Tag Archives: jamie foxx

Baby Driver – Review

8 Jul

It seems like I’ve been having great luck with movies recently, and the trend just keeps on going. I’ve been really looking forward to Baby Driver since I first saw the trailer for it. Writer and director Edgar Wright is best known for his Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy which consists of Shaun of the DeadHot Fuzz, and The World’s End, all starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. He was also the director of Simon Pegg’s and Jessica Stevenson’s cult tv show Spaced. This looked like a bit of a departure from what he normally does, but it also looked like it still had that frenetic yet controlled style he employs. Let’s just say Baby Driver takes everything great about Wright’s work and enhances it to whole new levels to create one of the greatest action films you’ll see all year.

Despite getting into an accident as a child, losing both his parents, and suffering from a permanent “hum in the drum” as a result, Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the best escape driver in the entire underworld. Doc (Kevin Spacey), a major thief in the criminal underworld, is lucky to have him on as a permanent member of the team, despite other employees finding his constant state of listening to music and lack of any kind of vocal interaction unnerving. After one particular job goes wrong, Baby finds some comfort in an unassuming waitress named Debora (Lily James). Their relationship seems to be growing fast, but Baby is soon coerced back into the business by Doc and forced onto a crew consisting of his long time partners Buddy (Jon Hamm) and his wifeDarling (Eiza González), but also the sadistic Bats (Jamie Foxx), who threatens everything Baby stands for just for the hell of it. With this job closing in, Baby starts making plans to betray the team and make his escape with Debora, but it won’t be easy to escape the eyes of his brothers in arms and he’ll have to fight them with everything he’s got to truly escape.

Baby Driver is a lot of things. It’s a drama, it’s a dark comedy, it’s a gangster flick, it’s a heist movie, but more than anything else it’s an action film. This movie has more energy than any action movie I’ve seen in a long time and you can tell that everything that Edgar Wright is as an artist and a film maker went in to making this movie as great as it possibly can be. The car chases and various escape sequences are exhilarating, and the fact that the stunt work and various crashes and last ditch escapes were done in camera and not using computer generated effects makes the whole experience all the more worthwhile. The first car chase had me hooked, but the ride was far from being over and it just got more exciting from there. This is a good time to bring the editing up. If this film doesn’t get recognized for its editing at the Oscars, then I really don’t know what I’ll do. Wright puts this entire film to Baby’s various soundtracks, and when I say that every scene moves in time with the music, it’s no exaggeration. The best way to describe this film would be to use the word “precision.” We’ve all had that conversation about what song would work in what kind of scene. Well Edgar Wright and his team took that idea to the limit and created a whole new way to watch a movie.

With movies like Baby Driver that immediately combust with such high energy, it’s usually inevitable that the middle of the movie will slow down to an almost unbearable crawl for characters and other kinds of motivations to be built on. Somehow, someway, Edgar Wright found the perfect formula to expedite this whole process while still making it easy to care about the characters. Jamie Foxx’s character is introduced somewhere around the end of the first act and beginning of the second act which doesn’t slow the movie down even a little bit. In fact, Foxx is so excellent in his performance of Bats that the movie found another burst of energy with his arrival. Time is also given to Ansel Elgort and Lily James and their budding romance. This is where the movie stumbles ever so slightly. The tough guy talk didn’t need to carry over from the crime scenes to the romance scenes. It just didn’t fit very well and the attitude was just a little bit to much in these moments. If it was toned down a little more I think these scenes would have hit the mark a little bit better. When the third act begins, however, all mistakes are forgotten and my eyes were glued to the screen while the action never ceased to let up.

I feel like there’s something of a stigma around action movies that say films in this genre can rarely be called works of art. Much like horror films as of late, there’s been a cool trend of more artistic action films, and Baby Driver falls firmly into that place. Wright and his team know how to make a film look great and sound great while also thrilling audiences with off the wall action sequences and entertaining characters. When the lights came up in the theater, it was almost hard to finds words to properly elucidate the originality and technique of the film I just watched. Edgar Wright isn’t just a good film maker. He’s clearly an excellent one and an auteur in his own right. I’ve been taught by many people that film is a visual art, where the story should be shown more than it should be told. This movie takes it another step and uses music to help tell its story in a way I haven’t seen in a movie before. When music isn’t playing, it felt weird. This was a risky thing to do. It would be very easy to mess up a movie where music is constantly playing, but this one pulled it off with such finesse.

In case I haven’t made my point perfectly clear already, Baby Driver was fantastic and easily is and will remain one of the best movies of the year. It’s action is shot beautifully with excellent stunt work and precision driving, the soundtrack knocks the second Guardians movie into next week, and the editing is some of the best I’ve seen in years. This takes action films somewhere new and unique, even though the story is less than totally unheard of. I can’t say this film is style over substance, because the two work tandem so well. It would be a sin to miss this movie, so get to it as soon as you can.

