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Hammerle on ... 'Band Aid,' 'Baby Driver'

July 12, 2017

bob hammerle movie reviews“Band Aid”

“Band Aid” is a wildly inventive film that you should keep on your cinematic radar screen. Written, directed and starring Zoe Lister-Jones, it is both provocative and wonderfully sincere. This is a creative work of art.

Lister-Jones, who plays Anna, is in a troubled relationship with her husband Ben (Adam Pally). He is between jobs while she supports them as an Uber driver, and they argue over everything. Their constant bickering, ranging from dishes left in the sink to choosing between having sex or ordering pizza, is expanded beyond the crazed exchanges that you may have already seen in the previews.

hammerle-rating-bandaid.gifAfter consulting with a therapist, they decide to use their shared love of music to express their anger and discontent. This leads them to forming a small rock group where they rediscover why they fell in love in the first place.

There are some wildly funny moments in this movie, as reflected by the enjoyable fact that the people around me in the theater were laughing throughout the film. Lister-Jones is an enormously talented actress as well as a musician, and you can only praise her for her work in putting this story together.

While the movie largely focuses on our married couple, there are a couple of supporting roles that deserve to be mentioned. You will never forget the engaging performance of Fred Armisen, who plays Dave, our couple’s neighbor. His skill as a drummer leads him to reluctantly join their small band, and there is a madcap sequence where Anna and Ben discover that Dave lives with two ex-strippers who he met at a sex addicts’ therapy session.

And for those of you who watched Larry David’s TV sitcom “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you are likely to recall the profane performances by Susie Essman who played the wife of David’s manager. In “Band Aid” she has a small role as Ben’s mother, and she provides some sage advice on the different roles played by men and women in marriages that become challenging for nearly everyone. She remains a cinematic gift that keeps on giving.

Unfortunately, this extraordinarily fine independent film closed after one week at the only theater showing it here in Indianapolis. Though most of you won’t be able to catch this little gem on the big screen, remember to hunt it down at home when you get a chance. It is one of those films that will make you smile as it warms your heart.

“Baby Driver”

The legendary Peter Sellers will always be missed primarily because he can never be replaced. However, writer/director Edgar Wright brings to the screen much of Sellers’ creative, eccentric joy, and that is seen in his new film, “Baby Driver.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Wright, let me simply point you in the direction of his offbeat works of genius, “Shaun of the Dead” (2004), “Hot Fuzz” (2007) and “The World’s End” (2013). These films are monstrously splendid and deserve your attention.

hammerle-rating-babydriver.gifBut let’s return to “Baby Driver,” where Wright brings you a violent film packed with wicked humor and a soundtrack that dominates nearly every scene. The relatively unknown Ansel Elgort plays Baby, a young man forced to constantly listen to music through his headset as a result of injuries suffered as a child where his parents died in a car wreck. In the process, he has become one of the most accomplished drivers outside of NASCAR, and he helps a mob hellbent on robbery and destruction.

This film resembles a reluctant trip to a rock concert where you leave saying, “Hell, I had a great time.” The mob in question is a sarcastic group of likeable thugs who have no problem killing anyone if it furthers their pursuit of greed.

This group of miscreants is led by Doc, played with sinister style by Kevin Spacey. Baby is forced to drive the getaway car at Doc’s bidding to try to pay off an old debt. While they obviously like each other, Doc would easily kill Baby if he doesn’t fulfill his obligations.

Seldom will you ever see a film dominated by villains, all displaying a sense of hateful charm. This includes Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Jon Bernthal, and Micah Howard, and they all hold your interest despite that none of them has an ounce of compassion.

Two women play important roles in the movie that add some balance to the film. The first is Eiza González, who plays Darling, the lover of Hamm’s Buddy. She is glad to concentrate on sex as long as she is still able to gun down an opponent.

And then there was the endearing performance by Lily James, who plays Debora, the waitress who falls hard and fast for Baby. She is as sincere as she is endearing, and Baby quickly recognizes Debora as the love of his life. And if anyone needs to be reminded of James’ talent, then I can only encourage you to hunt down her splendid performances in “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” (2016) and her commanding role in “Cinderella” (2015).

As noted, the music controls this entire film, which in part is due to the fact that Baby makes his own recordings from tapes he secretly preserves from various conversations. In the process, he constantly is involved in song and dance, whether he is driving a getaway car or preparing a meal for his invalid, mute guardian.

Director Wright has created a monumental work of art that needs to be seen on the big screen.•

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Robert Hammerle practices criminal law in Indianapolis at Pence Hensel LLC as of counsel. When he is not in the courtroom or the office, Bob can likely be found at one of his favorite movie theaters. To read more of his reviews, visit www.bigmouthbobs.com. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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