Baby Driver

Source: https://www.jbhifi.com.au/

Despite the title, once I’d seen the first trailer for Baby Driver I was in. I like Edgar Wright’s movies (not love, just like) and this cast is absolutely stellar.

A good car film is something rare and wonderful. The action is supposed to be so high octane that it’s hard to balance that with the quiet moments of exposition. So by the very nature of the film Wright doesn’t let it go quiet. He’s using the music to keep the beat and give us multiple points of action to watch.

The cast delivered 100%. Kevin Spacey is channeling John from Glengarry Glen Ross with a side of Frank Underwood from House of Cards. Jamie Foxx is chewing the scenery as the wild Bats, and his supporting heavies carry on the thick skulled thug trope with aplomb.

For me, Eiza González and Jon Hamm steal the show. They could end up almost as Joker and Harley Quinn, but we see a lot more of Bonnie and Clyde. The film lets us see them having their own story, motivations, and insights whilst we follow Baby’s story, and when they come into their own during a hectic second act climax I didn’t want to see anyone else on screen. I make no secret of my love for Mad Men and Jon Hamm in particular, in Baby Driver while he’s allowed to do a more with the character, this is still him bringing his charm and intelligence to the fore.

I’m mentioning the actors but a huge amount of credit goes to Wright and his cinematographer, Bill Pope. Ever the master of a sweeping camera shot, Pope moves the shot around without seeming to rely on CG to aid him. In one moment, an overhead shot of Baby parking outside his apartment moves in through the window and tracks him coming in. The camera doesn’t move much, but it means there is no stillness or cut necessary to keep moving.

For all that this is a film of great performances and perfect shots, there are points that suffer. The pacing drops significantly in the middle, with a too-high number of meetings and discussions. The finale takes place in a car park, which is disappointing for a film featuring fast driving and impressive stunts across a city. At times in this film we’re put in mind of Guardians of the Galaxy and the trailer for Suicide Squad, which rob it of some freshness. And elements of the plotting need a line here or there to explain – why is the third heist planned so different from the rest, why is Baby a bit daft when threatened, and why do so many people drive beautiful town cars in this part of Atlanta?

These issues do not take away from the great – the foster father, the cool moves both on foot and behind the wheel, the glorious soundtrack, and Jon Hamm. Baby Driver is a good film, with moments of greatness and a first half that delivers on the promise of the trailer, but doesn’t push on from there.

Prevenge

Source: iTunes

Prevenge is a film about a pregnant woman who is killing people, and hearing the voice of her unborn child telling her to do it. The Sky listing described it as a pitch black comedy. Pitch black, absolutely. I am struggling to think of anything quite so dark in so many ways.

Comedy, well only because of you don’t laugh you’ll end up scared of the world.

The only thing I can think to compare the film to is American Psycho. But this is an example of such ordinary horror it’s even more tangible.

Would I recommend Prevenge? Probably yes, especially if you find you’re sleeping too comfortably and want to see some stuff that will sit in your mind.

Love In Idleness

When this was announced at the Menier Chocolate Factory I looked at it because it would be interesting to see Anthony Stewart Head on stage. However the show’s plot (in 1944 a left-wing, 17 year old returns home from abroad to find his mother, Olivia, has taken up with a right-wing cabinet minister) seemed fun but not enough to entice me at the time, and all the good seats had sold.

Now approaching the end of its run following a transfer to the Apollo, we were able to snag some good seats to catch it on a Thursday evening. It turns out this is something of a combination of two plays, Less Than Kind and Love In Idleness. Both written by Terence Rattigan, the second based on the first but with much reduced politics to be more audience friendly.

First and foremost, the play was fun, pretty gentle, and a nice way to pass the time. The discussions on the politics of the time did not go deep enough to really bite, and it did not use them to hold a message for the modern era.

Source – telegraph.co.uk

What surprised me the most was that the setup was the opposite to my expectations. From the plot description I had expected that the boy was shocked at the pompous Conservative, and we’d see ASH at his pompous best with only the son, Michael, able to see how awful he was. However the opening scene sets its stall – Sir John and Olivia are deeply in love, both very rational people, and very happy despite her trying times arranging a dinner party and his planning a new tank.

Michael therefore comes in as antagonist, breaking this union, bringing irrationality and drama. Smartly the play calls out how alike this is to Hamlet, allowing ASH to quote Shakespeare in the most over the top way since Keanu Reeves. However this is a play of its time and must come to a happy end, using some quick reversals of solemn oaths and mindsets to wrap up.

The performances were solid. Michael, was played by Edward Bluemel as a mix between Harry Enfield’s Kevin and an intellectual wannabe. ASH did well as a mature statesman, the Canadian accent he was trying for notwithstanding. And Eve Best was superb as the mother Olivia, going from the socialite to doting mother and back in seconds.

Source – theartsdesk.com

I was left with questions about the writing – why was Sir John Canadian (this review hints that it was written that way for the first star)? Why was the boy 17 coming from evacuation rather than 22 coming from studies? The direction and staging from Trevor Nunn could not be questioned. The cast flowed around the stage sitting, leaning, and lounging on every piece of furniture. They never felt staged though, and the physicality of the affair and the mother-son relationship allowed them moments of extreme closeness and distance.

So this was not the most cutting or edgy of plays to be on the West End, or even at the Apollo. But it was a good bit of fun, impressively played, and has made me want to read more on the two plays to understand which of each I enjoyed the most.