Drive: one of the only films ever to make me cry

“Have you seen Drive yet? You should.” I keep saying this, sometimes to strangers. It has become my sleeper hit, the film that sank into my skin and stayed there, an invisible tattoo just under the surface, built of silence, violence, and those terrifying, honest moments when you realize just how much you can mean to someone.

The plot is nearly forgettable, yet there were moments in the film that felt so honest that I can’t properly express why they were important, except to say that I miss some people, the same way all of us do. They’re far away or they’re dead or they don’t talk to you anymore and that’s just how it is. And this movie, Drive, a silly heist-gone-wrong movie with guns and blood and broken teeth, captured that completely.

He shyly smiles at her, then she looks out the window of the car as they drive through night-time L.A., (as you do if you live there, it’s just part of the experience, part of the mythology, as essential to the city’s identity as the palm trees that line every block), and he looks away and then, in that moment where they are both looking away and both of them are silent, only the radio plays, she reaches out and puts her hand on his on the gear-shift and it’s a revelation. He laces his fingers with hers and yes, I’ve been there, that precise feeling, I know it exactly, oh my chest hurts, this entire thing hurts, I want to cry, and the music swells up again and everything is just right.

Meanwhile the entire thing ticks on as calmly as it can, fueled by a killer, dreamy soundtrack, a quiet and efficient character piece dipped in low-rent Hollywood action. I’m a sucker for lovingly evocative images of downtown Los Angeles, but the true power of the film rests in how subtle the real story is, how intense its raw poetry. As far as I’m concerned, the title isn’t Drive for the expected reasons, but after the main character’s will and motivations, impeccably brought to life by Ryan Gosling. It’s a very fine trick for a revenge film, given how limiting the heavy narrative structure of a crime drama generally is, to have such a sincere respect for the complexity of human relationships, but underneath the cliché bag-of-money device and the scathing mob bosses, (played beautifully by Albert Brooks and an almost shockingly foul mouthed Ron Perlman), there runs an incredible focus on intimacy, interaction stylistically pared down to the basics. The film unfolds scene after scene like vivisection lessons on how much it’s possible to communicate without words. Even the clockwork-plot murders seem to be legitimate, less fiction than a memory that someone has chosen to share.

Some people don’t like it, you might not, (one friend of mine went so far as to say it was like watching unlikeable robots), but the fact remains that you should see it anyway. If only for the soundtrack. Or the bit in the elevator. I’d marry that scene.

still deeply enchanted by this tribe

WIRED has a really nice new piece (with photos and a video of some of the clock restoration!) on one of my favourite inspiring secret-art collectives, UX, the dreamy Parisian group that specializes in fantastical heritage restorations and interstitial spaces:

A mysterious band of hacker-artists is prowling the network of tunnels below Paris,
secretly refurbishing the city’s neglected treasures.

Thirty years ago, in the dead of night, a group of six Parisian teenagers pulled off what would prove to be a fateful theft.

[…] This stealthy undertaking was not an act of robbery or espionage but rather a crucial operation in what would become an association called UX, for “Urban eXperiment.” UX is sort of like an artist’s collective, but far from being avant-garde—confronting audiences by pushing the boundaries of the new—its only audience is itself. More surprising still, its work is often radically conservative, intemperate in its devotion to the old. Through meticulous infiltration, UX members have carried out shocking acts of cultural preservation and repair, with an ethos of “restoring those invisible parts of our patrimony that the government has abandoned or doesn’t have the means to maintain.” The group claims to have conducted 15 such covert restorations, often in centuries-old spaces, all over Paris.

[…] UX’s most sensational caper (to be revealed so far, at least) was completed in 2006. A cadre spent months infiltrating the Pantheon, the grand structure in Paris that houses the remains of France’s most cherished citizens. Eight restorers built their own secret workshop in a storeroom, which they wired for electricity and Internet access and outfitted with armchairs, tools, a fridge, and a hot plate. During the course of a year, they painstakingly restored the Pantheon’s 19th- century clock, which had not chimed since the 1960s. Those in the neighborhood must have been shocked to hear the clock sound for the first time in decades: the hour, the half hour, the quarter hour.

[…] One summer, the group mounted a film festival devoted to the theme of “urban deserts”—the forgotten and underutilized spaces in a city. They naturally decided the ideal venue for such a festival would be in just such an abandoned site. They chose a room beneath the Palais de Chaillot they’d long known of and enjoyed unlimited access to. The building was then home to Paris’ famous Cinèmathèque Franèaise, making it doubly appropriate. They set up a bar, a dining room, a series of salons, and a small screening room that accommodated 20 viewers, and they held festivals there every summer for years. “Every neighborhood cinema should look like that,” Kunstmann says.

whoring the vancity cine

Rob Mann’s first feature documentary, IMAGINE THE SOUND, (a tribute to Cecil Taylor, Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon and Paul Bley, four of the artists who helped sculpt the avante-garde jazz of the 1960’s), has been digitally remastered and will be playing at the VanCity Cinema on March 28th at 9:30pm. Being a fan of jazz, I’m strongly considering going. From all accounts it’s an elegant film. Would anyone else be interested?

A few days later, they’re showing KLIMT, a weird biopic on Gustav Klimt as played by John Malkovitch. If you don’t know who they are, shame. The director, Raoul Ruiz, says, “The time portrayed in the film was one of the highlights of Viennese culture, which had burst onto the scene very quickly and in which the first seeds of decay were evident almost straight away, since such brilliance rarely lasts. We have Klimt, his private life, the world around him in all its splendour, but in the background we feel something malignant that quietly gains prominence, something contagious.” He’s my mother’s favourite painter, so I’m going to be trying to kidnap her to the the April 5th screening at 7 pm.

And to round it off, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore”, they’re playing NETWORK on Tuesday, April 3, at 7:30 as part of their Salon Series, where once a month a guest presents their favourite film and there are snacks after. (Yes, drinks too, but I care about the snacks.) For April, that guest is Kirk LaPointe, the Managing Editor of the Vancouver Sun. I’m curious as to why he chose Network, of all things, as he works for a paper that’s not particularly known for being on top of the news.

off to what colour is your parachute coffee

Michael and I are seeing the 7:00 showing of Sympathy for Lady Vengeance tonight at Grandville 7.

It’s the final film in Park Chan-wook’s stunning revenge trilogy; Sympathy for Mister Vengeance, Oldboy, and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance.

We’ve covered all three films at Korean Movie Monday to amazing response. There’s really nothing quite like them. I was introduced to Mr. Vengeance years ago by a friend who brought it over to my house saying, “This is the most depressing movie I’ve ever seen, you simply have to watch it,” and it turned out to be the funniest, blackest comedy I’d ever encountered. I couldn’t breathe for laughing. Each film is a unique story, unrelated by story arc, instead being connected only by theme. Loving them the first time around, (I own copies of all three), I’m thrilled to get a chance to see Lady on the big screen.

If you’re interested, meet us outside the theater from 6:40 onward or call Michael’s cell.

EDIT: The Spaces Between Working Group is presenting Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, (with long-lost original classical score), at 6:45 for free at Commercial and 3rd as part of a two night outdoor film festival. We’re going there, then going to see lady Vengeance, only the 9:00 showing instead of the 7:00. For those who are uninterested in Lady Vengeance, they are showing Amélie at 8:58 after Metropolis.

  • Wal-Mart restroom birth leads to prison.
  • Drug caches found in Home Depot vanities.