Film Socialisme

There is a philosophy behind a lot of film criticism stating that it doesn’t matter what the director intends, it only matters what he puts on the screen. For example if a director intends a long complicated sequence involving ice cream melting and sun’s rays to not be about the oppression of summer but of childhood lost, but all you see is images of summer than it is your right as a viewer to interrupt it that way. I usually think this philosophy is sound and I try to not read a lot of director interviews if they are talking about a film I haven’t seen yet. However this is not a blanket philosophy and for some directors you want them to explain what the f they put on-screen. They usually make very insular films that only sometimes include complex plots and vapid characters. I am obviously talking about Godard when I say that. Of course the one director who I need to do piles of research for after watching his films in order to understand what I saw on film is notoriously quiet about his oeuvre. He will talk about the state of filmmaking and utter Buddhist like sayings about politics, war and art, but he will not talk about his own films. He even put up a title card at the end of Film Socialisme (his latest film that just came out on DVD a couple of weeks ago) that says No Comment. So I am left to read several people’s reactions, interpretations, reviews, hate rants and try to decipher what I think from these alone. It is very frustrating.

Many questions bubble up to the surface when watching this film. Should I take this as pure visual feast and not worry about what people are talking about or should I stop the film and analyze every segment of the picture, every word people say? Should I treat this film as one big magnum opus or should I see it as three short films? Should I use the Navajo subtitles that was shown at various film festivals with or should I use the full english subtitles? Should I be frustrated with your bad sound on some shots and than dazzled by the perfection you achieved with certain shots? As you can notice, I had a hard time unpacking this film experience, just like I have  struggled through his filmography.

I want to think as this film as really three short films spliced into each other. The first short film is about several people lost on this cruise ship. They talk about lofty things but no one seems to listen, because all they want to do is eat the shitty buffet food, gamble, swim and dance to techno music. Each one has an agenda of their own and each one is not very compelling. They travel to several ports which triggers the second short film which is the impressionistic history of each place they visit. It starts with Egypt, then they go to Odessa (there is a beautiful sequence in the last couple of minutes of the film about the Odessa stairs inter-cutting the monument with historical footage of them, Battleship Potemkin, young people experiencing and learning about them for the first time, and a pretty snow owl.), then Barcelona and several other places. This is what I found most compelling. The sequences sort of wash over you like the waves he concentrates on while shooting the boat. If this was the whole film I would feel satisfied with the message and the film as a whole. Alas this is not all he concentrates. The last short film (which is really the middle of the film) is about this political family who lives at a gas station. They discuss what seems to be Godard’s interpretation of Socialism (but isn’t really the textbook version of socialism) in stunted and incomprehensible sentences. Again the shots are beautiful, but in this part of the film empty because I don’t know what is going on.

As I reflect on this film, I realize that this film is a good allegory for his overall filmography. There are some films of his that I will go back to again and again and be amazed at his complexity, his use of the camera in a subjective manner, and his emotional resonance. There are others that I think will grow on me with time, but for now has left me cold to them. Then there are other films that have angered me beyond any measure. It is crazy to think that my journey with Godard has come to an end. Although I haven’t covered absolutely everything that he has done in his impressive filmography, I have tried my hardest. I will cherish the time I spent with him, getting to know his quirks, his philosophies, his political stances and his visual style. Although I was sometimes frustrated with him, I still respect him as an ever-evolving auteur. In fact I still love him like I did when I saw Breathless for the first time. He has given filmic experiences that most people will never have. And dare I say it, I loved being intellectually frustrated by him. I hope he continues to make films that will make me angry, frustrate me, bring me to tears, and love him more for many years to come.

Truffaut is the next film director that I am going to go through his whole filmography and study how much of an impact he made on film history. Truffaut and I have had a complex relationship in the past, so these reviews will hopefully make for some interesting reading. I hope you care enough to stay around and read my ramblings!

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The Conversation

Seen in an introductory film class, The Conversation counts among my very favorite films of all time. It captured my imagination during a time when I was just beginning to delve into the history of cinema. This is just a theory of course but I believe most people my age who loved film and film history started with the cinema of the seventies or directors that made their most famous films in the seventies. This is because these films seem to have the most energy and grittiness to them that modern films and films of the studio system seem to lack. For some it was Jaws or Star Wars, for others it was Taxi Driver (mine) or The Godfather. Whatever your entry point, seventies film serve as a vital gateway into film geekery and to mine especially.

