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Why Drive will be the movie that is remembered in years to come

Film Noir is a genre of “life in the shadows” movies that became popular in America during
the uncertain times of World War II.  Westerns have remained a shorthand for the American
psyche with their sullen outsiders with a personal code of honor bucking the system.  
Samurai films mirror the lone avenger protagonist, but set against a longing for a lost
society of incorruptible values. Now and again a notable contemporary noir or western or
samurai film emerges with little fanfare amidst all the commercial cacophony of the louder,
bolder, more spectacular action films that rule today’s box office.  One such gem of film
blending all three genres flashed out of the shadows briefly in 2011.  It’s called “Drive”
and I think it is the greatest artistic achievement of the past year.

Sometimes the poster art for a movie tells it all

The artworks for the two or three “Drive” posters show the eyes of a man looking in the rearview
mirror or a young man’s back clothed in a flashy motorcycle jacket emblazoned with a scorpion
design. Got it. I looked forward to a cool stunts-filled chase movie. What I got was something
far more.  Because sometimes the movie’ poster is more than a tease – sometimes the poster indicates
a portal to be passed through – in this case into the darkness and pain that drives one man’s bleak
existence, and into the deep recesses of memory and loss and flickering hope that serve as the “drive”
to all our lives.  The word drive on the poster had a different definition than the one you presumed
as you walked into the theatre. “Drive” captures the desire to find life worth living in even the
direst circumstances like no other recent film I can quickly bring to mind.

Drive Poster: Albert Brooks by LCDModesty Drive poster by billpyle:thumb272090179:

While “Drive” might be likened to recent paeans to nihilistic violence as a response to our
stagnating, stupefying times – films such as “American Psycho” and “Fight Club” – it has a real
core humanity and heart missing from those stylishly cynical films.  Where those films seek to
shock, “Drive” and the Driver himself simply seeks to survive, to find a way out, to live. There
is the already “instant classic” “scene in the elevator” that perfectly arcs from the fatalistic
melancholy of a doomed romantic love to the most brutal violence so brilliantly fitting that you
will never get it out of your head. It is the pivot encapsulating the soul of the film that is
both so beautiful and yet so horrible that it blows away any single scene of any other movie shot
recently.  Talk about your “zero to sixty in under four seconds”...

The Driver by ~Bilou020285

“The Driver” has no name in the film...

Being perhaps emblematic of a force of nature just trying to
keep pushing forward.  The character, played with effective understatement by Ryan Gosling, evokes
the silent hero who does not volunteer; his valor is in “sticking” despite danger, or in returning
to protect innocents or comrades in harm’s way – very much like Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name”
in Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns or Han Solo in “Star Wars”.  There is a moral code underneath
all of that pain driven by a reverence in protection of the innocent rather than the usual imperative
of self interest.

Director Nicolas Refn frames the scenes of the story in a detached “observational” manner that makes them even
more starkly effective than any standard gritty “shaky-cam” treatment might achieve.  His forensic POV calls
to mind such Stanley Kubrick classics as “The Killing” and “A Clockwork Orange”. The ability to adapt stories
from exceptional original source material, like James Sallis’s novella, is an art seemingly becoming lost with
so many of today's high-power directors shooting their own original screenplays. It as much a talent to be able to
“illuminate” an already great work of art to produce an equally or possibly even greater work of art as it is
to be an auteur of a singular vision.  I hope Refn goes on to be our next Kubrick and decides to frame the
greatest novels of our time.  Judging by this, he has a real shot.

The other unexpectedly magical ingredient running through this is film is the Bernie Rose character played by
Albert Brooks.  He is brilliantly portrayed as a monster who’s self awareness of the banality of his day to day
necessary cruelties has long since numbed him to taking any pleasure in being a gangster.  He expresses not so much
as even a glimmer of self-satisfaction in the expert efficiency with which he eliminates human obstacles.   The
scene in which he suddenly slices open the arm of a long time associate, then immediately, gently reassures his
victim that the worst is over and there would be no more pain in his imminent death aptly illustrates the boredom
of a killer long overdue for retirement.

