Picking Up The Spare: mother!, War For The Planet of the Apes, Rogue One


  • There’s finally a feature profile of Michelle Pfieffer that includes this movie as one of a few recent or upcoming projects marking a return to regular work for one of the great actors of her generation.

The Florida Project

  • Now that it’s in theaters I’m seeing a lot more online advertising for the movie that uses the key art to drive ticket sales.

War For The Planet Of The Apes

  • TV spots like this one have highlighted the drama and tension in the story as the movie comes to home video.

Baby Driver

  • Kevin Spacey’s inspirational speech about being brazen and bold with a bank robbery scheme is used in a TV spot promoting the digital home video release of the movie, which is nice because it basically describes the movie as well.

The Emoji Movie

  • A commercial promoting the movie’s home video release has a Halloween theme, framing it as a “spook-tacular” good time. A bit of a stretch, but what are you going to do?

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

  • Disney World and Disneyland were both announced as the home for Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire, a “hyper-reality” experience set during the time of the early Rebellion, allowing park visitors to strap on gear and work with K-2SO to complete a mission. You can view the trailer here.

Baby Driver (After the Campaign Review)

Baby Driver is a remarkable cinematic achievement, mostly because of audacious originality. While it’s certainly derived in part from other movies and stories (everything is based on or at least inspired by what’s come before), it feels like a breath of fresh air at the theater. Even with above-average superhero movies like Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming, Baby Driver is a much-needed dose of pure adrenaline-fueled inspiration.

The story, as Nolan laid out before, is pretty simple: Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a young man who’s being coerced to act as a getaway driver in the heists engineered by criminal planner Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby’s debt to Doc is almost paid and he’s looking forward to being out of the world of bank robberies and other violence. The light at the end of the tunnel grows brighter when he meets Debora (Lily James) and the two dream of running off together. But things get complicated when Doc won’t loosen his grip and the job Baby was hoping would be his last goes sideways, resulting in problems and unexpected outcomes for everyone.

The word that’s been circling my head ever since walking out of the theater has been “intentional.” Writer/director Edgar Wright doesn’t do anything halfway, something that’s been true in most all his movies to date. He knows exactly the shot he wants, knows exactly how he wants it framed, knows what information he wants to convey with the framing and composition and so on. Every move he makes is intentional, meant to accomplish as much as a single frame of film (or its digital equivalent) can.

Nowhere is that better on display than during a tense shootout involving Baby and the criminals he’s paired with. Without spoiling too much for those who haven’t yet seen it, the sequence – which can’t last more than three or four minutes – is remarkable for the coordination in filming, music timing, editing and other elements. It’s simply unlike any other scene, action or otherwise, that’s been filmed in recent years. Everyone refers to Quentin Tarantino as a stylized filmmaker, but this is next level to an extent Tarantino hasn’t yet hit and may not even be capable of.

All of that originality of voice, tone and style was on display in the trailers and other marketing elements. As I said when looking at the campaign, the emphasis was on the music that powered Baby’s driving skills and that was clearly a focus of the story. He carries around a half-dozen iPods with different music selections on them, makes his own mixes including conversations he secretly records and always has music in his head, either literally or figuratively. It’s the rare case of an extensive mixtape-like approach to the soundtrack isn’t just about selling albums but is essential to the story. That’s clear not only in the above-mentioned shootout but even in smaller scenes like one where Baby fumbles with the radio of a car he’s just stolen until he finds the perfect music.

If anything, the trailers played down the style Wright has imbued the movie with. It’s *more* than what was sold. So if you haven’t seen it yet, be ready to be bombarded by the talents of one of the most original thinkers Hollywood has working right now. I wouldn’t be mad if the reports of a sequel turn out to be true, though I enjoy Wright when he’s farming fresh ground, not revisiting previous material.

Picking Up the Spare: Despicable Me 3, Spider-Man: Homecoming, A Ghost Story

Despicable Me 3

  • Universal/Illumination not only sponsored selfie lenses on Snapchat but also were the first advertisers to take advantage of that app’s new “World Lenses” augmented-reality ad unit.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

  • Turns out this is the latest movie to feature lots of shots from the trailer not making it into the finished film. There are various reasons for that, some of them around how shots were created just for the trailers or various sizzle reels, which walks right up to the line of “false advertising” in my opinions.
  • Some details here on how Donald Glover finally got involved in a Spider-Man movie (aside from that one “Community” gag) and what it might mean for future films.
  • Nerdist has an exclusive look at one more poster, this one inspired by the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15, with Spidey carrying one of the crooks from the movie.
  • The augmented reality feature of the movie’s official mobile app was covered in-depth here.

