Category Archives: Show Time

Vol. 10, No. 25 – Sept 13 – Sept 26, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Steel Magnolias capture the South at Elite

Robert Harling’s comedy-drama, Steel Magnolias, is now on stage through October 1 at the Elite Theater in Channel Islands. The highly popular play, written by Harling in just ten days, reflects how women bond through many of life’s challenges, providing support, guidance and a touch of sarcasm as their friendships bloom. Taking place in a small town in Louisiana, the setting could be literally anywhere. The Southern touch adds considerably however to the humor and the depth of the characters.

The general story is a personal one for the author, built around the character Shelby, who was modeled after his sister, Susan. Shelby dies of complications from diabetes, as did Susan. It provided catharsis for the author and a treat for audiences everywhere.

The action happens in around 1980 at Truvy’s Hair Salon in a small town where a group of regulars gather on Saturday mornings for styling, gossip and laughter.

The ensemble is solid throughout and meld together nicely. Kim Prendergast plays salon owner Truvy Jones. She is joined by the former town mayors’ widow Clairee Belcher (Peggy Steketee), young bride-to-be Shelby (Olivia Heulitt), who loves everything pink, Shelby’s harried but caring mother M’Lynn (Christine Burke) and curmudgeon-like Ouiser (pronounced Weezer) portrayed by Angela DeCicco. On this morning, Truvy has just hired Annelle (Catie Sayeg) a young, possibly married, newcomer to town as her insecure apprentice.

The audience is introduced to each of the delightful ladies as they enter and banter before their respective appointments. It is Shelby’s wedding day, so of course her hair must be done first. Truvy expertly curls and styles her hair while Annelle washes M’Lynn’s. The others have coffee, chide each other in friendly fashion and gossip just a little as each gets their Saturday “do’s” done.

All the characters are engaging, each one’s personality blossoming more fully as we get to know them. We learn a bit about their backgrounds along the way. We get caught up as one of the insiders in their petty yet friendly, squabbles and their obvious love, concern and encouragement for each other. When one needs support, all the rest pitch in.

The six ladies make a tight ensemble and each is given the spotlight here and there. The most tightly wound character is mom M’Lynn, who understandably unravels towards the end and is comforted by the others.

Bathed in lavender, the salon is comfortable and inviting. The requisite magazines are on the coffee table, hair dryers are at the ready and a plethora of warmth pervades the scenes. The setting invites the audience to become part of the Saturday clique. Anyone who has ever been to a hair salon will enjoy the posters featuring big hair of the 80’s.

At one point when the salon telephone rings, Ouiser states “it’s probably my mind trying to locate my body”. How many times have we all felt like that? The script offers frequent insights familiar to many, adding to the comfortable intimate ambiance. Go to The Salon and enjoy.

Steel Magnolias runs through October 1. Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM, Sunday matinees 2 p.m.

General admission $20. Seniors/Students/Military $17. Reservations are encouraged.

Elite Theatre Company, 2731 Victoria Avenue, Fisherman’s Wharf, Channel Islands Harbor 483-5118

Vol. 10, No. 24 – Aug 30 – Sept 12, 2017 – Movie Review

Girls Trip Review
2.5 Palm Trees out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Girls Trip is a 2017 comedy film directed by Malcolm D. Lee and written by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, from a story by Erica Rivinoja and the screenwriters. The film stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith.

After years apart, best friends Ryan, Sasha, Lisa, and Dina head to the essence festival and New Orleans. What started as a way to bring the Flossy Posse back together, the trip leads to a wild adventure beyond what they could have imagined.

Girls Trip, I felt, offers more than what the previews promised me. It’s a whole lot funnier, a whole lot nastier, and a lot more sentimental that I would have thought. Sure, it rehashes plenty of tired tropes, and doesn’t really add anything new or daring in regards to its comedy. However, to the films credit, it doubles down on every raunchy, dirty joke that it makes. Screenwriter’s Kenya Barris and Tracy Olive go all in on their jokes, which either crash and burn spectacularly, or reach great heights. Girls Trip is definitely funny, and features a lot of gross out humor. So viewers with a weak disposition will probably want to skip out of this one.

