Baby Driver *****

Baby has been a getaway driver for gang boss Doc since he made the mistake of stealing Doc’s Mercedes when he was an underage joyrider. He drowns out the tinnitus that he suffers as a result of a childhood car accident with the sound of his favourite tunes on one of his collection of iPods. When he meets waitress Deborah, he sees the chance of a better life, but Doc has one last job for his driver.

When I saw the first trailers for this film, I thought it was surely made for an exclusive audience of speed-freak teenagers. I was wrong. I’m sure they will love it, but so will anybody else who is happy to sit back and be taken on a handbrake-turn journey that incorporates action, violence, love and the Great American Dream of just heading down the highway and leaving all your troubles behind.

The result is a hugely entertaining movie made for the summer.

In the lead role, relative newcomer Ansel Elgort delivers a performance that is quiet and contained – until he gets behind the wheel.

The support cast is revved up on quality. Kevin Spacey’s Doc is like the type of self-contained neighbour who is punctiliously polite, but turns out to be a serial killer on the side. Jon Hamm captures Buddy’s sleazy undertow of barely contained instability, while Jamie Foxx displays his huge screen presence as the psychopathic Bats.

The film is not without its faults. Lily James’s waitress character is nothing more than a cypher, and there’s a no-no moment near the end of the film, when Doc does something sufficiently out of character to be unbelievable.

And, apart from the idea of a getaway driver who is so attached to his music that he will even delay his getaway until he finds just the right track, the film is filled with familiar heist/gangster movie tropes (e.g.: the cash-stuffed sports bags, the gang’s latex face masks, the waitress with the heart of gold, the conflicted hero, the repressed gang boss).

But enough of the flaws: this is a superbly choreographed match-up of a brilliant soundtrack and incredible driving stunts. 

Cast: Ansel Elgort (Baby), Kevin Spacey (Doc), Lily James (Deborah), John Bernthal (Griff), Elza Gonzalez (Darling), Jon Hamm (buddy), Jamie Foxx (Bats).

Director: Edgar Wright

 

St Illtyd’s Church, Llanrhidian

THE church was reputed to have been founded by the Celtic Saint Rhidian during the sixth century. Although dedicated to St Illtyd, the church is still strongly linked to St Rhidian. The current building dates from around 1300, though it was extensively renovated in 1858.

It is strongly linked with the military order of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, the Hospitallers.

Notes on a Retired Life (cont’d)

THE number of older people using social media doubled last year, according to research from Ofcom, the telecoms regulator.

Among those whom Ofcom terms “social seniors” (ugh), 90 percent chose Facebook, which has simultaneously fallen in popularity with young people.

So much for my efforts to get down with the kids.

*****

WE recently went through a heatwave. It prompted The Current Mrs Feeney to buy a disposable barbecue and a couple of steaks. We lit the tray of lumpwood, and left it for the recommended 30 minutes to get hot, before putting on the steaks.

For the next ten minutes we stared at the raw meat, as it stubbornly refused to cook. Then TCMrsF took the steaks into the kitchen and fried them. Delicious.

*****

THERE was quite a reasonable crowd for the lunchtime showing of Churchill (see review below). TCMrsF surveyed the heads in the rows in front of us. Most were as silvered as this writer’s.

“I’m too young to watch this film,” she said.

A reviewer in a film magazine, to which I subscribe, this month suggested that a movie she had just savaged would be “just the bill for those seniors’ matinees where the ticket comes with a cuppa and a biscuit.”

Patronising rubbish. Cinema goers who are over 60 are just as averse to watching crap as anybody else.

*****

I READ in my morning newspaper that Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement has intensified its rhetoric against migrants and Gypsies. Its leader described the inhabitants of Gypsy camps in Rome as thieves.

When TCMrsF had her purse stolen on the Roman metro this year, the charming carabinieri officer who took down her particulars explained to us, with a rueful smile, that the crime would, beyond doubt, have been carried out by a Roma child.

We are certain that it was actually committed by the bourgeois-looking couple who stood behind us on the train.

*****

I HAVE always had a terrible memory for names. Not great for a journalist.

An acquaintance whom I had not met for at least 30 years bumped into me outside the supermarket. I was pretty sure that we had once played in the same football team, but for the life of me, I couldn’t remember if he was called Ian (pronounced EE-ann) or Ieuan (pronounced Yi-ann). This matters in Wales.

I puzzled at it for hours, before it came to me with certainty. He was called Ivor.

*****

AT TCMrsF’s request, I go through the cluttered drawer on my dressing table. Among the items no longer of any use, I find my mother’s and father’s bank cards. I cut them up and dispose of them.

More than a year after their deaths, moments of what is fashionably called “closure” continue to occur.

 

Churchill. ***

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June, 1944. Ninety-six hours to D Day. The Allied forces are massed on the south coast of England. Standing in the way of the largest invasion force in history is one man; British wartime Prime Minister, Winston Churchill.

Leave your preconceptions of Churchill at the cash desk; here we see an old, exhausted man, filled with foreboding about the Normandy landings, and racked with guilt about his part in the catastrophic Gallipoli landings in the first world war. He tries to stop Operation Overlord, interferes in the Allied commanders’ plans, attempts to get a berth on a British battleship for himself and King George VI, and sinks into despair and depression as he is forced to confront the fact that his romantic notions about glory are fantasy.

A study in the loneliness of leadership – be it Churchill, supreme Allied commander Eisenhower, or the British monarch – the point is laboured with too many panoramic shots of men alone on beaches or in palaces. Ironically, the film’s best scene is far more intimate, when King George VI quietly explains to Churchill why it is their duty to ‘stay at home, and stay safe.’

Strong performances, but overly episodic and repetitive. A good shot at redressing the myth, without ultimately diminishing the man.

Cast: Brian Cox (Winston Churchill), Miranda Richardson (Clementine Churchill), John Slattery (General Dwight D Eisenhower), Julian Wadham (General Bernard Montgomery), Richard Durden (General Jan Smuts), James Purefoy (King George VI), Danny Webb (General Alan Brooke).

Director: Jonathan Teplitzky.

What’s going on?

JUST in case anybody is wondering: “Why is Retired Bloke posting a string of old film reviews?” the answer is disappointingly mundane. I’ve created a new page – The Film Reviewer – about my weekly slot on our local television station, and have posted brief posts on all of the films I’ve reviewed so far.

My Cousin Rachel

Based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, with Rachel Weisz as the mysterious, beautiful widow who may (or may not) have poisoned her rich husband and may (or may not) now have designs on his young male heir. Strong feminist theme of women’s dependence on, or independence from, men.

For a film with overt themes of suspicion, paranoia, desire, and sexual anxiety, this is curiously lacking in passion and tension. The did-she or didn’t-she mystery at its heart never flares into life. Still, handsome scenes of sweeping Cornish moors and pounding surf.

***