Lily James

           Edgar Wright on set directing Ansel Elgort in the marvelous new film Baby Driver.

Edgar Wright’s newest film, Baby Driver, is a labor of love, many years in the making. The film would be a typical action crime drama were it not made by Wright, who is anything but typical. Instead, we get a creatively inspired film that takes this oft repeated form and adds a magical twist, which is that nearly every scene, from a romantic conversation in a laundromat to a brisk foot chase with guns blazing, is not only accompanied by inspired musical choices, but is also choreographed to the songs. The result crackles with life and bristles with energy. We were overjoyed to be able to spend a few minutes discussing the music and choreography with director Edgar Wright and budding superstar Ansel Elgort.

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Zombie-slaying Bennet sisters worth cheering for. Zombies, not so much.

Victorian era badassery.

Victorian era badassery.

More influenced by 2005’s Pride & Prejudice starring Keira Knightley than the classic piece of literature by Jane Austen or the works of George A. Romero, Pride & Prejudice and Zombies, based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, is a mediocre popcorn flick. It’s not as campy or cheeky as I’d had hoped, nor as serious and emotional as it could be if it avoided being the former. Despite the PG-13 rating, there’s enough genre blending jokes and tame action to make the first hour an enjoyable piece of escapism. Unfortuantely, an apparent inability to conclude the story whilst providing a non-anticlimactic finish makes the last 30 min a bore — an uninspired CGI-filled bore. Yet PPZ can be taken in its entirety as a relative success. The failings don’t take away from what most folks will expect from a sci-fi period piece romance (not sure the appropriate genre?) based on a popular piece of spoof fiction.

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Spinning Platters film critics present their top 10 films of 2015

Spinning Platters film critics Carrie Kahn and Chad Liffmann each share their ten favorite films of 2015. Here is Chad’s list, presented in reverse-awesome order. Also check out Carrie‘s top ten list!

10.) Cinderella
Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

A lack of the classic Disney song ‘Cinderelli!’ didn’t prevent Kenneth Branagh’s live action version of Cinderella from reaching magical heights. After a plethora of disappointing “re-imaginings” and “discover the true story” versions of classics — Maleficent, Alice in Wonderland, Oz the Great and Powerful — it was time for a movie to play it straight, and Cinderella did just that. With amazing performances from Lily James and Cate Blanchett and beautiful costumes and set designs, Cinderella (hopefully) represents the first in a new series of live action Disney remakes that stick to the strong source materials without egregious silly additions. (Read my full review of Cinderella here.)

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Film Review: Cinderella

by Chad Liffmann on March 13, 2015

Who ordered a ‘fairy tale straight up’?  We all did.

Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

Lily James emerging from her pumpkin-turned-coach.

First of all, did anyone else know that the new live action version of Cinderella was directed by Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Thor)?  The man is an acclaimed thespian and director, and no wonder the cast of the new Cinderella is so perfect, and the direction so sure-handed.  And of course, where there’s Shakespearean drama, like the death of a parent or the pining of a tortured soul, Mr. Branagh is sort-of becoming the go to master of capturing these moments quite touchingly and cinematically while still serving a popcorn flick.  But the best part of Cinderella isn’t the acting or the direction or the vast array of vibrant colors.  It’s the story.  After torturing audiences for years with reinterpretations and re-imaginings of classic Disney properties like Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, how wonderful it is to have Cinderella, which relies on the strengths of its original story.  No crazy additions.  Only a slight bit of silly CGI.  The magic and romance of the classic Cinderella story is ever present, and so very welcome.

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