My main gripe of girl’s trip is its strict following of the same tired Hollywood story beats that all films of this type follow. If you frequently watch movies, and have a good enough instincts, Girls Trip can be entirely too safe and predictable. In the grand scheme of things this isn’t a huge problem but also means that you are not missing much if you don’t watch this film.

Largely, most of this film’s success can be attributed to the cast’s stellar performances. The leading ladies all do a fabulous job bringing each of their respective characters to life on screen. Tiffany Haddish in particular is what steals the show. Haddish’s wild performance starts at a 9 and just goes up from there. While Girls Trip might arguably be forgettable as the year goes on, Haddish’s performance will be the last thing I forget.

Girls Trip accomplished exactly what I needed it to in order to have a good time. It was funny, it was raunchy, and was competently produced. If you find yourself needed a comedy fix at the movies, then Girls Trip can be exactly what you needed. However, outside of that I’m not very inclined to recommend the film. It’s not exactly groundbreaking or all too deep. But sometimes, all we need is a good laugh. Rated R 2h 2m

Vol. 10, No. 24 – Aug 30 – Sept 12, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Becky’s New Car offers delightful ride

Ready for a theater experience that will make you laugh, touch you and possibly even involve you? It is waiting for you now at the Santa Paula Theater Center in the form of Becky’s New Car by Steven Dietz. The engine is revving up and the lanes are clear.

Originally commissioned around 2007 by a Seattle realtor as a birthday gift for his theater-loving wife, this fresh offering is about real people, in real situations. The play is set in an unspecified city but is identified as “a town very much like Seattle”. No wonder, since author Dietz was a part-time resident there.

The satirical, out-of-the-box comedy offers insights into the complexities of middle class life which is predictably full of routines, angst, potentially life-changing decisions, and familiar expectations. The clever staging involves four settings, all contained in one set. Threading the living room, office space, car and terrace together are roads that converge center stage, symbolizing how easily lives can veer off course if the wrong road is taken.

Becky Foster (Cynthia Killion) is a middle-class woman holding down a demanding yet mind-numbingly routine job who has a college age son (Andrew Garrett) living in the basement, a blue-collar husband (Scott Blanchard) who works as a roofer, and wanderlust in her heart. She is presented with an unexpected opportunity by wealthy widower Walter Flood (Ronald Rezac) which has the potential to completely upend her life. How she copes with the increasingly complex quagmire she has allowed to form is the crux of the story.

Along this stretch of the road we meet the widowers’ daughter Kenni (Jennifer Skutley) as well as Ginger (Aileen-Marie Scott), an unskilled socialite who is in the process of going to the school of hard knocks. The play takes more turns than the Grand Prix in reaching a surprising climax.

The acting throughout is absorbing. The audience is immediately put at ease and the action continues as though a comfortable conversation is taking place. It just seems natural when Becky invites members of the audience to participate in small ways, adding to the feeling of just hanging out with the characters, particularly Becky. It also helps that actor Killion has experience in, and a knack for, improvisation and ad-libbing.

Ms. Killion is well matched by Rezac, a Ventura County theater veteran of deservable renown. Their scenes together are particularly authentic. Scott Blanchard as Becky’s husband of 28 years brings forth a solid, quiet and commanding voice of reason. Son Chris (Garrett) is a walking psychology term textbook which he handles well. Skutley is given little to do yet makes the most of it she can. Scott shines in her secondary yet important role.

