BABY WHOWHATWHENWHERE….. WHY? (At the Multiplex: July, 2017)

Baby Driver (2017)
D. Edgar Wright

So last Sunday (I think it was Sunday, I mean, it sure looked like a Sunday) I venture to the multiplex to see this movie called Baby Driver. And, of course, there being no likelihood of encountering a plot, I go in with one question and one question only.

Will they or won’t they?

And being a skeptic, pessimist, Gloomy Gus, what-have-you, I know they won’t, not in a million years, but the whole purpose of never expecting anything good to happen is to get all the joy you can from it when it does, so I have….well, not hope, exactly, but I don’t allow myself to be entirely immune to the idea.

It’s not healthy to be rational every second of every day.

There’s no way you’ll hear voices calling out from burning bushes if you take that attitude!

Then the movie starts with a bank robbery (it’s about a kid who drives for bank robbers and calls himself Baby–get it?) played out over some sort of Noise-A-Tron track all the hip kids probably know by heart and, just like in high school, it goes way over my head, so I safely conclude “No, they won’t…not in a million years!” and prepare to munch my popcorn (figuratively speaking, I never literally eat popcorn in a movie theater unless its the Alabama Theater in Birmingham) and sip water from my courtesy cup (yes, I had eyed the prices at the concession stand, hoping–and, having seen $4.99 next to the cheapest bottle of water, abandoned hope immediately as no doubt the movie would be sufficient to remind me of my face’s permanent relationship to the Overlord’s boot-sole all by itself) in peace.

But then, a funny thing happens.

Baby goes to get some coffee for his fellow bandits (he’s the kid, he’s the driver, he gets a full cut….he needs to earn his keep) and while he’s strolling down the street, this breaks out…

…as the soundtrack to Baby’s street-walk.

And I start thinking….Is it possible?….That….maybe….they will?

I settle in for two hours of mildly diverting suspense….with CGI car-chases for aspirin chasers.

And that’s what happens, alright. Only with diversions.

Every now and then, someone on screen tries to emulate a human emotion…and it’s scary.

How close they get.

Once….Twice….Thr–

Okay, twice. But still, in a car chase movie that’s a lot.

It’s the music, principally.

The writer/director (Edgar Wright, if anyone’s keeping score) seems to be working on a theory that runs something like this: Feelings come in two shades. Those worth having and those not worth having.

The natural soundtrack for those worth having consists of sixties’ soul music.

The natural soundtrack for those not worth having, consists of Noise-A-Tronics. Modernity, if you will.

Since this is pretty much in line with my own world view, I start thinking:

“Maybe they will….I mean it could happen.”

Granted, somewhere in there I forget why I’m even there. CGI overkill starts happening. Climaxes start coming. I start counting how many could qualify as the climax. I soon run out of fingers. I look around and realize I’m alone in the aisle, so I take off my shoes and socks and start counting on my toes.

When I run out of those, I’m done.

Florida public school education. Bought and paid for by taxpayer money. You get what the taxpayers pay for.

I put my shoes and socks back on.

More climaxes happen.

Twenty-five? Thirty?

Who knows.

Damn public school system. I know the Spanish Armada sailed in 1588 [had it as a multiple choice from grades 2 through 12–had to put some thought into the answers, too, because some years it was c. (and d. was 1589) and other years it was b. (and d. was 1590–see how they try to monkey wrench your brain, those taxpayers?) how could I forget?], but I can’t count past twenty and munch imaginary popcorn at the same time. What good were you education? If I ever get a chance to vote for Ron Paul again, I’m doing it in a heartbeat!

Anyway, after all the climaxes, there’s a slow bit at the end and I vaguely remember there’s a reason I came in here.

What was it again?

Oh yeah…

“Will they or won’t they?”

There’s Baby going to prison. Does that count as another climax?

Oh, right. It doesn’t matter, I ran out of fingers and toes twenty minutes back.

There’s Baby almost getting a reprieve.

There’s Baby not getting a reprieve and getting five years after all.

