Baby Driver

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is the driver for an ever-changing roster of heist teams, led by Doc (Kevin Spacey). Baby is in debt to Doc, but is just one job away from being square, which makes it a fairly inopportune point in his life to meet and fall in love with Debora (Lily James), a waitress at his local diner. When Doc makes it clear he has no intention of letting Baby, his lucky charm, out of the gang, Baby finds himself in a tricky situation, stuck in a world of criminals including Buddy (Jon Hamm), his wife Darling (Eiza González) and the self-proclaimed crazy guy Bats (Jamie Foxx). Oh, and as a child Baby survived a car accident which killed his parents and left him with permanent tinnitus, something he can only drown out by constantly playing music.
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Inside Out, or Why I Should Never Have Kids

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias) is an 11 year old girl living in Minnesota with her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan). She is a normal girl who enjoys hockey, spending time with her friends and having fun with her family. All that changes when they move to San Francisco, and Riley finds herself having to deal with some unfamiliar emotions and situations. Most of this plays out in her head, where Riley is operated by her five core emotions, Joy (Amy Poehler), Anger (Lewis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith). However, when Joy tries to prevent Sadness from interfering with Riley’s memories, the two find themselves lost in Riley’s long term memory, leaving Anger, Disgust and Fear at the helm.
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The Back to the Future Trilogy

Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a young slacker who dreams of rock and roll stardom but lacks the courage to showcase his talents, finds himself in something of a unique situation when, during a late night experiment with his friend Dr. Emmet ‘Doc’ Brown (Christopher Lloyd), Marty is transported back in time 30 years to 1955. His only way back is to contact the 1955 Doc Brown to help fix the time machine, but in doing so he must also ensure that his own parents (Lea Thompson and Crispin Glover) – now the same age as Marty – get together, which is made all the more complicated by the fact that his own mother has taken a shine to him.
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My Own Private Idaho

This post was originally written as part of my Road Trip series over at French Toast Sunday.

Mike (River Phoenix) had a tough upbringing, not helped by being both homosexual and narcoleptic. Teenage and alone amongst the barren fields of Idaho, he moves to Seattle and becomes a street hustler and male prostitute, gaining friends amongst the small group of similarly disadvantaged youths in the same profession. Amongst these is Scott (Keanu Reeves), a Mayor’s son and the heir to his father’s fortune, but who is rebelling and living on the streets instead. When their squatting home is raided by the police, Mike and Scott begin a search for Mike’s mother, taking them on a journey back to Idaho, and eventually to Rome. Continue reading

The Big Lebowski

I’ve made the point before that the list contains films of three varieties; great, popular and important. The greats arrive via the Empire 5-star 500 list, the popular from the two lists voted by the general public, and the important ones are provided by the 1001 Films to See Before You Die. Many films, though arguably important, aren’t actually very good, so one could argue that they should be remembered and acknowledged for their gifts to cinema, but not necessarily watched, as was the case with the Jazz Singer, marking the introduction of spoken dialogue to the big screen, which nowadays is dull, racist and features too many unnecessary songs. The Big Lebowski, on the other hand, is also an important film, spawning a cult following so vast there is a fan club (the Little Lebowski Urban Achievers), several books and an annual festival (creatively named Lebowski-Fest, I hope to attend one day). And yet, it does not appear among the important list, appearing here after being awarded a 5-star review and obtaining positions on both nominated lists. This is less a crime and more a cultural injustice, as the impact this film has had on society is measurable from space. Hell, they even played clips of it recently on Something for the Weekend.

So just what is it that resonates so much with the public? Maybe it’s the snappy, endlessly quotable dialogue (“Obviously you’re not a golfer), particularly everything said in the bowling alley. Or perhaps it’s the borderline caricature roster of characters on display, from John Turtorro’s lilac-hued pederast Jesus (whom nobody fucks with) to Julianne Moore’s naked yet cultured Pollock-esque artist Maud and of course John Goodman’s psychotic ‘Nam vet Walter. It’s probably got something to do with the extremely crowded plot that bears little effect upon the characters it happens to. But mainly, it has to be Jeff Bridges turn as The Dude, a man shambling and smoking his way through life, following the flow it leads him on via nihilists, urinating Chinamen, porn moguls and private detectives. That, and it’s the first great film to feature a pot-smoking lead since Cheech and Chong, and one must conclude that many of those attending Lebowski-Fest, drinking white Russians in their dressing gowns and sunglasses have similar feeling towards the weed as his Dudeness.


Me? I love it because it’s a quintessential Coen Brothers movie. It features everything you need to make a great film – a twisting plot, stellar cast (I haven’t even mentioned Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tara Reid, Sam Elliot, David Thewlis, Aimee Mann or the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ Flea), terrific performances all round and a cracking soundtrack. The film introduced me to my cocktail of choice – Vodka, Kahlua and milk, easy on the Kahlua and heavy on the ice – and every time I watch it I either see something new or am reminded of a moment of pure gold I’d previously forgotten.
Choose film 9/10