Monday, July 3, 2017

Blues Brothers for the New Millenium

I went to film school during the height of the indie film movement in the 90s, so you'd think my favorite movie would be something classy or artistic. Like something from Kurosawa, Herzog, or Paul Thomas Anderson. You would be wrong.

My favorite movie of all time is The Blues Brothers, a silly comedic musical spun off from a Saturday Night Live sketch. The one-liners! The car chases! The music! Dude, the MUSIC!

I've seen a lot of musicals, and even the best of them seldom seamlessly combine the music and the rest of the story. Blues Brothers was the first movie I can remember where music felt like a part of the story as a whole. It bounced along to its classic blues and R&B soundtrack. It's like the movie WAS music.

I bring that up because I just saw Baby Driver and it was chock full of that same feeling. Baby Driver pulses, almost breathes, to the rhythm of its soundtrack. It's not just the music that's playing as protagonist Baby (Ansel Elgort) spins the wheel of his getaway car, it's part of his thought process.

Baby Driver introduces us to its title character (Elgort) as he's closing in on paying off a debt he owes to his boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey). He also meet Debra (Lily James) and is quickly smitten. Baby and Lily plan to get away from their lives and start new, but when you're good at crime, it's not so easy to get away from it. Drawn back into Doc's gang for once again, Baby plans to get free from Doc and his gang for good.

There's no denying Baby Driver is an Edgar Wright flick. He's subdued his usual kinetic camera style, although he still has some amazing shots. Wright is also the king of fantastic scene transitions. His mastery of editing stands out even more amidst incompetently hacked-together shit like Suicide Squad and Tom Cruise Mummy movie.

Wright fuses his camera moves to the music on the soundtrack, and it works so well the camera almost looks like it's dancing. His car chase scenes move and have an energetic feel without suffering from an overabundance of shaky camera and Michael Bay-like chaos. You always understand what's going on and who's involved.

And the writing is stellar. The dialogue is far more catchy and witty than the way everyday people talk, buy it doesn't cross the line of being full-on cheese. Each character has a unique voice and that helps boost the performances even higher. Elgort and James have a palpable chemistry. Spacey, Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez are great in their roles.

But it's Jamie Foxx who steals the show. He's menacing, hateful and hilarious. I haven't dug a Foxx performance this much since he was Motherfucker Jones in the first Horrible Bosses flick. And his comeuppance scene is the best, most-satisfying comeuppance scene in recent movie-dom.

I LOVED this fuckin' movie. It's my favorite movie of the year so far. That includes stuff like Logan and Wonder Woman. It was the perfect fusion of art and violence, speed and wit, writing and action. It made me laugh, dropped my jaw to the floor and tugged at my heartstrings. I sincerely doubt I'll see anything I like better the rest of the year.

Now, time to crank up the tunes and go for a drive! PEACE!!