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Entries in Drive (31)

Tuesday
Sep202011

Christina Hendricks on "Drive", Acting During Car Chases and That Scene

Michael C. here. I missed Margo Martindale's work on Justified, but judging by the response to her Emmy win, and by the consistently stellar level of her work, the award was no doubt well-deserved. All the same, it was hard not to mutter a curse under your breath when a name other than Christina Hendricks was called out. For four seasons on Mad Men Hendricks has been the epitome of a what a great supporting performance can accomplish. Her nuanced, deeply felt performance as Joan Holloway prevented the character from being the period caricature it could have been in lesser hands, and raised the bar for the rest of the show.

Christina Hendricks as "Blanche" in DRIVE (2011)

Now with Drive, in the small but crucial role of Blanche, Hendricks is taking that skill for finding the heart underneath flashy surfaces to the big screen. I got to chat with Hendricks recently at a press event where she arrived bright and enthusiastic fresh from the set of Mad Men. Here are some of the highlights from the event where I was able to get a few questions in:

On her confrontation with Ryan Gosling…

Christina Hendricks: We shot that very intense scene the very first day of shooting. None of really knew each other, and we were in this hundred degree creepy little hotel room. And so Nicolas came up to us and said, “I’m the kind of director - I will shoot and shoot and shoot until you tell me not to shoot. So be vocal with me and let me know if you feel comfortable with what we’ve already got” No director ever does this. It’s really a nice thing to hear.

He was just very collaborative and very understanding; because it was really intense stuff we were shooting. And because I really didn’t know Ryan yet, it was this very real feeling of fear in this very uncomfortable hot room. So it was intense to shoot, but I think it lead to a successful scene. We all got to know each other by the end of the day [laughs] All sweating together.

Michael: How much of that intensity were you ready for and how much did you experience for the first time on the day?

Christina Hendricks: I think the night before we rehearsed it so we could get the blocking down but we didn’t rehearse it emotionally. We knew where we were going to be standing. Cause we knew it was going to be a long day and we knew it was going to be hard with the entire crew in there. So we all got together the night before and said, “We’ll walk here and here and then you’ll go down and the money bag will be here.” So I wasn’t quite ready for this strong leather glove on my face and I remember my heart being like “Ba-boom! Ba-boom!” He [Gosling] is such an extraordinary actor it felt real and very much in the moment. We did that scene over and over and over, so I was an emotional wreck by the end of the day. I was crying for twelve hours straight.

Michael: It comes across. Just watching it is draining.

Christina Hendricks: It was heavy. Nicolas would be like, “Can you do one more?” and I would be like “[gasping sobs] Hold on.” And Ryan was like, “Who are you? How can you keep doing this?”

 On choosing Drive...

Christina Hendricks: I choose a project based on who’s involved and my faith in them and the script and the rest you just let go. I’d seen Nicolas’s film Bronson before we met and I was so impressed by it and so excited by it that I was like, “This guy’s going to do something cool." The end result was kind of what I imagined he would do. It was stylish and rich in color and scary and heartfelt and all these different things that I knew that he would do. I had a lot of confidence in him.

(From this point forward we could not avoid getting into SPOILERS -so read on if you've seen the movie)

Click to read more ...

Sunday
Sep182011

Review: The Self Possession of "Drive"

There's 100,000 streets. You don't need to know the route."

The Driver is alone in a hotel room. Looking out over the city at night, negotiating on a cel phone he'll abandon immediately. We never learn his name. We don't need to know it.

His face is Ryan Gosling's, but even so it's a less familiar landscape than you'd think. With Drive, the actor erases any doubts (were there any?) that he's the most exciting young movie star on this side of the Atlantic. For the driver, his face has taken on a new mask-like stillness which twice in Nicolas Winding Refn's brilliant new movie, is covered (redundantly) by an actual mask. There is no knowing this driver; if we were given his name we'd forget it anyway or doubt its authenticity. Even the underscore, a brilliantly retro synth score, that memorably features Kavinksy's "Nightcall" just as we're being introduced keeps us at a certain remove, a hypnotized female voice singing "There's something inside you. It's hard to explain." Indeed.

To summarize the plot of Drive would immediately reduce it to a standard nihilistic noir or crime drama. If you must know -- though I hope you've already seen it because it's best seen cold without knowing the following details -- the driver is a stunt driver for the movies and also a mechanic and also quite willing to be your getaway for crimes. He won't ask questions and you shouldn't either. He just drives. His mechanic boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston, excellent) and his quiet neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan, excellent) and her child Benico (Kaden Leos, also excellent... you'll be sensing a trend here) are the three people in his life that he seems to care for, despite his dangerously self-possessed aura. In the course of Drive, this walking loner archetype is gradually humanized whether through narrative emotional connections or performance choices. Both the neighbor and the boss have troubled histories including people who are Trouble and the driver's very tight social circle is soon forcibly opened by crowbars, shotguns and handshakes. The cast expands to include a wealthy investor/criminal Bernie (Albert Brooks... seeking Oscar), his mouthy colleague Nino (Ron Perlman, delighted to show off) a lesser criminal Cook (James Biberi) and his associate Blanche (Christina Hendricks, memorably put-out in stilettos), and Irene's ex-con husband with the perfect name of "Standard" (Oscar Isaac, just terrific). Needless to say, shit goes down both in and out of cars. Very violent, exquisitely directed shit goes down. 