Actor Gosling, screenwriter Hossein Amini and director Refn have managed to inject passion into a brilliant yet purposely
airless novella in such a way as to create a film burning from end to end with a compressed fire to light the darkest noir.  
It is remarkable on every level. It will be initially lost amidst the crush of “bigger” entries.  It is also destined to be one
of those movies that is “rediscovered” again and again, generation after generation, for years to come.

deviantART Film Community —

Invitation to a conversation for 2012

This article is also a call to the Film community here on dA to ask for your thoughts, input, and opinions on what types
of subject matter and articles you would like to see me focus on this year.  I am going to begin with a feature dedicated
to Movie poster artists here on dA as a first step but I would love to hear feedback on where to take it from there.  Are
there any deviants in the Film community that you feel I must interview as soon as possible?

Questions for the Reader:

  1. Which do you think is more important: the technical action sequences and general art design of a film? the quality of the writing, direction and acting? or the vision of “human truth” interwoven with the plot and action?
  2. Do you like it when “action films” turn out to have a powerful dramatic “message” as well?  Or do you think this is an unnecessary distraction from what should be sheer “meaningless” entertainment?
  3. What are the “action” films you watched just to have some fun – but were unexpectedly greatly moved by, emotionally or intellectually?
  4. What were your favorite films of 2011?

Add a Comment:
mockingbirdontree Featured By Owner Sep 16, 2015
Sorry, never seen this movie, but I will watch it.
SpacemanFront Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2012  Student General Artist
I loved Drive. It was hands down one of the best films of 2011. The soundtrack was great and to top it all off, the budget for the film was very low. Blew me away!
darubio Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2012  Professional Filmographer
watching this film for the 3rd time
NeRrOo Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Jean--Franco Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I saw the movie because of this article and I must say the movie It's a complete shit. The story it's really stupid, the stereotypes are disturbing and the soundtrack is nothing more than a "Neon Indian" indie band doing his stuff. To reach those concepts that you talk in the article it's Taxi Driver... But this... this... attempt of deep-gore-action-romantic-shit is nothing more than a bad idea well filmed... nothing more...

Thank you for making me lose two hours of my life...

About the questions:

1) the quality of the writing, direction and acting
2) I like it when “action films” turn out to have a powerful dramatic “message” as well. I think to reach that point it's a real challenge to the director.
3) Movies of Tekshi Kitano
Designerkimo Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012
what's that!!![link]
deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
nachuuu Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012
the soundtrack is awesome
MarcusFenixDown Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Very cool movie
SwiftLegend Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012  Student Filmographer
The assessment of the film is spot on. I am a car guy and have a sense of honor few do anymore and this film is my top 5 of all time for me. An instant classic with an amazing soundtrack so fitting.
tmaldo33 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
i agree this is a classic. right away i identified myself with ryans character, i 2 am a loner at heart and speak very little. this movie will always b 1 of my most treasured in my collection. cant wait 2 recieve it next week.
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
brynjones Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
tears no fears
Nsns33 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012  Hobbyist Interface Designer
amazing !
great job *claps*
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Thanks. Glad you enjoyed the article.
gnbman Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
I think the artistic side of movie making is more important because, like in graphic design, even if something is technically perfect, it may not be appealing.

I like when movies surprise me. I recently watched "Wanted," which my brother said was great, but I thought was just another generic action movie. It turned out to be a highly unique and engaging action thriller.