Becky’s New Car drives off the lot smoothly and with a full tank of gas. Take a spin.
Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM, Sundays 2:30 PM through Oct. 1
Adults $24, Students and Seniors $22

Vol. 10, No. 23 – Aug 16 – Aug 29, 2017 – Movie Review

This issue does not have a movie review so enjoy this Hollywood gossip:

by Tony Rizzo

We told you that Daniel Craig, who said, “I’d rather slash my wrists than do another Bond film,” was sure to sign for the next Bond movie, tentatively titled “Bond 25.” What was really happening was that Craig was already contracted for the next Bond film, which producers conveniently didn’t tell us because they were trying to get Craig to sign for an additional 007 film. They stood by while columnists rambled on about Idris Elba and Tom Hiddleston as the next Bond. That’s why he’d been offered $150 million to return for an additional Bond film.

To sweeten the deal, Christopher Nolan, riding high on rave reviews for “Dunkirk,” is all but set to direct, something producers knew would appeal to him as well. Quite a raise in pay grade for 007; Craig was paid “only” $39 million for his last Bond film, “Spectre.”

Oscar-nominee and Emmy-win- ner Benedict Cumberbatch will do at least three more films as “Doctor Strange”: “Thor: Ragnarok,” due Nov. 3; “Avengers: Infinity War,” due May 4; and the untitled “Avengers” sequel, due May 2019. Somewhere in between he’ll star in another “Doctor Strange,” now in development. When a film costs $165 million and grosses $670 million, you can bet a sequel is in the works.

In addition, he has “The Current War,” with Michael Shannon, Nicho- las Hoult and Tom Holland (“Spider- man”), due Dec. 22; the animated fan- tasy “Magik,” with Matthew Goode; will be the voice of Shere Khan in the new live-action “Jungle Book” (out October 2018); and will voice the Grinch in a new animated version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” opening November 2018. Could it be that he and wife Sophie Hunter, who have two young sons, wanted animated films the boys can watch?

Mark Wahlberg, who hit it big with “Transformers: The Last Knight,” will have “Daddy’s Home 2,” with Will Ferrell, John Cena, John Lithgow and Mel Gibson, opening Nov. 10. The original “Daddy’s Home” cost $69 million and grossed $243 million. He’s currently shooting the Ridley Scott crime drama “All the Money in the World,” with Michele Williams and Oscar-winners Kevin Spacey and Timothy Hutton, for a Dec. 8 release. Mark has been producing and star- ring in “Wahlburgers” since 2014 and exec produces the Dwayne Johnson HBO series “Ballers” (which returned July 23 for season three) and the USA series “Shooter” with Ryan Phillippe (which began season two on July 18).

© 2017 King Features Synd., Inc.

Vol. 10, No. 23 – Aug 16 – Aug 29, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine
Camarillo Stages The Last Five Years

Currently playing through September 10 on the Camarillo Skyway Playhouse stage is the Drama Desk award-winning musical The Last Five Years. The musical is performed by only two characters and is essentially two one-person shows being presented simultaneously. Book, music and lyrics penned by Jason Robert Brown tells a story of unfulfilled expectations based on his own failed marriage.

Jamie Wellerstein (Daniel Cohoon), a budding novelist, relates his story in forward fashion, walking the audience through their five-year relationship from meeting to dissolution. At the same time, aspiring stage actress Cathy Hiatt (Darrienne Lissette) tells her version of the story in reverse order – from the end going back to the beginning. The two follow distinct individual career paths that pull them apart instead of allowing them to work as a couple. They talk but they don’t communicate. The result then was no surprise.

In the early 2000’s the show garnered numerous awards and accolades. The approach is different while the plot points are intimately familiar. Performed almost entirely in song, the show by some definition, could be categorized as light opera. What little dialogue is present is used to accentuate certain incidents rather than explain what is going on between the characters. In fact, except for one song where the timelines meet, the two do not interact – they perform separately.
Because it is almost continuous singing, both actors are stretched throughout the show. The taped accompaniment was kept at a level that each seemed to struggle vocally at times to rise above. This resulted, for me (and a few others in the audience overheard discussing at intermission), in increased volume which then lost clarity. I was unable to make out quite a few lines that just weren’t clear. They were, however, loud. Musically, the score was nice although the song lyrics provided little variety in type or tone. One doesn’t go out humming the score.

