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September 02, 2011


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Mr. Milich

Drive is a perfect example of a certain type of movie done well.

It doesn't reinvent cinema. It's just solid.

The problem at hand is that most movies are so bad that when one comes along that isn't, it gets over-hyped.


Watching the extra features on the Nicholas Winding Refn film Bronson elicits the information that, instead of the more usual "Action!", Refn prefers to shout "Let's FUCK!". I bet that doesn't get at all wearisome up around slate 164.


I have to say, I've interviewed Refn a couple of times, and he's a really engaging, fun interview -- and a real film buff to boot, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the cult canon. So I guess I can understand why people are so eager to get Q&As with him.

Glenn Kenny

Well, Bilge, I have no problem with people wanting to do Q&As with him, except insofar as I have a problem with people wanting to do ANYTHING, which runs up against my own inclinations, which increasingly are all about taking long naps and turning my nose up at the very notion of "doing" "things". No, I object to this chugging, apt-to-jump-the-tracks-at-any-minute notion that Refn is you-know-who climbing down from the you-know-what. A little perspective is all I ask. Now, I am sleeeeepy.


I basically like Refn, but I recently read the James Sallis novel on which DRIVE is based, a novel that was similarly hyped (though that hype was, as in this case, pitched at a fairly narrow audience) and I found it to be perfectly, you know...fine. By which I mean it was good, but I didn't really give a shit that it was. So at this point, the only thing that has me amped for the film is Albert Brooks.

warren oates

I don't know, I was decidedly not a Nicholas Winding Refn fan until I caught his self-described "Tarkovsky/viking movie" VALHALLA RISING, the doldrums sequence of which is one of the greatest bits of cinema I've seen this year, worthy of comparison to Dreyer and Bergman and the Biblical imagery that no doubt inspired it. Also, a little birdie told me one of his favorite films is SIXTEEN CANDLES, which he's up to watch anytime. Do with that what you will. So the above and the quality of the James Sallis book on which DRIVE is based has me totally psyched to see it. Just because people fall all over themselves to over hype something doesn't always mean it's not actually worthy.


I liked the trailer, but like Bill, the prospect of a villainous Albert Brooks has me particularly excited to see this (I enjoyed Valhalla Rising, but Bronson was a little "tour-de-force" for my tastes). The fact that every woman I know apparently wants to sleep with Ryan Gosling has no effect on my feelings about this film either way.


I'm not entirely sold on Refn either, having been underwhelmed by BRONSON and the first PUSHER movie (I admittedly haven't seen VALHALLA RISING yet, which my co-worker assures me is awesome; of course, he also loved PUSHER, so I don't know), but I liked the Sallis novel a lot (sorry, Bill), and the cast is very appealing (not just Albert Brooks playing a villain, but Christina Hendricks as part of a robbery crew), so while it's not on my "must-see" list, I will see it.

Account Deleted

"VALHALLA RISING, the doldrums sequence of which is one of the greatest bits of cinema I've seen this year, worthy of comparison to Dreyer and Bergman"

Valhalla Rising is pretty good, but doesn't have anything in it worthy of comparison to Dreyer or Bergman. Looking forward to seeing Drive when it opens, not expecting a masterpiece from it though.


Nicolas Winding Refn speaks in tongues, cures cancer, poops gold nuggets and make films glorifying a psychopathic, recidivist, hostage-taking thug so shallow and narcissistic he changed his name to that of a movie star.

Josh Z

Critic Kenny Feigns: "So Over Nicolas Winding Refn Already."

Glenn Kenny

Ooh, snap.Hey, I can't be "over" anything I was never on. Refn's a capable and occasionally inspired filmmaker, but I don't even rate him that far above a smart genre technician like Neil Marshall. You want the guy, you're welcome to him. But I'm not bowing.

Boston Lackey

Glenn, that Nazi Horcrux line made me laugh OJ up my nose. Absolutely fucking hilarious.

