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Drive: Ryan Gosling, American Badass

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When they're not doing awesome relationship stuff like watching endless loops of 30 Rock episodes on Netflix and figuring out what a vegan and omnivore should make for dinner, New Times writers Becky Bartkowski and Jason Woodbury go to the movies.

Last night they went to see Drive, a neo-noir action flick starring Ryan Gosling, adapted from a novella of the same name by Phoenix-based author James Sallis.

Becky: You know the "Hey Girl" meme I was telling you about? It took me a few minutes to shake off that smirking hilarity and acclimate to Drive's serious vibe. So I guess I can understand not being prepared to see Ryan Gosling as a nameless stuntman slash getaway driver who goes on a provoked violence spree. Although the audience's nervous giggles during the ultra-violent parts did bother me.

Jason: I'm glad I was unaware of that meme going into the movie. "Hey girl, I'll smash heads in and feed bullets to bad guys for you. And slap you if you are Joan from Mad Men."

Becky: "Hey girl, do you like my scorpion jacket?"

Jason: The scorpion jacket was cool though. He was a real badass in this movie.


Becky: Except for that time his voice cracked. I guess that's acting with a capital "A," though. Gosling was great in this, and reminded me of Marlon Brando.

Jason: The voice crack was an interesting choice. The whole movie played with the idea of masculinity. The pink neon typeface, the synth-pop score ... all juxtaposed against the violence and quiet brooding.

Becky: Do you think people will start naming their kids Driver? Gosh, I hope so.

Jason: Well, they never actual call him that in the movie. I liked that. The book uses it a lot, but I liked it being an unspoken thing. 

Becky: It's subtle. I didn't even think about it during the movie. Maybe folks who haven't read the book would notice, but it's really more of an afterthought.

Jason: I love the character being nameless. Like The Man With No Name in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. No one was bad in the film, honestly. Brian Cranston, Ron Perlman, and Christina Hendricks -- three of the best dramatic television actors out there. Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and Mad Men. Arguably TV's three best dramas, no?

Becky: Sons can be a little soap opera-y. 

Jason: Yeah, Sons is soapy, but Perlman is aces. Man's got such a giant, incredibly expressive head.

Becky: He's horsey, to be sure. I still can't believe that at least four people walked out during the movie. Were they really expecting The Notebook Part Two? Who goes to see a movie without knowing what the movie is about?

Jason: I guess people go to movies that way. I don't, but my grandma does. It always weirds me out when people walk out of movies. Why not stay? Why not force yourself out of your comfort zone?

Becky: I suppose seeing heads blown off and faces smashed is uncomfortable.

Jason: Totally. But it's supposed to be. I don't think people are expecting this kind of film from Gosling. Nicolas Winding Refn (director) referenced Two-Lane Blacktop and Alejendro Jordorowsky. Not what people are used to from their popcorn munching action movies.

Becky: Considering that we watched El Topo and Holy Mountain on our first date date, we might be the weird ones.



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