My favorite 2011 movies were Deathly Hallows Part 2 and the Marvel movies.
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
I also enjoyed those films. What do you think of the Marvel Knights productions that will be hitting the theaters over the next year?
gnbman Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
The only one I know of is the Ghost Rider sequel. I actually like the original, so I'm looking forward to the new one.
Eastby Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012
Best new movie I've seen this year, with great design and an awesome soundtrack too
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
gemmaharris Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012
love it awesome :D
BrFX Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Student Digital Artist
freekin awesome movie
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Yes it was. Glad you enjoyed the article.
isdira Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I think "Warrior" was surprisingly emotional for an action movie. I didn't look up the plot before I went to see it so I was completely surprised by the way it turned out
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Warrior was also one of my favorites this year.
swatches-of-puRple Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I must be the only one who did not like Drive in the entire universe. Still, I wouldn't mind reading more of this! :D
Redmist81 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012
You're not alone. I agree w/much of the article above in terms of it's artistic endeavors. Stylish? Yes. Dope music? Check. Does Gosling always play stoic guys alot and thus well? Another check. But me thinks it a bit over-rated. The love or rather, yearn-for- normalcy "love" story was interesting but alas, blah. Still, silent shots of the characters IMO(I didn't study film) was supposed to convey emotion sans words. With this movie it becomes overused and gratuitous.
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
I have spoken with many who would agree with your point of view. My love for the film is also rooted in the fact that having read the Sallis novella, I thought it was one of the best adaptations in years.
soulofsinners Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Student Filmographer
owo whoa awesome now you make me watch movie
GoldenSagittarii Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Professional General Artist
Having seen the movie the last year, here are my thoughs:

1. As an artist to heart, the first thing that draws my interest is the general art design. If the design of a movie is interesting and carries a fresh approach I will want to see it. And in this case it does not really matter what the main subject is. Although I do have clear favorite subjects of my own...

After the conceptual design, what draws me in further the quality of the characters in the movie. Some of my favorite movies don`t have a lot of "punch" to it - while some have aplenty - but what I am trying to say here is, underneath the main theme are the underlying subtle notes. These can be background, character touches, the way a line is delivered, etc. Action makes a great impact, of course, but that won`t be the artist in me the only one to like it, the spectator in me will speak loudly too. But all those factors contribute to a great film in the end.

2. I totally believe that some underlying message adds something to the action. Behind the action there is always a story to tell and a lesson to learn.

3. Immortals and Pirates 4. It was basically a childhood trip to some of my favorite kind of stories that I never actually stopped enjoying.

4.Meek’s Cutoff
Pirates 4
lewton6 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
great job!
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Thanks, glad you enjoyed the article.
b-law Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012
This was definitely one of my favorite movies this year, I'm so glad its getting all this attention (of course not from the Academy...)

1. This is hard because I believe all those factors should work together to create a great movie, but if I had to choose one that I could not go without, it would be the overall direction and acting. I've seen plenty of low-budget/indie movies where there was not a whole lot of money to make it look as beautiful as say, Drive, but the heart was there and the story/direction/acting was good enough to keep me engaged.

2. I enjoy when "action" movies turn out to be holding onto a message or concept. I don't think its distracting and if its done well it can make the movie-going experience more rewarding and the entire story more satisfying.

3. I'm having a little difficulty thinking of any off the top of my head. But I mean, movies like The Crazies or Contagion are always marketing as horror, and they usually touch upon the idea of how quickly we can lose our humanity in epidemic situations.

4. My favorite films of this year were: Hanna, Drive, Take Shelter, and Shame.
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Can you believe Drive did not make the top ten for best picture?

I love the films you brought up here and I couldn't agree more with your answer to question #2.
teyoliia Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
to be honest, i have never ever heard of that movie before. O_o'
but it sounds interesting. i'll check it out. :D
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
It was just released last week to DVD, onDemand, Netflix, etc. Let us know your thoughts if you find the time to screen it.
kevin2407 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
1: Well, if you decide to make a full-on action movie, you should put some work into the action scenes, camera, sound and special effects. Otherwise I think the writing, direction, acting and also the music is what makes a good movie good. I really don't care too much for symbolism and deep meanings. If I get a good feeling or am moved in some way by the movie it has served it's purpose to me.

2 and 3: No, I really don't think they should bother putting moral messages in action movies (seeing they usually kill lots of people, which just doesn't seem to match) that are just made for the action. Movies like Shoot 'Em Up, Blade or any Steven Seagal movie for example, I just watch for the action, and I really enjoy watching them too (maybe not the Seagal ones). If they'd stuff them full with moral and ethic that would just be silly.

