Tuesday, September 20, 2011

McBone Mini-Reviews; Drive

I was going to use this space to tell you all how much I liked Drive.  You know, like back in the distant past when I used to do movie reviews?  If I had some kind of tricked-out, time-traveling sports car with a stainless steel exterior made by a long defunct manufacturer, I'd revisit those days and say that what I liked most was how purely cinematic the film was, how Danish director Nicholas Winding Refn bucks the conventions of bloated Hollywood, doesn't OD on dialogue or plot and lets images tell a story about a guy who drives.  Channeling the silent era is to be admired in the age of Michael Bay doing to cinema what Olive Garden has done to Italian.

I'd like to go on about how good Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan are at shutting up and expressing themselves with subtle gesture and quiet wit.  I could tell you how terrifying Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman are as second-rate gangster thugs.  And then there's the way Refn gives the flick real style with long takes, synthy songs and a seriously laid-back 'tude.  Not to say Drive is a snoozer--there's real menace behind the hypnotic pace that keeps things moving along.

All that stuff would be terrific to blog about, but what I can't get out of my head is one of the most brutal onscreen killings I've ever seen.  It wasn't really the killing itself that got me as much as the reaction of the crowd.  While my jaw clenched at the sight of savage, execution-style violence, several in the audience erupted in howling laughter.  Mind you, this was not a funny death; this was a very seriously rendered murder.  All around us, young men guffawed as if Inspector Clouseau was tumbling down a flight of stairs.

You can impugn my sense of humor if you like, but I've laughed at movie death before.  Even with splashes of humor here and there, at no point does Drive feel like parody.  The scene in question had all the hilarity of a cancer diagnosis.

So, I don't know whether to be relieved that there remains a shred of sensitivity in my own numbed-down psyche or disturbed by the apparent enthusiasm with which many of us observe violent death.

I get it that it's just a movie, but then is it?  Why do we go to movies, if not for a sense of pathos?   And why do so many of us seem to get worked up about human death when it comes to the unborn or the vegetative?


Drive: 4.5 McBones

Audience response to gruesome death: 0.0 McBones



Cinematheque for All said...


Kid Shay said...

Weird, man. Sometimes I laugh when I'm nervous, but it sounds like this wasn't the case here.