Before Cristeta’s film, I led with the completely unrelated, apocryphal “Christopher Walken Reads Where The Wild Things Are” apropos of the recent death of author Maurice Sendak.  This one:

I agree about the tree in the middle of the ocean.

Following that we jumped straight into the feature presentation, Nicolas Winding Refn‘s 2011 joyride Drive.

To the robbery, Jeeves!

Drive starts out with a bang, following a heist/getaway with our unnamed driver (Ryan Gosling) doing what he does – he drives.  What he doesn’t do?  Talk.  Which is why the next hour or so of the movie gets a bit worrisome.

Do you like conversation? Me neither.

The driver has an inability to communicate in complete sentences and a reluctance to answer direct questions without thinking for 30 seconds first: (“What do you do?”… … go get a drink … oops, forgot the popcorn … oh, you know, maybe I’d better go to the bathroom … oh, just in time! “I drive.”  “Oh, like for the movies?” … check the phone … oh, hey, Mom called, better go out to the lobby and see what she wanted … knit a sweater … translate War And Peace into Esperanto … oh, details – learn Esperanto … now translate War and Peace … “Yeah.”)  Despite this apparent handicap in the whole “landing chicks” thing, he very easily (and silently) manages to get the new neighbor girl (played by Dr. Who’s Sally Sparrow) to go sweet on him by fixing her car and taking her and her young son on a ride down the L.A. river.

Where’s his dad?  In prison.  And when’s he getting back?  Oh, no, actually he didn’t bother to ask that question.  The answer is: next week!  And when he gets back, Standard (yes, that’s his name) is not terribly happy about “Mommy’s new friend”.  Unfortunately, he’s got some prison debts and is being coerced into pulling a pawn shop heist in order to “repay” them.  The driver offers to drive.

Married to the Mal?

So they get hooked up with moll Christina Hendricks.  The heist is where things start to go south, seeing as there was a double-cross set up by the very guys who made Standard pull the job.  Hendricks is kind of in on the double-cross.  At any rate, Standard gets killed by the pawn shop owner he held up and the driver and Hendricks barely escape a second car designed to steal the proceeds of the heist from them.

They hole up in a hotel, and it turns out that there is a ton more money than expected, because the job was more than just knocking down a pawn shop.  (It’s mob stuff.  The plot really doesn’t make sense, but it’s mob stuff.)  Finally, however, the movie gets good when somehow the double-cross goons find them in the hotel (how? HOOOOW?!?) and blow Hendricks’ head off with a shotgun.  The driver, however, is a bad-ass and manages to kill both of them.

You know, surgery was considered for him, but nobody was consulted!

At this point, the driver is in a pretty tough spot, and so is his cute little girlfriend (though he does kind of sour the relationship by killing an attempted assassin and stomping his face into salsa in an elevator right in front of her).  So what’s the driver to do?  He doesn’t want the money – he just wants to give it back and have the whole incident forgotten.

Right.  This is a movie.  Instead he has to kill the entire west coast arm of the mob, and finally works his way up to Ron Perlman, who is the boss in the next-to-last castle.

Am I freaking you out yet? Because I’m freaking myself out.

In order to do this, the driver puts on a weird rubber mask that he once wore doing stunts in a film to make him look superficially like the star of the movie.  For no good reason, other than maybe because it’s pretty damn freaky.

Sorry about the Dudley Moore “Unfaithfully Yours” – that really was uncalled for.

Finally the driver gets to face the boss in the final castle, who is played by Albert Brooks.  He tries to give him the money.  No, seriously, straight up tries to give him the money.  And what does Albert Brooks do?  He shivs him!  So the driver kills him in return.  Take that, you ungrateful Albert Brooks!  Then, with a bleeding gut wound, the driver leaves, bailing on the money and his girlfriend.  The end.

Sigh.  This movie…had so much style – when it had style.  It had so much action – when it had action.  It had fantastic dialogue and plotting…actually, take that one back.  But did I mention the style and action?  Before Christina Hendricks got her head blown off, it was in danger of being a really lousy boring movie, but then it picked up and turned out to be a very graphic, violent film.  But you know what?  I can probably go the rest of my life without needing to see another lone-stud-works-his-way-up-the-mob-ladder-of-death film.  Really.  It’s not very interesting for the viewer, and even the scriptwriter must be toying with fashioning his typewriter ribbon into a makeshift noose.  Now he kills this guy.  Next he kills this guy.  Finally he’s going to kill this guy.  Fade out.

(OK, I bet scriptwriters use laptops in coffee shops and not typewriters anymore, but I really didn’t think that the fashioning a noose out of Starbucks napkins line was going to fly.)

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