Posts Tagged ‘kevin spacey’

baby driver

Baby  (Ansel Elgort) is a young getaway driver who works for Doc (Kevin Spacey) who’s a mobster.  Baby’s first job is driving Griff (Jon Bernthal) Buddy (Jon Hamm) and Darling (Elza Gonzalez) away from a bank robbery.  He does this in a red Subaru.   Baby’s second job is a Brinks truck heist featuring three different criminals, Eddie (Flea) J.D. (Lanny Joon) and Bats. (Jamie Foxx)  Once again, Baby escapes with his life.  Doc promises Baby that’s his last job and Baby is glad, because while going to the same diner every day, because his mom used to work there, he meets Debora (Lilly James)a cute waitress, and the two fall in love.  Baby is out of the getaway driving business and working as a pizza delivery boy, when Doc calls with one more job, involving money orders and the post office.  After a threat from Doc, will Baby take the big job, or forget his life of crime and run off with Debora?

Most people have heard of a mash up in music, Baby Driver is a mash-up of genres.  It’s a crime caper, it’s a drippy romance, and it’s got so much music, it might as well be a musical.  But the music and the romance divert attention from the crime drama, in ways that didn’t help this movie.  There are coincidences that would never happen in real life, like two cars looking just like the getaway car on the first getaway, there are backstory elements that only serve to garner sympathy to the Baby character, and there’s a badly mismatched cast, which makes the viewer wonder if this group of people would ever do anything together, much less plan robberies together.  It’s got that one last bank job cliché, and then it breaks that promise, because there is not enough material in the film to maintain interest. The ending would have been fine, if the movie had ended five minutes before it did. If this movie wasn’t a mash-up of genres, it would have been just another heist movie with a lot of shooting and fancy driving, so I guess the touches of style are better than nothing.

This movie features some of the strangest casting in any recent movie I’ve  seen.  Ansel Elgort is good as the innocent getaway driver, but does anyone believe that a guy like that would actually be a getaway driver?  No.  And Elgort laid that Southern accent on a bit too thick, it was noticeable.  The writers failed to give Baby any dimensions though, he was basically all good all the time, and that got boring quickly. Jon Hamm is great in Mad Men, but he is not a thug, and making him dress up in a leather jacket with stubble doesn’t exactly make him look tough, he just looks out of place, like he missed a revival of Grease or something. Casting 27 year old Elza Gonzalez as Hamm’s girlfriend when Hamm is 46, makes the idea of Hamm in this movie even more ridiculous.  The two were obviously badly mismatched, and Gonzalez was only used for eye-candy purposes.  Kevin Spacey plays what he always plays, an authority figure who everyone fears for some unknown reason.  Well I hope he enjoyed himself in this movie, because he’s finished in Hollywood. Jamie Foxx plays what he always plays, a slightly crazed, unpredictable character who makes jokes. One can argue about casting any of these people, but what are Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and 70’s lounge singer Paul Williams doing in this movie?  Strange casting indeed.

The direction is not great, the pacing is uneven, it goes from a faced paced action flick to a slowly paced romance, and back and forth between the two.  The director used the beat in the music in concert with some of the action, which is unique, but hardly worth sitting through this movie for.  Watch Drive with Ryan Gosling, which also has arthouse excesses, but it’s got a better story and better acting than this movie.

Baby Driver:  Drove me to drink.

 

 

house-of-cards

Chapter 1:

Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is House Majority Whip in the House of Representatives. He is a Southern Democrat, who was thought to be a shoo-in for Secretary of State in new President Garrett Walker’s (Michael Gill) administration. Walker picks Michael Kern (Kevin Kilner) to be Secretary of State, and Francis now plans how to exact his revenge on Walker, by leaking stories damaging to Walker to an enterprising young blogger named Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and buying the absolute fealty of a corrupt representative, Peter Russo. (Corey Stoll)

Spacey also produced this show which means, it’s his show for better or worse. I’m not a big Kevin Spacey fan, which does not bode well for my feelings for the show. Spacey adopts a Southern accent which sounds silly, and he breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the audience, which is distracting for a serious drama. He’s a Southern Democrat, which is rare, I know he’s a Democrat, because he has to deal with liberals in his party, and there aren’t any liberal Republicans anymore. Spacey’s playing the usual amoral, power-hungry borderline corrupt politician who through Machiavellian machinations claws his way to power. Kate Mara plays an interesting character, who is pretty power hungry herself, and willing to make a deal with the devil to make a name for herself. I just have to remember that this bears no resemblance to real politics (I hope) and sit back and enjoy it.

