Baby Driver

A new review from The Movie Snob.

Baby Driver  (B-).  Hm, I didn’t know until just now that this highly rated movie (Metacritic score 86) was directed by the same fellow (Edgar Wright) who directed Shaun of the DeadHot Fuzz, and The World’s End.  It’s a crazy little movie about a getaway driver savant called Baby (Ansel Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars) who works for a criminal mastermind called Doc (Kevin Spacey, L.A. Confidential).  There’s a very good and elaborate car chase at the beginning, and the climactic pursuit at the end seems to go on forever, and in between there’s not too much of note.  Lily James (Cinderella) plays the sweet li’l waitress who steals Baby’s heart, and Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls) plays a crazy gangster named Bats.  Jon Hamm (TV’s Mad Men) has a lot of screen time as another gangster, but I’m afraid I will always see Don Draper whenever he’s on screen.  Eiza González (Jem and the Holograms) makes an impression as a gangster called Darling.  On the whole, an okay and disposable summer movie.

Django Unchained

The Bleacher Bum says it’s a hit.

Django Unchained

Epic movies provide us with sights and sounds that are unshakeable. These sights and sounds pop into our minds when we are on an elevator or waiting at a red light, even if the movie was not in our consciousness at the time. Django Unchained is one of those movies.  Quentin Tarantino’s latest film deals with the heaviest of all subject matters: slavery in the United States pre-Civil War.  Jamie Foxx stars as Django, who is a recently freed slave. Django helps a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz) look for three fugitives from justice. Their travels lead them all over the south, including to a notorious plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio).   While Tarantino made the movie into a western in a nod to the spaghetti westerns, he does not take a lighthearted approach to its subject matter.  This movie is not for the faint of heart because of its violence, subject matter, language, and images.  Foxx, Waltz, DiCaprio, and several other stars are all exceptional. However, the true star of the movie is Tarantino.  As the film’s director, he took things to another level and provided us with images and sounds that we will never forget. GRADE: A.

Jarhead

New DVD review from Nick at Nite

Jarhead

Uh, Full Metal Jacket this is not. I get it already. War is hell. Even if the war is not really a war, but is a police action intended to keep the price of gas low, low, low. Sound bitter? I am not. I actually supported the first war in Iraq. It is this second one I have a problem with. I digress. Back to Jarhead. This movie is a combination of Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Hamburger Hill, Deer Hunter, Hair, and Apocalypse Now. Unfortunately, it lacks the flair and originality of its parentage. In one scene in this movie, they actually repeat the “… this is my rifle …” scene from Full Metal Jacket (without the death). There are the predictable Dear John letters, the guy with the criminal record who gets kicked out of the unit for lying about it, cheating wives and girlfriends, “the horror, the horror” speech, etc …, etc …, etc … The performances were fine. Jake Gyllenhaal (End of Watch) and Jamie Foxx (Ray) are good. Chris Cooper (The Company Men) has a brief, but memorable appearance. Mostly, I just wasn’t that interested in the story. It all seems a little trite in comparison to what our Marines are facing everyday in Iraq today. I give it a “C.”

Potpourri from Nick at Nite

Nick at Nite reviews DVDs:

You, Me, and Dupree

You, Me, and Boring. Avoid this movie at all costs. I suggest the following alternatives. Wash your dog, clean the garbage disposal, go grocery shopping, offer to go grocery shopping for a neighbor, read a book, read another book, write a book, grow your own vegetable garden, learn to play the harmonica, or get a GED. I put this movie in the queue because the movie trailer was funny and Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris) is a good Dallas kid. Well, turns out the movie trailer was not that funny and Owen Wilson’s home town doesn’t make the movie entertaining. The movie features a young married couple who take in the husband’s loser friend when he is kicked out of his apartment and fired from his job because he took an unapproved leave of absence to go to their Hawaiian wedding. Madcap antics ensue. Relationship sours. Loser friend is the inspiration that rekindles the young married couple’s love. Sound like a formula? It is. It is just not clever enough or funny enough to be worth anyone’s time. I expect more from Owen Wilson; from the rest it is to be expected. I give this movie a solid “F.”

Superman Returns

And why not. Forget Christopher Reeve. Ignore the last two movies in the prior Superman series. What the world needs now is the man of steel. This is a fun ride. This kid they got to play Superman sounds like Christopher Reeve. One of my friends is convinced it was some kind of dubbing job. This movie seems to kick off after the first movie of the prior Superman series ends. Superman has disappeared for several years after his home planet was discovered by scientists. He apparently travels there and then after a long journey returns to earth. Of course, his skills and talent are needed here on earth where evildoers are evildoing. Superman takes care of business and says very corny things. He is greatness. I am glad someone took the time and effort to make this movie the right way. Yes, it is cheesy at times. And, yes the special effects are over the top (shouldn’t they be?), but I enjoyed it and a whole new generation of kids got to see Superman. I give it an “A.”

Miami Vice

Wow. This was terrible. Usually, I love anything directed by Michael Mann (Ali). Jamie Foxx (Ray) is almost always great. And that Irish guy is not too bad. But this is ridiculous. I knew I was wasting my time when in the first 45 minutes of the movie, Jamie Foxx, one of the cops in the movie, goes from driving a racing boat, to driving a Ferrari, to flying a plane, and then a helicopter. Is he a cop or a stuntman? Do most cops usually do all of this stuff? Stupid. I know, I usually eat this kind of garbage right up. Yet, something about this movie just didn’t sit right with me. I think it they had called it anything else and left alone the whole idea of Miami Vice, I might have liked it better. I kept waiting for Don Johnson to pop up in a bad suit with a t-shirt underneath it. Perhaps Edward James Olmos saying something trite, but true. A guest appearance by Willie Nelson. Or a Dire Straits song. Without these things this was just another movie. And not a great one. I give it an “F.”

Dreamgirls

Movie review from The Movie Snob

Dreamgirls (B-). Being a fan of musicals, I wanted to like this movie more than I did. The story is a promising one. A struggling black girl band in 1960’s Detroit teams up with a used-car salesman who has dreams of being a music mogul. And although they do eventually conquer the pop charts, there are some casualties along the way. The Dreamettes’ manager, Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx, Ray), softens the rough edges of the Dreamettes’ R&B roots and ruthlessly demotes the most talented singer, Effie (Jennifer Hudson, Sex and the City), to back-up while elevating the more appealing (to whites) Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles, The Pink Panther) to the lead. The story is good, the performances are fine, but the movie falls short. It is a little long, and it feels more than a little too long. The songs are not memorable, and they often don’t feel integrated into the story. One exception is Hudson’s central performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going,” which drew applause in the middle of the showing I saw. And the ending worked well for me. But on the whole, I was a little disappointed.