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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

Uncle-Buck

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…