4: Not a great movie year this year...
1. Black Swan (was released in 2011 in Sweden)
2. The Help
3. Limitless
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
5. Anything but that worthless piece of...: "Tree of Life"
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
People keep telling me I need to see Limitless. Thank you for your comment.
beautifulyuki Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012
Awesome article, sir! (And nice looking one, too, ML!) I've yet to watch Drive, but I hope to watch it soon. There was a great tribute animation short that was cool to watch - [link]

1&2: As an avid movie-watcher, I love films for various reasons and the same would be said for action films. I'll appreciate them for what they're worth, but they should have, at the very least, intense "action" sequences - sound camera movement, good sound and visual effects. It's an added bonus when they have descent plot lines or artistic merit to them. It's nice to see the protagonist having internal struggles with the life they were born into vs. the life they chose, moral conflicts, etc, but I feel there are few films that have balanced that well.

3. Renaissance. It's more animation action, but I enjoyed the story, it was beautiful to watch, and awesome action sequences. Blade Runner, of course. Loved Minority Report for its futuristic insights, story, special effects and, again, beautiful to watch. I'm also a huge fan of the Die Hard series and I'll watch the Bourne Identity series. Xmen is good, too. I'll watch the hokey Michael Mann blowing-stuff-up, all comic films or kid action films, too. Like I said, I appreciate them for different reasons.

4. The Artist. Not an action film, but I was amazed at how enjoyable a black and white talkie could be! [**mini spoiler alert**] It was the moment they chose to use color and sound to show his dying career was just amazing. As for action, I can't remember any 2011 action films that I saw. Green Lantern, Sherlock Holmes, which was okay. I probably saw something with Jason Statham in it. I like his films, as well, even though I might not be able to tell them apart. :)
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
I loved that short "Drive" inspired animation. I can't thank you enough for bringing that to everyone's attention. I actually sent those two filmmakers an email after I watched it.

Are you referring to the Crank films when mentioning Jason Statham.

I have yet to see the Artist but I am trying to find some time tomorrow.

Let us know what you thought of Drive!
beautifulyuki Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2012
No problem! Let me know if anything sparks from your email to them.

I don't even think the Jason Statham films are related - nonetheless, I still love the guy. :)

Will do, indeed!
RockenRolla17 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Student General Artist
nice! :D
TheBebopman Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Drive was seriously amazing. My bro recommended it to me for the 80's style music and sheer awesomeness of Ryan Gosling.

As far as the questions:
1- All of the above. You can't separate those pieces in to which is more important in a medium like film, they all must work together or the whole of the experience is
lessened. It all depends on what the goal of the film-maker is. Maybe a director doesn't have a deep message to convey and only wants to blow stuff up and stun the audience with effects (Looking at you Michael Bay) or because of the message and meaning he's trying to get across lets writing quality slide (Looking at you George Lucas with your awful episodes 1-3) or perhaps they get too wrapped up in both the acting and message and the film becomes a long drawn out 'art peice' which fails to hold our interest and attention because its pacing is too slow or the action involved is too few and far between (Looking at Mad Max here, a good example of what's considered a classic film but very slow and for the most part a boring failure if you weren't predisposed to be intrigued by the undertones.

2- Depends. Honestly I think any film that tricks people into feeling the dramatic message if they initially only wanted to watch it for the blood and guts, did a good
job. Then there are films that don't even try though, its all about the action. On the whole though I think most people can identify better with a plot or a character that is fighting FOR something, and specifically something positive. Not a revenge story or a survival story necessarily but action in the name of that deeper ideal that the character(s) defend. Book of Eli, is an excellent example. Its got a message from the start though so it might not fit into the pure action genre despite the fair amount of violence and blood. Legion, might be better. That for the most part is all action and for a fairly straightforward reason, until the two angels confront each other at the end and it gets into the real message.

