A young driver gets himself in debt to a crimelord (Kevin Spacey – very good) and has to be the getaway man on various bank robberies. The driver has tinnitus, so always listens to music to drown out his ear-problem – meaning the audience watches the robberies and chase sequences set to ironically chosen tunes, and the proceedings have poetry and pop culture in equal doses. It’s fun and we get swept away by the artistry of it all – forgetting about all our moral objections to what’s going on. The film is very clever in pulling this off – and has a cracking first half as a consequence.
The driver (‘Baby’) then has to start contending with fairly unstable members of various ‘crews’ (e.g. Jamie Foxx) chosen by the crimelord. Baby’s new girlfriend (who works in the local dinner) is unfortunately dragged into this world of double-cross and murder. These are the wages of Baby’s sins and transgressions.
The film’s plot-shape then becomes that cliched and moralistic tale of ‘you can’t escape the law’. If you’ve seen Carlitto’s Way, it’s the same vibe as that: ‘One last big job and I’ll be free of all this.’ Now, that plot-shape is classic to the Hollywood thriller genre, but it doesn’t quite resonate with a British audience in the same way – since we know criminals DO get away with it just as often as they don’t (e.g. The Great Train Robbery). The second half of Baby Driver, then, is all a bit too trite, predictable and lacking in artistry. The final fight scene against the baddy is pretty awful. The baddy comes back too many times. (NOT REALLY A SPOILER, COS THE FOLLOWING SCENE DOESN’T ADD THAT MUCH) Baby is at pains not to kill the baddie (absolutely not credible, cos the innocent girlfriend is about to be killed), so shoots the baddy in the leg, meaning chance and circumstance have to decide the baddy overbalances and falls to his death. It’s just silly, forced, directorially intrusive and out-of-synch with the first half of the film.
It’s a movie of two halves ultimately: one good and one bad. Is it worth seeing? Absolutely, but a tad disappointing (especially if you’ve read all the rave reviews in the press). It scores 7.5 out of 10 from me.
Good news! Sammy HK Smith’s story ‘The Watcher’, in The Book of Angels, has been short-listed for the British Fantasy Award in the category of Best Short Fiction. In the same category there is also Nadine West’s story ‘The Women’s Song’ from the Fight Like A Girl collection! Hopefully they can both win – otherwise, I’ll be caught between wanting to see my own book win (The Book of Angels) and supporting the ol’ spicy spouse. Argh!
My latest publication is an academic one – an essay in the collection above, init. Not too bad.
So, Wonder Woman goes and kills loads of Germans and says she does it for love. Hmm. Strange sort of love that. She doesn’t do it out of love for the British people, I don’t think (especially as Chris Pine is an American-born British agent), nor for all humankind (cos the Germans of World War 1 were humans too). So what sort of love is it? Fake love?
The repeated refrain of the film is: ‘It’s not about what people deserve, it’s about what people believe. And I believe in love.’ Just think about that. Slowly. A sense of what someone ‘deserves’ is a moral judgement – so the film is dismissing moral judgement? But then what someone ‘believes’ is a social and moral framework – so the is embracing moral judgement? So what is meant by this word ‘love’ as a belief? A love of God? A love of one’s fellow human? Not really. It’s just a word that serves to grant self-justification. It is selfish and it is evil. It is fake love. It is TRUMP-BABBLE.
Think about it again. If Wonder Woman were killing loads of Middle Eastern people instead of Germans, would audiences sit so comfortably while watching? No.
Ultimately, this film looks lovely and gives sentimental nods in all the right places. But these distract from and serve to hide the ugly ideology lurking underneath. It’s a load of shmultz and marketing that seeks to make you agog with wonder and to lull you: ‘Don’t worry, it’s just entertainment, it’s harmless, so just sit back and enjoy it.’ I appeal to you to be a smarter viewer than that, or we’ll all be in a lot of trouble come the release of the next movie. If we survive that long.
Finally got a date for the PhD viva (only seven months after I submitted it). Soon, I will be a doctor of dragons and fairies!
So the follow up to The Book of Orm and The Book of Angels (what do you mean you haven’t read them yet, you fool?) is The Book of Dragons! It’ll contain much belching flame, fang and claw, not to mention magical realism, urban fantasy, epic fantasy and ye olde metaphysical fantasy. Tales from myself and other leading dragon authors like Joanne Hall, C. N. Lesley, Michael Bowman and more.
And here’s the gorgeous cover done by Charlotte Pang:
Episode 1 got 4.6m UK viewers, episode 2 got 4.2m and episode 3 got a dismal 3.8m. If the trend continues, series 10 will be the least ever watched Doctor Who. What’s going on? Yes, it’s Peter Capaldi’s last series, but the ‘end’ of a Doctor often increases the interest in a series. Should we conclude then that there is something lacking in the quality of the episodes? With such a fall-off in viewers, quite possibly. Should we celebrate that it’s Steven Moffat’s last year in charge of the story-lines? Definitely, if you want my twopenneth’s worth (although the licence fee is a fair bit more than that these days).
So what’s wrong with the current writing/story-lines? Well, episode 1 (The Pilot) introduced a sassy new assistant and a monster that ‘couldn’t let go’ of a failed relationship (just about a metaphor about the Doctor needing to let go of all that he’s lost). It was far from a brilliant episode: some highly offensive fat jokes and misogyny, lacking in larger themes and with no evidence of a larger story arc. However, it was coherent, sweet and pleasingly resolved. I was happy to tune into episode 2 (Smile) – which was a hard scifi episode. Again, it was coherent and well resolved. BUT it really didn’t have any sort of ‘message’, which is a particular problem if you’re writing hard scifi. Why? Well, hard scifi is just silly and pointless if there isn’t something with a larger implication going on. Episode 2, therefore was either written by someone who just doesn’t understand hard scifi or by someone who’s just lazy (perhaps both)…
Bringing us to episode 3 (entitled Thin Ice!). Yes, this episode really was on thin ice. It’s about a monster chained up in the Thames during the Victorian era. The Doctor freed the monster. The end. Hmm. What was the point? Well, in the process, he saved a bunch of orphans (Asian kids and black kids straight out of RADA) who were being exploited by the evil white upper classes. Apparently, England was always far more multi-cultural than we like to think (yes, the term ‘whitewashed’ was used) – and the British Empire was only so successful/strong because of its ethnic diversity. Anyway, the Doctor makes sure the orphans grow up to inherit the house and wealth of the corrupt noble. The whole thing was a tad bizarre. Moffat seemed to be expressing anti-Brexit sentiment through the plot/Doctor. Sadly, the whole piece lacked a certain coherence and was a confused departure from reality really (the reality of the Victorian era).
So, series 10 leaves me (and a good number of other viewers) thinking ‘What the?’ There’s a serious lack of a series arc to hold the episodes together. (There’s a door that someone knocks but Matt Lucas refuses to open it: that does NOT constitute a series arc, however.) Time for Mr Moffat to move on, methinks. Time for someone with a fresh and grander vision to have a go. Time to bring back the Timelords.