This is a nice car chase movie antidote to The Fate of the Furious, a car chase movie that made me never want to see a car chase movie again, let alone Vin Diesel’s mushy mug. The soundtrack is one of the year’s best, and the guy in the title role is a major star in the making. Ansel Elgort plays Baby, who we see in the film’s opening sequence driving the getaway car for a robbery, a kinetic chase choreographed to the great Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “Bellbottoms.” The scene snaps with a colorful energy that’s been missing from car chases of late. The best car chase movie of recent years, Drive, also featured a lonely driver and great vroom-vroom, but the soundtrack and look for that film were more meditative and hazy—not complaining; it worked beautifully. Baby Driver opts for a more clear-eyed, zippy approach, and it pays off. Edgar Wright writes and directs for this, a project he took up after his failed dalliance with Ant-Man. The chases go off with precision editing, filmed in a way that makes you feel like you are in the car. And the soundtrack, featuring music ranging from Simon and Garfunkel to Hocus Pocus and Queen, perfectly complements them.
3 The BeguiledAccording to director Sofia Coppola, this is not a remake of the 1971 film of the same name starring Clint Eastwood; it’s a new adaptation of the novel both films are based on. Nicole Kidman stars as the leader of a southern school for girls, shut off from the rest of the world during the Civil War. While out searching for mushrooms, young Amy (Oona Laurence) finds a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) and leads him back to the school. As the man heals, the young students and teachers each interact with the soldier and things eventually get, well, complicated. Everybody in the movie delivers good work, especially Kidman as Miss Martha, a strict leader with risky compassion for the enemy soldier. Longtime Coppola collaborator Kirsten Dunst is on hand as a teacher who gets some extra attention from the stranger, and she’s strong in her role, as usual. Other cast members include Elle Fanning, Angourie Rice and Addison Riecke. The film eschews the usual Coppola soundtrack exuberance for something very quiet and slowly paced. As the film works up to a boil, leading to a shocking climax, Coppola creates a true sense of claustrophobia and high tension. This isn’t her best work, but it’s good work, with excellent cinematography and art direction.