By on August 25, 2017

Ronin BMW, Image: IMCDB

In the comments for yesterday’s review of Baby Driver, a few people took umbrage with the excessively stylized nature of the car chases. Although the director took specific pains to avoid the kind of CGI cheese that keeps marring, say, the Fast and Furious franchise, there’s still an obvious and deliberate departure from reality in pretty much all of the film’s action shots.

Reading that comment made me think of another TTAC comment posted recently in which somebody expressed disappointment in Ronin, claiming that the car chases were both too long and too boring. This surprised me because Ronin, to my mind, is the absolute gold standard in automotive action filmmaking. It’s the only movie of that type I’ve ever watched where I agreed with the plotline, the physics of the various vehicular interactions, and the way the cars behaved. My only complaint was that the Citroen XM driven by the fellows with the suitcase seemed to have a whole lot of motor in it.

That’s my feeling, anyway. What’s yours?

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By on August 24, 2017

Baby Driver Subaru, Image: Working Title Films, via IMCDB

What’s the difference between art and modern art, between Michelangelo and Mondrian? The best way I know to explain it is this: Modern art requires a deep grounding in a particular context. Modern art is reactive. It assumes you know the history and that you’re capable of seeing how it reacts to, and interacts with, that history. To put it kindly, modern art is a continuation of the dialogue between artist and critic in an era where all of the technical problems of perspective, representation, and accuracy have long been solved. To put it less than kindly, modern art is a tiresome insider’s joke where you pay handsomely to be in on the gag.

To some degree, this is a natural consequence of any mature art form, whether it is painting, rock music, or motion pictures. All of the original ideas have long since been discovered and comprehensively realized in film, so any new movie has to make a choice: Do you approach your chosen genre wholeheartedly and with a craftsman’s intent, like Michael Mann did in “Heat,” or do you spend the whole time winking at the audience, as Matthew Vaughn does in “Kingsman”? In other words, do you create art, or do you create modern art?

In the case of “Baby Driver,” I suspect that the viewer’s opinion on this matter will depend almost entirely on his (or her) age.

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