Both Cohoon and Lissette do have strong voices and often pushed them to Voice-worthy pitch. For me, however, that doesn’t work so well in musical theater, especially when the story is told through the songs which makes catching the lyrics critical to the plot. Fortunately, the premise is stated in the program as I would not have been able to discern the two varying viewpoints without assistance.

Cohoon’s character of Jamie is given almost rock-star enthusiasm in contrast to Lissette’s more pragmatic approach. Jamie’s disillusionment over the five-year relationship is told in ways that make him sound whiny and self-absorbed (which Cathy alludes to in song). I felt that if both were presented with more sensitivity than power the impact would have been greater. Too, perhaps because the Skyway Playhouse has concrete walls, more careful modulation of amplification is required than of other theaters.

The bare-bones setting, designed by Director Eric Umali, provided no distractions which allowed all the focus to be placed on the two actors and their stories. Occasional projections on the blank flats offered generalized city background.

The Last Five Years runs Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m., Sundays, 2 p.m. through September 10
Camarillo Skyway Playhouse
330 Skyway Drive, Camarillo
Camarillo Airport
(805) 388-5716 or
Adults $20, Students, seniors and military, $15, Under 12, $10

Vol. 10, No. 22 – Aug 2 – Aug 15, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Billy Elliott Dances into Simi

Billy Elliott, the Musical is the current offering by Actors’ Repertory Theatre of Simi, now playing at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. Based on the 2000 film, the staging features music by Elton John with lyrics and book by Lee Hall. Hall also wrote the screenplay for the film.

The story takes place in England and centers around Billy, young son of widower Jack Elliott, a coal miner. The family has been struggling to make ends meet since the death of Billy’s mother and now find themselves amid a union strike at the mines. Through a chance opportunity, Billy joins a ballet class and discovers that he both enjoys dance and has a talent for it. However, his father thinks he is taking boxing lessons. Emotions run high as his father comes to grips with Billy’s ambition to pursue dance, fearing that his own masculinity will be questioned by the other miners.

The Simi staging, directed by David Ralphe, provides a raw look at the values of family, community, unity and ambition. Peppered with talent both onstage and on the creative team, the production is a standout in the season. The cast uniformly handles the challenging accents well throughout, even though sometimes the words were hard to make out due to the unfamiliar phrasing. The gamut of emotions is covered, bringing anger, joy, surprise and even tears in all the right places.

One word of caution – the language used in script and song for both the adults and the children may shock some. However, the crude unsophisticated language is fitting for the setting, the situation and the characters.

The title role of Billy is played by Marcello Silva, who displays triple-threat skills. He has a strong singing voice, is a quite competent dancer in both ballet and tap, and carries his role with skill and confidence.

The large cast features solid performances by all, most notably Andy Mattick as Dad, Kayla Bailey as Dead Mum and MarLee Candell as Mrs. Wilkinson, the jaded ballet school teacher.

Stellar character roles are imbued with energy and depth. Kathleen Silverman plays it up as Grandma and Adam Womack kicks up his heels in a hysterical display of artistic expression. Noah Godard offers surprises as Billy’s friend Michael, including some fancy footwork.

Choreography by Becky Castells is creative. Even the miners and the police are given their turns to add a few steps, all well done. The cadre of young ballet girls pirouette and point with excitement and varying capability befitting their young ages. They complement Billy’s obvious dance training nicely.

A large orchestra provides more than ample sound which the actors must work to overcome in places, even with microphones. With the orchestra in front of the stage, patrons in the first few rows of seats will doubtless strain to hear the dialogue.

Billy Elliott won’t appeal to everyone due to its argumentative style. However, the characters pull you in and envelope you in the end. It is a performance well worth attending.

