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Rhythm is what ties everything in this movie together. Rhythm defines Edgar Wright’s style.

Edgar Wright had a disappointing couple of years, I think. Getting over all that work he put into Ant-Man must have been rough but I’m so glad it meant that this movie, which Wright first developed in the 90’s, got to exist. As pointed out elsewhere, Wright might have a little Marvel still stuck in his teeth but ultimately I think everybody is going to agree that he hasn’t lost a step. Baby Driver is full of the inventive filmmaking and action he’s known for while also being vastly different from his other movies.

What most people are saying about Baby Driver¬†is how fun and entertaining it is. I’ll echo that while also adding that it’s a surprisingly dark and consequence-laden movie. Wright has always been deft with tonal shifts and messing with genre conventions and while¬†Baby Driver does balance a light-hearted romantic tone with some heavier elements, it’s actually kind of refreshingly straightforward when it comes to its genre. Wright has made his version of a Michael Mann film in a film where every character thinks they are in their own movie. Wright’s genius here is that he’s making all those movies by referencing, recycling, nodding, and reinventing parts of them.

I think Baby Driver is destined to be a crowd-pleaser. There’s too much to like about it and it’s kind of universally appealing, I think. Part of that is the really joyous way it uses music, and part of it is just that everybody loves a crime movie. If there are any complaints to be made, they’ll probably arise from the nuts and bolts mechanics of the story and its somewhat misleading structure. The last act will not fully work for everyone, but I think it’s not going to really damage anyone’s enjoyment of the movie overall. I’ll talk about these issues later, but I really think they are likely to end up being footnotes on a masterpiece.

SPOILERS RACING BY!

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Ryan Gosling is neither what you’d expect given the premise nor the pedigree of the director.

Drive is Nicholas Winding Refn’s first American movie and also the first one he did not also write. It’s an adaptation of a book I’m unfamiliar with. The lean, tough screenplay was written by a fella named Hossein Amini. I hope Amini goes on to deliver more work like this in the future as Drive is exactly the kind of audience-trusting script the world needs more of. The movie is light on dialogue, exposition, and scope and big on expression, tone, and an unexpectedly touching emotional core.

The basic premise is familiar if you’ve ever seen a Michael Mann movie. A laconic, disciplined man who lives a life of violence gets involved with a woman, and thus the world outside his own tightly-controlled existence, and brings on a heap of tragedy for himself. Drive owes a lot to the Mann oeuvre, particularly Thief, Heat, and Public Enemies. You will, however, find more similarities in the older films as Drive is a bit of a throwback to the late 70’s or early 80’s. The more bold strokes of stylization echo with nostalgia while flirting with an audience that will probably not be very familiar with the movies that are its brethren. This will make some people feel like Drive is more fresh than it is. It’s a worthy illusion, to be honest, since Refn is completely in control of how to texture his film without coasting on a retro style. In spite of its utter leanness, Drive is definitely a film with a lot of texture. Read the rest of this entry »

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