Thursday, January 5, 2012

Everytime I think I'm out...

I guess if you want people to address your post (even when it's coming in months after the initial discussion) you just have to disagree vehemently, make bold comparisons to hack authors, and say incendiary remarks like DRIVE is "the movie for people who don't like movies." Okay, Ben, you win. I'll bite.

If DRIVE is the movie for people who don't like movies, then does that mean that I don't like movies because I like DRIVE? :) All jokes aside, this is a strange argument to make, and feels like more of an impression of things external to the movie than the movie itself. Did you see DRIVE with a bunch of meatheads or something? A sort of fratboy equivalent to John's MIDNIGHT IN PARIS yuppie crowd?

"They can talk about how it's violent, but so is real life, blah, blah. They are criminals, but they have a heart, didn't you see that slight eyebrow raise the timid Gos gave to Mulligan? Shut up, the movie is about a criminal mechanic who steals and kills and wears the same dumb jacket. He's very careful about getting caught unless it means taking off his blood soaked scorpion coat. Pretty people, hip music, blood, brains and veins. Cars!"

Who are you talking to here? Are you keyed into a DRIVE demographic that I'm completely unaware of? I'm sure DRIVE has all kinds of fans from sensitive fratboys to art-house nerds who like head stompings, but it seems to me that the people who have really been carrying its weight are less those who don't like movies (whoever they are) and more those who do like them. DRIVE's CinemaScore rating was a solid C+, so your average filmgoer seems to have loathed it. But it's polling at 91% on RottenTomatoes and is 3rd on the Metacritic's scorecard list of the best films of 2011, so the critics are the ones getting behind it. I don't use these numbers to say that DRIVE is awesome because critics love it or to suggest that you are in the average filmgoer crowd who just doesn't "get" DRIVE, but just to challenge your impression that DRIVE is is the ultimate fodder for philistines. Obviously (and I know you'd agree) DRIVE can have all sorts of fans, from idiot viewers and idiot critics to smart viewers and smart critics (to be fair, I'm throwing myself in the idiot viewer category).

I guess I just didn't get the impression you did of the film and often wondered while watching it who its audience really was. I know I loved it because it reminded me of Sergio Leone. I think Leone excelled at reading the American Western and reinterpreting it through a heavily stylized, incredibly violent, and almost operatic expression of cinematic joy. I felt like Refn was doing something similar with the L.A. car movies he probably saw from the 70s: reinterpreting them through his own frame. Perhaps I'm buying too much into the Sarris doctrine, but I really think that Refn's stylistic choices are a huge part of why the film is great, in the similar way that Brandon thought that Fincher's flourishes made TGWTDT. I love to see a director put a really talented stamp on something, and if they are able to engage me with the story and characters in the process then I'm completely sold. I know our DRIVE/COLD WEATHER debate was essentially about style vs. substance, but I thought DRIVE had style and substance, which is why I liked it as much as I did.

I can understand feeling predisposed to disliking the film based on the odd and almost tangential COLD WEATHER/DRIVE debate. I felt predisposed to looking for things to hate on in COLD WEATHER because it was being hyped against a movie I really dug. But, I can easily look past this and admit the merits of COLD WEATHER because thankfully I don't have to choose between them. If it came down to choosing, realistically, I'd say fuck them both and watch something by Bergman instead.

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