To Refn and Gosling's credit, the unknowable driver doesn't stay a mere Embodiment of Something (like, say, Javier Bardem in No Country For Old Men) which helps the movie immeasurably. The few times the driver's humanity peaks through, his voice trembling, a flash of fear across his face, or even a moment of tenderness are genuinely unnerving; the untouchable man is touched. Even the stoic loner, who loves only driving and barely speaks, can't escape the violent messy pull of humanity. His choice to dehumanize again, donning the mask a second time, is a genuinely frightening image that I haven't been able to shake since seeing the movie. 

Drive is one of those movies. It makes you think in and of its images. I generally take notes when I watch films though I can't always understand them afterwards, the danger of scribbling in the dark. My notes for Drive... are strange. The standard illegible chicken scratches appear but there are also crude images scribbled in, attempts to capture the movies indelibe compositions, use of color and general mise-en-scene. (I've recreated two of them here for you since my scanner is broken).

I'm not sure why i wrote red all over this one. Stills show that it's more orange.

Drive is just one of those movies, the kind that unfold with such individuality and confidence and sense of possibility that you can almost imagine the celluloid standing up and strutting right past you, knowing full well you're going to turn and look. Yeah, I'm hot shit, it might say, if it weren't so emphatically the strong and silent type. One could argue, as I did with myself on second viewing, that the movie does boast about its own coolness in just this way and too often. If there's something to be said against Drive beyond its nasty nihilism (the extent of the violence is... uneccessary) it's just that. The movie stops in its track a few times and whether or not you're hypnotized (I was absolutely) it's clearly showing off. Let's just say that Nicolas Winding Refn is the most exciting Mad Dane to arrive in the movies since Lars von Trier... and knows it, too.

Though Drive's initial retro impression with the synth score, glistening cityscapes and practically neon hot pink titles immediately is that it's paying homage to the 1980s and Michael Mann, Drive very quickly becomes only its own memorable self. But because it's so emphatically a movie, so possessed by the motion in its pictures  --even its frozen tableaus are alive with suggested movement, promised ugly futures you fear you'll lunge towards without warning -- it can't help but recall the great tradition of cinema's coolest movies.  Leaving the movie the first time (I've already seen it twice) I thought most of Pulp Fiction. Not Pulp Fiction as we know it now -- annoyingly replicated never duplicated -- but Pulp Fiction back when it first took the world by storm; they aren't much alike but for that blast of intoxicating fresh air in the theater. A/A-

Recommended Further Reading
The Film Experience - "People Will Love It Ten Years From Now"
Nick's Flick Picks - a coiled python
Serious Film -"atmosphere. neon glow and moments that hang in the air..."
My New Plaid Pants "Chrissy Hendricks, Stiletto Wobbler
In Contention "the finest layer of B-movie grime that time and money can buy

Have you seen Drive? If so do sound off in the comments. 

Thursday
Sep152011

The Girl With the Drive-By Linkings

Film School Rejects 33 things we learned from David Cronenberg's commentary on The Fly (1986)
Slant Ed Gonzalez unleashes his Prime Time Emmy predictions
Wow Report a funny run in with young actor Logan Lerman
Awards Daily Sasha Stone (aka David Fincher's #1 Fan*) loves loves loves the early footage of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

 

And while we're on the subject have you seen the fun Muppets parody of it's "feel bad" trailer?

Alt Screen on the Gus Van Sant retrospective at MOMI
IndieWire on the director of Norwegian Oscar submission Happy Happy, Anne Sewitsky
Antagony & Ecstasy travels back in time to the gender-flipping anxiety of Mr Mom (1983)
Pink is the New Blog Madonna unleashing a Truth or Dare perfume next year. The Brand ever expands... and if that reminds one person to check out Truth or Dare, it's done the world a service. Best music doc evah.
IndieWire in non-news news Tom Ford has his A Single Man follow up planned but has no intention to make it in the next couple of years ??? I post this only as a reminder of what passes for news on the future-obsessed blogosphere. Let's discuss films that actually exists! Anyone? Anyone? ;) 


Broadway Blog No Way! A Meryl Streep interview from 1977. "I think she's going to be the next Carole Lombard" HEE. Her laugh and breathy intakes are exactly the same 31 years ago. Now go read what Broadway Blog has to say about her.
Cinema Blend more trouble for Netflix. This worries me so. Nobody should wish death on DVD services since Netflix had such a better selection than most services and any service that has more films is good for film buffs. The scarcity of older films is so scary.

