TriStar Pictures / Working Title Films
Rated R for violence and pervasive profanity
Mob Wheelman Puts Pedal To The Metal In Adrenaline-Fueled Blockbuster
All you really need to know about Baby Driver is that it’s the best film of the year so far, hands down. The picture was written and directed by Edgar Wright, who is best known for a trio of British comedies starring Simon Pegg: Shaun of the Dead (2004), Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013).
Wright ventured across the Atlantic to Atlanta to shoot his latest offering, a labor of love a couple of decades in the making. For, this genre-defying tour de force had its genesis in “Bellbottoms,” a discordant punk anthem he considered a song in search of a car chase from the moment he first heard it way back in 1995.
And that cult classic isn’t the only obscure tune on Baby Driver‘s eclectic soundtrack featuring rarities ranging from T. Rex’s “Debora,” to Blur’s “Intermission,” to The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat.” But the adrenaline-fueled blockbuster has it shares of readily-recognizable hits, too, like the Commodores’ “Easy,” Martha Reeves and the Vandellas’ “Nowhere to Run” and “Hocus Pocus” by Focus, famous for its yodeling.
The music-driven masterpiece has an A-list cast that includes Oscar winners Jamie Foxx (for Ray) and Kevin Spacey (for American Beauty and The Usual Suspects), Emmy winner Jon Hamm (for Mad Men) and two-time, SAG Award winner Lily James (for Downton Abbey). However, the film is carried by an up-and-coming thespian, Ansel Elgort.
He plays Baby, a deaf getaway driver extraordinarily adept at eluding the authorities. He is reluctantly married to the mob by virtue of a debt owed manipulative crime boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby wants out of the business badly, so he can drive off into the sunset with Deborah (James), the waitress he falls in love with across an empty diner.
Unfortunately, Machiavellian Doc insists he first serve as wheelman for the proverbial “last big heist” being pulled by a trio of certifiable lunatics in Bats (Foxx), Buddy (Hamm) and Darling (Eiza Gonzalez). When the robbery goes wrong, the ever-resourceful Baby’s survival instincts kick-in in a primal urge for self-preservation.
A mind-blowing, roller coaster ride you’ll never want to end!
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 113 minutes
Urban Comedy Explores Korean Domination Of Black Haircare Industry
In recent years, a couple of groundbreaking documentaries addressed some serious issues pertaining to African-American hair. The first, Aron Ranen’s Black Hair, chronicled the Korean takeover of the black haircare industry. The second, Chris Rock’s Good Hair, was an eye-opening exposé about the dangers and costs associated with sisters’ straightening hair and purchasing wigs in capitulation to a European definition of beauty.
Now we have Brazilian Wavy, a wacky comedy which takes a lighter look at the same two themes. Directed by Kirk Henriques, the thought-provoking film packs a wealth of information before delivering an emotional punch, despite lasting a mere 21 minutes. Much like your typical TV sitcom, the entertaining short manages to entertain while sending you away with a worthwhile message to reflect upon.
The picture’s plot is straightforward enough. At the point of departure, we meet Remy (Barry Floyd), a nerdy brother who just had his heartbroken by his two-timing girlfriend, Jin (Celeste Seda). To add insult to injury, word gets around that she left him for an undocumented midget driving a garish, pumpkin-looking jalopy.
More importantly, she’s also Korean and the daughter of the owner of the only beauty supply store in this neck of the ‘hood. That conveniently dovetails with the fact that Remy’s something of a scientist and has just invented a new styling gel called Brazilian Wavy which he’d like her father to carry.
But after being turned down, he hatches an elaborate plan to burglarize the store in the middle of the night with the help of his brother Mavo (Lamont King) and roommate Zakia (Jasmine Burke). Of course, things don’t go as planned, and the ensuing developments are best left unspoiled.
Suffice to say that Brazilian Wavy is a fun way to learn that the chemicals black folks use in their hair can cause serious harm, like baldness and blindness. Nevertheless, many are willing to assume the risk and “Live by the perm, die by the perm, and go out in style.”
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 21 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening July 7, 2017
A Ghost Story (R for brief profanity and a disturbing image) Romantic fantasy revolving around a recently-deceased musician (Casey Affleck) whose spirit miraculously returns home to comfort his inconsolable wife (Rooney Mara). Supporting cast includes Kenneisha Thompson, Will Oldham, Liz Franke and Kesha.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13 for action, violence, profanity and suggestive comments) Tom Holland assumes the title role in this reboot of the Marvel Comics franchise which finds Peter Parker living with his Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) and attending high school in Queens while being mentored by Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) until it’s time to morph into his superhero alter ego to engage a new nemesis (Michael Keaton). With Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Zendaya, Donald Glover and Tyne Daly.
Austin Found (Unrated) Midlife crisis dramedy about a fame-craving, former beauty queen (Linda Cardellini) who has her daughter (Ursula Parker) kidnapped in order to land back in the limelight. With Craig Robinson, Skeet Ulrich, Patrick Warburton and Jaime Pressly.
City of Ghosts (R for profanity and disturbing violence) War on Terror documentary chronicling an intrepid band of Syrian journalists’ efforts to shed light on ISIS’ gruesome crimes against humanity.
Hickok (Unrated) Luke Hemsworth plays Wild Bill Hickok in this biopic where the legendary lawman’s reputation as the fastest draw in the West is put to the test while trying to restore peace in a wild frontier town. Co-starring Trace Adkins, Kris Kristofferson and Bruce Dern.
Santoalla (Unrated) Missing persons documentary revolving around a grieving Dutch widow’s investigation into her husband mysterious disappearance a decade after they moved to a tiny Spanish village inhospitable to outsiders. (In English and Galician with subtitles)
Swim Team (Unrated) Inspirational documentary highlighting the exploits of three members of the Jersey Hammerheads, a competitive swimming team composed entirely of teens on the autism spectrum.
Undercover Grandpa (PG-13 for violence and suggestive material) Action comedy about a shy teen (Dylan Everett) who enlists the assistance of his grandfather’s (James Caan) World War II buddies to rescue the kidnapped girl of his dreams (Greta Onieogou). With Lou Gossett, Jr., Paul Sorvino and Jessica Walter.