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Entries in Ryan Gosling (55)

Wednesday
Sep212011

Say What Gangsta?

Amuse us. Add a caption or dialogue to this photo in the comments. It's Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone on the set of the crime drama The Gangster Squad (2013) which takes place in the Los Angeles of 1949.

I'll repost later with the winning comment.

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. 

Tuesday
Sep132011

Wooooo(t). It's Link Time.

As you know if you're paying attention (there will be a quiz) I've been offline for 72 hours. GASP! So if some of the following links are GASP 72 hours old, you will forgive. For the record I highly recommend spending 72 hours in a cabin in the woods without internet, tv or cel phones (provided there are no serial killers nearby). Highly relaxing!

Let's catch up with pieces/stories you (by which I mean "I") might have missed! 

The Film Doctor on Contagion and the "die-off" scenario.
Go Fug Yourself succinct funny snappy boring Brangelina
Blog Stage will Broadway actress Mary Farber be a new SNL cast member? 
Towleroad the continuing antics of James Franco. This time painted pink for Woooo mag. 
My New Plaid Pants Kate Winslet... and Elizabeth Taylor 
Natasha VC remember a time via Pauline Kael when Nicolas Cage was sorta wonderful. I saw Moonstruck again recently and it was just ♥♥♥♥... well that's amore!

Empire Online Hugh Grant joins the already gargantuan name cast of Cloud Atlas which, if you'll recall, already has three directors. It sounds like a mess but Empire is feeling hopeful.
Awards Daily on Oscar and sex. Do they really take issue with explicit films? (in short: yes)
IndieWire Remember when I made that brief Oscar prediction about Shailene Woodley in The Descendants and people made fun? Well, her buzz isn't boiling or anything but it is simmering ever since Telluride.
WSJ Asia Scene Deanie Ip (A Simple Life) who just won the Venice Volpi Cup for Best Actress on why she took a long break from acting...

I think nobody wants me, because I’m very difficult.

Towleroad Clint Eastwood kicks off the UnOfficial (but not for long) Armie Hammer Best Supporting Actor campaign for J. Edgar while Hammer boasts of his own chest hair
The Telegraph interviews the ascendant Ryan Gosling

If I'm still acting at 46, I'll be surprised.

Say it ain't so. Of course it isn't. I wish I had kept a spreadsheet of all the alarmist things celebrities have said over the years because no one ever remembers... including me. As I typed this sentence I was about to share this anecdote about what Matt Damon said this one time in a magazine about making ridiculous amounts of money and how that would mean he would... but I've already forgotten what he said he wouldn't do anymore. It was something about quitting or not doing any press. Something silly. Because of course he went on to make gazillions and still works in front of the camera and plays to it in interviews. 

Today's Must See Video
Madonna on the whole silly Venice Film Festival loathing hydranges "story"

There really is nothing better than Madonna with a sense of humor about herself. It's always been her saving grace and if she doesn't locate it as often as she once did, at least it's still there! And it's great timing since she's hitting the publicity circuit with such gusto. Two of my friends/acquaintances, fraquaintances? even interviewed her: Peter and Scott. I can't imagine how either got through it. Honestly, I can't. 

Finally...
if you're as interested in editing as I am, you might enjoy this very thorough analysis of a key action sequence in The Dark Knight (2008).

In the Cut, Part I: Shots in the Dark (Knight) from Jim Emerson on Vimeo.

 

I highlight it because, like Jim Emerson, I have always been thrown by that film's editing (the Oscar nomination is baffling to me) as it doesn't make coherent sense, spatially or time-wise. (If you don't share this pet peeve -- I realize many people enjoy contemporary cinema's rule-free freneticism of editing -- you might not enjoy this video. This is actually the #2 most prominent reason as to why I have never been a Christopher Nolan convert. I prefer action filmmakers like James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow who never (or very very rarely) sacrifice coherency for thrills.

