Review: The Big Sick

Two pieces of information preceded my screening of The Big Sick, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s adaptation of their real-life, unconventional love story, and I’m afraid those two pieces of information ultimately impacted my enjoyment of this quite lovely, quite wonderful, modern romantic comedy.

First, I’d come across Nanjiani’s own twitter thread articulating his particular adoration for legendary romcom writer/filmmaker Richard Curtis (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Notting Hill, Love, Actually, and on and on…). I, too, am a massive Richard Curtis fan, having ugly-cried my way through About Time and realizing with delight that my favorite Doctor Who episode is one from his own pen (which, duh. It’s so good, it has to be his.). Curtis has a knack for tugging at heartstrings, and in a way that is entirely noble. It’s never cheap or dumbed-down (well, ok – he did adapt Bridget Jones’s Diary, but not the sequels!). It’s human, and often bittersweet – even painful – much the way real life can be. Decades later, his stories still resonate as some of the best in modern cinema.

I read Nanjiani’s tweets with giddy anticipation. If this filmmaker is as smitten with Curtis as I am, surely his movie will be just as nuanced and moving! Expectations were categorically and sufficiently heightened. Continue reading “Review: The Big Sick”

The Shape of This Thing

Though I left my last employer at the end of February, I only formally announced my latest professional endeavor a couple of weeks ago. Which means in the intervening weeks and months, I didn’t really have a lot going. Sure, I was working here and there. And I did take a trip to Paris.

But generally speaking, I was existing from day to day without much of a schedule. For most of that time, I didn’t wake up with any kind of alarm other than my own internal clock (and sometimes, my annoying cat). Any day could be a lazy, binge-heavy couch day. Any day was just as likely to be a crazy-productive errands and chores day. Either way, it was all on my own schedule. Or lack thereof.

This week, that all seems to have changed.

For the first time since leaving a job with an actual office and the hours to go with it, I set an alarm to wake me up at a decent time. I got up with it and went about my routine to get ready for the day ahead. Put on the coffee. Hop in the shower. Find something presentable to wear. Coffee and makeup and the morning news…

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Review: Baby Driver

In the opening credits of Baby Driver, the latest from filmmaker Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim v. the World) there’s a choreographer acknowledged among the various producers and crew. After a spectacular opening heist scene – a three-man bank robbery and a getaway of masterful stunt driving through downtown Atlanta (and nary a tap shoe in sight) – the credit might seem a bit odd. But so carefully crafted is Wright’s original screenplay about a music-obsessed getaway car driver and his attempt to go straight that enlisting the same guy who choreographed Sia’s best videos makes perfect sense.

Immediately after the opening credits, that choreography is beautifully and immediately apparent in an uninterrupted long shot that takes us on a post-heist coffee run with our protagonist, Baby (Ansel Elgort). Just ten minutes in and we’re watching the camera follow Baby seamlessly down the street, into the shop and back to the warehouse where his heist crew and boss split their take from the recent job. Along the way, extras pop in and out of perfectly framed shots, the film’s soundtrack aligns directly with each movement and there’s even a bit of foreshadowing as Baby notices a blonde outside the coffee shop (on a music swell, no less). It’s a dance as skilled as any of Gene Kelly’s, and from the get go, it’s obvious: this is a filmmaker who loves making movies, and he’s not afraid to show off.

Wright started drafting this film back in 1995, but it only made its way into the world earlier this year at SXSW, where it was met with raucous fan-boy adulation, such is Wright’s genre (and one assumes largely male) fan base. As it opens in theaters this week, the positive buzz is sure to continue to the tune of a nice big box office. It’s that rare accomplishment of original filmmaking that checks nearly ever box. Solid, high-stakes story: check. Great soundtrack: check. Impressive action scenes: check. Love story: check. Though it gets a bit muddled by the end as Wright rushes through wrapping up various loose ends, he’s more than made up for it with his meticulous attention to detail and sheer enthusiasm that jumps off the screen.

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