Billy Elliott continues through August 27. Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center, 3050 Los Angeles Ave, Simi Valley. $25 general admission, $22 seniors and students, $18 children 12 and under. 583-7900,

Vol. 10, No. 22 – Aug 2 – Aug 15, 2017 – Movie Review

4 Palm Trees out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Dunkirk is a 2017 war film written, co-produced and directed by Christopher Nolan. The film stars: Fionn Whitehead, Tom Glynn-Carney, Jack Lowden, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, James D’Arcy, Barry Keoghan, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and Tom Hardy.

Following three separate perspectives, Dunkirk explores the great evacuation of over 300,000 men when they became stranded on the beach of Dunkirk during WWII.

Survival and sacrifice, pride and humiliation, valor and cowardice; Dunkirk was the quintessence of suspense through mimesis. Told through three separate stories, in the land, the sea and the air, we see the evacuation of Dunkirk unfold for the British. Through non-linear storytelling, dramatic sound mixing, and the reliance of action opposed to dialogue, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk has to be one of the most suspenseful films I’ve ever seen.

From the first opening moments, Nolan’s reliance on dynamic sound mixing took center stage in creating the suspense that I felt deep in my gut. The feeling of watching thousands of cationic men, defeated and tired, switch into full survival mode the instant the roar of planes fly overhead was terrifying. Even more visceral was the return of their malaise stupor the moment the bombs cease their carnage. The contrast between the quiet respite and thunderous mayhem creates a sudden and dramatic audio que for the viewer. Any feeling of relief or ease you may have while watching can be flipped off in an instant, the moment the roar of the ME 109 fills the theater. And believe me, I mean no hyperbole when I say it fills the theater. The audio is mixed so loudly, that those with hearing sensitivities may even want to consider bringing protection. But the tension and suspense gained from this mixing makes any temporary tinnitus honestly worth it.

One of the most interesting aspects Nolan’s films is how disjointed they are. Told from three separate perspectives, the film does not follow direct causality of the events transpiring at Dunkirk. Instead, the film jumps between the separate perspectives, each of which can overlap or even take place moments prior to the previous perspective. Normally, this can be confusing and difficult to follow, especially due to how often they jump forwards and backwards in time relative to each other. But the genius lies in this films editing and strong visual cues to create markers for which the event happen around. These visual aids help keep the viewer grounded and aware, where in time these events are taking place.

Lastly, today’s relevant filmmaking related word of the day is mimesis. I know I’ve gone on about it before, but mimesis is storytelling through action rather than through exposition. It’s just in my opinion the stronger, more visceral way to tell a story, and Nolan’s Dunkirk really hammers home how powerful this could be. For me personally, the single most captivating part of the entire film is seeing the relationship form between private Tommy and Gibson develop with no dialogue being shared between them. You see a relationship born and grow through the adversity these two men face, and it’s an amazing experience. This alone makes Dunkirk one of the best films of the year to me.

Dunkirk is a frightening experience to be had. I don’t think I’ve felt a movie give me this type of cinematic anxiety for years, but Dunkirk is not to be missed. Whether it’s the great editing, unique storytelling, or dynamic audio mixing, there is something to be learned about the filmmaking process from this movie. All I have left to say is simple, go see Dunkirk.

Rated R 1h 47m

Vol. 10, No. 21 – July 19 – Aug 1, 2017 – Movie Review

Spider-Man: Homecoming
review: 2.5 out of 4

by Manuel Reynoso

Spider-Man: Homecoming is a 2017 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character Spider-Man, The film is directed by Jon Watts, with a screenplay by the writing teams of Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley, Watts and Christopher Ford, and Chris McKenna and Erik Sommers. Starring Tom Holland as Spider-Man, alongside Michael Keaton and Jon Favreau.

Every time I see a marvel movie, I always tell myself this is the last one. That these series really doesn’t do it for me, or that they’re not what I’m looking for in a superhero movie. But I always end up dipping my toes back into the Marvel Cinematic Universe every so often just to see what I’m missing, and to be honest, it didn’t really feel like I was missing much. We’ve all seen Spider-Man’s origin story; we’ve seen marvels movie magic. Spider-Man Homecoming simply offers more of the same. Great acting, great visual effects, but a simple story. But if you’re a fan of the MCU it’s worth the watch.