Monday
Sep052011

Belated Notes on "Crazy, Stupid, Love."

Christopher and a few other readers have been asking me for more detailed information about what I thought of Crazy, Stupid, Love. As daily readers know I was out of town when it opened and I ended up seeing it quite a bit after the fact which is not my preference, particularly not for a movie with so many actors I'm inordinately fond of. I saw it after the mixed reviews and after the hype had passed, which turns out to be the ideal time to see something that is relatively unassuming but so thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish. 

 

Nothing about Crazy... reinvents or even reinvigorates the romantic comedy genre exactly but it's a great entry in the limited subgenre of the interlocking ensemble romances. You know the kind: teeming cast all with their individual romantic dramas and all of these short lovelorn stories end up connecting in coincidental ways, whether awkwardly forced, completely organic, or somewhere inbetween. Here we have the inbetween. But stack this up against recent movies of its ilk, and won't it look like a bonafide masterpiece?

Very little within Crazy... is entirely plausible but that's not always what we go to the movies for... and movies often thrive on exaggeration; They're shinier, funnier, prettier dramatizations of real life acted out by the shiniest funniest prettiest human specimens (i.e. movie stars). Usually in ensemble films the problem is that one storyline is much weaker than the others. Here, the high school students fill that slot but it's not so weak as to distract from the overall pleasure and Analeigh Tipton is kind of adorable. The best thing one can say for the screenplay aside from actually funny jokes (a new concept for romcoms!) is that the three tiers of romances: teenage, young adult, and middle age play out beautifully, respectively, as crazy naive (teenage hormones!), stupid sexy (yes Emma Stone & Gosling form a bond that's deeper than their physicality but that's the driving force getting them there), and in-love but weary (middle age and all the life experience / baggage that brings). You can argue that these stories are forcibly connected -- boy did I not see the central twist coming -- but I don't think you can argue that the thematic parallels aren't presented with something like nonjudgmental grace; movies that love their characters, flaws and all, are much easier to love that movies that condemn them.

Neither the direction (by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa) nor the screenplay (Dan Fogelman) ever hammer the parallels home for the sake of "SEE!" but it ends up reflecting beautifully on different timetables of love, both in regards to the actual age of lovers and the timetable of love itself, which almost has to start with the crazy / stupid before it ever gets to the lived in capital L love.

Much credit has to go to the actors for smoothing over the movie's overstuffed feeling. Everyone does fine work here -- this might be the most relaxed Julianne Moore has ever been in comic mode -- making the standard tropes and predictable trajectories within the three stories feel like exciting journeys (since the destination is never exactly in doubt). Crazy, Stupid, Love. is the kind of movie I can imagine people finding again as they're flipping channels on TV for years to come. Like "Oh yeah, this one is so cute!"... *watches the rest of it*. It's not without flaws. On first view maybe it's a little too self-consciously wacky (comic hijinx!) or dumb (shades of Hitch) but it's just going to end up beloved with repeat views. B+

Gosling's Growing Character Gallery

P.S. I actually saw Crazy Stupid, Love. shortly after seeing Ryan Gosling doing a very very different spin on the unreachable soul behind a cool mask in Drive and wow, is that a fascinating twin snapshot on star power and acting range. Both of his new performances are beauties but what's more fascinating is how perfectly composed and still both characters are when held up to those emotionally ragged messy portraits of love or drug addicts from Blue Valentine or Half Nelson, respectively. Michael Fassbender may well be Gosling's sole living rival for Future of the Movies or Best of His Generation titles. I can't wait to see them fight it out for the crown this decade. How about you?

Wednesday
Aug312011

Notes From Venice: "The Ides of March"

Editor's Note: Please welcome Ferdi from Italy (pictured below) who has been a Film Experience reader for many years. He's also a critic for LoudVision so please visit them if you speak Italian. We're very happy to have him sending us bite-sized notes from Venice this year for The Film Experience. - Nathaniel R.

