Reviews by Paul Preston
Welcome to Today I Watched…, a series of posts documenting my new challenge – watch a movie a day for the rest of my life. Keep coming back to TheMovieGuys.net to find out what I watch each day…and get my take on it.
When I see a movie that’s a new release in theaters or on demand, I’ll give it a proper review in the “Reviews” or “Home Viewing”, otherwise, I’ll write about it here.
June 27, 2017 – Alone
Yes, it’s another short film called Alone, continuing my quest to see them all. This is yet another one called an award-winning Depression Short Film. A young man is in bed, he’s restless. Eventually, he awakens, makes himself something to eat, grabs his skateboard and heads out for a kick about town on it. This movie returns to the opening scene to make a statement about everything you’ve seen up to then. If you didn’t get it (I didn’t), the filmmaker explains it ALL in the YouTube description. This won an award for Sound Design at the Halifax Film Festival, which doesn’t say much about the fest, ‘cause clearly NO cross dissolves were used to smooth out the audio and no room tone was employed, so every time there’s an edit, the composition of the audio changes, too. It’s distracting. Overall, this is just a young guy making a movie, but even with the best intentions, it’s not really good, and there are 50+ other Alones out there you could be seeing instead.
June 28, 2017 – Baby Driver
Edgar Wright has put together the coolest action movie of the summer with Baby Driver. Cool dialogue, delivered coolly by cool actors doing cool stunts. In a summer of bloated action spectacles that make no effect, the drive-and-chase action of Baby Driver is most welcome. I mean, who can even tell me what the hell that was that was happening at the end of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword? Who even remembers that came out?
This is an unexpected follow-up to The Fault in Our Stars for Ansel Elgort, who plays Baby, a getaway car driver for Kevin Spacey’s crime boss. Baby’s got tinnitus and is always listening to music to drown out the ringing (which makes for one of the best film soundtracks in years). Baby’s called for a number of heists which include run-ins with Jamie Foxx’s out-of-control, ‘bout-to-snap gangster, Jon Hamm and Eliza González as the cool, collected thieves and Jon Bernthal, who’s just great ‘cause he shows up (I’m a fan). All of the above have varying opinions of skepticism about Baby’s quiet demeanor. Baby seems to be reaching the end of a series of runs that he owes Spacey, and while doing so, he’s also trying to make time with the local waitress, played by Lily James.
Baby Driver does that thing that movie previews do, where they time out the action with the music that’s playing. Bullets fire and cars punch into gear in syncopated rhythm with the songs of the soundtrack. Where that seems pointless in a trailer, here it adds to developing Baby’s world. Without flying piles of garbage or endless streams of mechanical nonsense to act as action sequences (see the likes of Suicide Squad or Transformers: The Last Knight, Wright relies on good ‘ol STUNTS! Baby and company knock around the streets of Atlanta with unique and excitingly staged and shot action sequences. You’ve seen Edgar Wright’s fast-cutting used for comedic effect before in Hot Fuzz or Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, but here it’s used to amp up the excitement and danger.
There’s no major emotional pull from this movie. You root for Baby and Debora, but I was never overly-passionate about them. Baby talks about how he conducts business, but then goes against the grain of his own set of rules (involving guns) late in the film. I thought that might be a bigger moment in the film, but it wasn’t. It just felt, to me, like a bit of a betrayal of his beliefs to advance the plot. Not as egregious as other summer movies who cavalierly disregard sets of rules they set up (talkin’ to you, The Mummy), but noticeable nonetheless.
One of my least favorite terms is “popcorn movie”, and I could end this piece by telling you just turn your head off and enjoy this popcorn movie. But I think “popcorn movie” denotes laziness on two fronts – the filmmaker and the viewer. The filmmaker didn’t strive to shoot higher with his work and you, the viewer, got lazy by LETTING HIM OFF. So while people will tell you awful films like Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales are “alright”, a “good popcorn movie”, know that Edgar Wright shoots higher. He hasn’t made Birdman, but he’s elevated the style and exceptionalism of summer movie entertainment for at least one weekend.
June 29, 2017 – To The Bone – read the review of the Netflix original drama about anorexia in the HOME VIEWING category of TheMovieGuys.net.
June 30, 2017 – Alone
Here’s another movie called Alone that’s about depression. I’M starting to get depressed. This one doesn’t really have hope, which I’ve enjoyed in some of the other depression shorts. It’s just a straight-up exploration of someone going down and down and down into depression and meeting her inevitable end. You’ll notice I don’t include the links for shorts I watch that I’m not all that thrilled with. No need to crap on these shorts directly, they’re just trying to get by. But don’t seek this one out either, it’s just a bummer.