Friday, July 07, 2017

The New New Hollywood

I've been seriously obsessed with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010, Edgar Wright) ever since it first hit theaters. I've been having to wait a while for a follow up.

Edgar Wright is like 70s Spielberg meets 80s Simpson-Bruckheimer with a comedic streak of self reflexiveness entrenched in 90s sitcom wit.

Baby Driver (2017, Edgar Wright) is a zippy heist/car chase movie with a cooly protagonist. The pacing is quick and light. The narrative never stalls. The cast are few. The plot is simple. And it's all done cleverly, effectively, with continuously refreshing results.

In Baby Driver the rare occurrence of a colorful fast-food advertisement slick plastic cartoon kid-friendly depiction of the criminal underworld is on display. Remember Sugar & Spice (2001, Francine McDougall)? Why aren't there more of these? This movie feels rated G.

First and Foremost Baby Driver is an action movie. And the code among these criminals is as dangerous as that found in any 80s R-rated gritty guy movie. I almost thought BABY (Ansel Elgort) was smug, but he's cool I actually really like him. The great thing about the cast because this is a heist movie is that the principals are all bad guys even though each has their likeable qualities--except BATS (Jamie Foxx). Bats is the only real bad guy, because he has no love in him.

Yeah while the best part of Baby Driver is the car chases, it's still mega-syrupy sugary sweet greeting card sentimental at its core. But there has to be a place for the best smartest crime doesn't pay Hollywood action movies yet. And as much as I fell in love with the romance and family drama shit in Baby Driver, I kind of wonder could there have been more car chases? There's really like 2 and a half car chases spread out through the movie. And I worry that the opening "Bellbottoms" sequence is the strongest part of the movie. Oh shit the energy, the momentum, the adrenaline from the beginning of the song--the drifting, throwing the E-brake, faking, swerving wow. Also I love how Baby actually runs into stuff while he drives.

After the "Bellbottoms" sequence the funnest parts were the times during the massacre of the Butcher's crew at the farmer's market when the gun blasts are composed in synch with "Tequila," and the similar device used in the final shootout with DARLING (Eiza González). This type of kinetic visual and aural vocabulary is what's most rewarding about Edgar Wright's work.

I love Eiza. She's so beautiful and does so much little quirky charming sexy gesturing through mannerisms throughout Baby Driver. I've always loved to watch her. Eiza and Hamm are sympathetic cute as the cokehead robbers too. Jamie Foxx is terrifying. But I still laugh when Foxx does the Austin Powers voice. So I buy this criminal underworld and it's a cool one. Just the perfect pitch of Hollywood artifice and stunning craftsmanship.

But I'll close with what to me was the most characteristically Edgar Wright moment in the movie: when DOC (Kevin Spacey) is briefing his crew and reveals, "I just drew a whole goddamn map in chalk while we've been standing here squawking. That's pretty impressive, isn't it?"

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