I was hoping when I joined Mubi recently that it would be a place where people discussed their thoughts about films and filmmaking from critical perspectives.
The page design has that “serious” kind of look.
So far it seems like more of a mixed bag than I expected, though, and I think I just jumped in at the wrong spot. Now I understand that I should have looked a little deeper in order to add my voice to a thread that was better suited to what I wanted to contribute.
When I wrote film criticism semi-professionally I always thought it more interesting to write about the meaning made in films (and the processes by which such meanings emerge both in the making and in the viewing).
“Movie X = good, movie Y = bad” style reviewing/discussion still seems boring and intellectually dead-ended to me.
I appreciate that some have chimed in, as I did, on a thread that plainly (by it’s very title) falls into that style of discussion. Thanks to others who had interest in sharing something more than “it’s good / it’s bad” opinions on this thread.
This was my first foray into discussion here, and next time I will be more careful.
cough well, here you go then.
I felt that the film suffers from what a lot of what the films of the time that it is paying homage to suffered from: an imbalance of style over substance.
Style IS substance.
“DRIVE COULD’VE BEEN MUCH BETTER”
If only Vin Diesel had starred, but he was to busy doing Fast 5…
@Stilladvance its the present day. The radio in the opening chase scene mentions Blake Griffin, who has only been in the NBA since the 2009 season.
I was very disappointed in the lack of driving.
Also I thought the gore didn’t fit the film.
Otherwise I can think of a lot worse films I tried to watch last year (but walked out of in time for a refund). Drive kept me interested throughout. A rare occurrence.
Only to a certain end, of which this picture seemed to be unsure of through and through. It does a great job of replication of its “influences”, but on its own it lacks.
I think it’s telling that nobody has anything good to say about it that doesn’t include the other movies it uses as touchstones or how “cool” it is (which is related to cultural touchstones too). I’ve had so many conversations with people that went like this:
Them: Did you see Drive? I loved it!
Me: Eh I thought it was kind of empty
Them: But it was so cool! Like it had that total 80s style
Them: I mean…
Like… honestly people, who cares that it reminds you of WKW or Michael Mann or whatever if it’s not actually doing anything new or interesting or substantive? All I saw in this movie was movie-geek button-pushing (reminding cinephiles of the artsy genre films they love) and punishment (interjecting it with bits of hyperviolence). There’s no enjoyment or relation to be had here. The style adds literally nothing other than reminding us of movies that have done the same style better lol. I’m not trying to hate on the popular movie or anything; I went into this expecting and hoping to love it but I hated everything after the impressive opening scene. Not the worst movie of 2011 but the most disappointing for sure
“I think it’s telling that nobody has anything good to say about it that doesn’t include the other movies it uses”
I would point to this lengthy discussion we had several months ago about this film. It’s much more interesting than this two page thread and includes more than just how it references other films.
Drive An Art Film About Manliness
I’ll read through it when I have more time; I just started posting here so this is the first I’ve seen it come up. Still, at least in my own (anecdotal, sure) experience, all the praise has been related to how “cool” everything is
I saw “Drive” last night and apparently found it a lot more interesting than many people here.
By stripping the film down to its barest components, Refn bypassed a lot of the genre’s trappings and revealed the characters for what they are: overgrown children. The driver’s “cool” (his jacket, his poses, his car, his job, his dialogue) comes across as studied, self conscious, his violent outbursts like tantrums, his idea of a date to go for a drive and skip stones. Shannon’s dream is to work in the stock car racing industry and has no idea how the real world works. Nino steals from the mob because they make fun of him. Irene seems like too much of a child to have one.
The film was also never less than visually inventive, the use of color was inspired and the pacing and dependence on silence contrasted very well with the loud, quick, blink and you’ll miss it explosions of violence. About the only thing in the film I didn’t appreciate was the sequence involving Nino’s death.
I’m not sure I would go so far as to call it a deconstruction because the film does something rarer: it deconstructs the genre while completely reveling it. It has its cake and eats it too. I was very impressed.
I don’t seem to mention any other films there…
“Still, at least in my own (anecdotal, sure) experience, all the praise has been related to how “cool” everything is”
I won’t deny that the movie is “cool” but it’s a lot more than that. I was completely engaged for the whole two hours. I found the experience watching Drive in the theater for the first time to be very intense and exhilarating – the visuals and the sound were so compelling that I couldn’t look away. Now, I had the fortunate experience of seeing the film last May at a test screening, before all the excitement had hit. I saw it right after it won at Cannes, so I knew that the general consensus was good, but I had no idea it would be this good (they had not released a trailer yet so I didn’t really know what to expect).