These reviews are always the most difficult for me to write as I don’t really find anything that stands out to me. Every story beat follows the generic hero’s journey arc and doesn’t try to differentiate itself further. It’s a story about Spider-Man. Not about Peter Parker. That’s an important distinction to make as one story is about action, the other about character. Personally I very much prefer the latter and if you do too, I can’t find anything special about the story. It’s competent and well told as most Marvel movies, but lacks serious character development. Thankfully, the great visuals afforded by a bottomless budget makes it a fun watch.

Marvel Movies rarely suffer from a lack of spectacle and Spider-Man: Homecoming is no different. There are some great high flying moments throughout the film, and I would be lying to myself if I was to say I didn’t have fun watching them. The third act was a little bit of a let down compared to the rest of the film. Which strange enough seems to be par for the course for many of the MCU films.

For me personally, casting was superb. While I admit to having a certain amount of nostalgia for the original Spider-Man, Tom Holland is a great fit for Peter Parker. Much more fitting than perpetual high schoolers, Tobey Maguire. Plus I’m always a fan of literally whatever Michael Keaton decides to portray. They both did a stellar job and Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture really carried the film for me.

So really, Spider-Man: Homecoming is just fine. It’s really not my type of movie but I can’t in good conscious fault a movie for not conforming to my tastes. There isn’t going to be much technically wrong about the film, it accomplishes being a solid (and hopefully final) reboot of Spider-Man and if you’re a fan of Spider-Man or the MCU, it will likely be worth the watch. Quickly for the sake of transparency, I’d like to quickly explain how I rate the movies I watch. Typically, If a film does not have any egregious technical problems, whether that be in its writing, cinematography, or whatever else, I won’t rate it any lower than a 2.5. Anything above 2.5 comes down to my personal preferences in film. So while I rate Spider-Man: Homecoming a 2.5, it can vary much be your very own 4 outa 4. Pg-13 2h13m

Vol. 10, No. 21 – July 19 – Aug 1, 2017 – A View from House Seats

by Shirley Lorraine

Catch Anything Goes on Ojai Stage

Love on the high seas lends itself to high energy on the Ojai Art Center Theater stage, a welcome summer offering. The toe-tapping hit with memorable music and lyrics by Cole Porter is a favorite for both audiences and actors. Why? It’s just plain fun.

The S.S. America is sailing to England. Aboard is heiress Hope Harcourt, her fiancée Lord Evelyn Oakleigh, and Hope’s mother, Mrs. Harcourt. Also sailing is Reno Sweeney, a nightclub singer, and her back-up singers. Public Enemy number 13, Moonface Martin, boards with an assumed identity, as does Billy Crocker, a young Wall Street broker who once had a magical evening with Hope. A large cadre of other colorful characters fill out the passenger list.

The plot twists and twines with intrigue and humor as Reno and Lord Evelyn find themselves attracted to each other, Billy works to win Hope over and Moonface struggles with his disguise. It’s all good, clean merriment played to comedic heights and laced with energetic tap dancing and striking costumes.

Familiar Porter songs fill the stage including “You’re the Top”, “Friendship”, “Let’s Misbehave “and “Take Me Back to Manhattan”. Many in the audience left the theater humming the tunes and smiling from ear to ear.

In the starring role of Reno is Holly Sewell who embraces the brash persona with everything she’s got. Her Mermanesque song style rings through the rafters of the theater center. She fits the role of Reno like a glove.

Sewell is well matched by Troy Dailey, as Billy, who displays strong and clear vocal ability. Haley Weed plays the frail and beautiful young ingénue with panache. Her socialite mother characterized by Jill Dolan is a picture of grand stature. Sean Mason as the stuffy Englishman, Lord Evelyn, delivers throughout with a solid character.

The gangster Moonface Martin is given life by the talented John Medeiros who provided ample moments of laughter with just a look or expression. Kena Worthen portrays his sidekick, Bonnie, with verve. Medeiros’ solo of “Be Like the Bluebird” was a highlight among many highlights.

