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Just saw this. It was kind of like watching an amped up version of Sex, Lies, and Videotape intercut with sudden, unexpected scenes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

It's no Taxi Driver, but I did like it.

Edited by Scott Derrickson

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Just saw this. It was kind of like watching an amped up version of Sex, Lies, and Videotape intercut with sudden, unexpected scenes from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

What is it that the kids today say? "With that, Scott wins the Internet for today"? Something like that. Apologies for butchering the appropriate Net lingo. Just wanted to say that I got a kick out of your comment.

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Have we really not mentioned this story yet, about the guy who threw a hot dog at Tiger Woods because, after seeing Drive, "As soon as the movie ended, I thought to myself, 'I have to do something courageous and epic: I have to throw a hot dog on the green in front of Tiger'"?

I don't know what the weirdest part of that sentence is: the fact that Drive actually inspired anybody to do anything, or the fact that this guy thinks throwing a hot dog at someone is "courageous and epic".

And in other news ...

And now someone's suing, because she apparently felt that the trailer had promised her a Fast Five-style movie, and Drive was... not that.

David Poland has a couple more posts on this subject, including this one from October 18, where he responds to arguments made by the lawyer behind the lawsuit, and this one from October 19, in which one of the screenwriter's Jewish friends defends him against charges of anti-Semitism.

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Michael Sicinski on DRIVE:

Now playing: Rihanna, "Shut Up and Drive." Sudden realization: DRIVE would've been 100x better with Rihanna in the Mulligan role.

Oh, good grief.

I thought it was funny.

But thinking about it, it makes a certain level of sense. Something about that idea feels right, even if Rihanna is a lousy actress (and I don't know that she is, since I've never seen her in anything). It fits the B-movie appeal of the picture. If nothing else, Sicinski's comment gets at a gut-level feeling I've had for a bit that Mulligan was all wrong for this film.

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Sicinski's comment gets at a gut-level feeling I've had for a bit that Mulligan was all wrong for this film.

Yes. My wife and I talked last night about the three virtually identical movies this year about casual relationships (No Strings Attached, Love and Other Drugs, and Friends With Benefits). At times, Drive is just half a bubble off this list.

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I long ago stopped watching online video spoofs set to Downfall, but given my personal disappointment over the failure of Albert Brooks to score an Oscar nomination, I decided to give

a chance. It's hilarious and cathartic. (And I loved Moneyball! But ... still very funny.)

Warning: Subtitles NSFW

Edited by Christian

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Even if Gosling's acting comes across as "acting" the whole film is really a giant act, so this didn't distract me at all. In addition, I can't think of a recent performance that captures barely contained rage as well as the diner confrontation. This rage is very well juxtaposed by the scenes he shares with the little boy down the hall, which are disarmingly tender. As a near middle-aged guy, I know what that kind of rage looks like and feels like, and this kind of anger may really be the key to Refn's filmography. Every film I have seen by him is about anger, and this anger often has no backstory at all. It is just present in the film and makes everything fall apart in the end. The kind of films we link with the concept of "redemptive violence" usually have a character that gets really really angry, but it is okay because they are directing it toward injustice, toward the bad guy. But in Refn's films there is usually an angry guy that is angry for no discernable reason. And throughout the course of the film this anger is never corrected or deconstructed, it is simply allowed to exist in balance with everything else. In other words Driver, like Refn, is a Taoist.

I am just rambling here, but so does Refn.

Missed this when you first wrote this Leary, so I should thank Christian for reviving this thread for me to peruse. This really helps me to contextualize the film. I agree that people ought not to read redemption into this film. I had a very complicated reaction to the film; on the one hand I found the whole thing to be an alluring spectacle, uncannily capturing the strange and mystical nature of LA (especially at night). On the other hand, I felt absolutely assaulted by the violence in a way I rarely do when going to the big screen. I'm not a big fan of hyper-violent films, especially when highly stylized. The confusing thing about Drive is that the violence isn't highly stylized, but the environment is, by virtue of being set in LA.