Chapter 2:

Francis gets sole ownership of the education bill, and gets Kern removed from consideration for the Secretary of State job, for some anti-Israel comments he allegedly wrote in college. Of course Francis gets help in pushing Kern from Zoe Barnes and dirtbag representative Russo. Meanwhile Mrs. Underwood (Robin Wright) has the head of her environmental organization fire 10 people and then fires the lady who just fired everyone else.

I will say this for this show, it does have a better feel for politics and how it works than The West Wing did. The West Wing dealt with the President and his communications staff, there was no congress, Senate, no cabinet to speak of until much later seasons. House of Cards has the conformation process spot on, it also illustrates the corrupting influence of corporate lobbying. The Bill and Hillary comparisons are unavoidable, and unnecessary in my point of view, but the show is starting to grow on me.

Chapter 3:

In the middle of negotiating the education bill, Francis is called back to his home district, when a teenaged girl is killed while texting about the Peachoid, a giant water tower in South Carolina. Francis’ political rival Oren Chase (Murphy Guyer) points out that he tried to tear the Peachoid down. Zoe makes a tv appearance, and wants more inside information from Francis. Mrs. Claire Underwood tries to hire Gillian Cole (Sandrine Holt) for her Clean Water Initiative organization.

I said in the beginning of these reviews that I didn’t like Kevin Spacey much, but he’s good at playing jerks, and he is so good at playing this smarmy Representative, that people don’t even know when they’re being manipulated. House of Cards gets into the details of interest group politics shaping a bill, and I like that. Zoe is now flirting with Francis, so it’s just a matter of time before they sleep together. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. I don’t know what is going on with Claire and the CWI, but I bet it’s shady.

Chapter 4:

Francis backs Majority Leader David Rasmussen (Michael Siberry) for Speaker because Speaker Bob Birch (Larry Pine) didn’t back his education bill. Photographer Adam Galloway (Ben Daniels) is back in Claire’s life. Zoe gets promoted and fired in the same day at the Washington Herald. Peter Russo gets screwed by Francis during the BRAC commission hearings.

Here’s where the show leaves reality and starts heading into soap opera territory. There is not that much maneuvering in congress or the newspaper industry. I have to remind myself that this is fictional, and leave it at that.

Chapter 5

Zoe gets a new job at online magazine Slugline. Francis gets into a fight with the teachers union over collective bargaining in the new education bill. Francis wants Peter Russo to run for governor in Pennsylvania.

I think I’m sensing more of a problem with House of Cards. The writers envision Francis as a powerbroker, a kingmaker in Washington, but the days of backroom politics are over. Sure there may be a bit of dealmaking going on , but to attempt to get a guy like Russo elected governor with his long list of personal problems and a 24 hour news cycle, is just ignorant of the current political reality. Foxnews would eat Peter Russo for lunch.

Chapter 6:

Russo decides he wants to run for governor of Pennsylvania after staying clean for a month. The strike goes on for weeks, Frank looks bad in a CNN debate with the teachers union president, can he stop the strike before the President asks him to amend his bill?

I reiterate Peter Russo wouldn’t last a week in a gubernatorial primary with all the dirt floating around on him. And the writers make Francis seem omniscient and omnipotent. Let Francis lose a few rounds, that makes for better long term drama. And they just put his wife Claire in the sewer with him, but the model is wrong, there aren’t any Democratic Leadership Council types trying to push the Democrats to the center, that’s a 20 year old model, and no one wants to bash the Clintons any more except die hard liberals and die-hard conservatives.

 

Chapter 7:

President Walker (Michael Gill) signs the education bill, and Vice President Matthews (Dan Ziskie) feels squeezed out of the inner circle by Francis. Peter Russo is running for governor, Doug Stamper, (Michael Kelly) Francis’ chief of staff, is trying to stop a hooker from Peter’s past from speaking to the press, while Zoe tries to lure Janine Skorsky (Constance Zimmer) from the Washington Herald to write a puff piece on Russo. Claire has a mystery illness.

