“Last Night in Soho”: Eloise’s Adventures Through the Looking-Glass

Last Night in Soho!

The Doctor vs. Illyana Rasputin: who wins?

As a kid I spent a lot of summertime Friday nights with my mom and grandma at the drive-in down the street. For a poor family like ours, drive-ins were cheaper than indoor theaters, especially if you stayed late and caught two or three films for the price of one. The concession stands served fried grub as affordable as any contemporary fast-food joint. Until the feature presentation rolled at sundown, free preshow entertainments abounded. Audience members could set out lawn chairs and mingle with folks they know in the next parking space over. Kids could goof around on the playground in front of the screen. And in the years before some entrepreneur figured out how to patch the soundtrack into a short-range FM signal, you could hang one of the drive-in’s own heavy, tinny, awkward mono speakers on your window, crank up the plastic white knob, and listen to the prefab radio program spinning the exact same songs at every showing for years until the drive-in closed in 1982 and was demolished to make way for boring medical offices.

The track listing in general — borne from the post-disco days of “easy listening” lullabies, country/western crossover hits, and ’60s leftovers-turned-standards — was a parade of inoffensive AM-radio earworms cultivated for my elders who liked their sonic backdrops as plain as a pus-colored Tupperware cup of sugarless lemonade on a wind-free porch. In the years ahead I’d come to develop my own musical tastes as the opposite of all that. To this day they’re why I respond poorly to slow jams, twee ballads, and somnambulist Starbucks-CD jangle-pop. Despite my youngster’s apathy, one single would catch my attention above all others every time: Petula Clark’s “Downtown”.

Continue reading

Technically There’s a Message After the “Baby Driver” End Credits

Baby Driver!

Spoiler photo from the Young Han Solo set, where so little budget is left for reshoots that actors have to share earbuds while being prompted with their hastily rewritten lines.

Now that Baby Driver mania has stopped taking the internet by storm, is it safe to come out of hiding and confess I didn’t think it was Edgar Wright’s Best Film Ever? It had its strong points and it’s certainly better than The World’s End, which didn’t click with me at all…

Continue reading

“The World’s End”: Midlife Crisis Begets Drinking Quest Begets Apocalypse

The World's End, movie

Under normal circumstances, a film like The World’s End would be miles outside my bailiwick. It’s been years since I could stomach flocks about man-children stalled in permanent adolescence (e.g., half the comedies starring SNL vets). I’m not interested in celebrations of the magical bonding power of alcohol (e.g., half the comedies released in the last five years). I’ve seen maybe one R-rated comedy in the last five years (Tropic Thunder had its good parts). Combine the three elements and I would anticipate the kind of mess least likely to earn a dime of my own money. Only on the strength of the talented names of Simon Pegg and director/co-writer Edgar Wright did I temporarily waive my reservations and see if the minds behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz came within a stone’s throw of the same achievement levels in wit and ingenuity.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: