Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Drive (2011)


(Please note: A movie like Drive is best seen cold. The Siren doesn’t discuss the ending, but when she writes up a movie she does so in detail. If you plan to see Drive, she suggests you come back and read this later, if you are so inclined. It will still be here.)

Sometime around May 19 the Siren's Twitter feed started filling up with ordinarily temperate movie writers made dancing machines by the Cannes screening of Drive, the new heist thriller from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. Three months later, the word of mouth is more like a bellow, so the Siren was happy to go see for herself, through the kindness of Danny Bowes of Movies by Bowes.

It all begins so well, with Gosling's voice providing what seems like film noir narrative, until you realize he's on the phone setting up a heist. He visits his crusty sidekick, Shannon (Bryan Cranston) to get his souped-up Impala, and waits outside a grim warehouse for two robbers he's never met, like a limo driver picking up some slumming clients. The pursuit sequence that follows made the Siren almost weepy with gratitude for a director who lets her get good and comfortable with a shot, who's got rhythm, damn it, and the nerve to lace the frantic motion of a car chase with pauses that play out just long enough.

Then Gosling meets Carey Mulligan, and suspense strips its gears. Thus the Siren is in the somewhat unexpected position of stating that Drive would be a fine genre picture, if it weren't for all that gooey girl stuff.

We’ll have to call Gosling's character Driver, because he has no name, just like Joan Fontaine in Rebecca. (Wait--isn't that what all the guys at the press screenings said? No? Damn.) He drives getaway cars for a living, when he isn't risking his neck as a stunt driver. Down the hall from him lives Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benicio (Kaden Leos, utterly natural and unirritating). Benicio's father (Oscar Isaac) is in prison just long enough for Driver to form a bond with Irene and yearn for All the Things He Will Never Have, and yes, that's the goo the Siren is complaining about. Then the father is sprung from jail, but he owes money to men he met inside. To protect Irene, Driver agrees to help out her husband in a pawnshop robbery. And of course that goes the way of all heists, and flesh…

Gosling is handsome, in his senior-class-ring sort of way; CGI him into the crowd of overage teens in Rebel Without a Cause and nobody'd know the difference. His perfectly muscled body seems made for intimidating the shit out of people. Oddly, however, especially given his recent Youtube exploit, he's not that impressive until he starts whaling away. Take a moment when a former client proposes another heist. Driver growls, "Shut your mouth or I'll kick your teeth down your throat." Two problems, aside from the line's being a bit flavorless, as action-movie threats go; one is that Gosling's voice sounds more breathy than vicious. It could be that the instrument's just too naturally thin and boyish, but his register is in the same neighborhood as Clint Eastwood's, and the voice still isn't doing the job. Second, his exaggerated demeanor is that of a small-time tough, not someone confident he can kick ass wherever, whenever. (***)

And this driver has to remember all the 100,000 roads of Los Angeles, but Gosling shows only one thing at one time. When he's mooning after Irene, that's all he's doing. His blue eyes swim and whatever ruthlessness, torment, demons or scorpions he'd been trying to show are drowned. That's a big problem for a movie that depends on its main character's capacity for violence. Where there's no coil, you don't believe the spring.

Albert Brooks, whose performance as a producer gone psychopath is as good as you’ve heard, gets that in a way Gosling doesn't. He's scary just ordering Chinese food. The waiter forgets the fortune cookies, for a fractional instant all emotion flees Brooks' face, and the Siren feared the waiter might face the same fate as Spider in Goodfellas. It's that instant that shows how dangerous the character is, and not his "Where are my fucking cookies?"



But Brooks isn't around much until the final act. Instead, the movie spends an ungodly amount of time with an unconsummated love story between Driver and Irene. The Siren doesn't begrudge Refn this classic conceit: the interlude where it's established what the hero is fighting for. It's deeply unfortunate, however, that Gosling is fighting for the tapioca presence of Carey Mulligan, diligently overacting her underacting. She plays one note, that note being wounded innocence: eyes wide and slightly damp, lips pouted and slightly bruised. Gosling does his best to convince us that this constitutes irresistible allure, but that's a tall order, asking an actor to play convincing romance with a woman who's avoiding charm like the Spanish flu. Far more arresting are Gosling's scenes with the little boy, who manages a variety of emotion and reaction that Mulligan does not. Infuriating as the Siren found Mulligan's performance, she hesitates to blame the actress entirely; this may well be the way she was told to play it. When Irene lets out a laugh during a nature ramble with Driver, Refn cuts away like she just flashed us.