There’s Baby’s real name being revealed in a letter from the Girl (did I mention there was a Girl? No? Well, there was. If you didn’t know that one going in, I don’t even want to know where you went to school.)

There’s Baby (or whatever his name is now) strolling out the prison gate .(Dream or reality? Hell, I don’t know. See the movie and discuss it with your art-house friends. And, uh, yeah, do get back to me on that one, let me know what ya’ll decide. I promise I’ll stay blue in the face until you do.)

Where was I again?

Oh yeah.

Baby’s strolling out the prison gate.

His Girl’s waiting.

With a cool vintage car. The one he’s been dreaming about all movie, or ever since he met Her anyway.

Dressed like the sixties, both of them.

Back when all the feelings worth having were felt and all the records worth hearing were made.

And I think….”Will they?…I mean…”

And then I hear a slightly scratchy acoustic guitar.

And I smile and think….”Now I got to sit through the credits.”

Through which I do not quit smiling the entire time. Best time I had at the movies all decade even if all the Quaaludes on Planet Earth couldn’t make me sit through it again.

I mean, I do have it on CD.

And now I’ve got what I came for…the memory of hearing it in Dolby sound in a big ol’ movie theater.

11 thoughts on “BABY WHOWHATWHENWHERE….. WHY? (At the Multiplex: July, 2017)

  1. Yay — I guessed right about what you meant! Will they THAT. I’m glad to read that they did, after you’d sat through the whole movie as the only patron likely to be wondering about it! (They should have rewarded you by following it up with “Keep the Customer Satisfied,” just before the Cute Extra Ending After the Credits. Surely there was a Cute Extra Ending After the Credits. The movie poster alone seems to indicate it. They could have even played Kiss’s “Baby Driver.” Utterly different song, of course, but it rocks as well.)

    In any case, it’s nice that one can still get the occasional cool surprise, after the Death of American Cinema occurred at some point in the ’90s. (Purely subjective, of course, but still……at least you didn’t have to sit through a sequel, remake or medium-crossing license deal.)

    • Well now I know how tonight’s prayer will start. “Dear Lord, thank You for not allowing me to recall that Kiss had a song called “Baby Driver” when I ventured to the multiplex this week…The suspense would have sent me to Your presence very prematurely!”

      And, thankfully, there was no Cute Extra Ending (yes, I too, was shocked)….And while I think they precluded any possibility of a sequel, the aforementioned Death of American Cinema has taught me to take nothing for granted!

      Really happy, BTW, that there’s at least one person out there who knew exactly what I meant without having to read to the bottom!

      And hush your mouth about the license deal. These people have eyes and ears everywhere.

  2. Great point. My lips shall remain as in the great ’81 Jane Wiedlin composition, lest a film soon appear that’s simply titled Some Licensed Crap for Ya, consisting of ninety minutes of Cute Extra Endings full of eighties toys and blue-all-over cartoon characters. (The tragicomic part: It would break box-office records.)

    Since you haven’t done a Book Report since the March one, this is as good a place as any to possibly recommend something that you might dig, unless audio-production stories aren’t quite your cup o’ joe. I’ve been reading Inside Tracks by Richard Buskin. It’s a book of his interviews with producers and engineers, with the questions omitted and the answers formed into uninterrupted narratives. Stories arise about several ’60s and ’70s musicians.

    No tales are told about the Shangs — maybe Buskin was aware that Morton lied a lot, so he didn’t bother interviewing him — but a few recollections of other artists illustrate points that you’ve made on this website throughout the years.

    Bones Howe, on Elvis’s great moments not being “accidents,” in spite of the party-line parroting:

    “To me, Elvis was the first self-produced artist. In the early days, he would always choose the songs, bring his own musicians, and work on the arrangements with them.”

    “Elvis had really wanted to be a part of the production [during the ’68 special], meet with the writers, and help with the creative process, and so every day, he would come to our offices…”

    Jimmy Miller, on the Rolling Stones having been supplanted by pod people after Soup (at the latest):

    “By then [1973], Mick and Keith were falling out of favor with each other, and it was no longer a case of Mick and Keith’s songs, but Mick’s songs without Keith’s help, and Keith’s songs without Mick’s help, and I think that was largely responsible for the downward curve that the Stones were embarked on at that point.”