3- The most recent one I can think of that really sucked me in was just this last year. Battle: Los Angeles. I wasn't even very interested in it at first, just something
to watch in the background or flip back and forth to while searching for something else. But after the first 10 minutes I couldn't turn it off. It is action all the way, battling across L.A. with aliens. Ridiculous when you think about it. But damn did they do an excellent job. I was emotionally involved for the whole film.

4- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The Adjustment Bureau
Battle: Los Angeles
Sucker Punch
The Beaver
X-Men: First Class
Bad Teacher
Super 8
The Rum Diary and of course
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Excellent point about the Mad Max films. As far as Revenge and Survival films go I would highly recommend checking out "the Descent". It's excellent work within that genre.

Thank you for your comment.
RDaggard Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2012
Great article... I consider myself a genre filmmaker with a deep fondness for all three of those genres (noire/western/samurai) and as soon as the Driver sat at the table with the woman, man and boy I thought "oh my god... this is SHANE!" haha. I love that story. The mysterious loner with a past who comes into ordinary peoples lives and somehow makes a difference then moves on. It's Yojimbo. It's Shane. And now it's Drive. To answer your questions...

1.Which do you think is more important: the technical action sequences and general art design of a film? the quality of the writing, direction and acting? or the vision of “human truth” interwoven with the plot and action?

Ideally all three of those suit me, but you rarely find them all in one film. The script can be amazing but if the actors aren't up to it the film will suffer. Action needs to a) have an original twist to it OR b) comes form a place within the character and be a part of their development for me to care. If the story has human truths and the actor can perform those truths visually, then that's most of the work done imo.

2.Do you like it when “action films” turn out to have a powerful dramatic “message” as well? Or do you think this is an unnecessary distraction from what should be sheer “meaningless” entertainment?

I love it. Because action films needn't be mindless with explosions in ever scene. Take Die Hard, one of the great action films. Why? Thrilling suspense. Sly humour. And a little humanity. it's an action film but it takes the audience on a journey with a reluctant hero. You feel every obstacle John encounters. You're there with him. It's not mindless. Those are the best action films, the ones that connect with you on a more human level. Then the action becomes part of the character, and not just part of the film.

3.What are the “action” films you watched just to have some fun – but were unexpectedly greatly moved by, emotionally or intellectually?

Inception comes to mind. I was expecting a sci-fi Matrix-like mind-bender and I got that, but the human story - the story about a man atoning for a past sin, letting go of his lost love, forgiving himself... that grounded the action for me and an unexpected way, made everything more intense and more personal.

4.What were your favorite films of 2011?

Drive :) Hanna was great. The Trip was funny. Hobo With A Shotgun was pure guilty pleasure - total Grindhouse and I loved it. The King's Speech was affecting with it's performances. X-Men First Class had some class to it for a superhero film. Red State surprised me coming from Kevin Smith. And Captain America nailed the tone and had a solid script.
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Loved your opening paragraph. I agree with any of the points you have brought up here.

Hobo With A Shotgun and Hanna are two films many people are telling me I need to see.

Please upload some of your films to your page. I would love to see them.
cityofthesouth Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2012
yeah that's odd because I actually went into it wanting it to be what you're talking about ... and didn't feel it. What a list of movies someone posted for candidates of 2011 ... bad year for movies if that list is representative. Movies are getting worse and good ones, fewer and farther between.
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
I couldn't agree more about the movies getting worse. Let's hope 2012 is a better year than last year.
cityofthesouth Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2012
I think it will be ... I have hopes anyway. Batman, 007 (I think 2012) plus I've already seen Contraband and Haywire and I liked them both pretty well. Not perfect, not amazing, but I still liked them.
YourFakePlasticLove Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2012
Thank you, for this great review - Drive is sadly and outrageously underrated! It was my favourite film in 2011 by far - and I watch A LOT of movies, occupationally.
(I'll make sure to come back and answer the readers questions more adequately, but now it's far to late and my thoughts are warbled.)
techgnotic Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012
Your welcome, glad you enjoyed the article and that you are a fellow "Drive" aficionado. What else would you recommend besides Drive from 2011?
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