I think this is why I can't get Drive out of my mind. I just spent a brief stint in LA of several months (which may potentially be continued in the near future), and I came to understand the sense in which LA is rife with dormant anger, waiting for someone to wake it up. The rage is palpable, and it gets under your skin, is always just out of sight, like something you perpetually see coming at you in peripheral vision. And yet there's something so alluring and mysterious about LA, something that pulls you in and wraps you up into its aura, so that you don't know what hit you when you finally snap. I think this is why movies like Drive and—in an eerily related sense—Crash work so well set in LA.

The

fight in the elevator

is really the crux of it all to me. It's when the whole thing comes down and the ugly truth of it all is laid bare. Even with the occasional moments of surprise, the whole movie up to that point felt somewhat dreamily detached. That scene for me was psychologically (and also a little physically) wrenching.

Edited by Joel C

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Saw this last week. Disappointed. Fast Five was far superior.

The 80s synth style and score made me yearn for Michael Mann's _Thief_.

All thru my mind, I figured out why I was let down. Howard Hawks once said a great movie contains 3 Great Scenes, no bad scenes. _Drive_ has TWO (count 'em, two) Great Car Action sequences. And then it abandons this format altogether, and trades it in for a vastly different, vastly inferior, type of action film, one which resorts to excessive gore and skankiness. The scene at the strip club was telling: a guy is beat to a pulp, and NOBODY screams for help, lounging about in their birthday suits?

There IS a third car sequence, but it feels tacked on and incidental.

There is zero substance to this film: it's all style, but the style is nothing but recycled mouthwash.

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I'm way behind the ball on this one (obviously), and I imagine this has already been discussed, but I'll still throw it out there:

Was anyone else pretty appalled by how far the violence in this film escalates?

Those on the board who know a little bit about me (mostly Overstreet) know that I'm not particularly conservative when it comes to these things, and I'm no prude, but still I have to wonder . . .

While impeccably made, Drive is a prime example of a film that lost me in the third act. The first moments of violence where appropriately shocking, but by the time we were in the motel I no longer cared about the characters. For me, Drive commits the crime many have attributed (and not without reason) to Melancholia - audience torture. Except, and here's the difference - to me Melancholia had a clear meta-narrative. The fact that von Trier was messing with the audience was, for me, tempered by the fact that he was aware of it and was trying to elicit the audience's own awareness.

In other words, I think the film had purpose; he was saying something, even if it wasn't crystal clear.

I sensed no such feeling in Drive. Which is why, as soon as I was taken out of the story itself (in this case by the shock value of the violence) there was really nothing left.

If this wasn't such a beautiful, well made film I think I would have left twenty minutes before the conclusion.

Edited by Timothy Zila

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I'm way behind the ball on this one (obviously), and I imagine this has already been discussed, but I'll still throw it out there:

Was anyone else pretty appalled by how far the violence in this film escalates?

Those on the board who know a little bit about me (mostly Overstreet) know that I'm not particularly conservative when it comes to these things, and I'm no prude, but still I have to wonder . . .

While impeccably made, Drive is a prime example of a film that lost me in the third act. The first moments of violence where appropriately shocking, but by the time we were in the motel I no longer cared about the characters. For me, Drive commits the crime many have attributed (and not without reason) to Melancholia - audience torture. Except, and here's the difference - to me Melancholia had a clear meta-narrative. The fact that von Trier was messing with the audience was, for me, tempered by the fact that he was aware of it and was trying to elicit the audience's own awareness.

In other words, I think the film had purpose; he was saying something, even if it wasn't crystal clear.

I sensed no such feeling in Drive. Which is why, as soon as I was taken out of the story itself (in this case by the shock value of the violence) there was really nothing left.

If this wasn't such a beautiful, well made film I think I would have left twenty minutes before the conclusion.

While I don't understand the arguments about audience torture in Melancholia (nothing in there felt that way to me), this does pretty much sum up my reaction to Drive.