The Conversation follows a very secretive surveillance expert as he tries to unravel the mysteries behind a conversation that he recorded for a client. We know little about his past or who he is inside except when glancing at his work, watching  him play the saxophone or when details of his past life are revealed by others. Each detail is crucial to who he is in the audience eyes and it mirrors every detail that he extracts from the recorded conversation. The conversation warps and changes every time he uncovers a new stone in the search. The whirring of the playback machine, the distortions in the dialogue, and the jazz score stay with me days after the film is over. One other thing that stays with me is that final scene in which our hero plays a lonely sax solo in a destroyed apartment. The final scene is heartbreaking because the audience knows that is the last time he will play that sax before he destroys it in a futile search.

I have to admit that before watching this film, I was more familiar with Gene Hackman’s more “hacky” stuff from the mid nineties and early two thousands. It never occurred to me that this man was actually a good actor. Here he conveys his character through small gestures and facial expressions all of which tell way more about his character than his dialogue does. John Cazale is one of many pretentious film professors’ (at least at my school) favorite actor. Although he died young, he was a vital force in seventies films and brought a completely different quality to each character he plays. In fact watching him in this film and comparing him to his role in Dog Day Afternoon and The Godfather and they seem like two different people. Here he plays a kind of everyman while in the other three films that I have seen him in he is slimy and sleazy. He is curious, he is randy, and he is good at his job but just sees it as a job like most men that I know. However this is everything that Hackman’s character is not. He is pure. He is guarded and his job is everything to him. The two characters are a nice foil that balances out the heady film.

Many people believe that Coppola’s crowning achievement in his film career was the Godfather series (I and II… there are no other films in the series), but I would have to disagree with them. I think that The Conversation is the most complete and daring project that he has ever done, except for Jack. (I had to put a jab at him for that film. I knew that film was crap when I was eight years old and I had to watch it with my parents because they thought I would enjoy a story starring Robin Williams about a young man who ages super fast into the hairy Robin. Emotional scars are all I have to say about that) I love this film for many reasons that are too boring to list here, but if you are at all interested in meditative character pieces, I would suggest you check out this film. You won’t be disappointed.

Asphalt

Else is a bad woman. Insanely beautiful, she can charm the pants off of any man. In a matter of seconds she can get a diamond she wants, out of trouble, into bed with a man, or anything else she desires just by fluttering her eyelashes. Albert is an upstanding gentleman. Controlling traffic as a part of his policeman duties, he stands up for the wronged man, pursues justice to the letter of the law and kisses his mother on the head every morning. He is the perfect man to be baited by Else. He quickly falls for her as he is tasked to take her in for stealing. He gets seduced in a very sexy scene and comes home a dejected young man. However he cannot stay away from this dangerous woman. She brings him deeper and deeper into the underworld she inhabits until he ends up murdering her ex lover. He confesses to the murder and seen as condemned until she shows up again. She tells the story, the true story, demonstrating her surprising affection for him and she takes the fall for him thus redeeming her in the viewer’s eyes.

This is the simple story of Asphalt. However simple it is, it is also engaging. Else is a wonder to look at and is light in such a way that highlights her natural beauty. She seduces in such a way that makes her endearing, at least to me. She is the fascinating character of the film and Albert pales in comparison. If in this present culture, he would be considered a sissy. He lives with his parents and does his duty in every respect. After he has sex with Else for the first time, he is so distraught that he can’t eat or even, gasp, go to church. He is not married to her! She is a criminal! He was seduced! How awful.

By the time this film was released, silent pictures had been produced with a vigor in Germany for over a decade. Directed by a sure hand, the film knows where to linger on a face and when to explain the plot in text. In fact most of the time there are no text titles which is nice to see. All action and emotion can be conveyed by the placement of the camera in just the right area. A good example of this is the scene where Else finally gets a hold of Albert for the first time. She builds him up into sympathy for her by the crying, the desperate explanations and gets him to drop her off at her apartment. She then explains that she is so worn out that she must sleep. He gets tired of her antics and decides to just leave when she runs to him in a slinky dress. She jumps on him and whispers that she likes him. She holds his face inches away from his lips as he holds onto her to keep her from falling. Slowly she goes in for the kiss and he accepts. An utterance of three words was all that was needed in order to convey the seduction. The rest is like a ballet. It is quite beautiful to witness.

