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Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Drive


lordcookie
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  • 2 weeks later...

Because sometimes, words just get in the way.

Agreed. Unfortunately I couldn't resist.

Nothing too spoilery but just in case...

It's not always easy to tell at what point you fall in love with a film, normally it just creeps up on you but on rare occasions you can pinpoint it exactly. Watching Drive that point came with the introduction of the first musical note, a mere minute into the movie. I can't explain why, it wasn't even particularly memorable looking back at it, but it was the point that I knew I was going to be Nicolas Winding Refn's bitch and I was happy wherever he wanted to lead me. Drive is very much a movies movie, a film drenched in filmic references of the past yet still feeling utterly fresh and contemporary. The comparisons with '80s era Michael Mann are inescapable (particularly Thief) in its deliberate and pitch-perfect pacing, minimal dialogue and air of undeniable cool. Yet at its heart it is perhaps closest to the George Stevens' classic Western, Shane, thankfully without the irritating child in tow. But for all the elements it cribs from other films it still stands on its own. It shares the style of Mann but is no mere imitator, the story may be markedly similar to Shane but there is an original twist to the classic tale.

Drive is a rather deceptive film. Your immediate response is to the surface details; the beautiful cinematography by Newton Thomas Sigel or the perfectly judged score and soundtrack choices. These distractions and the simple narrative can divert you away from how expertly the editing is used to reflect the mental state of the Driver (notice how even when driving fast the car always appears to be coasting until a job goes wrong and he is taken out of his comfort zone. It is only then that the true speed is shown on screen) or how much is said with so few words. These are not deep characters, to the point where Driver's development is expressed most clearly through a garment of clothes as he transforms from the frog to scorpion, but they are performed so beautifully it doesn't matter. The romantic relationship between Driver and Irene (another great Mulligan performance) bristles with both tension and passion, she presents more danger than any robbery or film stunt yet also provides the safety and hope that Driver has removed from his life. These aren't new story ideas but few films have delivered them with such style and efficiency before. The punctuation of bloody violence is shocking but never gratuitous, which is surprising considering just how graphic it is in places. Instead it fits both the world of the film and the character of Driver as words were never going to solve his problems.

Like all the best things in life, Drive will not be loved by all. It is a film that will win you over early or not at all (I should know, the other people I saw it with hated it) but if it does grab hold you'll be hard pressed to find a better film this year.

*****

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Saw this in the cinema yesterday, after first seeing it on my crappy laptop.

It only gained in impact.

Some bits I didn't spot on my first viewing (some a bit duh!):

When Driver was sitting in front of the mirror for his movie stunt you first see the original macho actor through the backside of the mirror, before panning to the left and switching to Driver. Thought that was a subtle and nice effect. You see the back of the actor again just before Driver starts his stunt.

The link between Driver and the son of his neighbour: both wear a mask at some point, both toothpick, both have a moment of 'you blinked' (Driver at the end, son at some point on the couch with Driver).

The Scorpion/frog story: At first viewing I took Driver as the obvious Scorpion, always acting on intstinct when they may not be so smart (e.g. elevator scene), but you could also take his jacket as a literal reference to the story (scorpion on back), thus making Driver the frog, going down while helping somebody out. Thought that ambiguity was nice.

Mafia boss's knife collection, foreboding how driver would go down.

Spotted this at first viewing, but I really like how the basketball game has a red line through the opening scene: tv -> radio -> live in the indoor parking.

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The Scorpion/frog story: At first viewing I took Driver as the obvious Scorpion, always acting on intstinct when they may not be so smart (e.g. elevator scene), but you could also take his jacket as a literal reference to the story (scorpion on back), thus making Driver the frog, going down while helping somebody out. Thought that ambiguity was nice.

The way I read the jacket was that he had it to always remind himself that the people he was dealing with and ferrying around (even the helicopter shots following the car from above could be viewed as a metaphor for the river) were likely to show their true nature and fuck him over. It was a warning for him to always keep to his rules, as soon as he went against this he got stung. Of course his transformation into the scorpion becomes more explicit in the end but I think the earlier image of him having this ever present danger on his back was perhaps more successful.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just saw this in the cinema last night, was surprised by how much of a comedy it is- obviously a pretty black one at that- but a lot of genuinely funny scenes- like the elevator one, and enjoyably ludcicrous. Despite all the eighties callbacks it reminded me mostly of Ghost Dog - the way it creates this alternate reality (in Ghost Dog everyone, including ageing Mafiosos, listen to hip hop- in Drive everyone listens to electro pop- even if it's a coming home party for your jailed husband), the gleeful shittiness of the Mafia, especially in their clothes and their hang-outs, the mythical central character, the fairy tale / parable aspect of everything... Anyway, great film, lovely to see something so willfully odd and strange, and confident with it, if that makes sense.