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Nick Alexander wrote:

: Saw this last week. Disappointed. Fast Five was far superior.

If you'll forgive me borrowing a line of Matt Damon's... I could kiss you on the mouth. :)

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I'm way behind the ball on this one (obviously), and I imagine this has already been discussed, but I'll still throw it out there:

Was anyone else pretty appalled by how far the violence in this film escalates?

Those on the board who know a little bit about me (mostly Overstreet) know that I'm not particularly conservative when it comes to these things, and I'm no prude, but still I have to wonder . . .

While impeccably made, Drive is a prime example of a film that lost me in the third act. The first moments of violence where appropriately shocking, but by the time we were in the motel I no longer cared about the characters. For me, Drive commits the crime many have attributed (and not without reason) to Melancholia - audience torture. Except, and here's the difference - to me Melancholia had a clear meta-narrative. The fact that von Trier was messing with the audience was, for me, tempered by the fact that he was aware of it and was trying to elicit the audience's own awareness.

In other words, I think the film had purpose; he was saying something, even if it wasn't crystal clear.

I sensed no such feeling in Drive. Which is why, as soon as I was taken out of the story itself (in this case by the shock value of the violence) there was really nothing left.

If this wasn't such a beautiful, well made film I think I would have left twenty minutes before the conclusion.

There's no doubt that the violence in Drive is overly graphic, but I think there is a point to the story having violence in it. Mainly that he was a mixed up, tragic, lost soul, who obviously had a violent past. Then he gets tangled up in a big mess where through the course of events he ends up committing atrocious acts of violence in front of the only person that could possibly give him a chance at a redeemable, happy life. He believes that she's seen his violence to the point that there is no hope for them and ends up driving into the night as a tragic figure. I was with the story and the characters until the end and found the film to be saying something meaningful.

I'd say that a certain amount of violence and shock was needed for the story, including the elevator scene, but not to the extent that the film took it. It was not only too graphic, but this also moved our attentions to dwelling on and talking about the films violence, and away from the character's story, and the films themes.

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I'm way behind the ball on this one (obviously), and I imagine this has already been discussed, but I'll still throw it out there:

Was anyone else pretty appalled by how far the violence in this film escalates?

Those on the board who know a little bit about me (mostly Overstreet) know that I'm not particularly conservative when it comes to these things, and I'm no prude, but still I have to wonder . . .

While impeccably made, Drive is a prime example of a film that lost me in the third act. The first moments of violence where appropriately shocking, but by the time we were in the motel I no longer cared about the characters. For me, Drive commits the crime many have attributed (and not without reason) to Melancholia - audience torture. Except, and here's the difference - to me Melancholia had a clear meta-narrative. The fact that von Trier was messing with the audience was, for me, tempered by the fact that he was aware of it and was trying to elicit the audience's own awareness.

In other words, I think the film had purpose; he was saying something, even if it wasn't crystal clear.

I sensed no such feeling in Drive. Which is why, as soon as I was taken out of the story itself (in this case by the shock value of the violence) there was really nothing left.

If this wasn't such a beautiful, well made film I think I would have left twenty minutes before the conclusion.

There's no doubt that the violence in Drive is overly graphic, but I think there is a point to the story having violence in it. Mainly that he was a mixed up, tragic, lost soul, who obviously had a violent past. Then he gets tangled up in a big mess where through the course of events he ends up committing atrocious acts of violence in front of the only person that could possibly give him a chance at a redeemable, happy life. He believes that she's seen his violence to the point that there is no hope for them and ends up driving into the night as a tragic figure. I was with the story and the characters until the end and found the film to be saying something meaningful.

I'd say that a certain amount of violence and shock was needed for the story, including the elevator scene, but not to the extent that the film took it. It was not only too graphic, but this also moved our attentions to dwelling on and talking about the films violence, and away from the character's story, and the films themes.

Well, that's my point, really.

Character and theme is totally lost in the violence.