Witness to the Prosecution

So what does Night of the Hunter, Sunset Blvd., Bride of Frankenstein, The Blue Angel, and The Mark of the Zorro have in common? Do you give up? Look at the title dummy… Charles Laughton directed Night of the Hunter and starred in Witness as Sir Wilfred. Billy Wilder directed. Elsa Lanchester is the Bride and is a dowdy nurse in this film. Marlene Dietrich’s legs were made famous in The Blue Angel, one of her first films and in one of her last they make a very famous cameo. Tyrone Power known as a swashbuckling hero in The Mark of Zorro, Jesse James and several other pirate and period films plays on his hero stereotype here. Do you get it now?

Charles Laughton was made for this role. He commands eyes and respect from the first time you see him in a chauffeured car with a heavy blanket on. He is gruff, bombastic and totally awesome all of the way through. He plays a lawyer who after suffering a heart attack and what seems like a lengthy hospital stay, returns to his office but forced to lug around a nurse who prods him to do her bidding. The witty banter between them can only come from a lengthy friendship (or marriage…) between the two actors. In fact Elsa Lanchester may be the unsung hero of this film. Her prudishness is so endearing it is cute. Anyway Sir Wilfred (Charles Laughton if you already forgot) is forced by his health to not take criminal cases, but of course he disobeys right away. Striking a deal with his nurse and doctor he chooses to take on the case of Leonard Vole, a seemingly sweet man accused of murdering a woman he saw frequently. He claims that the relationship was strictly platonic, but there are hints that the woman may have had feelings for him. In fact he helped revise her will so that she would leave him with 80,000 pounds. He professes his innocence saying he is a devoted husband who never wanted anything more than a couple of hundred from her in order to fund his inventions. Through several primitive tests (watching Sir Wilfred testing Leonard is so great. I wish I could do that to every grumpy customer I encounter), Wilfred believes he is innocent and takes his case. The only obstacle is his wife. She seems to have invented the term ice queen. No doubt she is played expertly by Marlene Dietrich. Once an actress, Leonard and Christine met in occupied Germany and it seems on the surface that he used him for a safe visa to England. Everyone is apprehensive of her, but Leonard seems to have total faith in her. What happens I cannot reveal because that will be going against the vow I took during the credits…

Subtlety in the guise of outrageous is the genius behind Billy Wilder. Gloria Swanson’s performance in Sunset Blvd. was so incredibly over the top that you had to admire how spot on it was. The same here goes for Charles Laughton. I was surprised that at one point there was no physical scene chewing since he did it so often with his performance. But the only way that character could have commanded such respect in the courtroom and have the impact be effective when he was wrong is for him to play it up. He needs to believe in this man in order to truly get burned at the end. What is genius about the character is that he has a sinking suspicion but he does not know exactly what it could be. Where is the banana peel? The same goes for Marlene Dietrich’s performance. As  an audience we have to believe that she is an ice queen, that she does not feel anything for her husband when quite the opposite is true. In order for us to go on the ride and believe the story being told we have to trust in Sir Wilfred’s judgement, Christine’s adulterous ways, and Leonard’s innocence. If you believe these three things, then you will be surprised by the last act… which is a good thing.

The Heiress

When someone thinks of Olivia de Havilland, then they probably think of her as the beautiful foil to Errol Flynn in Robin Hood or the sweet moral young foil to Scarlett O’Hara’s more brash attitude. In fact by the late forties she was type cast as this soft moral young woman on whom men and women can take advantage of. She was bored. She wanted a challenge. Then she saw the play that The Heiress is based upon. She saw it as a chance to play someone who looked and sounded a lot like those previous roles, but had more depth and growth then is usually allowed. She wanted to be in control of her career and this performance would give her a chance to major studios that she can do more than play the mousey role. She chose the perfect director for this role of a lifetime: William Wyler. Wyler worked on many “women’s” films and knew how to highlight the performance so she stands out from her compatriots without being obvious. For The Little Foxes, he lit her so she glowed and positioned her in the frame so that the eye is instantly drawn to her. This is a hard thing to pull off and still maintain the integrity of the story, but Wyler was a master at it. However for this film he had several aesthetic challenges and actor challenges that made him become even more ingenious with his approaches.

At the center of the Heiress is Olivia’s wonderful performance. She plays a young naive woman who is constantly compared to her dead mother and found wanting by her father. She is extremely shy and on the surface dull, but you can see the earnestness and the light in her eye struggling to get out. As the title suggests she is an heiress with a considerable sum attached to her. This however brings little attention from the male population in Manhattan, because she is so dull. Every man ignores her or thinks she is the most odious except for one man. This man is forward, lively, exciting, and full of all the best qualities in a man except for money. The father objects to the eventual engagement and knows that he is only after her money. Everything these two men subsequently inflict upon Olivia’s character forces her to grow up and become more hard edge. Her transition is the real gem of the film. She grows subtly more beautiful, her eyes become set and her attitude is warm but distant. Her anger and resentment change her permanently.

