Quick Cuts: Baby Driver

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to see an early screening of Edgar Wright’s latest movie, Baby Driver.

The film follows a teenage getaway car driver code-named “Baby” (Ansel Elgort) as he attempts to leave behind his life of crime and win the affections of a waitress named Debora (Lily James). Baby is something of a driving prodigy, and has proven himself an asset his boss (Kevin Spacey) can’t afford to let go. Baby’s true passion, however, is music, as its the only way to drown out his chronic tinnitus. The movie is an effortless blend of action and comedy, with an emphasis on action (especially in the latter half of the film). While some elements have a hint of camp or parody, it is generally a straight-forward action film.

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Riverdale: Guilty Pleasures, Class Consciousness and the Death of the Small Town

The CW’s Riverdale is a prime-time dramatic serialization of the classic Archie comics they used to sell at the grocery store when you were a kid. In other words, a dark gritty reboot( We’re only a mediocre pitch away from a dark gritty Scooby-Doo reboot, aren’t we?) Cynicism aside, Riverdale is suitably corny, uneven and shameless show with a fun aesthetic and a needlessly convoluted murder-mystery plot. It’s also a surprisingly astute marker of the current political and economic climate; hinting at issues of class, feminism and even race. In 2017, it couldn’t be any other way.

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Quick Cuts: Serial Mom

John Water’s “Serial Mom” is an often overlooked and nearly forgotten cult film that highlights the vast cultural differences between the early 90’s and today. Released in 1994, the film is Water’s reaction to the resurgence of the hyper-sanitized moral majority. in the early 90’s. The film stars Kathleen Turner as Beverly Sutphin, a suburban home-maker and stay-at-home mom with intense psychological issues that turn her into a mass-murderer. Yes, this is a comedy, and yes it is actually funny.

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2016: Top Ten Movies not in my Top 10

As awards season races forward, the conversation turns continually inward on a select few films deemed worthy by Critics, the Hollywood Foreign Press, and most importantly the guilds of writers, directors, actors and producers that are seen as the strongest indicators of who may take home the coveted almighty Oscar. Two weeks ago I sat down with Sonny Panzica to discuss our top 10 films of 2016, but there were many more than ten films I wanted to address. More than ten films impressed me, more than ten stuck with me. This blog post is about the ten (or eleven) movies I loved in 2016, but didn’t quite earn their spot on my top 10 list. Without further ado, my top 10 movies of 2016 that didn’t make my top 10 list.

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Beneath the Surface: Trolls

Lindsey Bahr of the associated press said of Dreamworks’ Trolls, “the get happy message, while trite when compared to something like Inside Out, is sufficiently sweet for its audience. Did you expect more from a piece of candy?”

Yes. Yes I did. And so should you.

From the previews, Dreamwork’s Trolls appeared to be the latest in a long line of derivative children’s movies full of saturated colors and high-energy hi-jinks, but failing to convey even a hint of substance. The marketing for this film has presented an easy-to-digest, broadly appealing, inoffensive family film with a few veiled shout-outs to the drug culture the film cribs its psychedelic aesthetic from. That’s not entirely inaccurate, but I’m happy to say there’s much more to Trolls than I ever expected, given that it’s a film based on a toy-line from the 80’s.

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Box Office Autopsy: Fall Report Card

The fall is typically a slow time for the movie business, but this year things seemed especially sluggish. For the first time since 2008, no October release topped the $100 million mark. Several high-profile releases gave the box office a jolt in November, but aside from four big hits, nothing else has had much impact. Only ten November releases have crossed the $10 million mark as of 11/30.

So to give a sense of what did well and what didn’t, here’s my Fall box office score card. I’ve graded each major studio from A to F based on the performance of their films. I’d like to note that this has nothing to do with film quality, and everything to do with financial prospects. Without further ado, my Fall Report Card.

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