My take on it was that

he was a borderline sociopath, living in a vague fantasy world in Hollywod. The jacket, the toothpick, the music, the whole speech about "five minutes"... which is why moments like when Standard got shot were great- genuine fear and surprise cracking his fantasy- before he manages to revert things back. I don't know if I'd go as far to say that's why he wears the mask to do the killing... he literally becomes the Hollywood action hero.

Or maybe it just looked cool.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wow!

Utterly riveting and devastatingly well shot, a really beautiful film. What amazed me was how tense the film made me, even though I knew how it ended. A fantastic performance by Gosling but I think equally matched by Mulligan for different reasons. Loved the soundtrack too - didn't expect to (didn't expect to enjoy the film so much) but it worked so well.

One of the best I've seen this year, but I need a breather before watching it again!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Book sequel coming - Driven -

from /film

I don’t know that I’d put much money on this ever becoming a film, but if you were enough of a fan of Nicolas Winding Refn‘s film Drive that you have to find out what might happen to the main character at some point in the future, a novel scheduled for April release will deliver the info.

In all the talk of the film Drive, one name often left out is that of James Sallis, the man who wrote the novel upon which Hossein Amini‘s script was based. That script is what attracted Ryan Gosling, who was instrumental in bringing Refn on board, and it’s all history from there. Sallis has, it turns out, written a sequel to his original novel, and Driven, as it is called, will be published next year. Read on for some more info.

Litreactor has confirmation from Sallis that the book will be published in April; it comes from Poisoned Pen Press, the same outfit that published Drive. We don’t have a huge plot synopsis, but there is this:

Six years later – Phoenix. Out of nowhere someone wants Driver dead. Who? Why? Big mistake…

Sounds like there’s the potential for Driver to become a character that Sallis goes back to once in a while. Then again, we don’t know how this one ends.

Robert Rosenwald at Poisoned Pen said,

When we agreed to publish Drive, it felt like a happy accident. In the Spring of 2004 my friend and one of my favorite writers, James Sallis, gave me a slight manuscript: Drive. I loved it… After the extraordinary success of Drive and with no contractual obligation to Poisoned Pen Press, Vicky and Jim easily could have sold Driven to virtually any mainstream publishing house for significant money, but they didn’t. I should not have been surprised. Among the many themes running through these books—and upon reflection, through all the books of James Sallis—is integrity. I know of no other writer so devoted to his craft and to what he believes.

post-242-060101400 1323699016_thumb.jpg

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Shit, I really feel like I'm missing out here. This should have been my perfect film - I adore this type or urban slow-burning thriller, and I love the films it references. But having just finished it (and read the thread) I just thought it was "good". I think my main issue was the perfunctory plot, which is where it diverges from Michael Mann, who's thrillers always have detailed, technical plots where you enjoy watching professionals do what they do best.

I suppose I'd got myself too hyped. It could be a grower, and before long it'll be one of my favourites. I could easily watch it again, but I was hoping to be blown away.

Good call on the Ghost Dog comparison, rumblecat. I knew it reminded me strongly of something I'd seen during my uni years. I was getting a Jarmusch vibe from the lingering shots, but was thinking more of Broken Flowers (which of course is nothing like Drive). I didn't find it slow at all. In fact I thought it was over too quickly, which was another reason I was disappointed.

As for "psycho or hero" I think the whole point is that he's a psycho. The line in the diner where he threatens to smash the guy's teeth down his throat I took to be a shocking revelation that what we thought was an icy cool yet loveable criminal is in fact pretty nasty. The fear he shows when he's on the phone to Nino undercuts his 'dead inside' demeanour though.

Oh and what is the frog and the scorpion story people keep mentioning? I had to keep adjusting the volume as it had the quiet dialogue/earsplitting action thing going on and I didn't want to wake my wife, so I guess I must have missed it.

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The frog and the scorpion is a fable about a frog who carries a scorpion across the water but is stung by the scorpion because it is in his nature which inevitably leads to both their deaths. I picked up the reference as soon as a I saw the jacket but...

it is made explicit during the phone conversation after Driver kills Ron Perlman

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Oh and what is the frog and the scorpion story people keep mentioning? I had to keep adjusting the volume as it had the quiet dialogue/earsplitting action thing going on and I didn't want to wake my wife, so I guess I must have missed it.

You've most likely seen the screener which doesn't contain that bit of dialogue.

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Shit, I really feel like I'm missing out here. This should have been my perfect film - I adore this type or urban slow-burning thriller, and I love the films it references. But having just finished it (and read the thread) I just thought it was "good".

I completely agree - it's a good film, but didn't tread into 'great' territory for me as it did for a lot of people. At times, it seemed ideal for me - the soundtrack, (most of) the cast, the settings, and noir stylings. I think, in the end, my inability to attach myself to any of the characters was an issue.

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I completely agree - it's a good film, but didn't tread into 'great' territory for me as it did for a lot of people. At times, it seemed ideal for me - the soundtrack, (most of) the cast, the settings, and noir stylings. I think, in the end, my inability to attach myself to any of the characters was an issue.