There is one scene in particular that I want to highlight. She and her father have just come from a vacation in Europe. He is violently angry, because she refuses to give up this man. He then learns that while he was away with her daughter, the young man came by all of the time and kept the aunt company. In fact he had been there right before they came home. He had been treating this house as a private club (where men used to go to socialize, drink alcohol, order sub-par food, gamble and smoke cigars away from their wives). The aunt leaves the room and the father is about to boil over. She prods him and he tells her the most vicious thing that he could ever say: that she isn’t very desirable as a match. She isn’t pretty, she isn’t lively, and she isn’t interesting. Therefore the only thing that would make her desirable to a man who is all of these things is her money. After this speech, she is pushed into a chair by the weight of the comments. Everything he implied over the years were now made plain to her. This is where she starts to change. She has no fear of losing the regard her father had for her now that she learned there never was any. But there is no words that express this change. As an audience member you feel her change. It is the high angle camera shooting squarely on her face. She doesn’t even need to “make a face,” everything is expressed in her eyes. You feel so sorry for what you as an audience member know is coming.

 

Notre Musique

Notre Musique starts out with images of war. Blurry and segmented, all you know that you are inhabiting Hell and that you are watching images of destruction. Images pulled from Nazi propaganda films, documentaries on Vietnam and even science fiction films like Kiss Me Deadly are splashed on the screen while a young woman speaks in hushed tones. You listen to her words and see them translated at the bottom, but you don’t really pay attention to them, because of the striking images on-screen. Is she talking about war or is she talking about herself? Is she reciting a famous work or is it her own diary entry? Although you later realize who is speaking, the difficulty still comes in deciphering what she is saying. So as you enter Purgatory, you are left emotionally raw from the overt violence on-screen and perplexed by the words said on top of them.

Once you move into Purgatory, the film goes into a more natural and conventional narrative. You see Godard listening to a man as he tells him how he came to be a translator. You figure out that they are in Sarajevo and he is giving a talk about images and text. As they journey through war-torn Sarajevo, many haunts of the previous section are recalled by the viewer, but not necessarily shown. During this time, Godard is asked why don’t more humane people start revolutions and Godard responds with humane people don’t start revolutions but they start libraries instead. I thought that was a good quote to introduce the character of a young idealist woman. She is in Sarajevo trying to get people to talk, trying to figure out how to mend her own broken country just like Sarajevo (Bosnia) is trying to do with theirs. She is a Jewish woman living in Israel. As this is set in modern times, you know that Israel is beset with horrible conflicts between Israelites and Palestinians. She talks to several people and each one says different things about the conflict. She documents their conversations and her journey to understand that there is no need for war attacks, no need for property disputes, no need for anything other than peace. She wants to save Israel/Palestine from being anything other than a safe haven for peace. This is set against Godard’s lecture on images or shots and reverse shots. He says that the image of Exodus is the same image as an image of fleeing. A man and a woman are photographed the same way in a Hawks film because Hawks did not see the difference between men and women. And there isn’t any. There isn’t any difference between a Jewish person suffering and a Muslim person suffering. They are suffering that is the end of it.

What happens to the woman is what brings us to Paradise. For Godard Paradise are foliage, woods, and men and women enjoying themselves in natural environments. But military men control even Paradise. You cannot escape it, even in death. She becomes Godard’s Eve by sitting next to a man and sharing an apple. She now knows how Paradise, how death is. She is aware. She is interesting.

This film is quiet in several ways and earth shattering in other ways. The ideas expressed about Israeli Palestinian conflict are intellectually stimulating, but the fate of this young girl is emotionally fulfilling. Something that I have learnt from watching several of Godard’s films is that he is most interesting when he is understated. When he has a concrete message. I only have one more film of his to enjoy before I move on to his companion in the French New Wave, Francois Truffaut. Adieu until then.

Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession

I’ve got a confession to make: I love documentaries about film. Filmmakers, film culture, film art, and film people are subjects dear to my film soaked heart. So when I heard this film talked about on one of the podcasts that I listen to religiously, I had to check it out. I was happy I did.