This show is reaching the heights of cynicism, Stamper is hiding a hooker, Zoe is using Skorski to write a puff piece on Russ, and Francis is hiding Peter’s other dirt. And the people of America are supposed to be dumb enough to vote for this guy. The VP is an empty suit modelled after Biden, ambitious enough to want to be President, but dumb as a post. And Francis has his hooks into everyone, the President owes him for the education bill, Zoe’s getting information from him, Russo owes his whole career to him.

Chapter 8:

Francis goes back to the Citadel Military Academy to attend the dedication of a library in his name. Russo goes back to his home district to try to win over his constituents.

This was as close to I’ve seen to a filler episode as I’ve seen on this show. It didn’t move the needle on the story at all. We all know what’s going to happen with Russo don’t we? A dull episode.

Chapter 9:

Francis is doing a whip count on the Watershed bill, the final tally comes down to two liberal congressmen. Francis tries a little arm twisting, but wants Claire to convince them to vote for the bill. Claire on the other hand has a side deal with Remy Denton, (Mahershala Ali) a lobbyist from Sancorp. Sancorp will agree to give water filtration devices to South Sudan if Claire agrees to kill the bill. Peter Russo and the Vice President aren’t getting along on their Pennsylvania bus tour. Zoe and Francis’ affair is off, or is it? What is the final tally on the Watershed bill?

This episode actually made me tingle with excitement, this is what politics is all about. Francis is actually doing his job, counting the votes. This episode has it all, Russo’s getting slammed by a conservative pundit, the ego clash between Russo and the Veep, Washington lobbyists trying to kill legislation, Claire and Francis working at cross purposes.   Not to mention the titanic ego clash between Francis and Zoe, this is what this show should be every single week.

Chapter 10:

The Watershed bill doesn’t pass. Russo’s mad at Francis, Francis is mad at Claire. Claire runs back to Adam, her photographer friend, while Russo cozies up with both Remy Denton, and a brunette he meets at a fundraiser. Does Russo fall off the sobriety wagon? Zoe ends up in her old boss Lucas’ apartment after a run in with Claire.

This episode goes back to the old soap opera template, who’s sleeping with whom, who’s backstabbing whom, and I really don’t care for musical chairs, or musical beds, as the case may be. And of course, Francis is in the middle of all of it.   One thing I noticed that I got a laugh from, when Francis is yelling at Claire, Spacey dropped his Southern accent completely, I didn’t expect that from Spacey. I’ll make a prediction right now, and I may look stupid, but here goes. Francis is going to end the season as Vice President, to reveal how would spoil the episode, but that’s what I see in the works.

Chapter 11:

Peter Russo goes on a bender for two days running, but shows no signs of dropping out, what does that mean for the governorship in Pennsylvania? Claire and Adam fight, but she doesn’t leave his apartment. Francis and Zoe agree again to only conduct a purely business relationship.

Here’s what I don’t like about this show, they have a somewhat credible plotline, and then they go over the top into ridiculousness. Francis makes Machiavelli look like a boy scout.

Chapter 12:

Francis is told that the President wants to nominate billionaire businessman Raymond Tusk (Gerald McRainey) as Vice President. Francis is tasked to vet him. Paul Capra (Wass Stephens) is picked to replace Russo in Congress. Both Zoe Barnes and Janine Skorsky are digging into whether Francis was blackmailing Russo, and he’s put Doug Stamper on their tail. Claire is fighting with Gillian, because Gillian doesn’t want to involve Sancorp in her project.

I’m surprised how listless this episode was for the episode before the season finale. There was not enough friction between McRainey and Spacey, I expected the two to go at each other hammer and tong, but the dialogue was tepid. Zoe and Skorsky playing junior detective is kind of silly since the audience already knows what is going on here. And Claire and Jillian fighting, they don’t really get into it either, so this episode is not one of the better ones.

Chapter 13:

Francis sends Remy after Tusk’s nuclear power holdings, but does the President actually nominate Tusk to be VP? Gillian is suing Claire for firing her when she is pregnant. Claire might be pregnant, but who is the father? Zoe and Janine are still digging into Russo’s past, and are close to connecting the dots, despite Stamper trying to stop them.

This was a good cliffhanger I won’t give away any spoilers. I couldn’t care less about Claire being pregnant and who the father is, that is classic daytime drama, but the rest of it was political intrigue, and very well done at that. The show overall gets silly at times and takes a lot of poetic license with politics, but when it’s good, it’s very good.