Drive is not what I expected

You watch the trailers, you read the reviews and you think you know what you’re getting when you walk in the theater. Not so with Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive. Case in point, when I went to see it over the weekend, there was a group of rowdy teenagers in the back, probably 15-17 years old. I thought for sure we were going to have problems with them, that I might have to see Drive again because a bunch of kids ruined it (I’m still mad at Sasha The Crying Baby for wrecking Iron Man). Not so with Drive. The opening scene is so tight and tense that those kids shut the hell up and remained quiet throughout the rest of the movie. Whatever they though they’d be seeing when they bought tickets, Drive turned out to be something different. I know it wasn’t what I was expecting. At all. Continue reading “Drive is not what I expected”

Let’s fight: The best actors under 40

I few months ago I realized that everyone I thought of as the best actors working today are over 40. This startled me and got me to thinking about who are the top actors under 40, since they’re the ones who will take over, in a sense. I wrote out a list of nearly thirty names (over sixty when I included actresses, whom we’ll deal with next week), and started Netflixing away. Over the next couple of months, I began winnowing down my list. For example, I realized that while I like Shia LaBeouf and think he’s talented, he tends to make crap movies. The last few years have shown a dearth of good taste, a kind of lowest-common-denominator thinking that concerns me. Sure, Shia will deliver quality to your crappy blockbuster, but the result for him, as an actor, is a kind of stagnation I can’t admire. So he was removed from the list. Continue reading “Let’s fight: The best actors under 40”

All Good Things not really a good thing

Ryan Gosling’s latest, costarring Kirsten Dunst and Frank Langella, isn’t really good. It kills me to say that. I love Gosling. I love him so much not even his recent alleged dalliance with Blake F*cking Lively can kill my quiver for Gosling. You KNOW it hurts me to judge Gosling and find him less than. But there’s no getting around it. All Good Things isn’t good. And it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Dunst and Gosling both give acceptably good performances and Langella is as good as he always is as the emotionally distant father, Sanford, of David Marks (Gosling) a New York real estate heir who flounders through life. Sanford wants David to shape up and join the family real estate empire but David would rather move to Vermont with his pretty young wife, Katie (Dunst), and run a health food store. Langella does a great job combining Sanford’s seemingly real liking of Katie while simultaneously belittling her as “not one of them”—i.e., wealthy like the Marks family. Dunst plays Katie as a free spirit but it feels kind of flat, like Dunst is just treading water. It gets a bit better as Katie sinks into emotional despair as her marriage to David falls apart, but it’s still a remote, inaccessible performance. We just never care much about Katie, even though we know she’s struggling and we should have sympathy for her. Those actual emotions never actualize, though. Continue reading “All Good Things not really a good thing”