You know that feeling when you see a film that’s so good it makes you wonder how bad ones get made in the first place? A film that’s so effortlessly cool and infectiously rhythmic that it seems to have been shot in one go, like the pieces just fell together without any sense of artifice or manufacturing? Baby Driver is one of those films.
I had the pleasure of seeing Baby Driver last weekend and I’m still thinking about it. Everything just works: the soundtrack, the direction, the kinetic action sequences, the musical editing. And then there’s Ansel Elgort. I didn’t watch The Fault in Our Stars, so I had no idea what this young man was capable of. He’s the breakout star in a film filled with symphonious supporting performances. It’s impressive when a young actor can stand out in a cast that includes Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm.
Baby Driver’s frenetic opening sequence is available online. Go watch it now, then go see the movie. Wright makes a character sitting in a car more visually compelling than most expensive CGI setpieces from lesser directors. It all comes down to craft and attention to detail. Elgort’s undeniable charm also helps. I couldn’t help but fall in love with his character the second the music drops. As far as opening scenes go, it’s very effective. It sets up the genre, the main character, and the emphasis on music. Then it subverts the crime thriller trope by busting out a dancing getaway driver.
I also saw Spider-Man: Homecoming last weekend. Both it and Baby Driver are genre films that are elevated through careful direction, solid writing, and perfect lead casting. In short: Tom Holland is Spider-Man. The 19-year-old disappears into Peter Parker. He brings a boyish energy to the character that Andrew Garfield, almost 30 at the time of filming The Amazing Spider-Man, couldn’t muster. I never ONCE believed either Tobey Maguire or Andrew Garfield were high school students. It was absurd. Holland, on the other hand, has the requisite baby (driver) face and look of naïve passion when swooning over his first crush and staring down his first super villain.
This weekend, I’m seeing Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk in 70mm IMAX. Talk about a treat for a film nerd like me! I’ve successfully abstained from all trailers and most promotional media. Nolan was on the radio this morning and I changed the station. No offense, Chris, but I’ve come too far to be spoiled. I accidentally saw a cast list earlier and threw my phone out the window. All’s fair in the war against spoilers.
On the writing side of things, I’ve been patiently waiting for responses to my queries. The current score is six queries sent out in total with three rejections and one partial manuscript request. Once I hear back from the other two agents, I’ll revise my letter and send out another handful. It’s tempting to call this the boring part of being an author, but imagine your heart leaping into your throat every time you get an email. It’s more like that.
I also wrote a little slice of flash fiction for a contest. I spent all day whittling it down to 500 words and then found out the contest is only open to authors or stories with a connection to the Midwest. I’m New Jersey born and raised, so consider me out of the running. Now the story is sitting on my computer and I have no idea what to do with it.
At the end of the day, I’m just itching to start working on my second novel. I'm calling it Phantom Profits for now. I’ll have more to tell about it later. I’m keeping busy by teaching myself piano, synthesizer, and music production. I’ll have a solo EP out one of these days. If you want to laugh while covering your ears in the meantime, check out We Fight Bears on BandCamp and SoundCloud.
As always, thanks for reading.