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Sunday, 7 January 2018


Baby Driver is one of the best films I have ever seen, and I will tell you why.

It's not the gunfights that are perfectly set to the beats of the soundtrack - and that soundtrack is, for narrative reasons, very VERY important.

It's not the sheer stylistic brilliance of the thing - every look and every aesthetic slotting neatly into a world that feels just absolutely right.

It's not even the pitch-perfect performances of every single actor involved in the piece, and I can almost always find at least one performance in a film that lets it down, in this case that just didn't happen.

It's the small touches.

The difference between a mediocre film and a good film are in the large swathes - the vision of the director, the production, the performances of the actors, the writing. There's big steps between something generic and forgettable, and something genuinely good. It's rare that a movie can be taken from a mental rating of well-whatever to something that people actually enjoy watching simply by a deft touch of camera work or the use of a particular song.

But the step between a good film and a great film is the little touches, the small stuff. The tiny things that you might not even notice first time round.

For example:

Baby talking to Debora in Baby Driver about songs about a girl called Debora. He mentions there's two, and one of them is by Trex.

"You mean T. Rex?"

"Oh. Yeah."

This guy knows so much of this good old music - his ipods filled with Commodores and Carla Thomas and the Detroit Emeralds and Martha Reeves - but he doesn't know that the band's name is T. Rex? Until you work out why.

Old guy that he looks after is deaf and dumb. Old guy who owns all of these old vinyls, that he obviously grew up around and that informed his musical tastes. And they communicate via sign language, right? So does the guy sign out T dot space R E X?

No. He signs T R E X.


It's moments like realising that the graffiti on the walls is the lyrics to the song that Baby is listening to as he walks down the street to buy coffee, which only makes the Harlem Shuffle better.

It's moments like when the action of a character defies a stereotype that you thought they were built into - a moment's consideration for a human being from an otherwise unsympathetic character, someone doing something smart when you thought they would do something dumb. Moments of defying expectations that you realise have been built into your cinematic experience by watching mediocre films.

It's moments wherein you are brought to realise what is going on just at the right time, simply by subtlety - a shot, a turn of phrase, a sound mix, a focus on a single part of the scene. And you realise just before the movie tells you, and thus you get this rush of adrenaline which you are rewarded for immediately by confirming what you suspect.

There's some stuff that I can't talk about for fear of spoiling the film, but suffice to say - Baby Driver will probably surprise you, and will certainly make you feel better for having watched it at all.

It's not alone in possessing this greatness.

Something I adored in Blade Runner 2049 that may well have annoyed other people was the fact that some scenes ran longer than they strictly needed to. It was a slow, languid invitation into the world that is on the screen. It's an exploration, a thing that is happening, rather than a rush through a story.

Arrival. It's not about what you think it is about, and the moment in which you realise that is so rewarding because the entire world just slots into place all over again - like you just realised the jigsaw puzzle is double-sided.

It's the sense of humour in Thor Ragnarok, which is its own weird kookiness that makes a character previously rather stiff and tired into someone a lot more whole and believable, and makes his new friends all the more entrancing to watch and listen to.

It's the moments of irreverence in The Last Jedi. The moments that show you better than anything else who these people are, and that these people aren't necessarily who you assumed they are.

It's the sound in the world around Michael Corleone fading away to a hissing tension as he sits down to dinner with two men that he knows he is about to kill. It's the look on his face as he wonders if he can, debates if he should - and then knows he is going to.

It's the nerve-shredding tension of the shrill beeping of the motion trackers in Aliens, a noise so perfectly pitched that it ramps anxiety with ease.

It's the choice of colourising the girl's red coat in Schindler's List.

Just a thought, anyway.

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