Final Grade: A+

Horrible Bosses – Review

21 Aug

Everyone has to work. It’s a sad fact of life, but it’s something that every adult has to face on a  daily basis. Some jobs are better than others, but most jobs have that one boss, manager, or supervisor that really gets under your skin. In that way, Horrible Bosses is one of the most relatable comedies out there. With an all star cast and an excellent premise, you’d think that you really couldn’t go wrong… and you’d be right.

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Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), and Dale (Charlie Day) are three friends who all have something in common. They each have good jobs that are made into a living hell by their bosses. David Harkin (Kevin Spacey) mentally abuses Nick to no end, Julia (Jennifer Aniston) sexually harasses the recently engaged Dale, and Bobby (Colin Farrell) is running Kurt’s place of employment into the dirt. Their drunken solution: to kill each other’s bosses. Knowing they can’t do this alone, the recruit “Motherfucker” Jones (Jamie Foxx) to be their murder consultant, and soon enough a plan involving triple homicide is underway.

I first saw this a year ago and thought it was a riot, and I was worried that it would lose some of its luster during a second viewing, but I was mistaken. It takes a lot for a comedy to impress me. I’m sick of seeing formulaic rehashes involving the same jokes, characters, and situations. Make no mistake, Horrible Bosses is not the most original comedy to ever be made, but the premise is so great and the chemistry between all of the characters is what really gives this movie the kick that it needs.

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I can’t talk about Horrible Bosses and not rave about the cast. Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, and Charlie Day are all funny on their own, but their chemistry and banter is, to me, what really makes the movie. You can tell that these actors enjoy working with each other and this makes their friendships believable. Kevin Spacey takes his role very seriously, and is great to watch, while Aniston and Farrell are almost unrecognizable as the other two hellish bosses. When I say this is perfect casting, this is perfect casting.

Now, the story really teeters on the line of dark comedy, but never really reaches it. As it is, I enjoy the comedy and laughed consistently throughout the movie, but it would have been interesting to see a darker story play out and question your laughter at times. This is murder we’re talking about after all. That being said, the movie does take some crazy turns that I like, but I wish it went a little farther than it did instead of playing it safe. One deleted scene that I saw featured a very graphic scene that was still really funny and I wish that it made it into the movie.

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In short, Horrible Bosses is one of the funnier movies that has been released in the past five years. In a time where comedies have become so formulaic and have touched on a lot of the same themes, it was refreshing to see one that strayed off the beaten path and relished in its originality and absurdity. Not all of this movie is fresh, but that really doesn’t kill the entire movie. I laughed all the way through thanks to the chemistry of the actors, the really great dialogue, and just the insanity of it all. I just wish that it took the idea a little further.

Django Unchained – Review

1 Jan

Quentin Tarantino has made a name for himself as being one of the most bizarrely creative film makers of our age. His genre bending films have combined all sorts of styles from samurai films to war dramas, but all of them have what I like to call the Tarantino Twist. He takes the genres we all know so well and tun them on their heads to make them entirely his own. With Django Unchained, he takes on the spaghetti western.

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Django (Jamie Foxx) is a slave on his way to a plantation when all of a sudden he is saved by a wandering bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). Together, the two become an infamous bounty hunting team, until Django once again focuses his gaze on his most important goal: finding his wife (Kerry Washington) and freeing her. Schultz finds her at one of the most known plantations in all the South run by Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), and the two men hatch a plan to get onto his plantation and get her to safety.

From the get go, this feels like a Tarantino movie and I was immediately ready for the insanity that I knew I was about to experience. From beginning to end, Django Unchained rarely slows down. This doesn’t mean that it’s full of non stop violence and action, but the dialogue is just as intense as any of the bloody shoot outs. This is typical of any Tarantino movie, and I couldn’t help but get sucked into the thickly layered dialogue only to be shocked back into reality by a sudden explosion of gunfire.

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One thing I really need to point out is that this is a very long movie, and it really didn’t need to be. There is definitely a big story that Tarantino is trying to tell that takes place in one of the worst times of American history, but I’m surprised that it was stretched out so long. The last twenty minutes of the movie absolutely, positively did not need to be there. There were a couple different times where I said to myself, “This has to be the end of the movie.” I was wrong. It kept going and going, but these scenes that felt tacked on didn’t have the intensity that the rest of the movie had making it feel very unnecessary.

While this very long and unnecessary ending doesn’t feel too great, I can’t help but love this movie because of all that happens before it and the outstanding characters portrayed with out of this world performances. Jamie Foxx is adequate as Django, but nowhere near steals the show. Waltz shows once again that he is the master of line delivery making each of his lines sound important and necessary. DiCaprio is insanity incarnate as Calvin Candie and he plays it just as he should. Finally, Samuel L. Jackson will piss you off as a character, but you can’t help but dig the performance. The make up and physical acting he does is great.

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Django Unchained was everything I hoped it would be even though it doesn’t seem to end. The characters and dialogue are some of Tarantino’s best creations and the violence will have viewers laughing harder than they may have expected. While I don’t think it tops Inglourious Basterds, which I consider Tarantino’s masterpiece, I will say that it’s an exceptional piece of work by this now legendary writer/director. You definitely should not miss out on Django Unchained.