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Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Foxx’

Ansel Elgort, Jamie Foxx, Elza Gonzalez, Jon Hamm

“BABY DRIVER”  My rating: B 

113 minutes  | MPAA rating: R

At a time when hipness has been reduced to emojis and man buns, filmmaker Edgar Wright dishes the real deal with the uber-stylish “Baby Driver,” a crime caper that melds “Drive”-style action and “American Graffiti” musicality.

The results are both familiar and fresh.

The hero of Wright’s funky tough-guy fantasy is Baby (“The Fault in Our Stars’” Ansel Elgort), a kid (he’s maybe 19) who, as the film begins, has two loves: driving and music.

Baby is an expert wheelman employed by Doc (Kevin Spacey), a shadowy crime king specializing in impossible heists. A few years back the youthful Baby stole and wrecked Doc’s car, and now he’s paying off the debt as a getaway driver.

He’s really, really good, as demonstrated by the hair-raising robbery and chase that opens the film.

Baby is also a world-class music freak who is rarely seen without earbuds firmly in place. Other people walk down the street; Baby bops, propelled by the beats in his head.

Not since John Travolta’s Tony Manero sashayed through Brooklyn to the strains of “Stayin’ Alive” has mortal man turned mere perambulation into such a display of awesomeness.

In fact, Baby keeps a small arsenal of MP3 players in his pockets, each filled with a specific kind of music depending upon his mood and the task at hand. He’s got playlists for cruising, for chilling, for getting pumped up and for settling down.

As a result “Baby Driver” has more great across-the-spectrum pop music than any movie since George Lucas’ “American Graffiti,” the film that back in 1973 convinced Hollywood that you don’t need a composer and original score if you can tell your story with familiar radio hits. (more…)

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django“DJANGO UNCHAINED” My rating: C (Opens wide on Christmas Day)

165 minutes | MPAA rating: R

As a big fan of Quentin Tarantino, it gives me little pleasure to confess that “Django Unchained” gave me little pleasure.

Tarantino, who spent his formative years as a video store clerk immersed in cult cinema, has made a career of taking cheesy filmic subgenres and elevating them into something like high art through the sheer transformative genius of his imagination.

Here he tackles two chestnuts from the cinema cellar.

First there are the Italian “Django” movies (there are at least 30 of them) about a surly drifter in the Old West who leaves behind whole towns of festering corpses.

More importantly, “Django” references the mid-‘70s blaxploitation movie.  But instead of raising the genre to a new level, Tarantino seems content to kick around in the basement.

“Django” isn’t so much a clever comment on blaxploitation as it is a genuine blaxploitation film with all the usual atavistic violence and cartoonish drama intact.

It is technically more sophisticated than the films it emulates, but not much deeper. And while it contains enough subversive ideas about race to keep the thesis mills churning out papers for the next decade, it never becomes a satisfying dramatic experience.

Initially, at least, “Django Unchained” looks like “Inglourious Basterds” redux. Both films are minority revenge fantasies. In “Basterds” (2009) Tarantino cleverly hypothesized a group of Jewish-American commandos who succeed in assassinating Adolf Hitler.

In “Django” a slave in the antebellum American South becomes a gunfighter and kills a lot of white racists on the way to rescuing his wife from the clutches of a sadistic plantation owner.

(more…)

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