The FilmWatcher Posts

** (out of 4)

Edgar Wright’s new action flick, Baby Driver, is the latest movie (see Hell or High Water, Rogue One, and Okja for other recent ones) to feature a mistreated individual as its main character. Unlike the characters in the aforementioned three examples, however, the injustice that Baby Driver’s protagonist “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) endures doesn’t come from an overpowering system but the lack of any meaningful adult figures in his life. The movie’s central conflict, after all, arises from the fact that Baby is continually coerced by a crime boss named Doc (Kevin Spacey) into working as a heist getaway driver. The various criminals Baby escorts to safety (Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jamie Foxx, among others) on these drives, moreover, consistently treat him with a mixture of disdain and indifference. And then you have to remember that he lost his parents in a car accident as a child.

In a sense, Baby is the epitome of helplessness: a loner who’s alternately exploited and neglected by people older than he. Add the fact that he’s always on his iPod – in a testament to the intensity of Baby’s musicophilia, Wright choreographs every getaway drive to whatever music Baby is listening to in the moment – and you’ve got a character who could easily speak for an entire generation of tech-savvy, socially-alienated youth. Unfortunately, however, Wright’s attempt at capturing the millennial zeitgeist ends up flailing because he tries too hard to be cool.

Reviews - In Theaters

** ½ (out of 4)

The overused saying that “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone” has long been a favorite citation of angsty high school grads, old people, and overworked therapists. In the case of the protagonist in The Big Sick, however, the cliché actually proves remarkably apt.

Reviews - In Theaters

**** (out of 4)

In 1971, Dirty Harry director Don Siegel decided to helm the first movie adaptation of Thomas Cullinan’s novel The Beguiled. From a simple premise – during the Civil War, a wounded Northern soldier named John McBurney is taken in by a group of Southern women, and neither party has had serious contact with the opposite sex in years – Siegel constructed a film that only feels more dated with each passing year. Clint Eastwood’s Corporal McBurney comes off as a saint-like man whose less savory actions – making out with middle-school girls, threatening to rape slaves – can all be forgiven with a few mea culpas. [1] Each of the women, moreover, falls neatly into one of the two reigning stereotypical depictions of female characters in film: the passive maiden or the evil temptress. Add in Siegel’s usage of a happy slave, and you’ve got a movie that promotes a blatantly false view of gender, race, and history.

Thankfully, Sofia Coppola’s refreshing remake of The Beguiled gets rid of all the aforementioned tropes. But more than that, it’s also darker than Siegel’s version, both literally and figuratively.

Reviews - In Theaters