wars Episode VIII.
  • Josh Brolin as Matt Graver. Only a few weeks ago, I watched another film starting BrolinEverest – and in that one he played a similar character – kinda douche-bag-y, kinda sinister and way overconfident and selfish guy. Brolin played that role well in Everest, so it was not surprising that his performance was believable in Sicario as well.
  • Daniel Kaluuya as Reggie Wayne was Blunt’s character’s partner. I loved their funny and back-and-forth banter. Kaluuya is not an actor that I’m familiar with, would love to check out more of his work.
  • Maximiliano Hernández as Silvio was a really small character who received quite a lot of silent development, though I still did not feel attached to him and, thus, did not care what happened to him.
  • Victor Garber as Dave Jennings. I was really happy to see Garber in this film because I love him on The Flash and can’t wait for Legends of Tomorrow.
  • Jon Bernthal as Ted. As with Brolin, I’ve also recently seen another movie staring BernthalWe Are Your Friends. He played similar roles in both films, however, he met a sadder end in this one while he succeeded in WAYF. Bernthal is amazing as The Punisher on Daredevil Season 2 and he is even getting his own spin-off show on Netflix.

All in all, Sicario was a great documentary-type film with a lot of suspense and a bit of action. It didn’t offer a clear resolution, but the amazing cinematography and splendid performances from the whole cast made up for it.

The last films, which I’m going to check out this month are The Walk and Spectre. Pan and The Last Witch-hunter will slip from my calendar because I’m getting a super strong The Giver/Seventh Son vibe from their trailers. Bye!

Rate: 4/5 

Trailer: Sicario trailer

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Movie review: We Are Your Friends

Movie reviews

Hello, my dear readers!

This blog post is very special. You know why? Because I’m writing this post at Edinburgh Airport. Yes, I have finally turned my dream of 8 years into reality and moved to United Kingdom, Scotland to be specific. However, I won’t be staying in Edinburgh and the reason why I have time to create this blog post is the fact that my train to Aberdeen leaves in only 5 hours. And since I don’t feel like exploring the nightlife of Scotland just yet, I am sitting at the airport writing the review of We Are Your Friends – the last movie I have watched this summer. Without further ado, let’s begin!

IMDb summary: Caught between a forbidden romance and the expectations of his friends, aspiring DJ Cole Carter attempts to find the path in life that leads to fame and fortune.

Briefly, I would describe this film as a mash-up of Project X and High School Musical. What do these two things have in common and more importantly, how are they connected to this film? Well, for one this film has that talking to camera/breaking the 4th wall action that Project X had. Moreover, the hardcore partying and living life in the name of fun are also a few themes that are similar to these two projects. High school musical is another side of the same coin. First of all, We Are Your Friends and HSM share the lead actor – Zac Efron (more on him later). Secondly, both of the films are movie musicals but not in the typical sense. Usually, music numbers in classical musical (Les Miserables for one) make no sense and without them, there would be no film. In HSM and WAYF, musical performances are relevant to the plot and have a more realistic explanation.

Writing and Directing

This movie is written and directed by Max Joseph. I only know him from Casey Neistat’s vlogs on YouTube. I am not really familiar with his previous work (he has directed a lot of documentaries as well as short films in addition to being the co-host of Catfish on MTV), but I think he did a nice job with this motion picture. The movie definitely wasn’t perfect but I believe that it deserved to have a much better opening weekend box office haul than it did have.

Story

The film’s plot was interesting and, while a bit cliché and choppy with tiny specs of cringe-worthy dialogue, it still succeeds at its biggest aim – to bringing EDM music to the level of real music. Now, please don’t get angry with me, but I have always thought that EDM should not be considered a real genre of music. I believed that it was very simple to make and that pressing a few keys on a keyboard of the computer required no real talent whatsoever. However, this movie showed me how ignorant I was and how much work actually goes into the creation of a single EDM piece. WAYF gave soul and substance to the genre as well as showed that magical things can happen when you mix real organic sounds with computer generated ones and sprinkle some emotions on top of it.

Visuals

This film was very appealing to the eyes as well as ears. Club scenes looked amazing and exciting and the explanatory animation and words, appearing on screen, were also nice additions. Some transitions from scene to scene were a bit awkward, but there weren’t many of them for me to penalize the film.

Music

Not surprisingly, this movie had a great soundtrack. The real life DJs, who were responsible for the majority of tracks were Segal and Pyramid. WAYF’s soundtrack was the thing that I was listening on my flight and I highly recommend you to give it a listen even if you don’t see the film.

Acting

Zac Efron as Cole Carter did an excellent job. I was always a fan of his and I believe that he played down-on-his-luck DJ perfectly. As much as I want to see him try his hand at more serious roles, I don’t want him to stop be in easy flicks like this one because he really shines in these types of films.

Wes Bentley as James Reed. The trailer sold this film to be a story about Cole (Efron) and his friends, but Bentley’s character – an older accomplished DJ James Reed had a very prominent role and his and Efron’s character’s relationship is much more developed and much more interesting than all the friendships in Cole’s crew. Bentley, as an actor, have been working for quite a while but he still hasn’t reached the A-list status and I have no idea why because he deserves to be on top with all the big names in the business.

Emily Ratajkowski as Sophie. Emily is known to most people as the girl from the infamous Blurred Lines video but she was also in Gone Girl (review). I liked her in this film, I loved the fact that her character was the boss in the business (meaning she was the one who planned James Reed’s gigs) and I enjoyed seeing her following her dream at the end of the film. I can’t wait to see more from Emily as an actress as well because she has real talent and people should just forget about that damn music video.

Jonny Weston as Dustin, Alex Shaffer as Squirrel and Shiloh Fernandez as Ollie. These three actors played Cole’s friends and sadly, while they were pretty to look at, they were disposable and unforgettable as characters. However, I liked the ideas that they introduced with each of the characters, just wish that the creators would have developed these ideas a bit more. Dustin symbolized the family, Squirrel – dreams and Ollie was the money. My favorite was Squirrel and his dialogue Best Part Of Life Is Before Everything Starts and Are We Ever Gonna Get Better Than This were quite nice additions to the story.

Jon Bernthal as Paige Morrel. Paige was the real estate businessman, who helped Cole and his friends get some money when they needed it. That side story derailed the plot a bit and the pay-off that Ollie would side with Paige at the end was very predictable.

All in all, I have enjoyed this film much more than the majority of people who actually saw it. And there weren’t many of them, to begin with. This movie was a perfect ending chapter of this summer’s films’ season and I was very happy that I chose to spend my last day of summer with We Are Your Friends.

Rate: 4.25/5

Trailer: We Are Your Friends trailer

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