DID YOU READ

“Drive,” reviewed

“Drive,” reviewed (photo)

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You can compare “Drive” to a lot of other movies. In my interview with its director, Nicolas Winding Refn, he referenced Grimms’ fairy tales. I’ve read star Ryan Gosling refer to it as a violent John Hughes movie. Others have liken it to the poetic yet masculine works of Walter Hill and Michael Mann. All of these comparisons are apt, but what’s great about “Drive” is the way it bears so many obvious inspirations without really feeling like any of them. It is its own unique blend of classical tropes and modern filmmaking.

Gosling stars as a man known only as Driver. He’s not much of a talker but he’s a hell of a wheelman. “You put this kid behind the wheel,” his boss Shannon (Bryan Cranston) says “and there’s nothing he can’t do.” By day, Driver works for Shannon as a mechanic and occasional stuntman for Hollywood movies. By night, he works as a wheelman for robberies. His spartan, uncomplicated lifestyle is complicated — as the spartan, uncomplicated lifestyles of lonely, brooding action heroes always are — by the introduction of a woman. That would be Driver’s neighbor Irene, played by Carey Mulligan. The two strike up a tentative, flirtatious friendship. Driver clearly has feelings for Irene and for her young son Benicio (Kaden Leos). But any possibility of romance is shattered by the return of someone from Irene’s past, and by Driver’s increasingly complicated relationship with Shannon’s shady business associates, Nino (Ron Perlman) and Bernie (Albert Brooks).

The plot of “Drive” is as familiar as the films that helped inspired its style and tone. But the execution by Refn, Gosling, and screenwriter Hossein Amini feels fresh. The Driver character himself is particularly intriguing. Introduced as the strong, silent type, he’s soon revealed as a gentle soul with a sweet smile. Later, after his relationships with Irene and Shannon begin to crumble yet another side emerges, one that’s prone to bouts of disturbing violence. It is to Gosling’s credit that he’s convincing in every second, and that he makes all these disparate elements feel like the twisted facets of one believable human being. Driver feels complete, if completely nuts.

The action sequences are fairly nuts, too. As he proved in previous movies like “Bronson” and “Valhalla Rising,” Refn is not one to shy away from the more graphic aspects of onscreen violence. Likewise, “Drive” is not for the faint of heart, and I suspect some audiences drawn in by the promise of car chases and romance between Gosling and Mulligan will be shocked and put-off by the amount of blood depicted onscreen. The film’s structure mimics a car repeatedly going from zero to 60 and back to zero again: scenes begin quietly, explode with gunfire, then return to silence. Refn rejects the shaky, hand-held style most popular in contemporary American action pictures for crisp, precise camerawork and editing. When Driver gets into a scrape the film slows down, aping the perspective of a man who remains clear-headed even in the midst of a high-speed chase. When he loses control and his violent urges take over, the film speed ramps back up. “Drive” doesn’t get inside this man’s head much, but it does an impressive job of getting inside his perspective.

With an electronic pop score out of the 1980s, strong chemistry between Gosling and Mulligan, and a bleak but inevitable finale, “Drive” is one moody action film. Or maybe it’s really a romantic drama that’s punctuated by moments of intense, bloody action. Or it’s an underworld morality tale. A fable. Maybe even a very dark comedy. It’s easy to compare “Drive” to other movies, and a lot harder to describe.

“Drive” is now playing. If you see it, we want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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