Movie Reviews: Drive

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Drive directed by Nicholas Winding Refn

I first remember seeing the preview for Drive in the theater.

I thought it was going to be a giant turd and refused to check it out. The marketing powers that be took it upon themselves in their infinite marketing wisdom to make it look like an action packed thrill ride as if it was the Fast and the Furious. They could’t have been more confused at appealing to people to watch it.

About 7 months later I finally watched the movie as it hit DVD. I barely rented it, you know, in one of those (is this movie even worth wasting my time with because I know it’ll be shit) moments. I think I went and got some food and popped in the DVD and pressed play while in the back of my mind thinking I could always just hit stop.

From the first two minutes I realized I was watching artistry at work. The director had a vision and they were going for it. When I say “it” I mean they were disregarding the rules of commercial filmmaking and attempting to make a perfect film. I don’t use that term lightly because to me, there might be only 1-2 movies per year that could be classified as a masterpiece.

After watching Drive, I concluded instantly it was the masterpiece of 2011.

It was probably 10:30pm when I finished and did something I’ve only done once since.

I watched the movie again in a true back-to-back, Shining-repetition. I simply couldn’t believe what I just saw. This wasn’t just a masterpiece. This was a damn perfect movie.

From the get go, the cinematography and music took control of the film. The director was not afraid to slowly let the scenes run a few seconds long even when no dialogue was taking place. The acting is an inspiring thing to watch. I’m not sure if it’s because they are not speaking as much dialogue they are forced to listen to every word rather than remember lines that they act more naturally or not.

The story is pretty straight forward, but there is a noticeable difference when an auteur is behind the camera. Originally, Hugh Jackman was planning to make some bullshit Fast and the Furious type movie which I can only imagine would have been worse than any Nicolas Cage movie the last 4 years. Thank god Ryan Gosling decided to go the artist route and get a director with talent to helm the picture.

I’m not going to get into the plot. See the damn movie if you haven’t. After I watched the movie a second time I went on Facebook and emailed every movie buff I knew and told them to see the movie and that I would pay. (This is totally weird and only happens once a decade). I needed to talk to somebody about this. I was crushed, kind of like the first time I saw Once Upon a Time in the West. This is what filmmaking should be. Tell a story the best way you can in the best format you can.

Sometimes less is more.

As for me, I continued watching Drive for a week straight. I studied every scene and tried to unravel what the secret was. I think I figured out what worked for me: An uncompromising vision. The only time I felt this in awe of an uncompromising vision since then was when I saw Mad Max: Fury Road. Holy shit I was blown away, especially by the first 30 minutes. Uncompromising vision to make the best film possible is something that doesn’t happen to often when the budget is over $10 million where focus groups, studio marketing, toy tie-ins, happy meals, soundtracks, book rehashings, tv spinoffs, and the almightily possibility of a sequel/reboot/remake/requel is considered.

Drive is a movie of uncompromising vision that didn’t give a rats ass about anything except telling the best possible story in 90 minutes.

It is a perfect movie.

QUEST REVIEWER: NATALIE THE NITPICKER 

I’m like so totally confused to what Matt is like totally saying, cuz, like, I really didn’t know what was going on in the movie. I mean, Ryan Gosling is totally cute usually, but he was a bit weird wearing a satin jacket with a yellow scorpion on the back and not talking much. I just didn’t understand why the girl just didn’t totally hook up with him and skip town with all that money, because I totally would have even though he really did totally smash in that skull like it was a watermelon. I’m from the south, so I’ve seen so many watermelons smashed like that, so it didn’t bother me one bit. 

Overall Rating: 10/10 Satin Jackets

 

 

 

 

Movie Reviews: Birdman

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Birdman directed by Alejandro G. Inarritu

I’ll say it up front. This was the best movie of 2014.

I’ll say something else. The script was so good, I even read that, just to learn how the heck they pulled it off. If you are into the craft of storytelling, Birdman puts on a clinic. It stars Michael Keaton playing himself Riggan Thomson. To support him, it has Edward Norton playing himself Mike Shiner, a demanding method actor. Zach Galifianakis isn’t the caricature he built for himself. Emma Stone puts on a solid performance as well as Michael Keaton’s Riggan Thomson’s daughter.

Constructed to flow as one continuous story, the director gambled with a quick film shoot and used every trick in the book to pull off the sequences. I think I know how he did it, but not really. I keep telling myself I know exactly where the cuts are, but it really doesn’t matter. He builds the story around the stage, and on that stage is Riggan, a man with a crisis of conscious, but in a funny way (see Michael Clayton for the boring way). He is so hard on himself and his mind is so sucked in the vortex of the commerciality of art, that he is on the verge of a breakdown before opening night.

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There is an easy way out. Just eat the damn apple and agree to a sequel. But no, Keaton Riggan wants to be bigger than that. He wants to be taken seriously and accepted for being a talented actor. He wants to show his range and prove to his critics that they are wrong about him. He is willing to do anything … even walk in his underwear in New York City.

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The movie wraps up nicely on stage, as intended. Risks are taken, but did Keaton Riggan get the public acceptance he yearned for?

GUEST REVIEW: “THUNDERPECKS” (Rumored former A-list Actor)

I get this. Those who have not adorned massive cod pieces and thunderpecks do not understand the pressure to succeed as a superhero. We have to appease so many rival groups: The die-hard fans who will destroy you for getting something wrong, the teenage girls who who don’t think you’re hot enough to go see the movie with their boyfriends and sinking the opening weekend numbers, the reviewers who will skewer my ass regardless of how much soul I breathe into the character. As actors, we are one big fuck up from destroying our superhero careers (Ben Affleck in Daredevil, Ryan Reynolds in The Green Lantern, Chris Evans in Fantastic Four 2) that there are no second chances unless nobody else “looks the part” and Hollywood comes back to us (Ben Affleck in Batman vs Superman, Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool, Chris Evans as Captain America).

Movie Rating: 10/10 Virtues of Ignorance