HULK REVIEWS DRIVE: WHY “NOT WHAT YOU THOUGHT” IS OKAY

September 19, 2011

HULK SAW DRIVE.

HULK LOVED DRIVE.

GOING INTO THE FILM, THE ONLY THING  HULK HAD SEEN WAS THIS CLIP: http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/mediaPlayer/10934.html AND FOR HULK THAT WAS ENOUGH, HULK WAS NOW “IN.” AND GOING OFF THAT CLIP ALONE, HULK WAS READY FOR SOME SERIOUS TAUT FILMMAKING, A WALL-TO-WALL EXHIBITION OF WHAT WE SAW RIGHT THERE. THUS, HULK DIDN’T WATCH THE OTHER TRAILERS. HULK DIDN’T READ ANY REVIEWS. HULK ONLY HEARD THAT GENERAL CONSENSUS WAS THAT PEOPLE EITHER LIKED IT OR LOVED IT. GIVEN THAT LACK OF MEDIA AWARENESS, HULK CAN’T NECESSARILY SPEAK AS TO WHAT OTHERS WERE EXPECTING, BUT IT FAIR TO SAY THAT MOST PEOPLE WERE EXPECTING A WELL-MADE ACTION/CHASE FILM.

THAT’S NOT NECESSARILY WHAT WE GOT.

OH, IT WAS WELL-MADE ALL RIGHT, BUT IT WAS ALSO SOMETHING FAR MORE STRANGE, SILLY, HYPER-VIOLENT, CAUTIOUS, AND OFTEN COUNTER-INTUITIVE.

IN OTHER WORDS, WE GOT SOMETHING WONDERFUL.

PERHAPS HULK WAS A LITTLE FOOLISH. GIVEN THAT NICOLAS WINDING REFN HAD PREVIOUSLY MADE BRONSON AND THAT FILM IS BAT-SHIT INSANE (IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY), HULK DEFINITELY SHOULD HAVE EXPECTED SOMETHING… YOU KNOW… WEIRDER.

BUT FOR WHOEVER THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING BEHIND HULK, IT WAS APPARENTLY NOT SO OKAY. UPON TURNING AROUND TO LEAVE HULK OVERHEARD A GROUP OF CONFUSED ADOLESCENT MALES SITTING ABOUT, LOOKING AT EACH OTHER IN A POST-CREDIT MALAISE…

GUY: “Um… What did you think man?”

OTHER GUY: “I dunno. Not what I expected it was weird. I mean… guh… Lame. I thought it would be different.”

HULK KEPT WALKING PAST EAR SHOT, BUT THE BRIEF EXCHANGE STUCK WITH HULK.

IT BEGS AN IMPORTANT QUESTION FOR MOVIE-GOERS: WHY IS GETTING EXACTLY WHAT YOU EXPECT SO IMPORTANT?

ONE ONE HAND, THERE IS THE SIMPLE MATTER OF SEEING THE BASIC GENRE OF FILM THAT YOU INTEND TO. ONE DOES NOT WALK INTO A KATE HUDSON ROMANTIC COMEDY AND EXPECT DECAPITATION-LEVEL HORROR (WHILE HULK WOULD ENJOY THAT KIND OF SURPRISE, MANY WOULD OBVIOUSLY… NOT). BUT IN TERMS OF THOSE MOST BASIC GENRE EXPECTATIONS, HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT A DIFFERENT CONCERN ALL TOGETHER BECAUSE LET’S FACE IT, THE EXAMPLES OF FILMS THAT HAVE OUTRIGHT LIED ABOUT THEIR CORE IDENTITY ARE FEW AND FAR BETWEEN.

SO WHAT ARE WE REALLY TALKING ABOUT? WE ARE REALLY TALKING ABOUT THE TINIEST OF SUBVERSION: A SCENE HERE OR THERE THAT MAY SKEW WILDER, FUNNIER, DARKER, OR SADDER THAN YOU IMAGINED THE ENTIRE MOVIE TO BE.

THIS SEEMS TO MATTER FOR SOME REASON. PEOPLE GET MAD AT ROMANTIC COMEDIES WITH A SAD SCENE IN THEM. PEOPLE GET MAD WHEN ACTION MOVIES HAVE A SILLY SCENE IN THEM. PEOPLE GET MAD WHEN FAMILY FILMS TRY TO TEACH THEIR KIDS LIFE LESSONS OR SHOW DEATH INSTEAD OF JUST BABY SIT THEM. WHY DO WE GO SO FAR WITH GENRE EXPECTATION TO NOT EXPECT A HINT OF DEVIATION FROM MONOGAMOUS TONE?