Jon Hastings

"Refn's a capable and occasionally inspired filmmaker, but I don't even rate him that far above a smart genre technician like Neil Marshall."

I'll take Neil Marshall any day...


I like Marshall, too, but boy, he's this close to being Beverly overrated. The guy's only 2 out of 4 by my count.


"Severely"...damn you, autocorrect!!!!!!!


Glenn, if you interviewed Refn yourself, maybe you'd see the light - especially if you let him lay his hand upon you, or perhaps touch the hem of his garment.

I haven't seen any of his films, but the Cannes win and the presence of Brooks will get me to DRIVE.


Didn't know the word "horcrux," felt dumb. Googled it. Now I don't quite feel so dumb (or do I?)

Phil Freeman

Saw the first Pusher movie, was unimpressed, skipped the second and third. Popped Bronson out of the DVD player about 10 minutes in, maybe sooner. Saw Valhalla Rising and fucking LOVED it; wrote about it for MSN, in fact:


I'm planning on seeing Drive because I like Gosling and I love Walter Hill's The Driver. The presence of Albert Brooks is only a plus because I liked him in Out Of Sight; I don't find him funny at all.


@Glenn Kenny: "Can you top these? Do you want to? Am I overreacting?"

I would guess you are. The question is: would you be as 'impatient' if you had found DRIVE to be a masterpiece, whatever that means, or if you thought Refn was, is, well, special? I mean, I'm myself pretty anxious to see the thing, loved VALHALLA RISING, BRONSON and PUSHER, Albert Brooks is in it, ordered the novel as soon as I read some good reviews from Cannes by critics I respect, found it, the novel, to be excellent if a bit self-concious and post-noir and I guess that's what there is to it now because we can't have originals like Thompson or Willeford anymore and anyway I've ordered more by Sallis so far so good, and judging by the trailer some things are gonna be quite different, which is not necessarily a bad thing, I prefer a film that stands on its own than a lifeless adaptation, I'm more of a THE BIG SLEEP guy than a THE MALTESE FALCON guy, film-wise, novel-wise is the other way around... but the point I was trying to make, if it was that, a point, I was trying to make, or do, was, I'm very excited about DRIVE based on previous NWR-DjangoStar-Whatever films and the novel and a handful of promising reviews from critics who certainly know their shit so to speak and aren't trying to sell it like the second coming of the second Melville and anyway are more taken by THE TURIN HORSE, a film I would be even more excited to see except for the harsh realities of international film distribution and Hungarian politics , BUT I'm staying fucking nautical miles away from the opinions of the professional hypers and next-big-thing sellers and their kin, don't have a Twitter account, don't follow other Twitter accounts if that's the way to phrase it and wasn't even sure what Twitter was and I've always found pleasantly amusing yet disturbingly accurate your own coined term 'The Twitterific Kids', and this is kind of liking Tarantino films, which I usually like, and lots of other people like or dislike Tarantino films for perfectly sound reasons, but then it seems even more people like or dislike Tarantino films for moronic reasons, and whenever a new QT film looms over the horizon you have the hypers telling IT IS THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER MADE AND TARANTINO IS THE GREATEST DIRECTOR EVER AND UNTIL YOU GET A CHANCE TO SEE IT YOU MUST STAY WIRED TO OUR SEEMINGLY LIVE FEED CONSTANTLY REMINDING YOU HOW GREAT IT IS, and, well, I for one get queasy and to tell the truth a part of me almost wishes for the thing to suck just to not agree with these bastards, so the better to avoid them.

So, my question: would you be as tired of the hype if you had liked the movie? And, is it better to stay away from evil social networks or to keep watch just to throw one of these admittedly funny tirades?

Oh, and my contribution:

-Drive director Refn issues 12-hour deadline to Gadafi to shave creepy moustache, reprisals not disclosed.

-Drive director Refn concludes ardous negotiations with Satan, saves Henry Kissinger's soul, somehow.

-Drive director Refn conclusively proves Spanish and Italian to be one and the same language, credits some Hibbert dude for inspiration.