It becomes about shocking the audience. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Well, that's my point, really.

Character and theme is totally lost in the violence.

It becomes about shocking the audience. Nothing more, nothing less.

Obviously reactions are a personal thing, but that isn't what I got out of the movie at all. Yes, the outbursts of violence were shocking, but for me they didn't swamp the rest of the movie. I thought that the violence served a dramatic purpose in terms of revealing character. Irene's reaction to what happens in the elevator, and the driver's reaction to his own actions and her reaction are made clearer and stronger because we saw the horror ourselves — sanitizing the violence would, I think, have undermined the scene.

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Well, that's my point, really.

Character and theme is totally lost in the violence.

It becomes about shocking the audience. Nothing more, nothing less.

Obviously reactions are a personal thing, but that isn't what I got out of the movie at all. Yes, the outbursts of violence were shocking, but for me they didn't swamp the rest of the movie. I thought that the violence served a dramatic purpose in terms of revealing character. Irene's reaction to what happens in the elevator, and the driver's reaction to his own actions and her reaction are made clearer and stronger because we saw the horror ourselves — sanitizing the violence would, I think, have undermined the scene.

Yes. It needed to be there. How much of it is where it becomes tricky. Depending on where a person is coming from there certainly could be too much violence, but I don't think it's there just to shock, in the sense of being separate from any larger themes. It is also there to serve the story, which brings the question to how well it did so.

Edited by Attica

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Finally saw this and read through the thread. It occurs to me that every character is a scorpion to another's frog (including Irene). It's that fairy tale just layered on top of itself multiple times. Except maybe the kid, Benicio. He's the frog at the bottom of the pile of scorpions. This was the dialog from the scene that stood out to me:

Driver: Is he a bad guy?

Benicio: Yeah.

Driver: How can you tell?

Benicio: Because he's a shark.

Driver: There's no good sharks?

ETA:

1. That and Brooks' line to Perlman about the money flowing up. So much for trickle-down economics (but also just another example of there being other scorpions out there to make Brooks and Perlman frogs).

2. If the film had ended a minute or so earlier, it would have more resembled the ending to Valhalla Rising - I'm close to agreeing with Leary's assessment of that one. And Refn in general, for that matter.

3. I thought all the performances were very, very solid. Loved Cranston here. And I had no problem with Mulligan.

4. Some critics were blasting this for taking itself too seriously and not tipping it's hat - or showing it's poker face, I belive someone said - I disagree. Brooks has a few lines about producing some "action" films in the 80s; "very sexy;" he says he didn't like them. Given the very 80s soundtrack and obvious influences, I think Refn was having a bit of fun there.

5. And finally, yes, the jacket is cool. Forget Brooks' supporting actor snub, this should've been nominated for costume design.

Edited by Darryl A. Armstrong

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He grasped: partialobjects.com/2011/09/drive-is-the-best-david-lynch-film-not-actually-made-by-david-lynch/#comment-7155

Re: the music– “in a way, we are listening to the driver’s car stereo.” It may be even deeper than that. When Standard comes home and they have a party for him, you see The Driver in his apartment working on an engine part, and the movie’s soundtrack is playing as they cut back and forth between the two apartments.

But then the Driver leaves his apartment, and as he steps outside into the hallway, the music is “coming from” the apartment; he closes the door, and the same soundtrack that you’ve been listening to is muffled by the closed door.

So up to that point, the movie is a peek into the main character’s worldview. Everything is his perspective, his reality, and the music is in his head but you can hear it. But once he’s in love, symbolized by that apartment scene, the world starts to exist outside of him. He has to live his life for someone else, someone else takes on a whole reality outside him (hence the song “Real Hero”).

So when he leaves his apartment, the movie becomes about love, and stops being about “the main character”– symbolized by the music leaving his own head (background soundtrack) and remaining in the apartment as he closes the door.

In other words, it's about a narcissist man who finds out he's not the only kid on the playground. Great.

