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Baby Driver (2017)
A very solid, engaging and entertaining film with a great soundtrack
Baby Driver is the newest film by director Edgar Wright, who is famous for making some of the arguably best British comedies of all time with the Three Flavours of Cornetto Trilogy. After a four-year break from directing following the conclusion to the trilogy in the World's End, Wright resurfaces with 'Baby Driver', a worthy addition to his filmography.
The film follows the story of 'Baby', a young man who works as a getaway driver for a mob boss to whom he owes a debt. Music is a huge part of Baby's life and this is used as a central plot point: a lot of the time the music he listens to is used as the soundtrack and the scenes are filmed accordingly. This is a very ambitious and arguably unique concept which Wright pulls off well and which helps to keep the film moving throughout.
Wright went with a cast of mostly small-scale actors but with the addition of the two stars Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx. This combination works very well and all of them, especially Ansel Elgort (Baby), deliver very convincing performances.
There is a good blend of tension and humour in the film and coupled with Wright's unique and captivating cinematography it makes the film a very fun but at the same time engaging ride. Both the scripting and the pacing are good and the film does not get particularly boring at any point. However, the thing that undoubtedly stands out the most is the soundtrack. Wright uses a kaleidoscope of different genres yet all the songs seem to blend together seamlessly. From Egyptian reggae to Queen, from Hans Zimmer to Simon & Garfunkel, each song has its place and fits perfectly into its respective scene. Baby's dancing performances, especially in the brilliant one-take shot at the beginning, only manage to add to the already great atmosphere created by the soundtrack.
Overall, Baby Driver is one of Edgar Wright's best films to date and through a combination of great cinematography, good acting, humour and a unique, well applied soundtrack, it is most certainly a film worth seeing.
And Then There Were None (2015)
I stumbled upon the book 'And Then There Were None' quite by accident, and having just finished reading 'Hercule Poirot's Christmas', I was interested in seeing how good Agatha Christie's 'masterpiece' was. The cover of the edition I bought advertised this TV series, and after I had finished what was truly a brilliant book, I was curious to see how well its visual counterpart held up.
Having looked at the cast beforehand, I knew none of them except for Charles Dance, whom I knew to be a good actor and who seemed perfect in the role of the cunning Justice Wargrave. I wouldn't say I was worried about how well the other actors would hold up next to someone as good as him, but I did not think they would be as good as him. However, I am glad to say that I was wrong.
Every single one of the cast delivered a stand-out performance. Although the final five survivors (Armstrong, Blore, Lombard, Claythorne and the judge himself) were definitely the best, the others were also really good and brought their respective characters to life extremely well.
The setting is great, with an island quite akin to what I imagined when I was reading the book, and the cinematography is beautiful and sets the scene perfectly. The score, although a minuscule part of the whole, is also very good.
Obviously when it comes to film or TV series versions of books, details are always changed or added for convenience, and I was a bit worried that the writers of the show might change details of plot devices and mess the whole thing up (as has already been the case with shows like Game of Thrones). But not only were the changes subtle and did nothing to negate the overall plot, I actually liked some of them(!). The idea to have the judge walk in on Vera at the last second and deliver a chilling monologue was surprisingly good, and I like it just as much as the book ending.
Overall, this was a brilliant visual re-telling of what is surely one of the greatest mystery novels of all time. The cast are excellent, the cinematography and setting is perfect and the subtle plot changes do nothing but add to this masterpiece of film.
The Big Bang Theory (2007)
Brilliant at times, abysmal at others.
I'm giving this series a 5 out of 10, but that's not because I don't like it. Quite the contrary: I find the setting and characters to be reasonably creative and the acting is usually quite on-point. No, what bothers me is the fact that this show's humour seems to only come in two forms: great and absolutely horrendous. Almost all the 'jokes' are passive-aggressive jabs by the characters towards each other or lame slapstick. Not that I'm against slapstick or anything, but in certain forms, and if it's repetitive like it is in this show, it gets on my nerves.
But what makes the humour so terrible at times are not the jokes themselves, but rather the unbelievably cringy laughter that they put over it. They put it over everything, even if the pointe of the joke hasn't been said yet. As soon as a character says or does something remotely unusual, they play that dumb laughing audio track over it. Because of this, I have a strong tendency not to laugh, and that's not what a comedy series should be doing. The jokes and their delivery should make me laugh, not the fact that there is audio of other people laughing.
That being said, oftentimes the humour is quite good. Albeit, most funny jokes involve the indisputably best character Sheldon, but from time to time Howard will say something very amusing, and his deep, 'fake-flirtatious' voice makes it even better. This brings me to arguably the funniest thing on the show: Howard and his mother. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard at a sitcom as during the scenes where Howard and his mother 'talk'. Not only is the voice of his mother perfect, but the fact that they never show her adds to it because of the power of imagination. We simply have no idea what she looks like and only have Howard's horrible descriptions of her to go on, which conjures up very disturbing and in turn hilarious images.
I'd like to add some more things I disapprove of. Raj was funny at first, but it really feels like his behaviour is painfully repetitive, and it gets annoying because you almost always know what he's going to say which in turn means I rarely laugh at anything he says. The other thing is Leonard. I don't know if this was deliberate, but he is so f*cking cringy that it's really hard to watch at times. Obviously this was probably intentional, but it's still quite annoying.
