Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Movie-watching in August

For the first time this year, I watched two movies on two consecutive days. That they both involved cars and fast driving is an interesting coincidence.

Baby Driver

I saw the trailer of Baby Driver while watching another movie recently and it piqued my interest so I decided to watch it. Thankfully I did because I enjoyed it tremendously. The movie revolves around Baby (portrayed by Ansel Elgort) who drives getaway cars for criminals. There's a lot more to the story than that of course but I will just leave it at that. Baby Driver is edgy and thrilling, moving along at a solid pace but still allowing the audience to understand who the characters are and what motivates them. As noted critic Roger Ebert said, "the survival of the heroes here becomes something we actively root for instead of just know is likely to happen." I actually gasped at least a few times while watching and I even muttered a somewhat audible "oh no" at one point. Everyone in the cast put in great performances, including Ansel, Lily James (who also starred as Cinderella in the 2015 live action Disney film), Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and John Hamm. I later realized that this film was directed by Edgar Wright, who also directed two of my favorite comedies Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead. No wonder I enjoyed this movie. I've seen only 7 movies this year but this is my favorite so far. I will certainly get the DVD when it comes out.

Cars 3

I wasn't sure what to expect in this Pixar film, considering that I was a bit underwhelmed by Finding Dory and I absolutely didn't like The Good Dinosaur (these were Pixar's last two full-length feature films). As it turned out, I actually really enjoyed Cars 3. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. Please stop reading if you don't want to find out anything about the movie. What I absolutely loved about this movie was how it didn't force upon the audience the highly inaccurate notion that old-school "heart-and-soul" training beats out more modern and scientifically-designed training techniques and methods. It also showed us that great champions of the past, no matter how legendary they are, will at some point be overtaken by younger, stronger athletes. For a moment, I actually thought that Lightning McQueen would somehow miraculously beat the record-breaking up-and-coming rookie Jackson Storm. Thankfully, the story didn't go down that path. Cars 3 is not quite at the level of Up, Wall-E, or Toy Story 3 but it's a very good Pixar movie  that is definitely worth watching. It has heart, realism, and a feel-good ending.

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