Angry Robot

Baby Driver

An action-musical-romance this time instead of an action-comedy, Edgar Wright’s first solo writing credit is a fun, hyperactive pastiche that falls down in the romancy bits but excels almost everywhere else. Music-obsessed driving savant Baby (Angel Elgort) lends his virtuoso wheelman talents to a series of increasingly dangerous heists planned by Doc (Kevin Spacey), to whom he owes money. After Baby meets Debora (Lily James), the proverbial waitress with the heart of gold, he wants to get out – but crime keeps pulling him back in.

The plot sounds a little weak, and it is. But that’s not the draw here. Rather, Wright brings his montage game to new heights. The car chase scenes have bullet-fast editing timed perfectly to the music, and the music selections are all tight and form a soundtrack even greater than its parts. It’s the non-moving parts that need an upgrade. The macho criminal posturing dialogue is kept more or less entertaining by a deep selection of supporting cast, including Jon Hamm, Jon Bernthal, Jamie Foxx and of course Spacey. But the boy-meets-girl stuff is not up to code. The movie takes itself increasingly seriously as it goes on (common with most Edgar Wright films), and the dullness of the romance is an increasing drag that the action bits struggle to carry. (Indeed, the film is weak on female roles in general.) However, the driving scenes and the soundtrack are powerful enough to make this film worth seeing – even if it seems like it is doomed to be the B picture to Drive when the inevitable double bills of “Soundtrack-Heavy Driving Movies Featuring a Brooding Near-Mute Hunk” start showing up.

The best movies of 2017 so far, ranked

Good list (thanks, y)

The Devil’s Candy

The Devil's Candy Poster

From the writer-director of The Loved Ones, Sean Byrne, The Devil’s Candy is a lean, nimble and nasty take on the haunted house genre.

Hip metalhead couple Jesse and Astrid (Ethan Embry, Shiri Appleby) and their metalhead teen daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco) get a nice house for cheap – because the previous owners met a violent, metalhead end. Jesse is an artist, and the new house gives him lots of studio space to become ensorcelled by Satan and paint inverted crosses and horrific beast faces and suffering children – including his own daughter.

If you think you know where this plot is going, you probably don’t. The Devil’s Candy is much less beholden to stale conventions than the typical entry in this genre. Even better, the characters are real, non-generic people, brought to life by a talented cast, and the craft – including the direction but also notably the sound design – is top-notch. A must-watch for those with the stomach for it, and if you have to ask if you do, you probably don’t.

Free Fire

I tried to describe this film to a friend. “It’s set in the 70s, about a arms deal gone wrong. A bunch of crooks are in a shootout in a big warehouse for basically the entire movie. Hey, I’m making it sound pretty great.” It’s the latest film from director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High Rise). It’s a decent film best understood as a black comedy in the Tarantino vein, and it does manage some deliciously dark laughs, but it falls short of the significance of most Tony Scott films, let alone QT. (Tony Scott directing a reboot of The Hateful Eight might be the closest analogue.)

The film’s biggest flaw is that it moves into action mode a good 15 minutes too early, not having had enough time to fill out any of the largish number of characters, which wastes a capable cast (Brie Larson, Cilian Murphy, Armie Hammer). One finds oneself not caring which ones lived or died, which one could describe as suboptimal from a dramatic perspective. It’s definitely watchable with some great, funny moments, but life’s too short.

Story titles, invented by neural network

I’m going through the Lewis and Quark archives because this shit makes me cry with laughter. Here’s a good one, that had me fantasizing about making trailers for:

This Is Spinal Tap’s $400 Million Lawsuit

They’re not the first to go after Hollywood accounting, but they could be the loudest.

‘Fargo’: A Guide to the Show’s Coen Brothers’ References

From White Russian drink specials to “Friendo” namedropping – a complete guide (so far) to ‘Fargo’ TV series’ Coen brother movie references.

How the Story of “Moana” and Maui Holds Up Against Cultural Truths


Rogue One’s best visual effects happened while the camera was rolling

Some really interesting techniques here

Shudder

Streaming service for horror films, curated by Colin Geddes, who used to do Midnight Madness at TIFF. $5/mo; not sure how much of the archive is available outside of the US, but the collection looks really great. I mean, they have Manborg. Gonna give it a shot at some point.

Ridley Scott Is Planning 6 More Alien Movies

An Alien in New York, Chestburster: The Musical, Alien vs. My Little Pony, Gladialien… go ahead, run with those, Ridley

Strange and probably polarizing short film.

“There is an Incentivized Path to Mediocrity”

Re: problems with the Canadian film industry

These movies will help you through the Donald Trump years | Toronto Star

Definitely Children of Men. I would add Killing Them Softly and Hell or High Water

Logan review: not just the bloodiest X-Men movie, but also the saddest

The weight of graphic, grotesque violence hangs over the entire movie. But the daring emotional violence lingers longer, well after the lights go down on the final shot.

Sounds fun!

The future of Studio Ghibli in a post-Miyazaki world

Oscar nominations: La La Land leads with record-tying 14 nods

Sundance Film Review: Kuso

Aaaand here’s a review. “Nauseating” comes up a lot, but… in a good way?

FlyLo’s feature dropped at Sundance and it looks very Tim & Ericky. Tim is in it, as are George Clinton and Hannibal Buress.

Is Children of Men 2016’s Most Relevant Film?

“Look, I’m absolutely pessimistic about the present,” Cuarón says. “But I’m very optimistic about the future.”

The Dirties

The Dirties Poster

My post today is an endorsement of The Dirties, the first film by Matt Johnson, the dude from the interview I posted yesterday. I liked what I read, and I respect the opinion of Radheyan Simonpillai, so the missus and I checked it out last night. It’s the best Canadian film I’ve seen in a while (since Incendies maybe? Room and Brooklyn don’t count), one of the best found-footage movies I’ve seen, and the most refreshing directorial debut I’ve seen since Primer. It approaches a tough topic (school shootings) with a unique tone. It’s on iTunes and YouTube. Here’s the trailer.