One of the best-reviewed films of the year is opening this week. “c” is the story of a young girl and her young mom living in a cheap motel on a stretch of highway just outside the imagined utopia of Disney World.
The star, Brooklyn Prince, has been called the best child actor in years, while Willem Dafoe’s performance has been called the best of his career.
Filmmaker Sean Baker, who operates on a micro-budget, states that in this film he sought to draw attention to the nation’s “hidden homeless.” One reviewer said “The Florida Project” is a “must-see work” due to the “mesmerizing performances” and the “truthfulness of its characters.”
“The Florida Project” opens Nov. 24 at The Crescent Theater.
A stylized, interesting beginning eventually gives way to an amusing but predictable action film in “Baby Driver,” a non-comedy from the great Edgar Wright, whose “Cornetto trilogy” of films with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are among the best comedies in recent years.
Those films mine some of the best-known tropes of mainstream genres, such as zombie films and buddy cop films, and engage with clichés in clever and amusing ways. “Baby Driver,” however, is basically a straight take on a car chase flick. It’s exciting in its way, but it is not unexpectedly energetic like those comedies are.
The story of a reluctant kid forced to use his spectacular driving skills in the service of a bad guy to whom he owes money (Kevin Spacey! I guess this is one of the last flicks we’ll be seeing his face in.), Baby Driver is forced into the proverbial final job and you’ll never guess how it goes down.
He’s surrounded by thieves played by Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm, and the fact that both of those actors use an extra consonant at the end of their last names is more interesting than the characters they create on-screen. Hamm is a commanding presence, but just making Don Draper look freaky with tattoos isn’t enough.
Baby is a quiet cipher, which is convenient since he is portrayed by the blandly cute Ansel Elgort, who does a super job of showing no emotion the entire time. He is never without his earbuds, and his soundtrack is the film’s soundtrack. This gimmick gets things started nicely, as Baby almost dances down the street after a job, suggesting that this film will bring a fluid, dynamic visual style to the kind of movie that would have to be highly choreographed. It seemed Wright would be taking this chase movie to the next level.
As the plot continues, however, “Baby Driver” stays on the same level as any other well-made crime caper, albeit one with an extra-good soundtrack. As Baby reveals hints of his traumatized past that led him to a life of crime, we build sympathy for the kid, but it is a classic example of being told, rather than shown, what Baby is really like.
He meets a beautiful girl (Lily James) in the diner where he hangs out, and tries to elude Spacey’s demands, but they just keep pulling him back in. The film ends in a long, admittedly cool series of action that is full of standard movie double crossing, shootouts and explosions. As an action movie, “Baby Driver” is good, but as an action movie directed by Edgar Wright, it is disappointing.
“Baby Driver” is currently available to rent.