IS THAT WHY WE LOVE NOLAN? BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT WE GOING TO GET SUPER-SERIOUS MOVIES THROUGH AND THROUGH? IS THAT WHY SOME PEOPLE CAN’T GET BEHIND RAIMI’S SPIDERMAN MOVIES BECAUSE THEY EMBRACE TOO MUCH CAMP? WHY DO SOME PEOPLE REQUIRE MOVIES TO BE SO DAMN SINGULAR?

BECAUSE IF YOU ASK HULK, EVERY GENRE SHOULD HAVE A LITTLE LEEWAY TO PLAY WITH THE RULES.

AND THAT’S ALL THAT DRIVE DOES. IT PLAYS WITH RULES. IT STILL SATISFIES THE BASIC PROMISE OF AN ACTION/CHASE FILM, NO DOUBT ABOUT IT, BUT IT GOES TO SO MANY OTHER MORE INTERESTING PLACES ALONG THE WAY.

PLAYING WITH THE RULES SHOULD BE MORE THAN OKAY. SOME FILMS BRING THEIR SUBVERSION RIGHT INTO THE TEXT OF THE FILM (THE ORIGINAL SCREAM, TV’S COMMUNITY), SOME INVERT AND ASSIMILATE GENRES CONSTANTLY TO CREATE THEIR OWN VIVID WORLDS (TARANTINO, WRIGHT, WHEDON) AND SOME DO ALL THIS IN LESS OBVIOUS WAYS (EVERYTHING COEN BROTHERS). BUT IN ONE GENERAL BROAD STROKE OF MOVIE FANDOM, WE SHOULD BE MORE APT TO EMBRACE IT BECAUSE IT OFFERS US ONE OF THOSE ALL TOO RARE THINGS:

SURPRISE.

SURPRISE IS ONE OF THE MORE RARE THINGS WE HAVE LEFT AS A MOVIE GOING CULTURE. IT’S ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT GETS US TO RESPOND. FOR BETTER, WORSE, WHATEVER. ISN’T THAT WHY WE GO TO MOVIES? TO HAVE EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO THINGS?

MAYBE SURPRISE HAS BEEN BEAT OUT OF US BY A POOR, CYNICAL THINKING, BEST SUMMED UP BY MATT GROENING OF ALL PEOPLE: “SMART THINGS MAKE PEOPLE FEEL STUPID, AND SURPRISING THINGS MAKE PEOPLE FEEL SCARED.” PLEASE NOTE THAT HULK NOT SURE HOW ENTIRELY SERIOUS HE IS ABOUT THAT STATEMENT, GIVEN THAT HE CREATED ONE OF THE SMARTEST, SURPRISING SHOWS IN THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION (HULK TALKING GOLDEN AGE HERE), BUT HOLLYWOOD EXECS HAVE CERTAINLY RUN WITH IT HOOK LINE AND SINKER.

PERHAPS HULK COMING OFF A LITTLE MORALIZING WITH ALL THIS, BUT SHOULDN’T THAT NOT BE THE CASE? SHOULDN’T WE CELEBRATE THE PLAYFUL DEVIATION FROM OVERT-TRADITION AS LONG AS WE SET IT UP WITH APPROPRIATE GRACE AND FORETHOUGHT?

SHOULDN’T WE BE HAPPY WHEN WE GO TO THE MOVIES EXPECTING A GOOD,  STANDARD ACTION MOVIE AND GET SOMETHING THAT OFFERS YOU A REAL ALTERNATIVE. AN ACTION MOVIE WITH:  STRANGE PINK FONTS, 80’S-EURO-STYLE POP SONGS, SCORPION JACKETS, A DOWNRIGHT-SCARY ALBERT BROOKS, A QUIETLY OBSERVED ROMANCE, SPLATTER-LEVEL VIOLENCE, AND RYAN GOSLING’S BLUE GOOGLY-EYES THAT MAKE HIM SEEM EXTRA-STOOPID….

WHEN WE GET SOMETHING LIKE THAT, SHOULDN’T WE CHERISH IT?

<3 HULK

BETTY’S REVIEW: “Fucking loved it. But really it should have been called ‘Stare.'”