All in all, the show has its merits, but ultimately fails in a lot of departments and could be a lot better if they cut down on the unfunny slapstick, repetitive jokes and autistic laughing audio track.
The Grand Tour (2016)
Brilliance at its finest!
Amazon did the right thing at the right time: convincing Clarkson, Hammond and May to make the Grand Tour was easily one of the best decisions they have ever made.
Is it like Top Gear? Yes, in many ways. But it's also very different (it sort of has to be for the sake of copyright): no Stig, no putting stars in reasonably priced cars, etc. However, I'd be lying if I said the three didn't make up for what they've lost. Subtle jokes hinting at the old show are sprinkled throughout the first episode, and the humour is spot-on as always. It honestly feels like they've never left.
The bigger budget is obvious and the production team is just as good, if not better, as the old one from BBC. All shots look great and the editing is perfect.
All in all, a must-watch 'continuation' of the epic franchise that was Top Gear, don't miss it!
A great insight into the life of the world-famous whistleblower
I spontaneously went to the cinema today and decided to watch this, mostly because of Joseph Gordon-Lewitt. I expected a good film and that's pretty much what I got.
Oliver Stone, someone notorious for directing political and thought provoking films in the past, tells us the story of Edward Snowden from Snowden's point of view, and how he came to eventually leak the vast amounts of intel he had access to during his time working for the U.S. government. It's a story of the emotional struggles Snowden went through, including his relationship with his wife, his personal moral conflicts regarding the doings of the NSA and other government agencies and how his opinion on his country and government shifts over time.
The acting, both by Gordon-Lewitt and the supporting cast, is on point and I was particularly impressed with Nicolas Cage in the role of Hank Forrester, as I am not someone who is too fond of Cage's works.
The film delivers a very interesting insight into what happens behind the scenes and how frequently rules are broken by the government without the masses having any idea. It very accurately portrays the struggles Snowden faced during his time at the NSA and CIA and how the secret world he worked in made his relationship with his wife deteriorate.
In short, this is certainly a film worth watching if you want to see the story behind the whistleblower from his own eyes and marvel once more at the doings of the government that happen without us knowing.
The Hateful Eight (2015)
Underrated, one of Tarantino's best
Quentin Tarantino's ninth film (eighth if you count Kill Bill as one film) involves eight strangers who seek refuge in a stagecoach stopover called 'Minnie's Haberdashery' due to an incoming blizzard. There is a series of very tense long scenes, a ton of dialogue and a fair share of plot twists towards the end.
As a big fan of Tarantino (being a producer of short films myself), his latest work struck me as one of his best. I was surprised however, when I found out that a lot of people disliked it, saying it was too similar to his other works, unoriginal or boring. Sure, the shots are typically very long and the scenes are quite drawn out, but as this is meant to be a Western, that is to be expected. The long scenes may be annoying for some, but they help build up the tension and had me on-edge for the entire film. Furthermore, it is most certainly not unoriginal. In fact, I think it's one of the most original films I've seen in a long time. The plot is not something I've ever seen before, and it is definitely not a rip-off of any of his other films.
The score, the first complete movie score by Ennio Morricone in 35 years(!) is perfect and sets the scene brilliantly. The acting is also spot-on, with Kurt Russel delivering a great comeback in the role of John Ruth, Samuel Jackson impressing as Major Warren and Walton Goggins doing a superb accent in the role of Sheriff Chris Mannix. The plot is also great (as mentioned earlier) and I would be lying if I said that I anticipated any of the plot twists.
All in all, another brilliant film by Tarantino with a flawless plot, brilliant cinematography, great acting and an epic score. If you haven't seen it yet, then you definitely should.
The World's End (2013)
A good fun movie with great humour
First, let me get one thing out of the way: the plot is dumb. In fact, it is probably one of the most ridiculous movie plots I have ever seen. However, it would be wrong to say that this makes it a bad film, because it in my opinion fully compensates for the lack of a good storyline.
The story follows five childhood friends, who try to finally complete the famed pub crawl of their hometown, having failed to do so many years earlier.
The acting is superb, with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Martin Freeman and many others all delivering very solid and convincing performances. Pegg adopts a role unusual for him in the Three Flavours of Cornetto Trilogy, this time playing a childish character with a lot of (mostly social) problems, as opposed to the more confident protagonists Shaun in Shaun of the Dead and Sergeant Nicolas Angel in Hot Fuzz. Despite this being a new kind of role for him, I thought he did a superb job, and I felt myself emphasising with his character quite a lot throughout the movie.
As per usual with any Edgar Wright production, the cinematography is brilliant and eye-catching, with several very sneaky camera/cutting tricks and transitions that are very fun to watch.
My favourite thing about the movie by far however, is the scripting/dialogue. The first five scenes in particular, during which the protagonist talks to the individual supporting characters (his four friends), are comedic brilliance. Every line has perfect timing and execution, and none of the jokes failed to make me laugh. The humour throughout the entire film is very good, and if you're British or enjoy the more British sense of humour, then you will no doubt laugh at a lot of these jokes.
All in all, this movie mixes great humour and dialogue with awesome cinematography and a cast of good actors who all did a superb job. If you're looking for a fun movie to have a good laugh, then this should definitely be on the top of your list.