Tag Archives: Ansel Elgort

Jonathan

Jonathan has a very ordered, very precise life. He runs, he works, he cooks, he sleeps. The only thing odd about his life are the videos he leaves for his brother. Jonathan (Ansel Elgort) is clearly the buttoned-down brother; the other one a little wild, a little loose. But they’re close. They’re very close because they have to be. The two brothers occupy the same body. Jonathan works it during the day while Jon (also Elgort, duh) takes the nighttime shift. It’s a “thing” apparently, according to Dr. Patricia Clarkson, and let’s face it, I WILL buy anything that lady’s selling.

mv5bnmq4ywe4nmetnzk5mi00zwnllwewm2utnmuzodbjm2qzyte2xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndc2nzc5mta@._v1_There’s occasionally a little tension between the brothers because in order to make their arrangement work, they have to live by certain rules. And as you might guess, Jonathan’s a better rule follower than is Jon. When Jon breaks a cardinal rule, ie, gets a girlfriend, the two start to pull apart, and while distance between siblings is usually a normal thing, between these two it’s going to start to get very, very complicated.

There’s a dark filament running its electric current throughout the movie, and I have to say, I liked it. I like movies that are puzzles, and I’m always four steps ahead, or I think I am, trying to shoehorn pieces in to slots that are maybe not the right fit. The brothers are superclose, inhabiting the same body as they do, but at the same time, they’ve never technically met. How’s that for a concept? Now imagine the relationship you have with your own sibling. Do you fight sometimes? Give each other the silent treatment? The thing is, when Jon and Jonathan fight, they virtually disappear from each other’s lives, but at the same time their bodies are subject to whatever the other does during his shift. It’s crazy.

Ansel Elgort is commanding in dual roles, though this movie, as you can tell by the title, belongs to Jonathan. The story is told only through his side of the equation; glimpses of his brother come only through the videos, and the consequences to Jonathan’s waking life. I tend to like these bold, “big idea” movies and this one worked for me. Not in a big way. It doesn’t quite live up to Jonathan’s potential, or even Jon’s. But it cooks with some really interesting ingredients. It has a sci-fi premise but a character study feel. Jonathan can’t quite fill the big shoes of its own promise, but I like that it tried, and I like how it tried, and I like the twisty pretzel shapes my brain’s been doing trying to straighten it all out.

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November Criminals

Addison is a precocious high school student who is only too happy to take time out from grieving his recently deceased mother to lose his virginity to elusive beauty Phoebe and apply to college. But while he’s pursuing these quintessentially teenaged dreams, a friend of his gunned down in a nearby coffee shop. Kevin is well-liked, a good student, an inquiring mind, but because he’s black the cops seem to dismiss the crime as “gang related” and Addison is crushed that no one is looking for his killer.

If it works at all, November Criminals has two likeable leads in Ansel Elgort and Chloe Grace Moretz; their chemistry makes up for some of the defects in their characters which are ENORMOUS AND UNFORGIVABLE. Ansel Elgort is tasked with playing a thoroughly hero_November-Criminals-2017unlikeable kid, and Grace-Moretz simply gets assigned the not-fully-realized female costar who heals his sadness by touching his penis. It’s not remotely their fault but November Criminals is maybe the most undercooked movie I’ve ever seen – like, on a scale from rare to well-done, it’s a bloody, oozy, thoroughly blue kind of undercooked that’s bound to give you worms. I’ve read the novel upon which it is based and half-remember it, and even that half-memory is more fulsome than the script for this thing, which feels like it’s missing about 75% of its content and 100% of what would make it understandable or good. The film offers up a small slice of the story, with an inadequate beginning and hardly any end, and such an abbreviated middle you’ll wonder if perhaps we’re still in the opening credits. But while the movie needs at least another two hours in order to tell its story, the mere thought of having to sit through a single moment more than its 85 minute run time is upsetting. This film never justifies any reason for its existence and wastes every frame of its film.

Even in a post-hipster culture, teenagers who willfully carry beepers are just knobs. White kids who become vigilantes for their black friend’s death out of sheer boredom are intolerable. This movie serves up so much that is objectionable I could hardly stand to see it all the way to the end. Maybe the teenage angst coupled with a murder mystery was supposed to invoke Veronica Mars but the movie is troubled, voiceless, neutered. Don’t bother.

SXSW: Baby Driver

Is this the absolute coolest movie ever?

Honestly, I think I’d pay my $12 just to see that opening scene again.