    • Sounds like a keeper. I’ll definitely put it on the “to acquire” list (can’t say when I’ll get to it because it’s a lon-g-g-g list, but it sounds right up my alley so thanks for the recommend.)

      And, yeah, my reading’s been curtailed for a variety of reasons (temporary eye strain, travel, finishing up a book of my own, etc, etc.). Just getting back into it, albeit slowly.

      BTW: Your suggestion vis-a-vis Some Licensed Crap for Ya has more or less been tried at least once with the Jennifer Aniston movie Wanderlust…On the DVD version there’s basically an entire movie’s worth of improv outtakes, which fall every bit as flat as the stuff that made it into the movie (only with the fourth wall broken as the actors crack each other up). Interestingly enough, it’s one of the few Jen movies that failed to make money….So perhaps there’s hope for Civilization yet.

      Then again, the ones where she played a serial rapist female dentist made a tidy profit (with Kevin Spacey as an evil boss and Jaimie Foxx as a crazy hood–just like Baby Driver!)

      So….Maybe not.

  3. Interesting. Who’d have thought that those fun bloopers shows would become their own film genre someday? (I mean, Carol Burnett and Tim Conway bloopers are altogether different experiences than some ditz from a ’90s sitcom rolling her costars’ eyes with said ditziness.)

    As I’ve gotten myself on the topic of the Stones having lost their minds in the ’70s, and of course the subject of that alarming discussion on which you had an inside scoop (regarding Mick’s evil pact), I’ve recalled an excerpt from the Sound on Sound website, itself full of production stories. I love the idea so much that I’ve located it again, so I could paste it here. The article itself is about Joan Jett’s version of “I Love Rock and Roll.” Quoting:

    Written by Arrows lead singer Alan Merrill and guitarist Jake Hooker, the song…had been their “knee-jerk response to the Rolling Stones’ ‘It’s Only Rock and Roll,’” which they viewed as Mick Jagger’s “apology to those jet-set princes and princesses that he was hanging around with.”

    [Quote ends] That makes me like “I Love Rock and Roll” (by anyone) even more than I already did!

    • I’m trying to get my head around the idea that someone thought “It’s Only Rock and Roll” had a….meaning? Let alone that they got anything as great as “I Love Rock and Roll” out of it.

      Let alone that–now that I think about it–they may have been right!

      it’s all very disconcerting. I may have to take more aspirin.

  4. Heh heh heh……I certainly didn’t mean to intensify your modern-movie-inspired headache. I simply thought it was cool that someone who got that meaning out of the Stones song would write an unapologetic, rock-and-roll-loving anthem in pretension-deflating response.

    After all, one can at least *imagine* Mick wanting to apologize in some way to the intelligentsia (hey, that kinda ties into your last entry!) that he was aspiring to be part of, having lost his way and forgotten that he owed nobody any apologies for excelling — up to that point, anyway — within the most exciting, eclectic, adventurous, social-head-changing style of music ever concocted, never mind from a mixture of prior styles. Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!

    • It’s okay. I’m well-medicated now and feeling much better. I’ll have to keep “I Love Rock and Roll” in mind if I ever do a post for my favorite answer record.

      To be fair to Mick he had an unenviable dilemma. He obviously held the hippies and the love crowd in complete contempt…but he couldn’t afford to distance himself from them and keep his place at the head of the table. Must have played hell with the social life. Come the 70s the mask slipped. And without his mask, Mick was pretty much bound to sing things like “it’s Only Rock and Roll” (which is hardly terrible, but you can feel the rot setting in.)

      And then there was the part where he sold his soul to Satan. But I can’t talk about that.

  5. Great points. And the Stones already had some marks against them from the so-called Love Generation, fairly or not, thanks to those who truly played hell — albeit in Harley jackets.

  6. Pingback: “WOWSA” AND ART WITH A CAPITAL “A” (At the Multiplex: July, 2017…Redux) | The Round Place In The Middle

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