I can see being a negative Nancy if you’re affected by hype or critics or whatever. But taking the film for what it is, I found the film to be comparable to The American in the way it deals with characters, using violence and silence to contrast our expectations.
I find the comparison to The American very appropriate for another reason as well: extreme attention to visual detail. One of the things I like about both films is the way that they embrace the impact of our “digital era” on moviemaking. Drive was of course shot on digital and even though The American was shot on film, there was extensive digital postproduction work.
I think there is a way that digital production technologies have pushed both creators and spectators to embrace a greater level of minute visual detail in moving images. I love the way that both of these films have a kind of respect for the spectator in the way they detail their images with tremendous subtlety. I will need to watch them again to be able to note examples, but I remember being struck by this as I watched them.
I think that to a certain extent international production has entered a period in which the language of filmmaking has become so – what’s the right word? not exactly “advanced” or “complex”, but somewhere in that ballpark – that it has opened up space for people to be experimenting in a very direct and literal way with the “Building Blocks” of cinema. Films like Drive, The American, Haywire, and even a much lesser – but I still think very powerful – film like Bellflower are all recent examples of movies that take a great deal of risk in making authorial decisions (and I mean “authorial” in the group sense of referring to everyone working to create the film) that serve what are very personal, idiosyncratic pieces of moviemaking art.
Part of what is always amazing to me when I see a film like one of the above examples is that the film was actually made and released AT ALL. I am totally astonished that such movies are first given the huge amount of funding necessary to be made, but then further that they are granted distribution deals by corporate entities who believe that they will find paying audiences, and then still further that they actually FIND those audiences.
I think you should see Taxi Driver… and then the other 100 movies that takes the hero model and deconstructs it (including Refn’s own Bronson which is a lot more interesting than whatever this is). It’s not a new thing. It’s not even a particularly interesting thing. It’s actually a pretty tired concept. Style isn’t substance either. In some cases it can be, but not in all. When people say “all style, no substance”, they usually mean to say that the film feels pretty hollow and/or predictable which Drive certainly is.
The romance didn’t feel authentic to me. It felt brushed on. It felt forced. You’re right, there is a thing as too much romance, too much dialog, and too much flowery stuff. But there’s also a thing as too little. Andrew Haigh’s Weekend gets it. The Empire Strikes Back gets it. Blade Runner gets it. But Drive? The scene in the kitchen feels like forced subtlety, something Mulligan and Gosling have been guilty of in the past.
“By stripping the film down to its barest components, Refn bypassed a lot of the genre’s trappings and revealed the characters for what they are: overgrown children. The driver’s “cool” (his jacket, his poses, his car, his job, his dialogue) comes across as studied, self conscious, his violent outbursts like tantrums, his idea of a date to go for a drive and skip stones. Shannon’s dream is to work in the stock car racing industry and has no idea how the real world works. Nino steals from the mob because they make fun of him. Irene seems like too much of a child to have one.”
Pick a film. I could make up excuses for people’s problems with it. You have a craft, but use it for good, not evil! ;)
I’m not sure I would go so far as to call it a deconstruction because the film does something rarer: it deconstructs the genre while completely reveling it. It has its cake and eats it too. I was very impressed.
The Dark Knight
Raiders of the Lost Ark
The Skin I Live In
Mysteries of Lisbon
And many more films deconstruct the genre while completely reveling in it. It’s not a rare quality.
Okay, since no one has yet mentioned Melville’s Le Samourai here as an antecedent of Drive, I am adding that to the thread. For those here who appreciated Drive: if you haven’t seen Le Samouraï yet, you really ought to. Drive is almost a loose remake of Le Samourai – according even to the screenwriter of Drive, Hossein Amini.
Some films connect with audiences in the way they do – in my view – because they so clearly put the contents of the filmmakers’ minds and hearts on the screen. This is, I think, a big part of what many people love about Lynch, WKW, Miyazaki, Jarmusch, and even people I consider to be pretty miserable hacks like Spielberg and Lucas. When someone pours their heart and soul out onto the screen in a coherent flood of sonic and visual images, the specific content is not always as important as the way the images connect with viewers as a kind of direct tap drawn from the mind of the maker(s).
The thing that drives this is a fundamental human desire for connection to other humans – to share deeply in intimate experiences with other humans. Not every film will connect with every person. The Artist apparently connected with a lot of people this year, but the most positive thing I can come up with to say about it is that I am not sorry I saw it. Apparently I could pretty much care less about the contents of Michel Hazanavicius’ heart and mind, while others have lapped it up like so many kittens at their saucers of milk.