*******UPDATE:

HULK HAD A PASSING THOUGHT THAT IT IMPORTANT TO MENTION. AN AMENDMENT IF YOU WILL.

SOMETIMES IT IS IMPORTANT FOR CRITICS/ENTHUSIASTS TO RECOGNIZE THAT WE ARE, IN TERMS OF OUR MASSIVE AMOUNT OF CONSUMPTION, A MINORITY. WE CAN RECOGNIZE TROPES, TONES, DEVICES, WHATEVER-THE-HELL THUS TONAL “SURPRISE” IS ACTUALLY MUCH MORE OF A RARE COMMODITY TO US THAN FOR THE AVERAGE MOVIE GOER. IN OTHER WORDS, WE VALUE DIFFERENT THINGS. WHICH PERHAPS RENDERS HULK’S ARGUMENT ABOUT “NOT WHAT YOU THOUGHT” A LITTLE ESOTERIC.

HULK ADMITS THIS.

NOW HULK ABSOLUTELY STANDS BY IDEOLOGY THAT A MOVIE THAT IS HYPER IN TUNE TO HOW AN AUDIENCE WATCHES IT, WILL LIKELY GO OVER GREAT. BUT THE NATURE OF “SURPRISE” MIGHT BE A LITTLE DIFFERENT.

HULK JUST THINKS IT IS IMPORTANT TO MENTION THAT MOVIES IN GENERAL AREN’T NECESSARILY “BUILT” FOR EITHER ONE OF US OVER THE OTHER (THOUGH IN CERTAIN CASES, THEY ARE). GOING OFF THAT, HULK STILL BELIEVES THAT ANYONE WHO WATCHES A SHIT-TON OF MOVIES IS HONESTLY IN A BETTER PLACE TO COME AT A MOVIE IN TERMS OF CRITICISM THAN SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T (GOING BACK TO HULK’S THEORY ON THE MEANING OF EXPERTISE AND HOW IT SHIFTS THE DIALOGUE).

THUS, THE GOAL OF THIS ARTICLE SHIFTS A LITTLE IN TERMS OF MESSAGE. HULK URGES YOU NOT TO HAVE AN OPEN MIND ABOUT YOUR EXPECTATIONS NOT BECAUSE IT’S THE “RIGHT” WAY, BUT BECAUSE IT SIMPLY OPENS YOU UP TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF EVERYTHING CINEMA CAN BE. BECAUSE IT’S LIKE ANY LEARNING PROCESS.:IF YOU WANT TO ENJOY MORE MOVIES YOU HAVE TO SEE MORE MOVIES.

IT SOUNDS WAY TOO SIMPLE, BUT REALLY IT GOES BACK TO HULK’S IDEA THAT THE CRUX OF ALL FILM ARGUMENTS BASICALLY COME DOWN TO THE ISSUE OF “SEE MORE MOVIES.”

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27 Responses to “HULK REVIEWS DRIVE: WHY “NOT WHAT YOU THOUGHT” IS OKAY”

  1. Power_Lloyd said

    I get what you’re saying, and normally it would be good to be surprised, but I didn’t like this surprise. I’m all for the off-kilter aspects you’re championing, but the film felt empty to me. Then the horrendous violence definitely tipped the scales to “do not like.” Oh well. Another entry in the “film is subjective” case file.

  2. The main complaints by people in the theater I was in were: Boring, Miami Vice wannabe, Scarface wannabe ???????, Tedious, Silent Film and Who Cares. I live in the sticks, so this should be expected. Mind you I’ve been raving about it and will see it again (hopfully on Wednesday).

  3. JONAH KEEL said

    In some ways I agree with the sentiment Hulk expresses here. FAR Too often films do NOT fully explore their potential. I LOVE a good surprise. However, this IS a very fine line to walk. Getting what you want, if not what you completely expected, IS integral to enjoying a film.

    Box Office Mojo, recently began a series of articles titled “AD FIDELITY”. In this series, the writers compare the marketing campaign with the finished film. It is a concept that gets at the heart of what you’re talking about with this article. Is the film I came to see the film I was promised?

    I often use metaphors in discussions, so I’ll drop one on Hulk here. If I buy a sportscar, but then upon showing up to get said car, the salesman offers me a minivan, I will be decidedly non-plussed. Likewise, in your film analogy above, the person who goes in to see a Kate Hudson romantic comedy does not expect decapitations. An audience who goes to see a film, expects to be entertained in a certain way, based on the marketing campaign. I would argue that it is actually the film’s job at that point to deliver on that promise.