The critics who loved Drive either seem to find wounded innocence as endlessly fascinating as Refn does, or they shrug it off. But this isn’t something brief enough to ignore, like the Roberta Flack forest-sex in Play Misty for Me. Driver's scenes with Irene make up a good chunk of the movie, and she's around a lot even later. One lengthy shot has Irene at a mirror, in profile, putting a baby clip in her hair, then staring at her reflection. Is she afraid for herself, for her son? Is she melancholy at the thought of a man she can't have? Is she thinking, "Goddamn it, why can't I just hook up with a nice dentist for once?" The Siren can't tell you. Mulligan just looks mad at her hair. And when Driver's true nature is finally revealed to her, she lets fly with a slap that's the least believable moment in the movie, and that's saying something considering that we also see Christina Hendricks rob a pawnshop in five-inch stilettos.



By the end of the Irene section, the Siren was ready to inform Drive's partisans that they've got some nerve promising the return of Bullitt when after the opening credits roll most of what you get is a listless-white-people riff on In the Mood for Love. Then Hendricks showed up in those stilettos, and the goo was gone. (Good god, why couldn't she play Irene?) And from here on out the Siren was much happier, despite her occasional yelps. Once Gosling started acting deranged, the Siren starting believing the tough act a lot more. It's hard not to, when he stalks into a strip joint's dressing room carrying a hammer. Which he proceeds to use. Enthusiastically. While the strippers sit immobile and, I don't know, let their breasts air out. It's a great way to spice up the evergreen tough-guy-busts-up-a-massage-parlor episode, like setting a kneecapping in the Musée Rodin.

Brooks returns to show he had plenty of leftover pathology after Out of Sight, Ron Perlman hulks around complaining about anti-Semitism in the Mob, and Gosling stomps the everloving bejesus out of a bad guy in an elevator, in a scene the Siren found as effective as everyone else did. (Well, almost as effective. The kiss Gosling gives Mulligan just before going Full Metal Joe Pesci on the henchman's face lasts a lot longer than it would from the 4th floor down to the basement.)

Other niggles include the music which, while contemporary, sounds so 80s the Siren was mouthing at her notebook, "And people say I'm retro." The synth-soaked instrumentals aren't bad, and they certainly fit with Drive's dogged determination to cite everything from Thief to To Live and Die in L.A. to, according to Refn himself, Sixteen Candles. But there's also songs playing under some scenes with lyrics like "a real human being and a real hero" and "oh my love, look and see the sun rising through the river." Maybe it's supposed to be ironic counterpoint, but put that kind of stuff in a woman's picture and they'd call it camp.

Speaking of memories--the Siren has seldom encountered a movie so jam-packed with references, and she supposes part of the fun for filmheads is spotting them all, and trying to determine which are intentional and which are inadvertent. The Siren herself is still trying to figure out whether a scene of Driver entertaining Irene and her son by zipping down a freeway culvert was actually supposed to remind anyone of the drag race in Grease. But overall she wishes Refn had either studied the thematically freighted heroines of movies like Shane and Witness a little more, or stuck with what Danny Bowes calls “the ownage.”

(***) Corrected 9/18/11, per Mat and Tony Dayoub. Thanks for following my blog!

110 comments:

Laura said...

Can I please be Christina Hendricks when I grow up? I haven't watched the last season of Mad Men, but all I know is the way she acted during the infamous lawn mower incident from way back a few seasons ago cemented Joan as my own personal hero.

Great post! Ryan Gosling is an interesting actor, though I've only seen him in Lars and the Real Girl.

Olli Sulopuisto said...