I definitely got myself too hyped. If it quietly discovered it I would have loved it. I didn't actually have any problems with it. Saying that, I did have a few questions about the plot:

At the very start, how does the police helicopter make his getaway car? Bryan Cranston's character makes a point of saying that it's a totally innocuous vehicle, yet the police copter just picks it out instantly with no explanation (unless I missed something that crackled over the police radio).

When he gets jumped by the hitmen in his flat, aren't the police next door taking a statement from the wife? I expected him to leap out of the window to get away, but instead it just cuts to the next scene with no indication about how he managed to clear up the mess. I know that doesn't really matter, but it's interesting to see how characters deal with situations like that.

How does the driver track down the dude who set him up (the guy who gets his hand hammered)? I don't think Christina Hendricks' character gets a chance to tell him before she gets her head blown off, does she? Unless it's in her phone or the bodies of one of the hitmen.

Is it just coincidence that the driver happens to meet the big boss and Nino via the racing contract, and then gets embroiled with the very same characters via his next door neighbour?

It may sound like nitpicking to ask about the finer plot details in what is more of a mood piece, but I think with such a simple story it's important to know how characters get from A to B. The films of Michael Mann and the Coens don't tend to lack this detail.

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Johnny Jewel had created an entire unused score for Drive and has recently uploaded an album on Sound Cloud called, Symmetry: Themes For An Imaginary Film, which sounds a lot like something you would have heard on the Drive soundtrack:

Disc 1

1. Introduction

2. City Of Dreams

3. Over The Edge

4. The Nightshift

5. Paper Chase

6. Outside Looking In

7. Midnight Sun

8. Behind The Wheel

9. Thicker Than Blood

10. A Sort Of Homecoming

11. Winner Take All

12. Death Mask

13. Jackie’s Eyes

14. The Fading Faces

15. Mind Games

16. The Maze

17. Threshold

18. Flashback

Disc 2

1. Blood Sport

2. Survival Instinct

3. Hall Of Mirrors

4. Eulogy

5. The Messenger

6. Love Theme

7. Through The Gauntlet

8. Ghost Town

9. Cruise Control

10. Wave Goodbye

11. Magic Gardens

12. An Eye For An Eye

13. The Point Of No Return

14. Cremation

15. The Nightshift Reprise

16. Memories Are Forever

17. Echoes Of The Mind

18. Streets Of Fire

Only listened to the first few tracks but it is well worth a listen.

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I definitely got myself too hyped. If it quietly discovered it I would have loved it. I didn't actually have any problems with it. Saying that, I did have a few questions about the plot:

At the very start, how does the police helicopter make his getaway car? Bryan Cranston's character makes a point of saying that it's a totally innocuous vehicle, yet the police copter just picks it out instantly with no explanation (unless I missed something that crackled over the police radio).

When he gets jumped by the hitmen in his flat, aren't the police next door taking a statement from the wife? I expected him to leap out of the window to get away, but instead it just cuts to the next scene with no indication about how he managed to clear up the mess. I know that doesn't really matter, but it's interesting to see how characters deal with situations like that.

How does the driver track down the dude who set him up (the guy who gets his hand hammered)? I don't think Christina Hendricks' character gets a chance to tell him before she gets her head blown off, does she? Unless it's in her phone or the bodies of one of the hitmen.

Is it just coincidence that the driver happens to meet the big boss and Nino via the racing contract, and then gets embroiled with the very same characters via his next door neighbour?

It may sound like nitpicking to ask about the finer plot details in what is more of a mood piece, but I think with such a simple story it's important to know how characters get from A to B. The films of Michael Mann and the Coens don't tend to lack this detail.

I don't really care about 1,3 & 4, but you got 2 wrong. They're in a generic motel when that happens. Aside from anything else, we know (because of the lift) that he doesn't live on the ground floor. Also the furniture is all different. Plus they're just clearly in a shitty motel.

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Just watched this and it was fantastic. The thing for me is that there was no hype for it on my part, I didn't think it was going to be bad or anything but I've been out of the loop with films for most of this year and hadn't read much about it. Great performances and a fantastic soundtrack and it looks stunning at times. Certainly gave me a Michael Mann vibe at times just in how the city was filmed/lit. I'd agree with whoever said it was a bit like Ghost Dog though I found this a lot more tense. You know the Kid has an edge when he speaks to the guy in the diner about a previous job and so nothing really 'feels' right after that as you just don't know what to expect.

Anyway, well worth watching. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Shit, I really feel like I'm missing out here. This should have been my perfect film - I adore this type or urban slow-burning thriller, and I love the films it references. But having just finished it (and read the thread) I just thought it was "good". I think my main issue was the perfunctory plot, which is where it diverges from Michael Mann, who's thrillers always have detailed, technical plots where you enjoy watching professionals do what they do best.

That's exactly what Drive isn't. It's a dreamy fairytale of boyhood hero fantasy turned nasty.

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