For some of us, movies are almost like drugs in the way that they satisfy our desire to draw again and again from this fountain of raw, vicarious intimate experience.
Drive, for me is a wonderful dose of this drug.
My shortlist of other movies to which I can return again and again for such a dose is as follows:
Days of Being Wild
Comparing movies to drugs is a kind of anti-critical way of looking at them though. It’s pretty much just saying you never want to leave your comfort zone and you look for fulfillment instead of challenge in movies
I think you might not have done enough quantity or variety of drugs ;~)
… apologies for my flippancy, but to explain further: certainly some drugs skew “recreational” in their effects, while others skew toward experimenting to expand or deepen one’s apprehension of reality. If one thinks of this as a kind of “spectrum of drug effects/uses”, then I think one can consider Spielberg/Lucas on one end of the spectrum and Lynch/Jarmusch on the other.
Certainly I would say that one would be hard pressed to classify ketamine, for example, as a recreational drug that keeps users in their “comfort zone.” The Ketamine experience, however, forms the literal basis of the most recent Gaspar Noé movie, Enter the Void, which is pretty cool and interesting.
For me, at least in movies, challenge = fulfillment = comfort zone.
I enjoy being challenged, it fulfills me, and my comfort zone is a place where some crazy and unpleasant stuff sometimes happens.
This film was underwhelming. Though Gosling’s performance (for which he deserves commendation) carried a palpable aura of menace, the 100 minutes featured little to no storytelling verve, merely a stylistic evocation of Mann and assorted 70s films, with a very clumsy dramatic framework. The infrequent inspired moments, like the abrupt motel shootout, don’t compensate for much of the film being awash in purposeless inertia, mistakenly taken to be some inherently distinguished and meaningful alternative to Transformers frenetics. I much prefer Death Proof or Fast Five (or The American!) to this mere sketch of a film. I even have reservations about the car chase, which was well-directed. Nobody can claim the chase in Drive was inserted for the sole purpose of an adrenaline rush, sure, but taken as an example of car chases in cinema I thought it too brief and conventionally resolved (drive backwards, avoid traffic, and lead pursuers into obstacle in a matter of seconds) to really register as an example of a unique or even noteworthy take on the “car chase”. I thought, for instance, that the getaway in The Town was much more interestingly staged, and indeed very worthy competition to Bullitt’s high watermark.
I agree. Drive was just a poor man’s Driven.
Nah, Drive was a poor man’s The Driver.
I thought DRIVE was fine…I also think THE DRIVER is one of the great masterpieces of ambiguity, with both Ryan O’Neal & Bruce Dern giving excellent performances
Well, whatever, dudes. I watched it for my 4th time over the weekend, and I still love it. There’s a reason it won the Best Director prize at Cannes last year (as opposed to any of the other prizes that it could have won there).
The degree of directorial control and vision on display is stunning. I take issue with the claim that the car chase scene (the second of 3, if I understand your description correctly) is “too brief and conventionally resolved… to really register as an example of a unique or even noteworthy take on the ‘car chase’.” Instead of (apparently) only looking at this scene in the context of “the history of movie car chase scenes,” why not look at it also specifically in the context of how it functions in the film of which it is a part?
Viewed from that perspective, its internal precision reflects and elaborates upon the almost pathological precision of Driver’s character. Witness, for example, the very brief shot at the end of the scene that simultaneously takes in Christina Hendricks’ terrified look and the pursuit-car spinning in the air through the rear window of Driver’s car. That composition-in-motion is almost literally impossible in its precision. Also the careful alternations between tire-smoke and dust-clouded shots externalizing Driver’s internal conflict between confusion regarding the robbery-gone-bad and his clarity of resolve toward escaping his unknown pursuer reflected in the crystal clear car-eography shots including one notable shot near the beginning of the sequence in which the two cars literally swing into a cornering manouver in perfect synchrony.
Finally, as with all of Driver’s displays of violence and/or emotion, this scene is almost blisteringly brief at just over 1.5 minutes. Out of context that could seem like a negative, but in the context of every other detail of this film it becomes an elaboration on the character of Driver himself: a brief, pointed, precision burst of intensity against a background of calm and near-stillness.
Drive is, at least in part, action film as character study. I think it rewards exactly that approach by the viewer: study.
