Baby Driver, Shannara, Tom King’s Batman, and Graduation

Novel=thumbs up

(Right on, right? Almost 1/4 through 2nd draft/edits).

Neurosis overwhelms. Example: in a previous post, written months ago when I was planning on following an “order” of updates about movies, I mentioned 2017’s excellent film Baby Driver. Then I never wrote about it. And, probably, nobody cared.

But I did, friends. I cared.

So, Let’s Talk About Baby Driver–Edgar Wright’s prequel to Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive (2011). Baby Driver shows how Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive gets so weird, and how he becomes the best mercenary driver for hire around.

Okay, you got me. That’s head-cannon, and not even good head-cannon.

Baby Driver is the story of driving savant Baby (Ansel Elgort). He was in an accident when he was young, his parents were killed, he got tinnitus, and developed driving superpowers. He works for criminals, but just as the getaway driver. His father figure and boss, who rents him out to various criminals, is Doc (the infamous Kevin Spacey). When Baby falls for waitress Deborah (Lily James), he wants to get out of the life. But not until he completes “one last job”…

The premise sounds hackneyed and ridiculous. And honestly, if you can’t stomach Spacey, I’m not going to argue with you. But this is an Edgar Wright (Sean of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) movie. This dude’s got a primo funny bone, and a knack for cool visual flair. You pair that with a driving movie, and damn if some of these sequences aren’t poetry in motion. The cast works, and even if the plot’s a little stale, there’s just enough of a unique spin on the wheels to entertain between the awesome action sequences.

Good shit.

Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks is a fantasy book published in 1977 that marks the genesis of the long running Shannara series (comprised of several offshoot series and world-building novels). I read the first 11 or so–there’s gotta be like twenty something now, maybe more. Anyway, my fantastic idea is to start them over and read until the end, partly for nostalgia’s sake, partly to finish the series. How’s that going, you ask? Slowly. But epically. Shannara is pre-Game of Thrones but post-Tolkien. A lot of Sword’s criticism is that it’s too derivative of Lord of the Rings, and while this might be true of the first book, it’s not for later series installments. This is classic high-fantasy, old fashioned adventure.

Tom King currently writes DC’s Batman main line comic. He’s known for the acclaimed indie Sheriff of Babylon and Marvel’s The Vision, both of which have been extremely well received. In Batman, he takes major risks, and isn’t afraid to let his unique style bleed into the panels of a comic that has intense reader expectations. His run is one of the most divisive on Batman in some time. I love it. Sometimes things get a little pretentious, a little opaque. But damn is it refreshing to see a unique take on the character, the mythos, and the direction of the comic. When it soars, it soars.

Hell yes, Batman

The last film I watched was Cristian Mungiu’s Graduation (2016), a moral fable of sorts about a father attempting to bribe officials so his daughter can pass a college entry exam after she is assaulted. The premise is intriguing, the characters well wrought, but direction style favors realism to a point of almost clinical sterility. While the choice is in service of the story the film tells, at times it tests the viewer’s tolerance of watching mundanity unfold onscreen. If you’re in film-school-analysis mode, give it a shot, but if you’re looking for entertainment, or excitement, give it a pass for now.

That’s all I got folks. Until next time, be good.

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