I am the child of the nineties. For me there was always VHS, DVD, Cable and big box rental places where you can rent two classics for one dollar and keep them for five nights.  It is hard for me to imagine living in the fire pit of America and not having these things in order to survive. So when the obligatory talking heads started talking about their being only one channel in Los Angeles that showed movies all of the time, I couldn’t believe it. (OK  so I could, but it was still a foreign notion for me) So when these people who I recognize from films that they have done (Alexander Payne, Quentin Tarantino, Paul Veerhoven) just rave about something that had literally never been seen before, I began to want to have the experiences that they had. Taping the complete 1900 on two different tapes, writing to the magazine and complaining about the aspect ratio, encountering rarities years and years after they had been lost in the ether, all sounded like some cinephile’s wet dream.  Some cinephile’s wet dream that I never had.

Not only is this film about the film culture and the constant need for new material and rare material, but it is a film about a obssessive man who made this channel one of the most revered channels of all time. This man, Jerry Harvey, started out programming local theaters and transitioned to cable as they came calling. By some miracle, he got creative control over this paid channel and was working out marvelously, at least for a couple of years. He was insane about film. He wanted to see every good film out there and his passion is palpable in the many ways he put together the programming. He didn’t just want to show important “art” films, but wanted to show lost films, unfairly treated films, mainstream films, foreign films, exploitation films, and every other type of film out there. Just as long as had some artistic merit, he wanted to program it. He also decided to put together a magazine that highlighted the films showing during that month and give some criticism of them. This combination had never really been successful in the way it was for Z Channel. But of course every story of triumph has an ending that is just as sad. Mr. Harvey was a deeply disturbed man who experienced his two sisters committing suicide and had manic depression. As the cable channel was being swallowed whole by HBO and Showtime’s tactics of bullying, he shot his wife and then himself for seemingly no reason.

What I liked about this film is that it didn’t shy away from this awful truth about this man who helped so many filmmakers have their films shown and inspire so many others. At the beginning you are hit with a news report the day after it happened. Each person who knew him intimately talked about how depressed he was and how much his job defined him. He loved film and he loved programming this channel. At one point one of the people who knew him said how much he hated Mr. Harvey after he committed this unspeakable tragedy. He was angry that a man he knew so well would ever think  that was a good thing to do. It is sad and compelling at the same time.

At the heart of this film, it is about film. The filmmakers show clips of several different films that inspired Mr. Harvey and the community of filmmakers that united around him. It is tragic that he had to go out the way he did, but he left behind a memory and a legacy that continues to live on in many people’s minds. I wonder what would have happened if he had lived…

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

The first anti-war film ever made, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is an interesting film to see. Following a young man from Argentina who moves to France with his family, he becomes a philanderer and courts married women. He spends too much money, has too much sex, and drinks too much booze, but he is still a sympathetic character. This might be because this young man was played by Rudolph Valentino in his first break out role. He flashes a smile, holds a young woman just so and dances the tango with such finesse that it is hard to not fall in love with him. I have written about him previously, but I think he is a fascinating figure to go back to again and again. He brings a lightness to such heavy material that it makes the film actually watchable.

A tumultuous affair with one of his father’s friends, forces this young man to go to war in order to get away from the heat. This is where the film feels bogged down. It switches from the small story of this family struggling to gain the fortune of the patriarch in Argentina, failing and moving to France, and then becoming debaucheries into an epic film with Biblical allegories and big set pieces. It feels heavy-handed to say the least, but can’t that be said about a lot of overtly anti-war films?

Watch this film for Rudolph Valentino dancing the tango (a craze he made popular in the twenties and what earned him the nickname of the Latin Lover) and romancing across the countries. Also watch the film for one scene that showcases German excess: it involves men dressed up as women also one of the earliest instances of this committed to film.

The Devils

Ken Russell and I have a complicated history. I watched Tommy on cable when I was but an innocent Catholic girl with my father and it sort of scared me for life. I just couldn’t understand why this musical was so different from all of the other musicals that I had seen and been in. Why were these people treating a statue of Marilyn Monroe as some sort of deity with healing powers? Why were the Who constantly singing about this deaf and dumb pinball machine champ? I had so many questions that my father refused to answer. I was so confused. It made me angry. At the time I thought I knew what was entertaining and what wasn’t and my father and I usually agreed on most things. So why did he like this film so much? Why didn’t he turn the channel when the weirdest things on-screen came on? I still haven’t figured these questions out because I have not revisited this film yet. I think that I need to be a little more versed in Russell before I do. So instead I decided to check out another one of his most controversial films, The Devils.

