Friday, March 16, 2018

Baauer – "Swoopin" (2014)

Hands in the air
Yeah, yeah, I go swoopin’!

If a friend or a loved one suggests that you go see Red Sparrow – the new sex-and-espionage thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence as a Russian spy – just tell them, “NYET!”

I agreed to go see Red Sparrow even though I was pretty sure it was going to be a stinker.  That’s because I’m just too nice of a guy for my own good.  (I can’t help being a nice guy.  To paraphrase Lady Gaga, “Baby, I was born that way.”)

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One critic correctly noted that Red Sparrow is “more style than substance.” 

The stylistic highlights included the lovely classical music on the soundtrack, the beautiful European locations (much of the film was shot in Vienna and Budapest) and Jennifer Lawrence in her undies – not necessarily in that order.

Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow
But all of that fails to compensate for what another reviewers called “thin characters and a convoluted story.”  Red Sparrow is one of those movies that seems OK as you’re watching it, but whose plausibility begins to dissolve moments after you leave the theatre.

A number of critics who panned Red Sparrow praised Lawrence’s performance.  I thought Lawrence was great in Winter’s Bone.  She was also great – in a very different way – in American Hustle.  But she was utterly forgettable in Red Sparrow.  That’s the screenplay’s fault more than hers.

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Lawrence's Red Sparrow character is a former Bolshoi prima ballerina who is forced to become a Russian “sparrow” – a spy who specializes in gaining intelligence by seducing her male targets.

Lawrence as a blonde sparrow
The man behind the Lawrence’s involuntary transformation into a sparrow is her uncle, a high-ranking Russian Intelligence Service (SVR) official.

One of the more memorable moments in the movie came when Lawrence yells “You sent me to whore school!” at her uncle in what New York Post movie reviewer Sara Stewart aptly described as a Boris-and-Natasha accent.  (The venerable Charlotte Rampling and Jeremy Irons also affect silly Russian accents as Lawrence’s SVR supervisors.)

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I saw Red Sparrow the weekend it opened – always a mistake – at the ArcLight Cinemas at Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, MD.

ArcLight is a very small but very fancy movie-theatre chain with seven locations in southern California, two in the Chicago area, and one in suburban Washington, DC – which is the one I went to. 

There are no pre-movie commercials at ArcLight.   Every very spacious and comfortable seat is reserved, and latecomers are not allowed to enter the theatre after the movie begins.  And the bar features half a dozen local craft beers at a reasonable price.  (When I say “reasonable,” I mean reasonable compared to the prices for popcorn, candy bars, and soft drinks.)

All that sounds good.  But there are a couple of downsides to the Montgomery Mall ArcLight.

First, the automobile traffic in the mall’s parking lots and the human traffic inside the mall are such that you would have thought it was the Saturday before Christmas.  

Second, ArcLight charges  . . . are you ready for this? . . . $16 for a ticket.  (I assumed at first that was the price for two tickets.  But nooooo!)

Of course, because I’m so old, I qualified for a senior ticket, which was a mere $12.75.

Most of theatres in the Washington area charge $12 or $13 for a regular ticket, and around $10 for a senior ticket.  That’s bad enough if you ask me, but a bargain compared to what ArcLight charges.

What really irks me is that I could have waited a few months and checked a Red Sparrow DVD out of my public library.  If I had, I still would have complained that I had wasted two hours watching it even though it didn’t cost me a cent.

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Baauer – his real name is Henry Bauer Rodrigues – is a 28-year-old EDM producer who is best known for his 2012 single, “Harlem Shake.”  (36 million Youtube views and counting, boys and girls.)

The lyrics quoted above represent purt near all of the lyrics of Baauer’s 2014 release, “Swoopin,” which is featured in Red Sparrow.

Here’s the “Swoopin” remix that was used in the movie:

Click below to buy the original version of the song from Amazon:

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