Baby (Ansel Elgort) is a getaway driver, the best in the biz despite his young age, according to his boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey). But Baby has a glitch: he wears ear buds constantly to fight tinnitus. So to him, the whole world is a soundtrack. And you’re about to enter his world.

Doc never works with the same crew twice, so we see a rotation of criminals including MV5BMzk0NzMyNzcyN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTYwNDU5MDI@._V1_Darling (Eiza Gonzalez), Griff (Jon Bernthal), Buddy (Jon Hamm), and my personal favourite, Bats (Jamie Foxx), personal motto: “I’m the one with mental problems in the group. Position taken.” GUYS, HE’S NOT KIDDING.

But don’t get attached to any of those fellows. This is Baby’s movie. He’s being coerced into this life of crime, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t good at it. He is, however, trying to get out, and nothing is as inspiring as the love of a good woman. So when Deborah (Lily James) soft shoes into his life, he’s got a boner for the open road. But wait – you didn’t think getting out would be that easy, did you?

This is a film by Edgar Wright, whom I love, unreservedly. This is a very different sort of film from him, but he’s already thrust himself to the top of the game. When you catch your breath at the end of the film, you’ll have to answer me truly: have you ever seen action to equal it? Ansel Elgort’s character Baby is obsessed with two things: music, and cars. And so is the film; car chases and music both turned WAY up to 11. Anything that gets between them is incidental.

MV5BMTEyMzQxMTI0ODZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDQ2MDQ1OTAy._V1_Wright is a phenomenal writer, and Baby Driver is just as quippy and quotable as any other in his oeuvre. The music jangles, sometimes wildly incongruous to what’s developing on screen, sometimes deliciously ironic, but it stitches the film together between Wright’s explosive action sequences. Wright’s films are always kinetic. His own exuberance for film making comes across on the screen, is barely contained by it, in fact.

If Ryan Gosling from La La Land fucked Ryan Gosling from Drive, Baby Driver is what you’d get. On paper, this isn’t the kind of movie I normally care about, or for, but on the screen it sang to me, I fuck-yeahed in the dark of the theatre, and I can’t wait until August when I can see it again. [LUCKY US, THE RELEASE GOT MOVED UP TO JUNE 28 DUE TO THE WELL-DESERVED ACCLAIM THIS GOT AT SXSW!]

 

 

 

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Incidentally, I have a mini poster signed by Edgar Wright himself. If you’re interested in winning it, Follow us on Twitter (@AssholeMovies), and retweet the relevant post. Comments here are worth extra entries. Good luck! [THIS IS LONG GONE (CONGRATS TO THE WINNER) BUT FEEL FREE TO RETWEET ALL OUR POSTS OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF YOUR HEART.]

 

 

Also: super DUPER bonus: check out the comments section for ROBERT RODRIGUEZ doing a Q&A with Edgar Wright and stars Eiza Gonzalez, Ansel Elgort & Jon Hamm.

Men, Women & Children

Just when you thought Jason Reitman could do no wrong, along comes Men, Women & Children, 2014’s movie we loved to hate.MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN

But why did critics pan it and audiences avoid it? It’s not really an objectionable premise: a bunch of teenage kids, and their square parents, realize that the internet is colouring and changing their interactions and relationships on every level. It’s got a big cast of talented people. But it all just feels so sad. So infinitely sad.

men-women-and-children-movieThe characters are all connected but the movie feels disconnected.  As a necessity, everyone’s reacting to their screens and not to each other. The internet’s destroying us! – not exactly an original idea –  but Reitman goes at it ambitiously, and vehemently.

For a script about technology, which is rooted firmly in the now, from a director who’s usually fairly with-it (witty teenage abortion with Juno, recession fallout in Up in the Air), this movie feels awfully stodgy and seems to miss the point. Plus, every single scenario, each character in the movie, exists not to tell a story but to tell a cautionary tale, one that will bash you over the head with its obviousness.

But the biggest crime that Reitman commits is that he fails to see that all of this internet-is-evil menwomenchildrenproof on offer in this film actually makes the opposite case. Eating disorders predate cellphones. Cheating on your spouse came before the internet. Exploiting children? Adolescent heartbreak? Parents worrying about teenagers? All very possible even without the help or the hindrance of technology. The weird thing about this movie is that the greatest evil seems to be when technology’s in the hands of the parents, not the kids. They’re the ones making the biggest mistakes, and shouldn’t they be the ones to know better?

Jason Reitman took a big swing here, but he missed by a mile.