The Daily Gamecock

Reel Talk: Best in summer entertainment uplifts, delights viewers

Baby (ANSEL ELGORT) charms Debora as she works in TriStar Pictures' BABY DRIVER.
Baby (ANSEL ELGORT) charms Debora as she works in TriStar Pictures' BABY DRIVER.

The summer of 2017 has been a season of political and social unrest, but on screen, the last few months could not have been more different. 

Film and television content this year has largely featured uplifting world views, heartwarming storylines, and seems to share a sense of fun — or at least of optimism — that is simply irresistible. Here are four favorites from this year's warmer months.   

“A Ghost Story”   

Watching David Lowery’s “A Ghost Story” is an experience similar to intruding on a moment in which the most tender of emotions are being exchanged. Starring Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara as tragedy-struck lovers, the film discusses love and loss in a way that feels raw and uninhibited, while also managing to retain the mystery of the world of the supernatural through various production elements such as an ethereal color palette and yearning score by David Hart. 

“A Ghost Story” requires patience on the part of the viewer as it moves through its heartbreaking course of events with what can only be compared to the thorough — and at times painstakingly slow — grace of a full-length classical ballet, but the slow pacing of the film brings with it an almost meditative quality. 

What makes “A Ghost Story” a must-see for 2017, however, is not its haunting portrayals of human emotion or beautiful storytelling. Rather it is the film’s overwhelmingly romantic view of the world — its belief in the idea that love can transcend even the grave.   


Inspired by a TV wrestling promotion of the same name that originally aired in 1986, Netflix’s “GLOW," an acronym for “Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling," is one of the most fun television spectacles to premier in years. At the center of the show is the love/hate relationship between frenemies Ruth Wilder (Alison Brie) and Debbie Eagan (Betty Gilpin), but the fringe storylines are well-developed and interesting as well, and the refreshingly diverse cast brings a variety of comedic talent to the table. 

“GLOW” is hilarious and full of 80s kitsch without sacrificing on quality or substance, and makes statements about gender roles and feminism without crossing over into preaching at the audience. Nearly every member of cast — both main and supporting — gives an Emmy-worthy performance. 

Overall, “GLOW” flawlessly achieves an even mix of drama and comedy, and makes the niche world of 80s women’s professional wrestling relevant for 2017.    

“Baby Driver”  

Aside from razor-sharp editing, solid performances from the entire cast and a delightful soundtrack, the greatest strength of “Baby Driver” is its vitality. Something about director Edgar Wright’s newest action comedy is so passionately fun that viewers can’t help but be swept away into the world of the film’s hero, getaway driver Baby (Ansel Elgort), from the film’s opening scene to its ending. 

“Baby Driver” is charged with a zest for life that remains intact throughout the bloody trials and tribulations that await Baby, his girlfriend Debora (Lily James), his boss Doc (Kevin Spacey) and the assortment of criminals that populate the Atlanta of this film. 

“Baby Driver” does not shy away from real problems. Baby has a difficult family situation and a hearing impairment, not to mention all of the complications that come with his illicit career choice, but the film remains uplifting and spirited. Its meticulously crafted soundtrack influences the physical movement of the characters, the editing and the pacing of the film but manages to do so in a way that steers clear of Old Hollywood musical nostalgia. The under two-hour runtime and high number of car chases keep the film on its feet, while young love and parenting storylines stop the film from crossing over into a “Fast and Furious”- esque tawdriness. 

Overall, “Baby Driver” is youthfully optimistic and entertaining, while also possessing a realism and authenticity seldom seen in action films. Its grounded-yet-hopeful outlook is hard not to love, and makes it the perfect filmic medicine for a weary 2017 world.   


Perhaps the purest film to emerge this year thus far is “Okja,” the tale of a genetically modified super-pig of the same name and her loving owner, the orphan Mija, played brilliantly by the young Seo Hyun-Ah. 

A Netflix original directed by Bong Joon Ho, “Okja” is one part animal rights activism, one part adventurous fairytale and one part love story that focuses on the bond between Mija and Okja. As Mija travels from South Korea to New York on a mission to save Okja from the Mirando Corporation — the company that created Okja and other super-pigs in hopes of introducing a new, more efficient method of meat production — the gentle CGI giant that is Okja becomes a symbol of innocence that will touch even the coldest of hearts. This tender portrayal of a girl and her lovable, albeit unusual, pet joins with the film’s stirring look at the work of the Animal Liberation Front (A.L.F.) to open a dialogue on humanity and animal cruelty that is sweet rather than sanctimonious. 

Relevant to 2017 particularly in its lifelike portrayal of protests and activism groups, the film is powerful in both the love and righteous anger it displays. “Okja” proves that film can be well-made, entertaining and pertinent at the same time, while encouraging viewers to look at the world with love — and possibly give vegetarianism a try.