Baby Driver (Cinema Review)

15 – 113mins – 2017


 

THE FAULT IN OUR EARS

Baby (Ansel The Fault In Our Stars Elgort) is a talented getaway driver who relies upon the beat of his iPod soundtrack to drown out his tinnitus and focus his acute reflexes behind the wheel. In debt to heist mastermind Doc (Kevin Spacey) for a mistake he made in his youth, Baby is counting down the jobs until his slate is clear and he can start a new, clean life with the girl of his dreams, Deborah (Lily James). Unfortunately, Doc has other ideas for his blessed go-to driver, but will this next robbery be one job too far?

… Keep Scuttling!

Advertisements

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (DVD Review)

15 – 108mins – 2016


 

DAWN OF THE DREADFULS

Death comes to Pemberley, but quite unlike how P.D. James imagined in this Austen meets the undead clash of corsets, courtship and cannibalism, based on Seth Grahame-Smith’s genre-mashing 2009 ‘toilet read’ bestseller.

“Keep your sword as sharp as your wit.”

Trading with the colonies has brought the black plague to British soil, quarantining London’s aristocrats behind a grand barrier and leading men and women alike to refine their shaolin skills and put survival over socialising in taking down the reanimated corpses of their nearest and dearest.

Their are some unique touches here – such as the use of carrion flies to smell out dead flesh; the church of St. Lazarus being used to house “intelligent” zombies living off of pig’s blood rather than human brains – but aside from a couple of creepy snapshots (“ring-a-ring-a-roses”; servant uprising) this parody adaptation is neither creepy nor comic enough to be either horror or comedy.

“Oh, fuddle…”

With his tongue firmly in cheek, Matt Clone Smith is a scene-stealing ray of delight as “odious” buffoon Mr. Collins; a pompous man with verbal diarrhoea and a taste for scones. It’s just a pity that too many of the other stars play this cheese-fest far too straight, with Sam Riley’s aloof Colonel Darcy the prime offender; dickish and detestable to such a degree that I find it hard to believe Elizabeth Bennett (Lily Romeo & Juliet James) would ever be swept off her stocking-clad feet.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars

Branagh Theatre Live: ROMEO & JULIET (Live Review)

Image result for kenneth branagh romeo and juliet

12A – 210mins – 2016 – B&W


 

THE RO MUST GO ON

The performance last night was preceded by a clearly impromptu card-prompted introduction from Kenneth Branagh which explained Romeo (Richard Madden) had sustained an ankle injury just 48hours prior to this nationwide cinema simulcast (“the perils of live theatre!”). Nevertheless, the Game of Thrones actor was determined to power through this performance, which was part of the Cinderella director’s yearlong Plays at the Garrick season.

Branagh noted a few changes to the staging to better accommodate the lead’s mobility issues, but the show still flowed flawlessly and at no time did it appear the young Montague was in any sort of agony (other than of the heart) – quite remarkable given how he was still gamely dancing and fighting across the stage throughout.

Romeo & Juliet’s tone was set by the monochrome black and white palette, which empathised Branagh’s 1950’s Italian influence on Christopher Oram’s costume and set design. The camera direction on the night by Benjamin Caron was wonderfully dynamic and cinematic in its execution, with crucial scenes even incorporating focus blurs!

Image result for kenneth branagh romeo and juliet

In fact, so polished was the entire production that I almost needed reminding that this wasn’t tirelessly edited together from hours of unusable rehearsal footage; this was happening live, albeit an hour down the road from where I watched it in my local Cineworld. There were no dropped props, fluffed monologues or even winces from the delicate Romeo.

From Lily James’ hopeful and gushing Juliet to Meera Syal’s dryly humorous Nurse, the entire cast were superb – with special mention due to Derek Jacobi’s aged take on Mercutio. In a vox pop screened in the build up to the broadcast Branagh explained his “Wilde” inspiration behind this potentially divisive casting decision, and Jacobi delivered it with spunk and assured nonchalance.

Perhaps it was the lack of Mercutio’s unerring, larger-than-life presence, or the downward spiral of the fleetingly-promising love story, but the second half (following a twenty minute interval in which the camera lingered on a bird’s eye view of the milling Garrick attendees) was far more intense and far less fun than the spirited first. Juliet’s father (Michael Rouse) in particular delivering a shockingly brutal disavowal of his daughter’s protest against an arranged suitor.

Image result for kenneth branagh romeo and julietWhile the delivery of the awkwardly tongue-twisting Shakespearean verse made it impossible not to give the screen your full attention if you intended to stand any chance of following the ups and downs of this tragic tale, your concentration was rewarded with an impressive and immersive theatre experience. Purists may scoff at some of Branagh’s bolder revisions (a club song during the party scene, for instance), but this still retained the heartbreaking soul of the timeless original.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 4 stars