In my opinion, I believe that “film” as an art form, just isn’t of interest to the most of public anymore. Most movie-goers just aren’t challenged and do not ask to be challenged when watching whatever is up on the silver screen. Hype for the latest cinematic project is not developped over time anymore; after a few go watch it and share it the experiences with friends, family and so on. Now, hype bursts into existence! A titanic calamity of sheer adrenaline inciting all to get their tickets as soon as possible. For many, a trailer is all they need and all they will ever consider. If the trailer creates excitement, if it peaks our interest just enough, we are automatically aboard the latest hype-train. To sell the movie to the public, to the largest demographic, the trailer should be perfect, if not edited in a way to be even better then the movie itself. There are many trailers for films that do that, and the list is too long to put up here. I just want you all to keep in mind the importance of trailers not only for film as a form of art but for the film industry; the one funding projects that shouldn’t be and never considering those that should. The don’t challenge but instead profit from the hype a film creates and not the project itself.
Nowadays, we are capable of receiving so much information in so little time that it barely gives us any time to reconsider, recalculate or think about it. We simply consume it and barely take it in to process the information. First impressions are key now, we just need it too look good and not be good. That’s the model of today’s society and by default the business model of the production companies and film studios. And so, we’ve mutated into a world of reboots, remakes and cinematic universes, all for the sake of quick profit. This new world order of film sparked the genesis of what I would call a new genre: Empty-Calories Cinema. It is a genre of film that includes all projects that are simply not challenging, that does not want to take its audience seriously, and eventually becomes a parody of itself, getting progressively worse while studios will fund these because it was profitable. Throwing in tanks and submarines in the mix doesn’t make a movie more “FUCKING AWESOME” it makes it dumb, forgettable, and sure, it could be incredibly fun at first, but what about it’s rewatch value?
I’m all for blow-em-up brawlfests with giant robots, or cool cars and explosions, these are some of my guilty pleasures. But nothing more. They shouldn’t be more. They shouldn’t be advertised as more that just “something to watch this summer”. These movies became the status quo for the masses, the ones many flock to, to the point of demanding theatres play them. These need to be the side projects, the ones that studios need to throw less money at and instead throw more at projects that need the funding. Ones worth the time, energy, and money.
But in the world of Empty-Calories Cinema, reboots, remakes and cinematic universes comes Edgar Wright’s “Baby Driver” a film I consider to be the one to save the masses from the impeding doom to never be challenged.
Part musical, part action, part romance, part comedy, the latest of Wright’s projects not only challenges but experiments greatly with what both film as an art form and sound as an art form can accomplish together to better the movie-going experience for the coming years. Essentially, the plot is this; A young man named Baby is taken under the wing of a notorious criminal boss as the driver for heists, but he just wants to have a new life somewhere else, on the road, with music in his ears and his girl by his side. But the criminal world is never too far away, coming to get him and his girl.
What makes this movie so unique is primarily the use of the soundrtrack, sound effects and the scenes in the film. It is all in-sync, to the point it’s even adressed a few times in the film. One example: Baby needs to choose a good song in order to drive away from the cops, otherwise it just wouldn’t work for him. Gunshots replace the beats of the drums or join them in unison as well as screeching of the tires for guitar riffs. It’s a musical without lyrics and it just works. It may not challenge the audience but challenges film on a technical standpoint, it shows a fresh new way of filming; in-sync with sounds and music.
The cast is not only likeable but are written in a way that they aren’t just cookie-cutter characters. From the very first scene to the final one, we understand everyones motives, vices, virtues and personalities as a whole, just enough to make them feel alive and human, vital to the plot he movie and not just placed in the movie. There are no small parts, all play their roles with such enthusiasm and dedication thats I almost forgot that Doc, the notorious criminal boss was Kevin Spacey…
As an audience, we don’t need characters with incredibly complex backstories or as if their quirks is the most interesting or compelling thing about them. And we can even do without characters with huge monologues and the end of a film or beginning. All we need are characters we can believe, that feel real, authentic and vital to the story and to the film’s outcome. Baby Driver gives us just that: people, characters with great chemistry and that make the audience want to know what more there is to say rather than get onto the next scene. We learn to care for these characters and as a story teller, Wright made all the right turns. (Pun INCREDIBLY intended both for name and a car driving jokes)
What Edgar Wright has done was take a chance with film as an art form and took a chance with himself and his own capabilities as director on a technical standpoint. We need studios to take chances with these types of directors and allow both the up and coming and the veterans to take chances. Films were not meant to become a product of a business. It began as an experiment by the Lumiere Brothers. one that can, if we give it a chance, be ongoing and develop, for we may discover the new ways to film, to watch a film and to critique a film.
Wright’s Baby Driver is only the tip of the iceberg that I hope never melts away.