SXSW 2017: Baby Driver, Win It All
First reports from Austin and reviews of two world film premieres
As has been the case for more years than I care to remember, March brings us to Austin, Texas and the SXSW extravaganza. The organisers now bill it as a “conference and festivals” but extravaganza or hooley or hoohah wil also do the trick. This arrival of folks who do and talk about interesting stuff turn the city into a place where there seems to be stuff you want to hear about or check out on every street corner. Midweek, the bands start to wander in and the full tilt boogie changes shape and flavour. Right now, it’s film-makers, tech entrepreneurs (or “chancers” looking at some of the pitches and bios), thinkers, talkers, politicians (lots and lots of politicians), media movers and shakers and a ton of people who tick the ‘other’ box who are in situ. Here, then, is some of the stuff which has caught my attention so far.
Boom! That’s the only way to react to Edgar Wright’s fierce, funky, fresh and funny new movie about an unconventional young getaway driver Baby (played by Ansel Elgort) paying off a debt to crime boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) by providing the fast wheels to various robbery crews. There are some classic heist movie tropes here such as the last job, the girl and the snarky crews (Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx providing some of this), but the real brilliant, thrilling addition is how Wright uses music and movement. Every scene works around a groove or a track and is perfectly matched to what you’re watching on screen as Elgort uses his dance training to glide across the screen. There are times when this approach can go awry and La La Land-ish, but Wright has been obsessive about applying it to this film and you’ll find yourself wowed by how he uses everything from the Jon Spencer Blue Explosion’s “Bellbottoms” to Lindstrom and Christabelle’s “Lovesick” to punctuate the story. One of those times when you walk out of a cinema knowing you’re going to see that movie again.
What happens when a small-time gambler on a long-term losing streak is asked by an acquaintance to look after a suspicious bag for a few months in return for a $10,000 fee? That’s the premise behind Joe Swanberg’s new film with Jake Johnson as Eddie, the dude in question with the bad gambling bug and the bag stuffed with cash sitting in his house. It’s a lovely film full of heart and soul as Eddie grapples with his demons from his addiction, the endorphins from those occasional wins and the problems he causes for the people he cares for in his life. Some of the best scenes come from Eddie’s run-ins and exchanges with his brother Ron (played by Joe Lo Truglio), his sponsor (Keegan-Michael Key) and his girlfriend Eva (Aislinn Derbez), but the real meat comes from watching Johnson deal with trying to do the right thing at the expense of chasing the thrill of the card table.