Sunday, 6 August 2017

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: BABY DRIVER


39. “He's a looney. Just like his tunes.”



06/08/2017




I feel lucky that all of the following happened in this order. After Apple announced they were ending sales of the iPod nano and shuffle, I wrote an article [link] about how my listening habits mean I will return to the Sony Walkman, which is now a line of MP3 and video players. The same day I completed the article, it was announced that Sony were being sued over their film “Baby Driver,” as they had not properly cleared the rights to “Debora,” by T-Rex. At this point, I realised I should see “Baby Driver,” knowing it was about someone who also constantly listens to music – however, I don’t have tinnitus.

Firstly, “Baby Driver” is an incredibly stylish and kinetic film, and Edgar Wright should be given exactly what he needs to continue to make his sort of films – after all, “Baby Driver” was made for a quarter of the cost of “Ant-Man.” I have read reviews criticising the lack of depth in the story, or that the film is all about surface, but I would argue that everything you need is on the surface, and what a surface it is.


I found myself identifying with the main character a little too much. While Baby constantly listens to music from various iPods, matching rhythm and mood in everyday life, such as his is shown to me, I also constantly need to have the sound of something around me, no matter what it is – perhaps the noise acts as a focus, or it may be that silence is simply not comforting. Baby also records what people have said to him on a covert Olympus dictation machine (not Dictaphone – like Dumpster, and Hoover, Dictaphone is a brand name, not a description) – meanwhile I have been looking at buying a digital field recorder from, yes, Olympus (the model numbers even begin “LS,” so no wonder they keep attracting me).

As with Edgar Wright’s other films, music plays an enormous part, and as Layla & Richee explained in their podcast review of “Baby Driver,” [link] music is not used as indulgently as it might be in a Quentin Tarantino production. “Baby Driver” is a paean to the power of music, also found in the film it reminded me of quite a bit, “The Blues Brothers.” When that film was made, buying the rights to the various Stax and other soul songs were quite cheap, but the effect of their use have since caused prices to rocket. Add greater rights for artists, which allowed Marc Bolan’s son, Rolan Feld, to gain US copyright to T-Rex’s hits in 2014, a complicating factor for Sony with “Debora,” and you have a sticky situation that you hope won’t discourage films like “Baby Driver” in the future.

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