    (At this point we could easily break into a discussion about shoddy marketing. How so very often using Stars’ or Directors’ other–WHOLLY UNRELATED–works can mislead the public. But this isn’t about that. Besides, Hulk has discussed it before, and I TOTALLY agree with Hulk on this front.)

    There are two films which I ABSOLUTELY loathed when I originally saw them. One of these films I’ve gone back and watched and I do not loathe it, the other, I think still TOTALLY BLOWS. The films in question are THE BREAK-UP and LOVE ACTUALLY. My distaste for these films upon initial viewing speaks to the role expectations have in eventual enjoyment/lack-there-of for any film.

    I promised not to get TOO much into marketing, but in this case, you kind of have to because the marketing of these films was so singularly focused across the board as to suggest films, I’d argue, that were NOT related to the finished product. The first up is the film I STILL loathe: THE BREAK-UP.

    Not sure about Hulk’s feelings regarding this picture, but the picture I was promised by marketing was a comedy that, while dealing with an often difficult subject: breaking up, was still fun. What I got was a drama showcasing all the ways human beings can fail at communicating punctuated by some funny bits, but in the end, NOT a light affair. Would I have viewed the film differently had I gone in EXPECTING That? Yes. Yes, I would have. Because I didn’t plunk down my money to have that emotional experience, I left the theater angry, and STILL HATE THAT F#@CKING MOVIE.

    Next up, we have LOVE ACTUALLY. Marketing promised me a feel good film with several interlocking tales of love. I got several interlocking tales of love, but most were at best bittersweet, and at worst heartbreaking. (I STILL think the “to me you are perfect business” is ONE OF THE MOST HEARTWRENCHING MOMENTS CAPTURED ON FILM.) DESPERATELY in need of some feel good vibes surrounding love. (Perhaps I was having a rough break-up at the time.) Like Hulk, I wanted to smash.

    (It should be noted, that as I am now in a much different place emotionally, I have gone back and watched said film with a different set of eyes. While I still feel lied to about my initial trip to the theater, the film is well crafted.)

    Expectations are KEY to an audience enjoying a film. If I want to be scared, I see a horror film. Likewise, if I want a laugh, I will see a comedy. For a film to be successful, it MUST give the audience the experience they want, and PAID FOR. I wish I had seen DRIVE, so that I might bring it into the discussion, but if it’s marketed as a slick, yet taut, thriller, and DOESN’T deliver on that promise, while we might be able to blame the marketing team and NOT the film’s creator, it still has to be labeled a failure.

    To close, and bring this thing back full circle, I agree that films can and SHOULD stretch within the confines of their genre, and their promise to the audience. I just think you have to make sure to remember the initial promise that was made.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      THERE TECHNICALLY A LOT TO RESPOND TO THIS, BUT HULK WILL TRY MAKE IT AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE: MARKETING DEPTS, WHICH HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE FILMMAKERS, WILL ALWAYS MAKE THEIR ADS AS BROAD AS POSSIBLE. EVERY SINGLE TIME. IT IS A GIVEN. THEY DO THIS TO SELL THE MOVIE TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE, NOT TO SELL WHAT THE MOVIE “IS.”

      SO THERE’S INHERENTLY A PROBLEM ANY TIME YOU ARE QUALIFYING A MOVIE’S QUALITY BASED ON A SYSTEM THAT IS INHERENTLY GOING TO LIE ABOUT WHAT THE MOVIE IS. NOT ONLY THAT, BUT THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE IT AS UNCOMPLICATED AND UN “MOVIE” LIKE IS POSSIBLE. IT IS REALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO CONVEY WHAT A MOVIE IS GOING TO BE IN TOTALITY IN A 30 SECOND AD.

      HULK REALIZE THERE A LITTLE MORE NUANCE TO BOTH YOUR POINT AND HULK’S POINT, BUT THAT HULK’S PROBLEM WITH THE CRUX OF THE THINKING. MAKE SENSE?

      HULK THANK FOR COMMENT. CHEERS.

