Baby Driver – the Byron Yee review – spoiler free

Baby Driver poster

So I went to see Baby Driver last night. First off, based on the trailer, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy the movie. In fact, I wasn’t that impressed with much of the marketing on this film, but that’s just me.

However, I have great, great respect for Edgar Wright who has directed three comedies that I absolutely love, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. Scott Pilgrim vs the World didn’t quite do it for me.

So before I get into my own highly analytical film snobbery detail, I think this is terrific film. I have my little gripes with the film but they are small compared to everything that is right with it. Highly entertaining. Go see it.

So let’s start with my number one issue. Story. You either have it or you don’t. In many ways, this is a film that we’ve all seen before. But there are enough little things, quirky and curveballs, that elevate the story. But more importantly, it now becomes about executing the story. And that’s where Baby Driver gets everything right.

There is a lot of story going on but the most crucial element is the choice that Baby Driver must make. To get to that point, the main character has to earn the right to make that choice.  Movies fail when that choice is arbitrary. Edgar Wright is in full control and when the story turns on this choice, the movie works beautifully.

The hook of this movie is that Baby Driver must listen to his iPod playlist in order to function as the best getaway driver in the world (or at least Atlanta). To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed with the logline. But what is most impressive with this film is that the entire soundtrack is absolutely integral to the storytelling.

Music is often used to underscore or foreshadow the emotion that a story wants the audience to feel. Because that’s what music does. But the story was written in such a way so that every single clip of music was absolutely integral to the story. Some of it you’ll recognize, others will be obscure.

Lots of filmmakers will throw music in (sometimes as a way to cover up the lack of true emotion in the story) but Wright’s use of music was absolutely essential to the story. It’s a risk and it pays off in spades.

Technically, everything is flawless. The opening heist scene is cut in such a way to draw you in with quick edits and economical storytelling. And following that is the complete showoff on a single long take of Baby Driver going to get coffee, at least three or four minutes to establish the character. Brilliant.

I wasn’t familiar with the lead, Ansel Elgort. He is a compelling leading man, young as he may be, and I find him much more interesting than say, Miles Teller. And he more than holds his own against the likes of Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, and Jon Hamm, all excellent.

I wasn’t that big of a Lilly James fan because I thought she was one dimensional in Downton Abbey, but here, I found her to have great chemistry with Ansel. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s stunning.

I think this is top notch filmmaking that took a risky premise and executed it flawlessly.

Except for my little nitpicks which have to do with the ending, the last three minutes of the film. But I like darker endings and where the story ends up is at least accessible and has hope.

Four stars out of four. Not quite an instant classic. Almost.

No habla Espanol and yet I wrote 15% of my movie in Spanish

Yeah, I’m an idiot. I had one semester of French at Hefner Jr High in Oklahoma City. At Putnam City High School I took German. All I remember from that class is that our teacher, Frau Schneider was single and drove a Fiero or some car like that. I really don’t understand Spanish at all other than “Ola”, “Gracias” and some of normal curse words. “Puta”, right?

So when I got inspired to write THE ALIENS, I ended up writing a significant amount of the movie in English without the direct Spanish translation. I left it up to my actors to deliver the intent of what I had written.

For the most part it worked out. But then I had to subtitle this back in Spanish and now I have no idea if what I wrote in English that was spoken in Spanish and now back to English will work.

The entire dialogue of the film is in English in nearly 1100 rows of a Google spreadsheet.  Why, you might ask?

I want to have some control over the foreign subtitles which I will burn in until I can figure out how to create the pop up subtitles.

I was doing this manually through translate.google.com until I thought, maybe there’s a Google spreadsheet formula. Turns out there is. So if you want the ability to do a quick translation of your film, use this formula.

=GoogleTranslate(A2, “en”, “es”)

You copy that down the cells, then copy and paste values to a different column and you’ll have a quick, if not entirely accurate rough translation of the film. Then you can have someone who actually knows the language to make adjustments.

THE ALIENS is an official selection of the 2017 Louisville’s International Festival of Film (LIFF)

LIFF 2017

So I can officially announce that THE ALIENS will be screened at the 2017 Louisville’s International Festival of Film or LIFF for short.

The film will screen somewhere and sometime between September 14 to 16 in downtown Louisville. I’m supposed to find out the exact screening time around the 1st of August. I plan on attending and will be trying to get the PR machine cranked up to get some butts in seats.

Other than that, I have scant information so far from the festival but they do have my Blu-ray discs in hand.

More info will eventually be found at the LIFF Website.  More to come.