“Also the careful alternations between tire-smoke and dust-clouded shots externalizing Driver’s internal conflict between confusion regarding the robbery-gone-bad and his clarity of resolve toward escaping his unknown pursuer reflected in the crystal clear car-eography shots including one notable shot near the beginning of the sequence in which the two cars literally swing into a cornering manouver in perfect synchrony.”
I’ve never been keen on analysis like this, that rewards films for and attributes motives and meanings to things that are not forcefully rendered onscreen. Claiming there is a relation between the tire-smoke and dust and the Driver’s internal conflict is bizarre in the extreme, particularly because concocting such tenuous interpretations doesn’t in the least change the viewing experience. It’s a kind of sterile easter-egg hunting that doesn’t aid one to better appreciate or suck the vital marrow out of a film.
Not sure how much more “forcefully rendered onscreen” this stuff can be. It’s a 1.5 minute sequence composed of ~63 shots. You can bet that every single one of those shots is there for a reason, or multiple reasons.
And as far as my analysis of this or any other film “rewarding” those films, I think it’s much more that the film itself rewards me when I analyze it by increasing not only my enjoyment but also my understanding by revealing layers of meaning that aren’t there in sloppy or merely workman-like industrial Hollywood product.
I enjoy things like spectacle, surprise, originality, intricate and airtight plotting, bravura acting performances, etc. as much as the next movie-lover, but some movies don’t have those things – or maybe have them in such different ways compared to other movies that we might not recognize them.
The construction of meaning in film is a tricky thing because while it’s true that pretty much anyone can shoot video footage of just about imaginable real or constructed event, what I especially love about really great filmmakers is that they do very carefully design the exact ways that they choreograph movement, compose and edit shots, etc, etc. in the service of their vision. The construction of meaning in other art forms is like this too, but because (1) the study of film is much younger than the study of other forms, and (2) film is widely considered to be an “escapist entertainment” art form, I think “meaning” in film often gets precious little popular attention – especially to the extent that such meaning isn’t imparted to viewers via older literary and dramatic methods that precede film as a distinct artfom.
I think Drive is much more of an abstract piece than some people give it credit for, and that it therefore rewards such detailed formal analysis in a way that maybe a Paul Greengrass movie might not. When you watch Refn’s other films – especially Fear X, Bronson, and Valhalla Rising – it becomes very clear that he is interested in blending formalist experimentation, even to the point of some rather obscure avant-gardist imagery, as a means of delving deeply into character-study based meaning-making within somewhat “thin” or “slight” narrative frameworks.
It seems to me then that you are faulting Refn for making the film he wanted to make because you want it to be a different movie, whereas if you were more interested in formal analysis you would hold Drive in higher regard because you would be able to approach the film more on its own terms.
Drive is a much better film if one is interested in formal analysis. That’s how it was made. I am persistently surprised that it was distributed in wide release for this reason. The process of formal analysis, though, is an established and valid process about which a great many pages have been published, so though you may not like it, it is there nonetheless.
I’m not saying that you have to like it, but insulting my command of it as “tenuous” and “sterile” is kind of weak and doesn’t really add much substance to the discussion.
As I wrote earlier in this thread: “’Movie X = good, movie Y = bad’ style reviewing/discussion still seems boring and intellectually dead-ended to me." Instead of saying whether I “like or dislike” something, I find it more interesting to think about and discuss the meaning that a movie may be trying to generate, and then moving from that to the analysis of how its makers attempt to generate that meaning, and how successfully they do that.
“Nah, Drive was a poor man’s The Driver.”
Nah, it was a rich man’s The Driver. Drive to The Driver is Ryan Gosling’s acting talents compared to Ryan O’Neal’s.
Even if you think that highly of Gosling . . . too bad Refn couldn’t figure out how to get out of Gosling’s way.
I think there is a spectrum among movies from those in which the actor’s performances are mainly constructed by the director (think David Lynch, and I think Refn too) to those in which the performances are mainly constructed by the actors with active oversight by the director (think John Sayles).
This is not to say, necesarily, that the actors working in either type of film are not “good actors,” but rather that in some films the director’s personal vision takes precedence over all other concerns while in others the director’s vision is perhaps more broad and expansive so as to take in the possibility of more input from the actors who may wish to be more in charge of creating their performances based on their own understanding of the material.
I imagine that as an actor it would be interesting and even exciting to work on both kinds of movies, but actors probably do have their own preferences. I don’t have any impression that Gosling has any regrets about his working relationship with Refn on Drive.
“I don’t have any impression that Gosling has any regrets about his working relationship with Refn on Drive.”
Well considering Gosling is attached to Refn’s next three films, probably not. lol