      • Saladbowl said

        Well, however, I once lehrend that with trailers it is just as important to make sure people know from it what to expect as it is important to make them appealing to a great audience. I believe it is as much the goal to keep those out of the theatre who will not like this kind of movie (subsequently sharing the negative experience with their peers) as it is to attract those who should/will. So I believe a trailer selling one movie that ends up being a different one is a bad job by the marketing department…

      • FILMCRITHULK said

        THE PROBLEM IS WE HAVE AN ECONOMIC SYSTEM IN PLACE WHERE THE MARKETING DEPARTMENTS ONLY JOB IS TO GET BUTTS IN SEATS. THAT’S THE ONLY THING THEY ARE MEASURED BY. AND THUS, IT’S HARD TO CRITICIZE THEM FOR DOING THEIR ONLY JOB. IS IT IDEAL FOR THE VIEWER? NOPE. BUT THAT’S THEIR JOB. AND AS EDUCATED VIEWERS IT IS THEREBY OUR JOB TO UNDERSTAND THE FUNCTION OF THEIR JOB AND ACCOUNT FOR IT!

  4. One other note on getting what you expect as a movie goer: On numerous occasions Hitchcock would put out trailers that really had nothing to do with the film you were seeing on the screen. 2 examples: Rope http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCFP6vDkSUE and Rear Window http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kCcZCMYw38&feature=related

  5. [...] HULK SAW DRIVE. HULK LOVED DRIVE. GOING INTO THE FILM, THE ONLY THING  HULK HAD SEEN WAS THIS CLIP: http://www.festival-cannes.com/en/mediaPlayer/10934.html AND FOR HULK THAT WAS ENOUGH, HULK WAS NOW "IN." AND GOING OFF THAT CLIP ALONE, HULK WAS READY FOR SOME SERIOUS TAUT FILMMAKING, A WALL-TO-WALL EXHIBITION OF WHAT WE SAW RIGHT THERE. THUS, HULK DIDN'T WATCH THE OTHER TRAILERS. HULK DIDN'T READ ANY REVIEWS. HULK ONLY HEARD THAT GENERAL CONSENS … Read More [...]

  6. Bevin said

    I haven’t seen “Drive” yet but this being surprised thing is something I’ve experienced quite a bit and it has a tendency to make me fall in love with the movie in a way I wouldn’t have if I’d been expecting it to be what it was. I love being surprised by movies. Several years back a friend of mine and I got into a debate over which movie we wanted to see: I thought “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” seemed like such a clever idea I couldn’t wait to see what they did with it, where as she wanted to see “Pirates of the Caribbean” and I had no interest in a film based on a theme park ride (this was also before pirates were cool again). We saw both and I was incredibly disappointed in my movie but floored by how much fun her movie was. After “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon” surprised me, you’d think I’d have learned but then I saw Chabrol’s “Le Boucher” and discovered a whole new way to be surprised.

    Even if a film doesn’t necessarily “work” in the conventional sense, I still give lots of points for trying to shake us out of our boxed-in, genre-driven ideas of what to expect.

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      1. PLUS LEAGUE WAS BASED ON FANTASTIC PROPERTY BY ALAN MOORE (WHICH THEY PROMPTLY TURNED TO SHIT)

      2. HULK MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE WRITTEN A GINORMOUS PAPER ON CHABROL BACK IN THE DAY… KINDA SCARED TO GO BACK AND LOOK AT IT.

      • Bevin said

        The one good thing about that movie was making paperback trades available so I could finally read the originals.

        I’m writing a 10 page paper on Chabrol right now. As for old papers, they’re usually not as good as they were when you wrote them. I avoid looking at mine unless I’m feeling masochistic.

  7. Le_ted said

    Hey Hulk, glad you liked the movie. It’s probably my favorite American flick of the year so far. Don’t want to veer too off-topic from your thoughts but wanted your opinion on the possible subjective nature of the narrative – it seems like, without being as ambiguous as TAXI DRIVER’s ending, there’s certainly meant to be some degree of wish fulfillment for Gosling’s character in how events unfold, right? I felt like the big scene with Perlman on the beach really cinched that for me.

    I think the ambiguousness and almost understated surreality turned people off in a way that really, either you just accepted or didn’t. Is there a place for something so weird and personal in today’s cinema, regardless of how it’s sold?

