Tag Archives: Ansel Elgort

Baby Driver: Delivering for Doc

ALL YOU NEED IS ONE KILLER TRACK. 

Director Edgar Wright had been thinking about making this movie for two decades before it finally happened. Those who know their Wright oeuvre might recognize the basic idea from a music video he made in 2003, ”Blue Song” for Mint Royale, featuring the British comedian Noel Fielding as a getaway driver who loves music. After skipping Ant-Man (2015), Wright decided that Baby Driver would be his next movie. The final results is a pop culture feast, but the film that inspired Wright in particular was Walter Hill’s The Driver (1978), a script he ended up reading because he needed to learn how to write car chases.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver in Atlanta, Georgia. Working for a criminal organization led by the cool Doc (Kevin Spacey), Baby is exceptionally good at what he does but frequently fails to earn the trust of the robbers Doc employs for his heists. After all, why would these people trust a kid who wears shades all the time and always seems disconnected from his surroundings, listening to music on his old iPod? Still, he has earned Doc’s trust and that makes all the difference. Baby has been working off a debt he owes Doc and makes the mistake of thinking that the last job is the end of their relationship…

A kid in over his head
Edgar Wright has been making good movies for 15 years now, entertaining us with his Cornetto trilogy where he took three different genres (zombie movies, cop movies, sci-fi movies) and turned them into clever and funny comedies. One persistent theme throughout has been what he calls in a 2014 Toronto Star interview ”the dangers of perpetual adolescence”. Perhaps we can sense more of the same in this movie, as Baby is essentially a kid who’s in over his head but finds a way out of the mess. When we first meet Baby, in the thrilling opening sequence, he’s an instantly charming and infuriating character. A criminal who’s very good at helping his robbers get away from the police, but as one of his partners tells him, there has to come a time when he actually gets blood on his hands. We in the audience need to to see that happen, because Baby deserves to be rocked out of his iPod bubble and experience some of the hurt that he inadvertently inflicts on others. Once he does, our sympathies lie entirely with him. The film explores a cute love story between Baby and a waitress, Debora (Lily James); the relationship between Baby and Doc’s criminal enterprise is initially amusing before it takes a more serious turn and becomes increasingly dangerous and action-packed. The film is very well cast, with Elgort getting a role of a lifetime. He’s great in the tinnitus-stricken lead role and superbly assisted by Spacey as the authoritative gang leader and Hamm and Foxx as two charismatic but lethal robbers. The supporting cast is also filled with notable artists; apart from Flea and Paul Williams, there are several rappers. That’s to be expected from a movie that puts music front and center of the story; Baby’s iPod becomes an eclectic Tarantino-esque soundtrack. Cinematographer Bill Pope keeps the film moving in an awe-inspiring way; that’s true of the wonderful, long sequence that introduces us to Baby in his neighborhood, but also the pulse-pounding action scenes and car chases where the kid’s talents are severely tested.

You might say that Edgar Wright reinvented zombie movies with Shaun of the Dead (2004) and heist movies with this one. He knows how to make something old and stale look fun and cool again. I can’t wait to see what he’ll bring back to life next.

Baby Driver 2017-Britain-U.S. 112 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Nira Park. Written and directed by Edgar Wright. Cinematography: Bill Pope. Cast: Ansel Elgort (Baby), Kevin Spacey (Doc), Lily James (Debora), Jon Hamm, Eiza González, Jamie Foxx… Flea, Paul Williams. Voice of Walter Hill.

Trivia: Emma Stone was allegedly considered for the role of Debora; Michael Douglas as Doc.

Last word: “Within things like ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and ‘Scott Pilgrim’ and ‘The World’s End’, I had done more and more of these music-y set pieces, action set pieces that are set to music or have music performed in them. I always liked doing them, like the ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ scene in ‘Shaun of the Dead’, where they’re beating up the zombies to Queen. It’s a joy to film that. With ‘Baby Driver’, I got the idea for the script and what the story is and who the character is and it’s like ‘Can I do that for an entire movie?’ Can that be the movie? It’s entirely diegetic and the songs are playing in every scene, on some device or another, whether they’re in his ears or on the stereo or in a store. That became the intention, of doing an entire movie that was set to music.” (Wright, Slash Film)

 

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Allegiant

BREAK THE BOUNDARIES OF YOUR WORLD.

allegiantAs Chicago is in danger of replacing one dictatorship with another, Tris and Four (Shailene Woodley, Theo James) prepare to leave the city to see what’s beyond the wall surrounding it. The third film in the Divergent franchise cuts Veronica Roth’s last novel in the series into two movies. A bad idea, as we know from earlier examples. Starts out promisingly, with engaging action scenes and the thrill of not knowing what lies waiting on the other side of the wall. The rest of the movie gets bogged down in its genetics-themed plot. Jeff Daniels’s character is entirely predictable.

2016-U.S. 121 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Robert Schwentke. Novel: Veronica Roth. Cast: Shailene Woodley (Beatrice “Tris” Prior), Theo James (Tobias “Four” Eaton), Zoë Kravitz (Christina), Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Jeff Daniels… Naomi Watts, Octavia Spencer, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Bill Skarsgård.

