What’s in a name? Analyzing Baby Driver

I originally started this blog with the intention of writing mainly television related posts but I’m making an exception for Baby Driver. Spoilers ahead by the way. [I’m going to mention who dies in the film]

The film is driven by music but it’s also obsessed with names. When we see the film, we are first introduced to Baby, a young man who is hired to be the driver of the getaway car in heists. His name is constantly repeated throughout the entire film. Baby B-A-B-Y Baby. Why? Perhaps because it’s uncommon having an adult man with that name. The last time we heard it so often was with a teenager in love with an older sexy dancer in Dirty Dancing (1987). Well there is Cry Baby in Cry Baby (1990) but that’s a different story.

Baby is not the only one with a nickname. We have Doc who is a mobster of sorts with connections and the power to hurt the ones you love. Buddy and Darling who are a husband and wife duo who love money and shooting guns. Finally, there is Bats who is scary and willing to kill a waitress when it’s time to pay the bill. Doc, Buddy, Darling, and Bats are criminals on a power trip. They are above everyone else and they show it in their own ways. Doc is subtle. He will leave you alone but double cross him and he might send you a piece of your significant other in a box. Buddy and Darling are so horny for each other that they would kill anyone for each other. Bats is constantly proving his power whether it’s insulting someone or killing a group of people. He is bat shit crazy and he will do anything to prove it. It’s almost like their nicknames gives them their power and the persona they want to project. Look at the butcher and his collection of meat (guns).

However, everything goes downhill once their real names are revealed. Darling admits that her name is Monica. Then Bats kills the Butcher and his crew. Doc reveals Bats’ real name is Leon. Then on the job, Baby drives the getaway car and hits a parked truck where a rebar stabs Leon and kills him. During the craziness of trying to escape the police, Monica yells out Buddy’s real name, Jason. Then she dies while shooting the police. Doc’s name isn’t revealed but he gets run over by Jason who is seeking revenge for his wife’s death. Jason is eventually killed by Baby. Finally, Baby’s name is revealed when he is sentenced to prison. Miles.

A nickname is an alter ego that Doc, Darling, Buddy, and Bats have to show they are scary and powerful but their real name represent their reality. At the end, they are not invincible. They are powerless.  Their alter ego is dead. They are not above anyone else especially Baby.

The only characters that are true and not living a double life are Joe and Debora who use their real names throughout the film. Joe is a man who wants Baby to leave the dangerous profession and approves of him meeting Debora.

Debora is first introduced with a name tag that says “Jonathan” which is comedic and never intended to be her name in the film. When Baby and Debora first meet, they have a cute conversation about names. Debora is obsessed with names. She thinks that she got a horrible name because Debora is barely used in songs. She is amazed and jealous of Baby’s name. Amazed because it’s a man’s name. Jealous because there are so many songs with Baby in it.

It’s easy to connect the dots with real names. In the diner scene, Baby is scared to death when he realizes Debora is wearing a name tag with her real name on it. Bats, Buddy, and Darling can read it. They know her name. Later on, when they listen to one of Baby’s tapes titled Debora, they realize who is Baby’s girlfriend. Leverage. Danger. Fear. Death.

At that point, Baby needed to stop being the baby. He needed to stop being treated like a child. He needed to stop being a slave. The actions that followed surprised everyone. Baby is dead. Miles is alive.

 

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A show that cannot be binge-watched: Heroes

Binge-watching is pretty cool. Especially the feeling you get when you watch that WTF moment at the end of an episode and not having to wait a week or months for the next episode. However, I recently encountered a show that I wish I wasn’t binge-watching: Heroes.

I’m not criticizing Heroes. I like that show. It’s just that sometimes I can’t watch more than one episode in a row.

In preparation of Heroes Reborn, I wanted to watch all four seasons. I calculated and I had to watch two episodes a day to be caught up. I even left an extra week before the premiere of Heroes Reborn just in case. The premiere started and I was still halfway Season 3.

Season 1 could be easily binge-watched. I enjoyed it. I got to figure out back story of each character. I got excited when these “heroes” met each other. I wanted desperately to know if Noah Bennet was a bad guy or a good guy. I was intrigued in finding out that a certain girl was the daughter of _________ and ____________. Skylar was cutting people’s heads. But everyone had one goal: save the world. It didn’t matter if everyone believed it or not. It was the goal. The series finale brought everyone together nicely and everyone had a role to play.

Season 2 was ok to binge because it’s about how everyone is trying to live normal lives knowing what they know now. Season 3 is mainly the heroes trying to find the enemy in all this and take down the company or whoever is harming the people with powers. The problem is that everyone is fighting the good fight separately. They get together for one second and then disperse. It’s as if everyone had the same goal but wanted to go about it in different ways.