Edited by Pierrot

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And now for Kenny's actual review (which begins by quoting an exchange from Martin Scorsese's The King of Comedy):

 

... Now, heroes with no name are not really a problem with genre films; one of this picture's direct precursors, Walter Hill's wonderful 1978 film "The Driver" features just such a hero. Only "The Driver" doesn't nudge you in the ribs every five minutes to remind you that its hero doesn't have a name. The thing that makes action-packed but intriguingly enigmatic action films such as that or "Bullitt" so seductive is that they don't spend too much time telling you how terse and elliptical they are; they just are terse and elliptical. . . .

This is the only reference I could find on A&F to Walter Hill's The Driver. Has anyone seen it? Those of you who follow me on Twitter -- or who check out the "What I'm Watching This Weekend" thread -- know that I'm considering seeing this film if I can get to one of the few remaining screenings this week at AFI Silver. 

 

Until Drive came out, I was completely unfamiliar with this film -- and I had considered myself a Walter Hill fan! I didn't buy the film when it was released on Blu-ray; my $30 expenditures on sight-unseen films are well behind me. But I do want to see it, and this week could be my only serious opportunity to do so for the foreseeable future.

 

So why am I posting? I'd like to hear from those who have seen the film. The fact that I somehow missed broader discussion of The Driver in all I could remember reading about Hill, seeing his movies ... well, I probably just skimmed right past several references over the years, but I wonder if maybe, just maybe, the film is mostly forgotten (assuming it has been) for a reason. If you saw it, even years ago, did it make an impression on you? A lasting impression? 

Edited by Christian

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I wasn't the biggest fan of DRIVE when it came out, and seeing THIEF and THE DRIVER in the time since has killed whatever remaining affection I had for it. Hill's film is a genuinely pulpy, occasionally mediocre thriller with a few flourishes and a terrific ending. O'Neal's performance is quite good, particularly as it reaches its critical mass in the finale.

 

I'd say go for it, especially if it's on the big screen and you're curious about what influenced Refn. And better still, follow it with a viewing of Criterion's new THIEF Blu.

Edited by Nathan Douglas

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First, I want to say how much I enjoyed The Driver, which is the kind of no-frills, efficient filmmaking and storytelling that seems less and less common these days, although I want to caution against romanticizing the past. I'm sure there were more films like The Driver in the 1970s, but I'm also pretty sure movies like these were the exception even then.

 

I'm rather ignorant of Ryan O'Neal's career. I've seen a few of his better known movies, like Barry Lyndon and Paper Moon and, a long time ago, What's Up Doc? But I've never had a great sense of him as an actor or leading man. It seems clear that The Driver was a break for him, a chance to play against type, right? And he's pretty good in the film. But there were moments when, looking at him, I saw a softer matinee idol rather than a hard-bitten criminal, and I wondered if audiences dismissed the film or never bought into the character. (I haven't checked the film's box-office receipts, but am guessing this was an undeserved underachiever.) Was there blowback at the time against O'Neal's casting? How was the film, and his performance, received by critics? I can and will investigate this further, but thought I'd toss these thoughts out.

 

In Drive, Gosling was clearly playing against type, but I never had a problem with that. I had seen only a couple of Gosling's films before Drive, but the mood of the film captured me quickly and I never questioned Gosling's performance. (It helped that the movie had that elevator scene, just in case anyone was doubting.)

 

Oh, and speaking of actors whose careers I'm pretty much ingorant of: Bruce Dern has a juicy supporting role in The Driver, and I thought he was great. Before Nebraska, I'd only seen Dern in bit parts. Like O'Neal, I'd never really had a sense of him as a performer in his prime, but unlike O'Neal, Dern's screen persona and acting abilities are much clearer to me after having seen The Driver.

Edited by Christian

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First, I want to say how much I enjoyed The Driver, which is the kind of no-frills, efficient filmmaking and storytelling that seems less and less common these days...

 

YES. Even names for the characters were too frilly.

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