About a French town during the witch trials, this film is weird but in the best way possible. A priest has sex with many young girls and justifies his actions by stating that Jesus never said that his apostles had to be celibate. A nun with a hump and a vicious sense of humor accuses this priest of inhabiting the devil and tempting her. An exorcism expert comes dressed in a sleeveless gown and thick gloves and in order tortures everyone in sight. He accuses people left and right of people having the devil inside of him, but he never really knows. This priest first seen as a despicable person becomes a martyr when he admits his vanity and pride, but refuses to admit to anything he hasn’t done. He is charismatic and well spoken but it doesn’t really matter in the end. The odds are staked up against him. This is all because one person wants to demolish the walls to this town. Pretty foolish.

The look of the film is delightfully askew. People dress in period clothing only to the point that the person betrayed is flattered by it. Russell gleefully breaks period when it doesn’t suit his needs like in the set design. It looks more like a Mesopotamian town than a French one. The walls are high and sandblasted white. The nunnery is more of a prison than it usually looks, the priest chambers is decorated more like a Roman villa from the early civilizations than that period.

Vanessa Redgrave is the nun with the hump. She is deliciously broken and slightly evil that it is awesome to see her on-screen. She has this laugh that is blood curdling and her temper rages with such a vengeance that it only seems right that she will accuse the one man she loves of witch craft. Oliver Reed’s voice lends itself to bombastic speeches, but not so much to the more intimate scenes between his wife (yes a priest marries in this film) and the woman he impregnated. He always seems to be removed which may have been on purpose.

This film is an interesting take on this time of plague, religious zealousness, extravagance, and radical ideas. One that will not easily leave your mind.

Drive

Like I said a week ago with my review of the Artist, it is hard to avoid Oscar buzz, commentaries, and analysis. I will not debate with anyone what the significance that the Oscars holds on the movie industry, but at the end of the day only my opinion matters (at least to myself). I thought that Drive should have at least have been nominated for best picture, best direction and best supporting actors for both Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman. I think this because I loved the film very much. I know that is probably no surprise to you.

Ryan Gosling plays a man who has no real past, no real future and no real personality. All he does is drive and fix cars really well. He is isolated, cut off, and his only friend (the brilliant Bryan Cranston) takes advantage of him at every turn of his wheel. Then he meets a girl. This girl happens to be his neighbor, happens to have a child and happens to be connected with an ex-con who is just getting out of prison. He falls in love with her and with her child and when this man comes back into the woman’s life, he helps him out because of her. His emotions become involved and therefore everything goes wrong.

This film reminded me a lot of Le Samourai, especially the opening scene of him in looking at all of the cars in the garage. The showing of process and the break down of this precious process is what makes this film fascinating. There is a process that the Driver has when pulling off a job, a process to Bryan Cranston negotiating for the Driver, a process to Albert Brooks making sure that he is not connected to anything. It is beautiful.

With Refn you get unflinching violence, sparse language, and atmosphere. This atmosphere was so evocative of L.A. sleeziness it was amazing to learn that he had barely set foot in the town before he started pre-production of the this film. From the sugar sweet soundtrack, the slick roads, the beautiful garage full of muscle cars and the grim that is associated with mechanics, mob people owning a pizza place despite being Jewish, all evoke a time a place and a mentality that this Driver has stepped into and doesn’t seem to belong. Also you get some amazing kill scenes. How Christina Hendricks’ character dies is awesome in only the way that Refn can be awesome.

Although I credit Refn with most of the production, this whole film would have fallen apart if it was dealt to poorer actors. There has been many words inked on the internets about Albert Brooks performance and I agree with all of it. But not much has been said about Ron Perlman. Although he is in a pretty minor role, he pulled off gruff paradoxes the only way he can. A Jew owning a pizza joint, stealing from his own people and framing various people for it, pursuing this man with a vengeance that looking at his face would never betray is all really interesting. Carey Mulligan as the young woman who the Driver falls in love with portrays tenderness in so little words that any other actor (like a Keira Knightly for instance) would have failed at. Ryan Gosling I hate to admit I really liked in this role. His expressions from the beginning only changed slightly to denote his changing feelings and yet you understood how he felt at every turn. He is like Alain Delon in Le Samourai, cold and stolid yet unbearingly sad.

Refn’s films are not for everyone and this film is a strong testament to this statement. However if you like the films I do and you like reading my reviews then you will probably love this film with all of your heart just like I do. The Oscars can go screw themselves.