Sunday, September 25, 2011
The first ten minutes of Drive are mesmerizing. In them we follow Driver, a stunt driver and mechanic by day, while he goes about his moonlighting job: driver for heists. He picks up the shady characters doing the job, drops them off at their location, waits at the wheel while watching his watch and listening to the Lakers game and the police scanner both. After his clients get back in the car he drives them away through the Los Angeles streets.
Michael Mann from the eighties and nineties. Thief springs to mind, or Heat, as Driver explains to his prospective clients that he will give them a five minute window in which he is unconditionally theirs. But they are on their own in the minutes leading up to and following those five. This guy is good. This guy knows when to walk away, like any good Mann character. Like Frank, the James Caan character in Thief. Like Neil McCauley, the Robert DeNiro character in Heat.
James Sallis, pulls out the stops of his Mann fetish here. There are beautiful shots of the Los Angeles skyline, understated wide-frame compositions that understand aspect ratio, and character placement that all but mimic some of Mann’s framing.
Carey Mulligan), and her little boy, Benecio (a natural Kaden Leos). The boy is brown, the girl is white. The husband is in prison. Irene brings her car to the car repair place where Driver works. The owner, Shannon (Bryan Cranston), Driver’s boss and partner in the rest of his driving work, sees their potential and sends Driver to take the lady and her kid home. A gentle, chaste relationship develops, and Benecio falls for Driver as a surrogate dad.
At moments it seems Tarantino-derivative, except Drive is devoid of humor. I hate characters in movies like this that don’t carry or use a gun for ethical reasons. Here Driver refuses to use a gun. Which means what? Which means he’ll use a knife or anything else he gets his hands on. That seems to go for the aging gangsters as well. I hate knives, but here much of the violence comes at the hands of knives, boots, straight razors, hammers, and a fork. Ouch, that smarts.
Ryan Gosling’s lunkhead accent, Yonkers by way of Palookaville has served him well in recent movies like Crazy, Stupid, Love and Blue Valentine, fits in well with Drive’s quiet, blue collar loner. This may be the first time Gosling’s taken a role that adds action to the mix, and he handles it well, hinting that with every move Driver makes there’s a rationale behind it. Carey Mulligan plays it quiet as well, as a woman who cannot act on her feelings, caged as she is by a situation beyond her control. She still looks about sixteen, but here it doesn’t take away from story.
Red band trailer:
Theater location: Lowell Showcase, Sunday, September 18th, 11:50 am. Viewed with Amanda. Snack: Half a peanut butter Builder's Bar - the half that didn't FALL ON THE FLOOR!
50/50. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has cancer. His buddy Seth Rogen is there to support him, and try to get him laid. Hilarity ensues. It looks funny, and heartfelt. Based on the true-life story of the movie's writer, Will Reiser, and his real-life buddy, Seth Rogen.
Abduction. Out this weekend. The actor from Twilight finds his face on a milk carton (bummer) and goes on an action packed trip to figure out who he really is. John Singleton directs this dazzling actioner.
Dream House. Freaky story of a family that moves into a new house. Soon they discover the family that lived there before was murdered. Soon Danial Craig as the father and husband starts to have visions suggesting he is the murderer and his family is actually the originally murdered family. Damn! This is full of atmosphere and dread and could either be laughable or shocking. Co-starring Rachel Weisz and Naomi Watts.
Killer Elite. Also out this weekend. Lame Jason Statham actioner co-starring Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen (how far the mighty have fallen). Not a remake of the Sam Peckinpah 70s flick.
Like Crazy. College-aged love affair between an American and a Brit. Starring Felicity Jones, Anton Yelchin, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Rum Diary. Ah, this is a movie I can get behind. Johnny Depp stars in the adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson's first novel. It has a playful vibe, a beautiful look, Johnny looks swell, and so do the ladies. Something to do with a journalist covering a story on a Caribbean island. Although that plot seems secondary to the drinking and various other Hunteresque shenanigans. Luckily it does not offer the same vibe as Gilliam's misfire Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.