Ferdi reporting from the opening day of the 68th Venice Film Festival. 

TFE Correspondent Ferdinando Schiavone shot by Fabrizio Spinetta

The Ides Of March is exactly what we've come to expect from Clooney: a solid, classically made, political contemporary drama. It's got a subtle shakespearian twist, a sharp screenplay and a strong cast. (OK, Evan Rachel Wood is always Evans Rachel Wood but, dammit! she's always good). Ryan Gosling is undoubtedly best in show with a perfectly nuanced character arc. He sparkles most in a couple of tasty scenes with Wood. But poor Marisa Tomei is soooo underused (again!) and Clooney plays a character working up to a big speech in front of a live audience (again!). Nothing new or revolutionary here, but quite everything in the right place.

Hollywood glamour aside, it's quite a shy opening film for a festival this big. (Last year things were very different with the incendiary opener Black Swan.)

Photo via Zimbio

Everyone has been saying that The Ides of March is a good movie (perhaps because it's talking about the right things in a serious way) but where are the emotions? Press reaction at the very first screening ranged from good to tepid, but it took the arrival of the stars at the press conference (all present but for Gosling) before you could feel warmth of unconditional love. How will the public react tonight when it opens the festival?

Editor's Note: Now check out these starry photos that Ferdi sent along from his photographer Fabrizio Spinetta from tonight's big event. 

George Clooney in Venice © Fabrizio Spinetta

Two more fun photos after the jump! 

Click to read more ...

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!

Thursday
Aug182011

Leo vs. Ryan: Oscar's Golden Young Men?

If this year's Best Actress competition is the race of the sixty-somethings (Close vs. Streep) that most people are predicting with the films still sight unseen, what kind of shape will the corresponding male category take? Could we see a race between 30-somethings in a sort of reverse age scenario of what normally occurs with actresses winning young and actors winning as soon as they have a gray hair or fifty.

Leo frets. It's not always good news to be the early unarguable frontrunner.

As an Oscar pundit I'm always trying to roll different scenarios on my tongue to see how they taste. How about this: What if this year's race is between Leonardo DiCaprio in J Edgar who will draw strength both from his past Oscar history and from AMPAS Official Favorite Genre (the biopic) and Ryan Gosling in The Ides of March? Gosling will be propped up by last year's Blue Valentine snub, his sure to be iconic character in Drive, and his general quickly achieved status as THE best of his generation...on this side of the Atlantic at least. I assume Michael Fassbender is just warming up. And what if the vote siphoning ingredient is not Clooney or Fassbender or whomever but Cannes Best Actor winner Jean DuJardin in The Artist?

I know most people have called this one for Leo despite  J Edgar being sight unseen and Clint Eastwood's Oscar appeal slightly faded. On paper (Oscar weight paper), yes he looks unstoppable. That's especially true because if Gosling proves his main competition, well, Gosling is very young still for Oscar votes being only one year older at this writing as the youngest Best Actor winner ever (Adrien Brody, The Pianist). But I always hesitate to assume that we know winners before we have seen virtually any of the competitive work. I mean, would fans of other young movie giants of their day ever assume that Paul Newman or Al Pacino or Peter O'Toole or whomever would have to wait as long as they did or are? Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, both as big as Leo, are still waiting, too.

Nothing is certain until it's already happened.

As for Supporting Actor, The Ides of March is the big reigning question mark in the same way that The Help (previous posts) is for the ladies with multiple appealing choices for voters. The political drama has three former Oscar nominees, two of them winners, all circling 'round and talking at Ryan Gosling in the actor friendly piece. Who will voters favor: showy Philip Seymour Hoffman, subtle (at least in comparison) Paul Giamatti, or charismatic George Clooney?

Make your wild guesses now! Soon the movies are upon us. Wheeee

UPDATED PREDICTIONS: Index | Picture | Director | Actor | Supporting Actor