Baby Driver

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Written and Directed by: Edgar WrightBaby Driver

Produced by: Nira Park, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx.

If you’re going to open a film with a car chase, there’s nothing better than synchronising the action to, The John Spencer Blues Explosion.

Now this band brings back some memories – not burn-outs or car chases but I did manage to maroon my VC Commodore on a boulder out on a backroad near Byron Bay.  What a road trip; the music in the tape deck including the, John Spencer.  So, I was already grinning when the opening of Baby Driver exploded onto the screen.

What I didn’t expect was the huge part the sound track played in this film.  Almost to the point of being a musical with the stylised drama and overacting that somehow fit because all the moves were in time to some cool track.  See sound track here…

Baby Driver

Obviously the film’s about a driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort).  Who’s managed to get himself into the debt of a criminal mastermind, Doc (Kevin Spacey) who puts crews together to do jobs like rob banks – any Job that requires a driver, Baby gets called.  And like his name there’s something sweet about the guy.

Baby Driver is an interesting blend with this sweetness potentially turning the film into cheese.  But director and screenwriter Edgar Wright has replicated the same tone of comedy and romance and music as his previous films (think, Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013)) but then adding action, reining in all the elements so one didn’t take over from the other but instead complimented: the romance being the motivation; the action creating adrenaline; the comedy for that bit of relief…  Along with camera shots completely in tune with the soundtrack to make a very entertaining film that felt different because of that tone of sweet.

And the love story added a nice touch.  From an absolute kick arse driver opening up to the most amazing car chases I’ve seen on screen to the love Baby finds with the waitress, Debora who dreams of, ‘heading west on 20 in a car I can’t afford, with a plan I don’t have’.

It’s a match made in heaven.Baby Driver

And I really liked the cast here – the character, Baby, needing a strong, likable performance from Ansel Elgort to get away with those dance moves which he did when he could make cars dance the same way.  And Lily James as Debora (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016)) reminded me of the late Brittany Murphy which made me a little sad.

I loved seeing Jon Hamm as the bad arse Buddy.  And Kevin Spacey as the master criminal, added a little grounding.

With initial concern about the title, Baby Driver (I mean, what the?!  Baby?!  How cheesy is that!), I get the tone after seeing the film: that 50s vibe coming through with the setting of the diner and Debora the waitress wearing those old-style outfits with a classic openness of character you’d expect from earlier times with no cynicism in sight.  I get it.

So, not the action/thriller I was expecting, instead, Baby Driver’s kinda cool, without being slick.

Sing Street

GoMovieReviews Rating:
Director: John Carney

Sing Street
© 2016 The Weinstein Company (TWC)

Writer: John Carney

Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jack Reynor, Lucy Boynton, Kelly Thornton, Ben Carolan, Mark McKenna, Percy Chamburuka, Conor Hamilton, Karl Rice; Ian Kenny.

Whether it was the Irish accent, the characters or the 80s music (had a buddy with me who couldn’t help but sing along), Sing Street was a winner for me. 

I enjoyed director, John Carney’s previous film, Begin Again (2013) and the way music was incorporated into the story of Sing Street was very similar: a stylised act used sparingly so it didn’t feel like a musical, just a film with a lot of music.  

And Sing Street had grit.  This is Ireland in the 1980s: lack of jobs and money, where alcoholism is rife and anyone who can escape to London is jumping on that ferry.

For those left.  It’s just a dream.

Conor Lalor’s (Ferdi Walsh-Peelo) parents are skint.  Money pressures lead to fighting, to tightening the belt.  Money has to be saved somewhere.  So Conor is transferred to the catholic school run by the Brothers featuring kids running amok.

Black-eyed and bullied, Conor meets the girl of his dreams, Raphina (Lucy Bonton).  A model, no less.  Showing courage, or just the power of teenage hormones, he invites Raphina to feature in a music video for his band.

She says, ‘Yeah maybe’.

Problem is, he doesn’t have a band.

This is a kid with a serious crush.  So he goes about putting together a band (Sing Street), the introduction of fellow band members and his brother, Brendan Lalor encouraging Conor, AKA, Cosmo, maps out the story of the film.  With 80s music featured, of course.

I’m talking boys with make-up and music from The Clash, The Cure, Duran Duran and many of the original tracks performed by Sing Street composed by Gary Clark (of the Northern Irish band, Relish) with John Carney able to take credit for co-writing a lot of the songs.  So that’s credit for directing, writing the script and writing songs?  That’s impressive. 

Also, this is an extremely hard film to make without becoming saccharine.  Thankfully, there was more meat to the story of boy has crush on girl out of reach, so I’ll put together a band and then she’ll love me.  This is film about escape from and the acceptance of all life can throw at you.  To plow through whatever the arguments, bullying and crap and to get on with it and create something else.  To feel something else.

It takes courage to reach.

I believed the shy Cosmo with his blushing cheeks, overcoming fear to reach for those stars.  And his muse, Raphina, could have been just a pretty yet annoying character, but she had class and philosophy – ‘That’s what love is Cosmo,’ she says.  ‘Happy-sad’.

Look, musicals aren’t really my thing – Glee?  Forget it!  But the way the music was incorporated into Sing Street was seamless.  And the tongue-in-cheek humour helped a lot, giving those few forgivable cheesy moments just the right touch to feel authentic.