Phil, please tell me you saw MODERN ROMANCE and LOST IN AMERICA before deciding Brooks isn't funny. I'd still disagree with you, but at least I'd know you made a real effort.


"The presence of Albert Brooks is only a plus because I liked him in Out Of Sight; I don't find him funny at all."


Glenn Kenny

I.B.: Fair enough. It's not just the hype itself but the thinking, such as it is, that informs it; the self-congratulation of the droolers who "get" all of the film's various references, as if their ability to parse each aspect of the film's pastiche elements is sufficient to prove the film's greatness. I also thought it was pretty funny to see critics who, having missed about a third of the content of "Tree of Life," pronounced the Malick film pretentious, and then fell over each other dribbling over a movie that portentuosly and uselessly rehashes "Scorpion and Frog," for God's sake.


Oh please tell me "Scorpion and Frog" doesn't REALLY get rehashed in DRIVE.


"You're not going to rehash 'Scorpion and Frog' in your movie, are you? Because I won't like that, I'll suffer, and when my review savages it for rehashing 'Scorpion and Frog', your movie will suffer, so we'll both suffer."

"I promise you, I won't rehash 'Scorpion and Frog' in my movie."


"ARRGGGHHHH!!!!! Why did you rehash 'Scorpion and Frog' in your movie?!"

"It's my nature."

Jack Laughing

I haven't really developed an opinion on Refn yet because I've only seen Bronson, which was alright, but what has Neil Marshall done that makes him worthy of mention? Other than ripping off every film he's ever liked and slapping some blood and gore in to make it his own, the guy's a fanboy-wanking genre hack. Glad he found his niche, but...


I'm holding out for Refn's remake of LOGAN'S RUN with Gosling. Although if the goal was remaking a Michael Anderson film, QUILLER MEMORANDUM would get my vote.


I try to get outside myself a lot more when I watch a film like DRIVE, which is difficult since it pretty much pushes all of my buttons. I adored it, the thing set my little head on fire. But I agree with you, Glenn, that it's been somewhat overhyped. I don't really think it takes many significant steps beyond THE DRIVER, but on the other hand I was quite taken with the introduction of the almost primal romantic motivation for Gosling. Those emotional stakes, that fullness of feeling, that's something that I personally don't often find in films like THE DRIVER or LE SAMOURAI, which tend to work in terms of icy professionalism (this is by no means a shot at Hill or Melville). In DRIVE, this element does suffer from the somewhat rote characterization of Mulligan's character, but without going into spoilers I can't really discuss what mitigated that flaw for me.

A friend of mine recently started getting into Michael Mann, partly at my insistence, and he told me that after loving THIEF, he found THE DRIVER coming up short, that it was too pretentious. I'm not sure he's wrong, but I'm also not sure that it bothers me. I think both DRIVE and THE DRIVER are after the sort of broad mythmaking gestures you might find in, say, THE ROAD WARRIOR, and that the stuff that seems pretentious is simply sincere enthusiasm.

I'm also not sure I'm making any sense. Sorry for all that rambling.

Jonathan Rosenbaum

I may be all alone on this one, but I found DRIVE thoroughly offensive and disgusting, and it made me reflect afterwards that Albert Brooks must be desperate for money, what with a family to support and all. (Too bad you can't outsource acting--or can you?) Maybe it's my old age, but as the years pass, I find the most repellent violence in movies to be the kind that pretends (or even half-pretends) to be moralistic and "sensitive"--maybe in part because it reminds me too much of our foreign occupations. In any case, now that I'm no longer a reviewer, I felt in retrospect that I was a fool for going to see this.

Brian Dauth

Jonathan: I do not think your reaction has anything to do with old age. You have always been alert to how violence appears on screen and is perceived/appreciated by audiences (your review of THE GODFATHER PART III is still one of the rare critiques I know that begins to do justice to this film). What is curious is how few filmmakers who incorporate violence in their aesthetic are able to progress to an increasingly nuanced engagement with it.

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