6 kopia

 

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The Fault in Our Stars

ONE SICK LOVE STORY. 

faultinourstars16-year-old Hazel (Shailene Woodley), who is dying of cancer, meets 18-year-old Augustus (Ansel Elgort), who has survived bone cancer, at a support group and they strike up a connection… A box office success, and a breakthrough for its young stars who are very likable; Woodley also delivers a performance that is very touching. The movie as a whole has a ring of truth at times, wallows in sentimentality that is less convincing at other moments, but is still a good story about how to make the best of a young life that is about to end soon. Well made, with an attractive visit to Amsterdam, and an excellent supporting turn by Laura Dern.

2014-U.S. 125 min. Color. Directed by Josh Boone. Novel: John Green. Cast: Shailene Woodley (Hazel Grace Lancaster), Ansel Elgort (Augustus Waters), Nat Wolff (Isaac), Laura Dern, Sam Trammell, Willem Dafoe.

5 kopia

 

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Paper Towns

GET LOST. GET FOUND.

papertownsBest friends and neighbors Quentin and Margo (Nat Wolff, Cara Delevingne) drift apart in high school, but one late night she’s back in his bedroom telling him that she needs his help on an adventure. The writers who helped turn another John Green book into the hugely successful The Fault in Our Stars (2014) did a good job with this nostalgic teen mystery-romance. Older audiences will get a kick out of the obvious love for John Hughes movies that permeate this entertaining film, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) in particular. But everyone who sees it will appreciate a winning young cast, the choice of music on the soundtrack, and how the filmmakers find a right way to connect with teenagers.

2015-U.S. 109 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Marty Bowen, Wyck Godfrey. Directed by Jake Schreier. Screenplay: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber. Novel: John Green. Cast: Nat Wolff (Quentin Jacobsen), Cara Delevingne (Margo Roth Spiegelman), Halston Sage (Lacey Pemberton), Austin Abrams, Justice Smith, Jaz Sinclair. Cameo: Ansel Elgort.

Last word: “People tell me I’m just like Margo. But as a seventeen-year-old I was nothing like her, so mischievous, so sure of herself. But after playing Margo, I broke up with my boyfriend in a totally Margo way. I wrote him a letter and left. That wasn’t me, it was Margo.” (Delevingne, Vogue)

4 kopia

 

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Insurgent

ONE CHOICE CAN DESTROY YOU. 

insurgentTris and Four (Shailene Woodley, Theo James) are on the run from Jeanine Mathews (Kate Winslet), while she is trying to find a Divergent with powers strong enough to open a mysterious box. A new director and writers make sure that this sequel to Divergent (2014) has more action and moves faster, but it still gets bogged down after a snappy first hour with a series of simulations that get repetitious. However, interesting themes of courage and cowardice, and the film takes great advantage of its 3D effects in a few well designed action sequences. Woodley is still a compelling lead.

2015-U.S. 119 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Robert Schwentke. Novel: Veronica Roth. Cast: Shailene Woodley (Beatrice “Tris” Prior), Theo James (Tobias “Four” Eaton), Kate Winslet (Jeanine Mathews), Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Naomi Watts… Zoë Kravitz, Ray Stevenson, Maggie Q, Octavia Spencer, Mekhi Pfifer, Janet McTeer, Ashley Judd.

Trivia: Followed by Allegiant (2016).

6 kopia

 

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Divergent

ONE CHOICE CAN TRANSFORM YOU. 

divergentAfter a war, Chicago has been walled off and its citizens divided into five factions; teenager Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) chooses which one to belong to and discovers a conspiracy. A dystopian sci-fi adventure targeted at teen girls with a strong female character fighting an authoritarian leader – it’s impossible not to draw comparisons with The Hunger Games, and this one falls short because of its underdeveloped story and leaden pacing. Woodley is good though, and a few scenes stand out, such as a nightly zip-line ride through a post-apocalyptic Chicago.

2014-U.S. 140 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Neil Burger. Novel: Veronica Roth. Cast: Shailene Woodley (Beatrice “Tris” Prior), Theo James (Tobias “Four” Eaton), Kate Winslet (Jeanine Matthews), Ashley Judd, Jai Courtney, Ray Stevenson… Zoë Kravitz, Miles Teller, Ansel Elgort, Maggie Q, Mekhi Pfifer.

Trivia: Aaron Eckhart was allegedly considered for a role. Followed by two sequels, starting with Insurgent (2015).

6 kopia

 

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Carrie

YOU WILL KNOW HER NAME.

carrieBullied teenage girl Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) discovers that she has telekinetic powers, but her mother (Julianne Moore) believes it is the work of the devil. This remake of the 1976 classic was made by a director who usually doesn’t engage in anonymous projects like this. The script remains a copy of the original, almost scene by scene, without the flair that made De Palma’s work stand out. Moore is intimidating as the mother, but Moretz (who’s an excellent actress) never make us believe in her as a mousy victim of bullies; she’s not the character Sissy Spacek created.

2013-U.S. 100 min. Color. Widescreen. Directed by Kimberly Peirce. Novel: Stephen King. Cast: Julianne Moore (Margaret White), Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie White), Judy Greer (Ms. Desjardin), Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Gabriella Wilde… Ansel Elgort.

Trivia: Jodie Foster was allegedly considered for the role of Margaret. Elgort’s first film.

6 kopia

 

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