Check out my full review of indie film Guardians here.
A review of the weird short Immaculate
A recent Forbes article compared Edgar Wright’s new heist comedy Baby Driver to the game series Grand Theft Auto. Arguably the best moments of Grand Theft Auto are when you are driving and the perfect song comes on the in-game radio and it brilliantly elevates the current moment, be it a frantic chase or slow sunset drive. This creates the ultimate buzz of thrilling escapism. This feeling is at Baby Driver’s heart and the film is non-stop perfect match of cars and music that is smart, slick, and sumptuous.
Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver working for Doc (Kevin Spacey) who constantly plays music to drown out his tinnitus. He meets, and soon falls for, fellow music lover Debora (Lily James), but their romance is threatened by the nature of Baby’s work. The film balances the love story and the heist thriller well, creating both heart-warming and exhilarating moments. Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx and Eiza González all enjoy themselves as Baby’s criminal pals and with a smattering of sinister Jon Bernthal and a sprinkling of Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers, you have one of the best casts of 2017.
Humour has always been a key aspect of Wright’s work, and although Baby Driver is not a straight comedy, its jokes (both written and visual) always land. All the usual Edgarisms are also present; quick cuts, clever scene transitions, and a humorous use of sound (one highlight is a shootout where every shot is timed with the music). Although it appears quite different from his earlier work like Shaun of the Dead, this is very much an Edgar Wright movie.
If you know anything about Baby Driver then you’ll know music is the most important aspect of it. It is so integral to the film that at times it feels like you are watching a musical, with Baby singing along to his favourite tracks and the action sequences playing out like extreme dance numbers. As mentioned earlier, the film expertly catches the car-music buzz, but it also nails the little things, such as walking down a street, absorbed by what’s playing in your headphones.
Edgar Wright has revitalised the car film with Baby Driver and has cemented himself as one of the most inventive and consistently entertaining directors working today. Baby Driver is joyful, thrilling and leaves you wanting to recapture that song and speed buzz. Perhaps, for the safety of everyone on the road, you shouldn’t Baby Driver and drive.
You can check out the article mentioned here
Ever since it premiered at the Venice Film last summer, Damien Chazelle’s La La Land has been riding a wave of hype and excitement that may well culminate in a Best Picture Oscar win in this year’s Academy Awards. The film shares many of the themes – dreams, ambition and most importantly, jazz – as Chazelle’s previous film, the masterful Whiplash. However, unlike his terrifyingly intense drama, La La Land is charming, funny and bursting with joy.
Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling star together as a wannabe actress and wannabe jazz club owner, who, after a few odd and surprising meetings, fall for each other. The chemistry between the two is perfect and really carries the romantic aspect of the film, making it both believable and charming. Ryan Gosling has proven himself as a more than capable comic actor in recent years (The Big Short and The Nice Guys are two of my favourites) and he delivers many of La La Land’s best laughs. Emma Stone has been widely praised by critics, and for good reason, delivering an award worthy performance that is not only sweet and funny, but also reflects how most of us feel about our dreams and aspirations; full of both hope and fear.
Set in L.A., La La Land, is both a love letter to the city and a movie that teases the culture of Hollywood. The camera picks up the stunning backgrounds and the bold colours of the meticulously designed sets, making the city another engaging character. But the film also likes to poke fun, with cheeky jokes that place Hollywood, acting and celebrities as their punchlines.
The music numbers are catchy, fun and are all choreographed and filmed beautifully. They follow the feel of the story well but none of them truly jumped out as musical classics. The soundtrack is worth the purchase if you liked the film, and the opening number is sure to be spoofed and copied (as it already has been by the Golden Globes), but after the credits rolled the music didn’t really stay with me like it normally does for a live stage musical. Perhaps this is due to effect that live performance has, and without it there is a little bit of magic missing. However, while the individual songs didn’t quite stay with me, and overall feeling of pure joy did.
Watching La La Land left me with the kind of film-high that comes along far too rarely. Bursting with joy just as the shots are bursting with colour, and the characters bursting with song, La La Land is a triumph that deserves the acclaim it has been receiving. With this and Whiplash under his belt (he’s only actually directed three feature films), Chazelle has truly proven himself a great director and I look forward to seeing what he does next.
Recently I was lucky enough to receive tickets to a preview showing of a film (thanks to ShowFilmFirst), but was unlucky enough that the film was Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. While not as repulsive as the ‘comedy’ Dirty Grandpa, also starring Zac Efron and Aubrey Plaza, MADNWD is another unfunny film filled with young stars wasting their potential.
The stars in question are Efron, Plaza, Anna Kendrick and Adam Devine, four very talented individuals whose comedy skills cannot be questioned (Modern Family, Parks and Recreation, Pitch Perfect etc). Their skills lift some of the otherwise unfunny jokes. Efron and Devine in particular show off great chemistry and hyperactivity that make these otherwise unremarkable and unlikeable characters bearable. Kendrick and Plaza on the other hand aren’t as lucky. Any Parks and Recreation fan will notice Plaza’s Tatiana character bears a striking resemblance to a scene where April Ludgate jokingly impersonates an annoying co-worker (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FewTWONPHRU). Just under two minutes of that type of character works well as annoying comedy, but when you’re stuck with two of them for an hour and forty minutes, it starts to get really really irritating.
The jokes as a whole are the expected crude affair that lack any real wit or intelligence. They come along at a good quick pace, so if you are a fan of that type of humour it will work for you. It is worth noting that, although I barely laughed, most of the audience I was in were roaring with laughter.
Avoiding spoilers, MADNWD attempts to end with a lesson and redemption, but the problems these characters created would still surely outweigh anything they did to help, making this ending seem very forced and completely unbelievable.
Bloopers are played during the credits which show the stars having a good time in the making of this film. I’m glad they enjoyed it, because I certainly didn’t.
My review of French short film, Appel D’Urgence
The best documentaries can be informative, insightful, moving and inspiring. It is rare one single documentary can encompass so many of these feelings, yet American Movie does this all beautifully, not to mention it is laugh-out-loud funny.
The film follows Mark Borchardt, an indie film maker determined to make his own film, Northwestern. When financial troubles put a stop to this, he instead returns to Coven, a short horror film. This is the true tale of a man whose life revolves around making this one short, even as debt piles up and poverty becomes a real threat. It is almost a tale of inspiring stupidity, yet Borchardt is so emotionally invested in his work that you can’t argue against him pursuing his dreams. With the help of his loveable friend Mike, his uncle’s savings and his mum as an extra (when she’s not too busy with the weekly shop), he sets out to make his mark as a filmmaker.
There’s a very real human feel to the documentary as the people it focuses on are, although at times a bit odd, very genuine. The humour comes naturally, and their flaws are endearing.
The actual process of making Coven is interesting, and a great watch to anyone wanting to make their own films. Both the clumsiness and ingenuity of amateur film making is on display. Mark Borchardt has a good mind for movies but none of the resources, which makes for fascinating and often hilarious viewing.
American Movie is a plucky underdog of a film, a cult documentary about oddballs senselessly pursuing their dreams. A delightful gem that is both heart-warmingly inspiring story and a quirky comedy.