26 February 2012

Cunning Stunt

Is it just me or is the Elephant Man the worst superhero of all time? I mean, Rain Man isn't brilliant but at least he's got his autistically enhanced memory to show off with. The Elephant Man’s only power is his massive head. His disguise is just a sack and as far as I recall, the lazy shit didn't even solve one single crime. At around the time he lived, Jack the Ripper was running around having a whale of a time slicing up whores and boiling their organs. Maybe if the Elephant Man had put the buns back in the box for just one day, he could have gone and helped some of the skanky hookers by finding Jacky and making him look a cunt by head-butting him straight down to hell. There’s a top-quality movie crossover if there ever was one.

But no, rather than do some good he instead decided to parade himself around like a fucking page 3 model and whip his knob out in front of doctors. They earned their keep that day. I don't even know why he had to be naked as according to internet pictures, I've seen his cock… it seems quite normal. Well… either his is normal or mine is just as fucking deformed. In the end, the only thing that could put an end to his tour of vanity was his own personal self-destructive kryptonite which, rather pathetically, was his inability to lie down. What a shit hero he was!

A decent superhero film that I finally saw for the first time this week was Drive. By day, Ryan Gosling is a mild mannered stunt driver for a limping Bryan Cranston and by night he's a police dodging, getaway driver for extremely punctual criminals in need of a lift. Basically, this film is The Transporter but with an artistic edge and genuine ‘style’ as opposed to relying on The Stath, his trademark growl, and bags of ironic enjoyment.

Before watching Drive, I assumed that due to its setting in the criminal underworld it would probably be most similar to The Pusher Trilogy, in terms of Nicolas Winding Refn's back catalogue. Bizarrely however, it is in fact a lot closer to his 2001 Viking Odyssey, Valhalla Rising with both films being a lot slower than The Pusher's and both featuring skull-cracking sudden bursts of ultra-violence. The two also star a lead actor who is a probable psychotic and also a borderline fucking mute.   

Gosling aside, the cast of Drive is ridiculously impressive in terms of who they are and what they can do. I do, however, feel like poor old Ron Perlman has been somewhat overlooked in most of the media surrounding this film. Everybody is going on about how good Albert Brooks is to the point that trailers and reviews imply that Perlman is simply going to be a supporting thug. He is, as it is revealed, one of the key villains in the piece and more integral to the plot than Brooks is.

I think I first saw Ron Perlman in Hellboy in which I sat amazed at how the makeup team had made someone look so much like an ape. Then I watched the DVD extras and saw that in actual fact he is some sort of shaved sasquatch and all the effects guys had to do was paint him red and stick some cones on his head. Perlman therefore deserves even more credit for his performance in Drive as it's so good that at times you actually think he might be a real human. Unfortunately though it will occasionally cut to a close up of his face and the illusion is shattered. He is just an English speaking, Jewish Donkey Kong. If you want a humanoid primate with bags of acting ability and an all-round aura of coolness then Ron's your gorilla.

The plot of Drive is fairly basic with a heist-gone-wrong, protect-the-girl kind of situation but this isn't a film of depth. Instead, the enjoyment is had by simply experiencing the eye porn of shiny visuals, lingering shots, and stylishly choreographed action. With its 'shit's-on-the-way' atmosphere and 80's techno vibe, watching this film feels like you're being smothered by a heavy pillow of mood. In a good way.

At the start of the film, all of the characters are so nice and likeable that you'd think they were all just chums chilling out at the vicar’s fucking tea party. You don't want anything bad to happen to them because everyone is just so friendly and happy. This is the real world though and as is science-fact, we humans don't deserve to feel good about life. That's why God invented cancer, aids and Piers Morgan, and we men have evolved with the ability to occasionally sit on our own bollocks, for no other reason than blinding, suffocating pain.

Like with Pusher 3: I'm the Angel of Death, the violence here doesn't really kick off for a good hour or so. It's like we're being lured into a false sense of security that all is well in movie-land and we've nothing to fear. Meanwhile however, there's a big red 18 certificate on the DVD box preparing us to expect the worst. It's kind of like your school years lasting for ages with everyone telling you to go to University to ensure a good job. Meanwhile, one angry but honest teacher informs you that degrees are worth fuck all and despite what you've been led to believe, you're heading for a life of depression, unemployment and deep-throating car exhausts to allow the fumes of freedom to fill your miserable, darkening lungs.

So, err… yeah, anyway... the violence takes a while to kick off, but when it does, it's glorious; almost beautiful. Heads explode, blood sprays across the screen and bones break as Gosling lays the smack-down on a thug’s wanking hand with a claw-hammer. The violence here was best described by Refn himself, who explained that, like fucking, it's all about working on a long build-up to ensure the most pleasure from the inevitable climactic explosion. Unfortunately for early television viewers, Refn explained this at about 9:30 in the morning on the BBC News breakfast show. It was the first time in ten years that the word ‘fuck’ had been used before mid-day on that channel. It was also the first time ever that, that show was worth watching. What a legend!

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this film is its 80's styling which extends from the pretty-in-pink opening text, all the way through to Goslings gay-as-a-window scorpion jacket. You know an actor is a hardened slab of cool when he wears something as shit as that and yet somehow makes it look as impressive as he does. With its arachnid image on the back, this is his superhero suit with the lip-hanging toothpick being an obvious reference to all those iconic western heroes of cinemas yore. I hadn't seen Gosling in much before, but it's now obvious that if Clint Eastwood fucked Steve McQueen and then laid an egg, he would be what crawled forth from the gooey, yet still cool-as-hell, shell. Never in history has an actor worked so hard to apologise so genuinely for appearing in something as shite as The Notebook.

For many people, this was the film of the year and it's easy to see why. As I've only just watched it, I think I need a little more time to let it all sink in before I make my decision. I just have to work out what I like more; watching Kunis and Portman chow down on a deliciously tight flap sandwich, talking monkeys, or a mute Gosling seducing his neighbour by doing the angry stomp-dance on a hitman’s head. However I decide though, I think we can all agree that 2011 really was a great year for film.

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