Drive I Said
My New Plaid Pants recorded a Q&A with Drive's director Nicolas Winding Refn for you. Go watch it if you got a spare 37 minutes.
Self Styled Siren on Drive. I haven't read this yet because I haven't yet written my review and you shouldn't either unless you've seen the film. But if you have The Siren is always worth a read.

Just for fun
Business Pundit interesting map of the USA that renames states as foreign countries with similar GDP. 

*I mean this in the most endearing way because David Fincher is the man.

Wednesday
Aug242011

Go L*nk Yourself

Gabby Sidibe snapped by Terry Richardson on 08/23/11 at the Our Idiot Brother premiereSome Came Running "The Trouble With Movie Stars" the distraction of stardom in The Tree of Life and other films.
Funny or Die Dave Franco in "Go F*ck Yourself". (I know he's James Franco's brother but he looks to me like the offspring of James Franco f*cking James Marsden.#amiright?)
Awards Daily has some words about Oscar's history with black actresses. This topic is about 200 times as complicated as anyone will ever claim it is but I am horrified to realize that there are still people trying to say that Gabby Sidibe just played herself in Precious. Anyone who has spent more than two seconds watching her on a talk show versus seeing her in Precious would have to be braindead to not notice the difference. Night and day.

Boston Wesley Morris on The Help. I sometimes feel like a fanboy when reading Morris's reviews . He's just great: anecdotal when it benefits the piece, funny without congratulating himself for it, and critical without being mean-spirited; his scalpel is sharp, his hand steady and he never accidentally lops off the joy of movies, while carving a fine point.
New York Times tennis rivalries and Andy Samberg portraying them. Fun!
Form is Void "5 from Dorothy Parker"  
Cineuropa Joachim Trier's Oslo August 31st up for another prize. It seems more and more certain that this will have to be Norway's Oscar submission. 
Film Drunk choice quotes from Ryan Gosling's Esquire profile. 

Look, Helen Mirren arrives at the premiere of The Debt

I'm guessing she makes grown women half her age weep. Look at that bod! She is 66 years old.

Finally... I don't know how I keep missing the big stories but I didn't even know about the eastern Earthquake yesterday until after the fact when people kept asking me if I felt it? Felt what? This is what I tweeted about it.

Speaking of... so then I find it that everyone is talking about Ryan Gosling breaking up a fight here in NYC and I didn't know about that either. I'm in a fog!

Monday
Aug222011

Links: Martha Momoa Malick Moneyball

In Contention has an important addendum to the misleading 'Sean Penn hates The Tree of Life' stories circulating the net.
The Daily Beast It's recently come to my attention that Drew Droege (of "Chloë Sevigny" drag fame) has written musings about playing Chloë and meeting the real icon. She did not throw a drink in his face but kissed him and laughed. Love that.
Little White Lies has an interview with Conan's Jason Momoa in which the actor offers to scare the shit out of the reporter by doing the Haka.

Serious Film "Bridesmaids stands alone" in 2011's box office charts.
Movie|Line remembers Kristen Wiig's supporting bit in Adventureland 

Cinema Blend is Germany next for world traveller Woody Allen's filmography? P.S. Did you hear that Judy Davis joined the cast of his current Rome picture? (Yay)

 

Oooh... new posters for Martha Marcy May Marlene from EW.
Misterioso!

Do you like? John Hawkes eyes peering out on the one to the left are spooking me! Remember how intense his stare was in Winter's Bone? I haven't tried it but those are actual working QR codes on the movie poster -- should take you right to the trailer if you have a QR scanning app on your phone.

Brad Pitt still has magic hair in his late 40s. The shirt is by Alexander McQueen.Scott Feinberg discovers a funny irony in the Drive press notes.
Today Movies on the funny women breakthrough of this, 'The Summer of Raunch'
Fandor gets the great South Korean film Poetry tomorrow, so make sure to watch it. This is a sampling of reviews. I was quite honored to be named a "standout" review, and keeping such fine company.
Michael Musto predicts the Tony nominees for Best Actress in a musical a year in advance. We'd say that's too early but then we'd be huge hypocrites (hello, Oscar fanaticism
New York Magazine on Brad Pitt's Moneyball pitch. He's comparing his character arc, or lack of one (hmm....interesting) to 70s films, explaining that it's a drama about process and his character challenging the way things have always been done.

I thought of The Conversation: How do you tap a phone? Or Thief, with Jimmy Caan: How do you crack a safe? And I saw in it a guy who had an obsessive quality like Popeye Doyle.

I don’t really like big character-arc epiphanies. What I most loved about those seventies films is that the characters were the same at the end as at the beginning. It was the world around them that had shifted."