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      AS FOR THE CHARACTERIZATION/MEANING IN DRIVE IHULK’LL JUST SAY THERE’S SOME INTERESTING THOUGHTS ON THE MATTER BY TODD GILCHRIST RIGHT HERE: http://www.movies.com/movie-news/drive-review/4560

      AND IS THERE A PLACE FOR WEIRD AND PERSONAL? FOR SURE THERE’S A PLACE, IT’S JUST REALLY HARD TO GET THEM MADE. BUT CINEMA IS ALWAYS A REALLY INTERESTING PLACE BECAUSE ALL GOOD MOVIES TEND TO FIND THEIR AUDIENCE ON A LONG ENOUGH TIME LINE, INITIAL BOX OFFICE SUCCESS BE DAMNED. THE PROBLEM IS THAT EVEN IF A GOOD MOVIE EVENTUALLY FINDS THAT AUDIENCE, IS A STUDIO RIGHT JUSTIFIED IN THEIR CHOICES IF THE RISKS DON’T MAKE MONEY? UNIVERSAL TOOK RISKS ON A WHOLE BUNCH OF PROJECTS AND TOOK HUGE BATHS IN TERMS OF MONEY… SORRY HULK’S JUST SORT OF RANT… HULK TIRED.

  8. Joon Kim said

    Loved Drive. Loved everywhere it went. Aw… it wasn’t the Transporter movie that people wanted? Too bad!

    Of course… audiences really seemed to dig what Inglorious Basterds did. The movie was sold as a Dirty Dozen-type actioner starring Brad Pitt. That seems to be an example of a film successfully defying an audience’s expectations.

    Though… I still have a friend who didn’t appreciate what Basterds did. He wanted something more like The Expendables, I guess. But then, he was disappointed by The Expendables too.

  9. Tom Coombe said

    For me, the fourth season of The Wire is a perfect example of this. What I WANTED was more of the “detail” trying to catch drug dealers. The idea of McNulty being out of the picture and the story focusing on a bunch of kids made me nervous. And of course, what I GOT was the show’s best season.

  10. Charming Charlie said

    This discussion badly needs to mention the title. It’s called Drive, and the movie has 7 minutes of high-speed driving. Trailers, marketing, surprise, all peripheral discussions stemming from this important fact.

    I would have titled it Crime and focused my audience on the themes and motifs. The movie has 60 minutes of criminals coping with their consequences.

    The remainder of the time is Carey Mulligan’s Adorable.

  11. JuntMonkey said

    I noticed one alarming detail in your review – you overhearing the young males as you left the theater. You did use the phrase “post-credits”, but was this after the credits had completely rolled? Or did you leave before they were done? The latter is a big mistake in my opinion.

    Young Adult has a similar “surprise” issue. The trailers make it look like a lowest-common-denominator moron comedy, to the point where even though I adored Up in the Air I questioned whether I should see Young Adult. However, in the context of the film these “jokes” from the trailer are rarely funny, and the overall tone is quite serious. Similar to what you overheard post-Drive, several idiots exclaimed to their dates how “stupid” and “pointless” this “worst movie ever” was.

  12. Hey Hulk,

    Hope you don’t mind me replying to this almost a year after you wrote it, but I’ve only just seen ‘Drive’. And… I both agree and disagree with you. I agree that surprising audiences by deviating from their expectations is a good thing, and filmmakers should do it more often. (Although, not, um, so often it becomes expected.) And they should definitely be more willing to experiment and try new things. But having said all that, I still hated ‘Drive’.

    OK, I’ll give it points for being somewhat different to what I expected; but it’s not all *that* much different. It’s fundamentally a pretty traditional neo-noir crime film, just with unusually explicit violence, and filmed in an interesting way. I appreciated the direction and the music, while finding the plot incredibly dull and clichéd. Ultimately, it feels to me like the praise for this film was a massive case of style over substance.

    But hey, you’re the critic, so what do I know…

    • FILMCRITHULK said

      YEAH, BUT CLICHED IS ALWAYS OKAY AS LONG AS IT’S EMOTIONALLY EARNED. HULK FELT THAT IT WAS. AND THE STYLE IS JUST THE REASON TO EMBRACE IT. IT’S THE OLD STORY CONVEYED IN A NEW WAY (OR AT LEAST A NEW TEXTURE). AND TRUTHFULLY THAT’S NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT, YA KNOW?

  13. Movoku said

    I know by this time the party is over and the chairs have been stacked, but I cannot let this stand. I think the Matt Groening quote is from an episode of Futurama where they spoof Ally McBeal and the need for TV shows to maintain a status quo. “You stole our hearts a single female lawyer and so shall you remain, or else.” Of course Futurama lampshades its own status quo by the end.