A Ghost Story

  • The internet’s big takeaway from this interview with A Ghost Story star Rooney Mara? That she’d never had pie before shooting the movie.
  • The store A24 setup to sell sheets in New York City got more coverage in the LA Times from Steven Zeitchik.

Baby Driver

  • Director Edgar Wright got one more music-themed promotional move in, this time creating a Spotify playlist of what he’s listening to now.

Slanted Review: Baby Driver 

Baby Driver marks Edgar Wright’s fifth cinematic outing as a director, and it’s arguably his best feature film to date.

At first glance, and based on what the trailers show you, Baby Driver is a simple film. And, to be fair, it really is. The film follows Baby, a young getaway driver for a crew of unsympathetic thieves and murderers, and his quest to end his career as a driver. But once the film actually begins, you really realize that the brilliance of this movie has been drastically undersold.

Story wise, Wright tells the story of Baby wonderfully. Baby quickly becomes a sympathetic character, and one immediately finds themselves rooting for Baby for the whole movie from start to finish. The characters are witty when they need to be, and not once does a piece of dialogue ever feel out of place. The characters are also extremely complex. The evolution of certain characters, particularly the ones played by Kevin Spacey and John Hamm, from start to finish is a testament to the brilliance of Edgar Wright. That the characters change and grow (or in some instances deteriorate) through the whole film feels surprising at times but never out of place or forced. This shows just how well Wright has crafted these characters and gotten into their psyches to make their behaviors seem exciting but natural at the same time. The plot moves at a constantly exhilarating pace and not once does one find oneself bored in the middle of viewing this film. (This is also due in large part to Wright’s directing, but more on that in a bit.)

The performances from the cast members are, for the most part, phenomenal. Kevin Spacey’s performance as Doc, Baby’s “boss”, is outstandingly dry and nearly emotionless, but he still has a few emotional scenes and, as mentioned before, scenes that really build his character and change it in an exciting but natural way. Jamie Foxx’s performance is almost frightening at times, as he plays Bats: a hardened criminal who feels just as unpredictablely nutty as he does terrifyingly dangerous. Ansel Elgort completely strays away from his previous roles in cinematic adaptations of YA novels but delivers what is perhaps the greatest performance of his career so far. His performance as Baby makes you feel sympathetic for the title character, even when his decisions are not always the right ones. Some of the best scenes in the movie come when Baby is simply alone listening or lip-syncing to his music, and you can tell that Elgort is having massive fun in each of those scenes.  But what is perhaps the greatest performance in Baby Driver is that of Jon Hamm as Buddy. At the start of the film, Buddy is a character who, like the audience, feels almost sympathetic to Baby. At one point he even bonds with Baby over their love for music, only to later completely turn on Baby by the end of the film, and reveal himself to be a nasty, unsympathetic character, almost the complete opposite of Baby. Hamm’s performance as Buddy is not only a testament to how good of a writer/director Wright is, but also to how great of an actor Jon Hamm is.

Though the cast was wonderful and the story was great, what really shines through about Baby Driver is Edgar Wright’s direction. Wright is commonly known as being a visionary director, but his work on Baby Driver shines above anything else he’s ever done. As you’ve probably heard by now either from social media or from the film’s marketing campaign, Baby Driver is set entirely to the music that Baby listens to while he drives. But just saying that is a complete understatement. Not only is the film set to his music, but every scene is completely choreographed to the music as well. There are entire fight sequences which feature fights that you would expect from an R-rated heist movie, but are made 10 times better because they are completely choreographed to the song playing in the background. Not once does a character so much as move outside of the beat of the song. At the start of the film also, as Baby is walking down the street with his headphones in, the lyrics of the song he is listening to are graffitied onto parts of the street, light posts and buildings, and Baby walks past each of them perfectly as the lyrics play. Having the actions of the characters match up perfectly with the rhythms and beats of the song turns what would initially feel like a messy fight into an interesting and viscous sequence. This may be the most ambitious thing that Wright has done in a film period, and this films is where his true directorial brilliance is illuminated.

If there are two things that Baby Driver is, it’s ambitious and cohesive. The story is solid; the performances delivered by the cast are each individually interesting; the direction is a true work of genius.

Baby Driver is rated R and is in theaters now.

Slant Rating: 9/10- See it in theaters NOW.