Here is the real reason why it’s hard to binge watch Heroes. Certain narrative tropes are used over and over again. It’s repetitive. Maybe if I had seen the show weekly with the month hiatus, it wouldn’t have seem that way but watching a few episode a day for a week, it does.

Here are some story lines that are repetitive:

  1. Someone always wants to live a normal life rather than be a kick ass superhero.
  2. The person whom you thought couldn’t die because they are important in the show, dies.
  3. A new hero is killed after a few episodes.
  4. A new hero is presented but no longer mentioned after the season ends.
  5. The bad guy always seems to be some sort of Company who claims to be doing good but kills people at the same time. Total Mind f**k . Is the company good or bad? Which is it?
  6. Skylar kills people.
  7. Bennet is hiding something (even if it’s from himself).
  8. Someone has a wife at one point and then doesn’t. Not entirely sure what happened there.

The best characters are Hiro and Claire. Hiro because he actually wants to be a hero and is constantly looking for a mission. Claire because every time she is on screen, the plot moves along significantly. She was one of those “I want a normal life people” but quickly became “I’m never going to be normal so no use fighting it.”

Update July 28, 2017
I saw Heroes Reborn. I haven’t seen  anymore episodes of Heroes. I want to love the show but it’s difficult. It’s like seeing the Avengers in the same movie but the characters never interact until the last 5 minutes. It’s frustrating.

Introducing The E in TV/ Richard Castle’s Dramatic Music Vibe

The E in my blog’s title “The E in TV” stands for simply Edit. I will look at different types of editing choices in scenes from different television shows.

I am a huge fan of television. Unlike a two-hour film, television allows the viewer to witness the growth of characters and changes of styles from season to season.

As for my first post, I will be discussing a scene in Castle from the episode “The Time of Our Lives.” If you are not sure what Castle is, visit your favorite search engine and google it or bing it or yahoo it. In this episode, Castle enters into a parallel universe where no one at the police station, not even Beckett, knows who he is.

Click here to watch the clip from Castle. Make sure you listen to the score.

Music is a useful tool in conveying a type of emotion to the viewer. It’s even a better tool when creating an exaggerated comedic moment. If you’ve ever seen Castle, you are familiar with Nathan Fillion’s way of charmingly use of exaggerated speech to get what he wants in solving a case. In the first scene, Detective Esposito is suspicious of Castle for knowing so much information about them and the case. Castle tricks Esposito into thinking that he has a special “gift” similarly to a psychic or mind-reader. I love the use of dramatic music in this scene because it adds a comical element to the scene and Esposito’s face is priceless. Different parts of the score are triggered by certain words Castle says.

“Gift”– Things are getting interesting. A little bit of percussion but not too much. Just enough to get the audience interested.

“Commitment Issues”– Castle hits a nerve. A strong crescendo as Esposito walks closer towards Castle almost as if he is about to kill him. The music suddenly stops as Detective Ryan walks into frame.

As Detective Ryan is briefing everyone on the case, he suddenly stops mid-sentence watching Castle. The music starts again and there is no dialogue. Ryan looks at Castle. Esposito and Beckett look at Castle. Castle looks at Beckett. Beckett moves her glance from Castle to Ryan. Cue percussion! Beckett nods at Ryan to continue briefing about the case.

I chuckled so hard during this scene (if that is even possible). Firstly, you have typical Castle thinking on his feet. Secondly, the use of dramatic music highlights how freaked out Esposito is but also makes the entire scene comedic to the point that it looks a little ridiculous (in a good way). Naturally, Castle pretending to be some kind of mind-reader in order to stay on the case and avoid suspicion would be somewhat believable in this situation especially coming out of the mouth of Nathan Fillion. I also loved the moment of no dialogue between the four characters until Beckett gives the nod. Those seconds of no dialogue scream, “We don’t know why we are letting a writer into the investigation but whatever. He may be useful.” It’s almost like a throwback to when the series began where Castle wasn’t welcomed by Beckett to piggy-back on police investigations until he proved himself useful. We got a taste of what the tension used to be in Season 1 and how far we’ve come in Season 7.

The use of dramatic music that would normally be used for suspense has served to follow a comedic joke that only the viewer and Castle are truly aware of. In the debriefing scene, the music is used as a filler that highlights the elephant (Castle) in the room creating an awkward vibe. The sound of the minor drum roll hinted that a decision was going to be made. Beckett nods. Music changes. Detective Ryan continues. Castle gets to stay.

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Castle, “The Time of Our Lives”