    As for the movie itself I thoroughly enjoy it. The soundtrack alone so tickled my indie sensibilities that it’s hard to resist. Above that I really appreciated the pacing that allowed the film to breathe and allows us to slowly realise the seething rage that lurks beneath the Driver’s dour stoicism. As to the title I felt it was apt as it ultimately spoke to what drove each character to act the way they do and highlight why the protagonist is ultimately incapable of connecting with others.

    For all that I enjoyed the film it did highlight something I’ve bee reading a lot about recently: the strange TEAL/ORANGE obsession that has so overcome Hollywood. I’m looking at you Michael Bay.

  14. Hothmonster said

    I came to see what you had to say about this movie after watching it for the 4th time.

    I am surprised you didn’t do more of analysis of the film. It really seems to be something I thought you would dig into. But it is interesting what you did touch on and what I was thinking about when I watched it.

    This movie is a constant surprise. It sets-up a whole direction for the movie and then destroys it scene by scene. We start with him taking a job as a criminal driver and obviously expect more of that. But then it jumps to him doing stunts (after letting him look like a cop for about 45 seconds before they destroy that illusion) and working in the garage. Then you expect it to go the route with him racing for the mob boss and that going wrong. Then you expect him and the girl to happily ever after. Then you expect the film to follow him clashing with the returned husband. ect ect ect.

    Every scene seems to say, “ok here is what the rest of the movie will really be about, here is tone and convention we will go with I’m sure you know what to expect,” while simultaneously destroying expectations it gave you in the last scene.

    Sorry it’s early and I didn’t sleep well enough on these ideas to have fully formed them I guess. But when I was trying to watch that movie for the first time again I was amazed at how it constantly creates and destroys expectations as to where the rest of the movie is going.

    I’m surprised you didn’t touch on this more in the article. A movie being different from what the marketing campaign makes you expect, and this certainly was for me, is one thing. But this movie is constantly surprising by taking a direction then veering off in another. Right up until that last time he blinks.

    Cheers Hulk!

  15. Hulk

    Reading this one way late but I agree with you. “Drive” was excellent and part of the reason why I loved it was because I have, as you have, spent my life watching A LOT of movies. All genres, all types — I always say my favorite type of movies are “good movies” — action, drama, romance doesn’t really come into play. Sure, I love slam-bang action as much as the next dude, but a quiet foreign film that tells an effective story is just as great to me.

    So watching Drive was great because it was essentially an homage to 80s neo-noir, which in itself was an homage to 60s French new wave (which were homages to American film noir…). An homage to an homage! I watched it with a younger friend of mine who also loved it, but without all the film background. After it was over I told her — if you loved this movie, I got something you need to see. Then popped in my Criterion copy of “Le Samourai.” I mean c’mon, have two actors ever had less to say in their respective films than Alain Delon and Ryan Gosling? But how much of that silence spoke VOLUMES!

    Anyway, great review. Keep up the good work.

  16. Sharp said

    I apologize for posting this so long after it has stopped being relevant, but you have such an intelligent and conversational air to your articles that it really makes me want to participate.

    Now, I did not like this movie. But not for the reason you mentioned.

    I came to the theater just to get out of the house–I get bored by car chases and explosions, which is all I expected this movie to be. But my review is a very negative version of Betty’s. There was empty conversation and a whole lot of silence, to the point that the whole movie felt like I was watching two people stuck in an elevator. It seemed to me Gosling could have been replaced with a cardboard cut out and the movie would have been unchanged. What is perhaps I consider the movie’s greatest sin is the fact that no line of his dialog was important to the plot or any character, let alone his own. Why was his dialog so stunted and bland? Why was he made to act so stiff and show no emotion? Why was this character chosen to guide us through the film when every other character was more layered and interesting? Was he meant to be a more of symbol for the criminal mind or some other concept than actually function as a character?

    I was just introduced to you through your Les Mis article, and although I know absolutely nothing about cinematography and film analysis I devoured the whole article. You’re passionate about film and your writing makes it so exciting and interesting. And it is beyond clear that you know your stuff, so I know at this point I am clearly missing something big here. I don’t know, maybe it’s just that I can’t figure out how to translate my literature analyzing skills over to film. But if you ever do consider to do a long analysis on this movie I’d dearly love to read it.

    At any rate, if you did read this–You’re fantastic. Have a good day and never stop writing.

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