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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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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Quick Cuts: Arrival

Every year since 2013 we’ve had a serious science fiction drama for adults released in the fall. Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian and now, Arrival all feature visionary directors tackling ambitious science fiction projects. The primary difference with Arrival, is that it isn’t a spectacle. If you’re looking for a more dark and realistic Independence Day, this movie isn’t for you.

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Quick Cuts: Nerve

Considering teenagers and young adults make up a majority of US movie-goers, it seems odd that relatively movies starring teenagers make their way to the screen every year. It makes sense; teens more readily relate to adults than vice versa which limits the overall audience. Perhaps more surprising is the expected drop in quality when discussing a film starring teenage characters. For every Mean Girls, there are four DUFFs. For every Hunger Games there’s a Vampire Academy.

Nerve finds itself somewhere in the middle of the pack. It does most things right, but a few things wrong, and it adds up to a generally positive experience.

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