Tag Archives: gangsters

Drive: New and Interesting Filmmaking

I had heard good things about Drive from my film major friends in college before I found this on Netflix. I was hesitant at first, (most kids at my college in the film department have very particular ideas of what good films are. I like what is considered not so good of a film.) but gave it a shot. My girlfriend fell asleep about 20 minutes in (she was tired from work) but I sat up enraptured in what unfolded before me in this film. In a whole new way, Nicolas Winding Refn created a film you wouldn’t normally see ever.

So there’s Ryan Gosling playing The Driver, a quiet and modest stunt driver who has grown up in L.A. on cars. (This is based on James Sallis’ novel, Drive.) Securing Hollywood stunt driver jobs through his friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston of Malcolm in the Middle and Breaking Bad), we see a film about Hollywood within L.A.’s

A reserved driver with pimpin gloves.

Hollywood. Directed by a Danish director, we gain this insight from a foreigner’s perspective in a unique way of directing and cinematography. But, more importantly, this film has got some major production value on it with all the researching and immersed creation that came with it between Refn and Gosling. I was impressed.

A tragically beautiful mother.

So The Driver meets Irene (Carey Mulligan) a tragic and beautiful single mother with a husband in jail. They have a solemn and quiet love affair (no sex or anything like that, Refn didn’t want to waste film time on showing anything related to love… I think…) the two connect. The Driver wants to protect Irene and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos). And then her husband Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac) comes back. Getting involved with the wrong people, gangsters on all sides, The Driver has to navigate a world he’s only seen in the movies. And, being a stunt actor in a movie, he’s prepared to make the leap. With a car.

I really liked all the characters in this movie. Plain and simple. I loved Oscar Isaac’s small role in the film. He comes off as this dangerous and irritated character that has a sneaking suspicion at all times. (He reminded me of his twisted

Gotta love Oscar Isaac.

performance in Sucker Punch.) Bryan Cranston played a great broken man in this film who’s trying to look out for others but becomes collateral damage. Ron Perlman was finally given a chance to do a spectacular movie that gave him great lines and a menacing character in this one as well. Looks like Hellboy’s becoming more devilish… And

All of the violence.

one of the standout performances, other than Ryan Gosling, comes from Albert Brooks, voice of Nemo’s dad in Finding Nemo. To hear that voice on such a wicked character was chilling.

But there were a lot of interesting elements in the creation of this movie. The script is about 80 pages, but most of it must have been camera direction and actions, because I would say there’s less than 5 to 10 typed pages of dialogue in the whole film. Ryan Gosling plays such a reserved and quiet character that he never really needs to speak, only act (just like a hired driver would). The first sequence in the film when Gosling is driving the two robbers to their destination was well planned out and quite poetic in its feel and delivery. No dialogue, no need for speech, only action.

Without much dialogue, the film had this feel of tension throughout. You feel tension in the relationships, in the way the business is conducted. And then you get the gunshots. Every once in a while in the film the action builds to this ridiculously tense crescendo where something has to happen. Almost like a jumpy

Spectacular.

scene in a horror movie. And wow, after that first gunshot in the movie, this film really pops off (pun intended). But then it returns to a tension filled lull (still not much dialogue) and you’re just waiting for the next powder keg laden with the straw that broke the camel’s back. It’s agonizing at the same time that it’s so damn interesting!

You get great performances with a great premise delivered more with action than with speech. It’s a unique style you never really see, and I’m glad this did well at film festivals. This reminds me, and I don’t know why, but it makes me wanna watch Refn’s other work, most notably Val Halla Rising, which is now on Netflix. Next review here I come! But Drive is a wonderful film. Superb in all its unusual aspects. 9.5 out of 10.

 

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Baccano!: You Just Have to Watch it.

I’m going to say as little as I possibly can about this show while trying to talk about this show and how interesting it was for me. Also, in this review, I’m going to attempt to talk about characters in such a vague way that I don’t reveal anything about the plot and just encourage you to watch the show. Impossible task? Challenge accepted.

This is an anime set in the Prohibition Era of America in the early 1900’s. There is an element of magic and mystery that intertwines itself in this show so that you have to accept what’s possible with the impossible. There are gangsters, and, orignally, magicians (of  a sort). The characters range from the mentally unstable to the kind and thoughtful. With inspiration from the film, The Untouchables, the gangster and his New York accent come to life in the world of the speakeasies.

There are a lot of characters...

When you first begin to watch this show, you may become frustrated. A lot of characters and events are thrown at you all at once. Told from so many perspectives, it can become overwhelming in the first couple of episodes. But have patience. In a nonlinear plotline that comes together in pieces, this show was ingeniously crafted to have the characters drive the story until the plot becomes clear. Just remember when watching that the Flying Pussyfoot (really don’t like the name though) is the central event of the series. Things occurring on the train, for the most part, are happening in the real time (I think…) while all other events of the early 1930s are flashbacks, or maybe even flashforwards. Still not entirely sure. It’s a show worth watching through more than once.

 

What's going on?

With all the gangster families, it can become hard to determine just exactly who is who and who did what and who is wanted for what purpose. With all the accents and the strange character names, (Jacuzzi Splot. Enough said.) with three different gangster mafioso families going on at once (the Gandors, the Genoards, and the Martillos) including Jacuzzi’s gang and the Russo family, toss in Isaac and Miria, and you have a lot of chaos all at once. Nothing is as it seems and nothing seems to make much sense in the Baccano! world. It’s all about the ending payoff.

A few noteworthy voice actors in the dubbed version to speak of. You have to start with Isaac Dian and Miria Harvent. J. Michael Tatum and Caitlin Glass

Isaac and Miria. Best.

really branch their talents to their extremes with two ridiculous thieves with no care in the world and no idea what’s going on. John Burgmeier puts on an English accent as a character I can’t reveal (sorry). And R. Bruce Elliott places a mean old Russian bastard who is actually a terribly villainous magician. Joel McDonald in a surprisingly heartfelt performance gets his Brooklyn on as Jacuzzi and Nice, his eye-patched love interest and crime partner is nicely done by Colleen Clinkenbeard. Throw in a Frenchman in jail and you have the wide ranging and seductive talents of Eric Vale.  Throw in Todd Haberkorn and his always likeable goofy characters and you have a Baccano! cast.

I love this man so much.

But, I could never forget the big standout in the show. In a very underrated voice actor comes one of the best performances of his career. Ladd Russo, a highly skilled and highly delusional killer is voiced by Bryan Massey. His questioning and highly energetic character from My Bride is a Mermaid, Shark, returns as another kind of inhuman being. Ladd is vulgar, he is brutal, and he is one of the most likeable and sinister characters in the series. Any guy who can walk into a room and say, “I like you! F%*k you!” deserves respect.

Let's get to pokin'.

And for the rest, AKA the amazing plot, you have to watch it for yourself. In the same vein of shows as Durarara! (interesting, both are marked with exclamation points…) comes a character driven show with a great payoff. Watch it for the characters and voice acting. Watch it for the interesting non-linear plot. Watch it just to watch it. It’s well worth a shot. You just might find what you’re looking for in a show in this 16 episode anime, Baccano!