Entertainment Movies

Sunday 17 December 2017

Movie reviews: Baby Driver, Halal Daddy, A Man Called Ove, Risk

  • Baby Driver (15A, 113mins) ★★★
  • Halal Daddy (15A, 94mins) ★★
  • A Man Called Ove(15A, 116mins) ★★★★
  • Risk (No Cert, IFI, 92mins) ★★★
Revved up: From l-r, Baby (Ansel Elgort), Bats (Jamie Foxx), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez ) and Buddy (Jon Hamm) in Baby Drive
Revved up: From l-r, Baby (Ansel Elgort), Bats (Jamie Foxx), Darling (Eiza Gonzalez ) and Buddy (Jon Hamm) in Baby Drive

Paul Whitington

To judge by the ecstatic reviews that have greeted Edgar Wright's Baby Driver in the US, one could be forgiven for expecting a kind of Citizen Kane set to music. Music is the big idea in this film, which is not just inspired by a song (written long ago by Paul Simon) but uses pop as an internal engine that often seems more important than the plot. Ansel Elgort is Baby, an expert getaway driver who works for a mysterious crime boss called Doc (Kevin Spacey).

Baby accidentally stole from Doc, and now works with him to pay off his debt. A couple more jobs and he'll be free, Doc assures him, but when a trigger-happy thug called Bats (Jamie Foxx) joins the crew, things seem less likely to go according to plan. Baby wears sunglasses, says little, and constantly listens to his iPod: a childhood car accident which killed both his parents has left him with tinnitus; the music drowns the ringing out.

It also drives this film's action: before a job, Baby insists on putting on the appropriate song, and in Edgar Wright's glibly stylish drama, bank raids and getaways are carefully choreographed in time to the music. This is mildly interesting at first, but fails to disguise the fact that this is a bog-standard genre picture peopled by one-dimensional characters and walking clichés. Ansel Elgort's casting is a major problem: he certainly looks cool, and struts about like James Dean, but has none of that actor's wild energy, or daring.

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Halal Daddy is a well-meaning but ham-fisted attempt to refract the complexities of multicultural Ireland. In Sligo, British Asian man Raghdan (Nikesh Patel) is filled with dread when his Irish girlfriend Maeve (Sarah Bolger) brings him home to meet her dad. Martin (Colm Meaney) is not thrilled his daughter is dating a Muslim, but is the soul of tolerance compared to Raghdan's father.

Amir (Art Malik) sweeps into town like a bat out of hell, and unveils a plan to open a Halal slaughterhouse. Raghdan will manage it, and builds bridges with Martin by hiring him, but tensions familial and racial soon bubble to the surface. There are some funny bits of business in Halal Daddy, and Colm Meaney always knows how to raise a laugh. But overall the film feels contrived, stilted and curiously old-fashioned.

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A sprawling Swedish drama that plunges back and forth in time, Hannes Holm's A Man Called Ove can be distilled to one simple message - don't judge a book by its cover. Angry codger Ove Lindahl (the excellent Rolf Lassgard) never smiles, and is rude to everyone.

He seems an insufferable misanthrope until an Iranian woman and her Swedish husband move in next door, and insist on befriending him. We then slowly find out how Ove's quiet but sunny nature was soured by bereavement, accidents, hardship and tragedy. The film is punctuated by several attempts at suicide, which are played for comedy and entirely unnecessary to a story that already has sufficient heart.

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An interesting if rather unfocused documentary by Laura Poitras, Risk follows Julian Assange through an eventful few years in his life, when the success of Wikileaks turned him into a counter-cultural rock star.

Assange first hit the headlines thanks to US soldier Chelsea Manning who was convicted of disclosing classified documents to WikiLeaks. He made headlines again in 2012 after a Swedish extradition warrant forced Assange to take shelter in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Poitras was a believer to begin with, but as she made the film and watched Assange interact with his ever-changing inner circle, the scales fell from her eyes. The more one knows him, it seems, the less one likes him, and Risk implies that he may have played a role in giving us President Donald Trump.

Irish Independent

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