Baby Driver

Crank up the volume. “Baby Driver” is Edgar Wright’s masterpiece.

Baby Driver PosterYou know that feeling when you get behind the wheel and YOUR song comes on? That song belongs to you and no one else, and it makes you feel like you can do anything, like you can tear up the road, and like you’ve never felt an emotion this strongly before. As you tap on the steering wheel and sing along to the lyrics, someone on the outside looking in might think you look pretty stupid. And you know what? You do, and you kind of know it. What crazy song is that you’re listening to anyways?

Edgar Wright knows that feeling. “Baby Driver” is that feeling. You could be listening to some ‘50s soul song that would be humiliating if anyone knew what you were jamming. Your name could be something silly like “Ansel Elgort,” and you could be wearing a cheap pair of drug store sunglasses as you strut down the road awkwardly avoiding foot and street traffic. But you are in that perfect moment. No one looks cooler. You’ve never felt more confident, inspired or uplifted. This feels awesome.

“Baby Driver” is in love with itself, with its style, its soundtrack and its energy. But Wright gets that to some degree this is just a little lame. If it was trying to be cool he would’ve filled it with Top 40 bangers and jukebox favorites. Instead he picked the deep cuts you dance to when no one is watching. “Baby Driver” is a heist and action movie with the volume turned up to 11, but Wright has selected a soundtrack so in tune with the movie he’s always wanted to make that it feels like a deeply personal statement. Continue reading “Baby Driver”

The Fault in Our Stars

The adaptation of John Green’s book by Director Josh Boone lacks the attitude that made the novel distinctive.

The blockbuster YA novel of today has become so closely aligned with all the Hollywood clichés of the last decade: dystopian futures, chosen one teenagers, dark overtones, epic CGI battles for the fate of all mankind and one book needlessly split into two films.

“The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green is as big as they come but has been adapted into a single, trim, two-hour love story and tearjerker, and a modest one at that. Both the success of the book and the movie is that they can take big, melodramatic themes of death, disease, heartbreak and even oblivion and make them feel intimate and personal.

Green’s novel is the story of a 17-year-old cancer patient named Hazel Lancaster (Shailene Woodley) who meets 18-year-old and now cancer-free Augustus Waters (Ansel Elgort) at her cancer support group. He’s forward, strangely eloquent and a bit awkward, and she’s sarcastic and pessimistic with a slight frump and eye roll to send his way. Gus dubs his crush with the new identity of Hazel Grace and they soon fall in love, but she fears the damage she’ll do to both Gus and her parents when she inevitably passes away.

The screenplay by pair Scott Neustadter and Michael Weber (“500 Days of Summer”, “The Spectacular Now”) follows the source material as well as any major YA adaptation, even lifting full passages out of the book, but it’s missing the punchy, brash and flippant energy to Green’s novel. Continue reading “The Fault in Our Stars”