Monday, October 3, 2011


I made the mistake of going to see a movie yesterday.  Drive.  Hollywood is embarrassing. Are the Coen brothers the only filmmakers out there?  I suppose Aronofsky has done one or two that I've liked recently.  The Wrestler and The Fighter.  I wish he would have made Drive, it could have been called The Driver.  

The entire film was Ryan Gosling staring slightly off-screen and not saying anything.  This time, less was actually much less.  There were so many competing and failed connections in the film that we walked out before the end. The film simply couldn't decide what it wanted to be and the writer and director couldn't seem to inject any sense of interest into any of the scenes.  It devolved slowly down into what might be best described as a type of "Brian Eno thriller."  It was nothing more than suspended chords that were ostensibly there to induce suspense, hung above painfully drawn-out scenes made up of shots of Ryan Gosling not saying anything.  Horrific. 

There was a great line from Mystery Science Theater 3000 once, "They forgot to have things happen in this film."  For Drive it was, "They forgot to have people speak in this film."  Each scene is supposed to support the idea that Gosling's character is the strong-silent-type.  That is exactly what it accomplished, nothing more.   If you stare at the promotional image found above this column for an hour and 40 minutes you will achieve almost the exact same cinematic experience as seeing the film, if you doze off every few minutes.

It was meditative in scope. 

The writer was confused as to whether Gosling's disaster was supposed to be a friend to the girl, her lover, friend to her son, protector, neighbor, mass murderer, auto-mechanic, professional race car driver, getaway driver, stunt car driver, pizza delivery guy, protagonist or hero.  Having not spent enough time developing any of these possibilities they all simply fell off of the flimsy production, or slid off in shame, to hide.

The only element that connects any of the scenes or characters is that he is a driver...  

I joked when telling my wife that I had picked a film for us to see.  I said it was a film about car chases, it should be fun.  But they also forgot to include those in the film; budget restraints, etc.  There were only two car-chase scenes by the time we left, which must have been about an hour and a half into it.  The only reason we stayed that long is because of my popcorn fetish. I was indulging my passion in the darkness.  Even with that private joy I still felt robbed out of an hour and a half.  We actually left the theater early because we decided we would rather see what remaining sunlight there was in the day than to continue watching that symphony of bored confusions.

I kept imagining the producer pitching the film to the studio:  No, it's a car-chase movie but we're going to spend most of the time developing Gosling as a strong leading man, a sort of high-speed cousin to Forrest Gump, he's a real "regular savant"... We'll be able to shoot all of his parts in a single day. 

I give Rotten Tomatoes about a 7% on this one.  They gave the film 93%.  I had thought that Rotten Tomatoes scale was based on critical reviews of films...   If this is true then we are all doomed, in precisely the same way that everybody thinks that they are a good driver.