Kudos to Andy Street, musical director and pianist, and Dan Willard who added emphasis with a variety of wind instruments. They kept the pace lively and engaging. Musical and vocal director Jaye Hersh did a superb job of blending the voices.

All the players handled the extensive choreography by Janet McNeil well. The numerous tap numbers were a crowd favorite. Flattering costuming by Celia Williams and Haley Weed added sparkle and period whimsy.

Opening weekend played to an enthusiastic packed house. Director Tracey Williams-Sutton has pulled out the stops and given the show shine with a terrific talented cast, just the right amount of musical accompaniment and a polished look. Put attending Anything Goes on your to-do list.

The show looks great, plays big and gives everyone true value for their ticket dollar. For a good time, call the Ojai Arts Center Theater to reserve your seat now. And get there early as parking can be a challenge.

Ojai Art Center Theater, 113 S. Montgomery Street, (805) 640-8797

All seats $20, Seniors &Art Center Members $18, Students $15. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 7:30 p.m., Sundays 2:00 p.m. through August 13. NOTE early curtain time for the summer shows.

Vol. 10, No. 20 – July 5 – July 18, 2017 – Movie Review

Baby Driver
by Manuel Reynoso
4 Palm Trees out of 4

Baby Driver is a 2017 action film written and directed by Edgar Wright, starring Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Eiza González, Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx

Forced to a getaway drive to repay his debt, Baby finds that it takes a lot more than a fast car to escape the pull of the criminal world.

I don’t think anyone’s ever thought to themselves “Boy, I sure hope someone makes a musical crime thriller.” But I assure you, Baby Driver is the musical crime thriller we all needed but certainly do not deserve. Baby Driver oozes style. Top notch cinematography, amazing editing, and some of the smoothest dialogue I have ever witnessed, Edgar Wright absolutely hit it out of the park. I can feel my fingertips wanting to gush all over the keyboard, but I’m going to reel it back and go into why Baby Driver might be in my personal top 10 films list.

My raw enjoyment level during the film almost never dropped below an 11. Seeing Baby whip nondescript cars into a Rockford spin, all to the beat of Brighton Rock, was just one example of the many rushes in Baby Driver. Nearly the entire film is choreographed to the music that Baby is currently listening to. From Barry White to Queen, the soundtrack to Baby Driver doesn’t just serve as a music bed to compliment the action, but even helps to flesh out Baby as a more nuanced character. Eventually the music bed feels so integral to the film, you get this premonition on where the action is going to go. You can feel the flow of the action as your mind follows every beat of the music.

On que, every cut is perfectly in sync with the music of the film. Despite the hectic pace of some scenes, using the music and editing as a guide, you’ll never find yourself lost in the action. Not once did I think to myself, “wait, what happened? Where am I?” This isn’t just a testament to the choreography, but to the editing prowess of Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss. The camera work and lighting was equally as amazing as well. Bill Pope’s mix between snappy jump cuts and long takes gave the viewing experience almost a texture. Now I’m sure by this point you would expect me to stop making references to music, but the dialogue has to be the best piece of music in this entire film.

First let me explain. The written word is music. You vary the tone and length; you create rhythm and beats. Tension, Action, Horror: how you choose to write a line, what you leave in, or what you take out. This is where the music in words can be found. So when I hear dialogue, I hear its flow, its beat, and its rhythm. You can have a great story, but with flat dialogue. However, Edgar Wright went so much further than giving each character their own personalities. He gave them their own rhythm; He gave them their own music. Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx’s acting prowess really shone through when you hear them deliver each line. Each character spoke to the beat of their own drum, and they felt so much more alive.

Man, I liked this movie. Like, really liked this movie. It’s not perfect, and I have my criticisms, but the feeling of passion and care that went into this film just makes these small issues fade away. I can’t recommend it enough, see Baby Driver in theaters and enjoy the ride. Rated R 1h 53m