Those extremely '80s sounding songs are actually a year or two old, which probably is something of a facile metaphor for the whole movie.

The Siren said...

Laura, thanks. I'm also swooning over Hendricks and by coincidence also saw her in I Don't Know How She Does It, where she also has not much of a part. Hollywood needs to give her a real role.

Olli, I knew that the songs were new (or recently recorded anyway) and I should indicate it so I won't confuse people.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Drive is USC film school student dreaming he's Quentin Tarantino dreaming he's Jean-Pierre Melville. IOW a mess.

Love Gosling in almost anything else but not here where he's treated like an end table Chrstina Hendricks comes off even worse. What's Joan of Mad Men doing playing a bimbo? Carey Mulligan is required to look cute and nothing more. We all KNOW she looks cute. As for Albert -- what's he doing in a slasher movie?

That Refrn won Best Director at Canned for this thing only goes to shwo Quentin's noxious effect.

The Siren said...

David, I think I liked it more than you did (as indeed I guess I like Tarantino more) but this one is pretty drastically overpraised. It's just too uneven; the business with Irene must be at least 1/3 of the movie. And Carey Mulligan, vividly pretty and cute in interviews etc., wasn't cute at all. Pretty, certainly, but she's too wounded to be cute.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Well cute-yet-wounded is definitely what the director was looking for.

Ryan Gosling is my favorite ex-Mouseketeer, but he needs better material than this. I look forward to his upcoming Clooney movie The Ides of march

Jeff Gee said...

Before I put "Play Misty for Me" on my Netflix queue, I would like some confirmation that it does indeed contain a forest sex scene with Roberta Flack. Thank you.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Not a sex scene -- a romatic love scene.

Jeff Gee said...

Aw, crap. Thank you, David. Going with "The Thing with Two Heads," then.

Shamus said...

David,

Glad to see someone else who loathes Quentin "These-Nazis-are-so-cool" Tarantino.

The Siren said...

Jeff, there most certainly is sex in a forest in Play Misty for me, albeit from a distance, but it's between Clint and Donna Mills while Roberta Flack plays in the background--that's on the soundtrack, you understand, not ensconced on a nearby tree stump. I'm sorry my flip description created confusion, but on the other hand I like your idea better than the way it played in the movie, so I ain't changing it.

Rachel said...

I'm sorry to hear that Carey Mulligan was so...beige. I've liked her a lot in the past; she's got genuine charm.

As for Christina Hendricks, I think she'd have to make my list of "Gorgeous and Talented Performers from Television that Hollywood Has No Idea What To Do With." I could watch a whole movie of Hendricks robbing pawnshops in stiletto heels. Or of her doing a In the Mood for Love riff.

It does strike me that the movie might have been more original if it had been about Hendricks as the female criminal who meets a cute single dad in between heists.

Yojimboen said...

Okay, here it is. Can we all get on with our Thursdays now?

Sorry Jeff G., but Netflix only has one copy of The Thing With two Heads and I have it sitting on my pile for the weekend (plus I’m pretty sure XT is next in the queue).

Tom Block said...

>Ryan Gosling is an interesting actor, though I've only seen him in Lars and the Real Girl.

Laura, check him out in Blue Valentine. (And while he IS really good there, Michelle Williams is on a whole astral plane of her own.)

How do you pronounce "Refn" anyhow? I can't believe it really sounds like my chest when I light my first cig of the day.

Yojimboen said...

Never quite got the Christina Hendricks character in Mad Men, she seems a pale imitation of the Lisa Marie character in Mars Attacks! (and they both owe more than they can ever hope to repay to R. Crumb.)

P.S. Everybody knows five-inch stiletto heels were invented by four foot eleven Gloria Swanson tired of being kissed on the forehead by Joseph Kennedy.

Tom Block said...

There's lot more going on with Joan than her T&A.

Karen said...

To truly appreciate Christina Hendricks' abilities, in my opinion, you have to watch the "Our Mrs Reynolds" and "Trash" episodes of Firefly (available on Netflix streaming).

Trish said...

Great review, Siren. I'm looking forward to it, despite Carey Mulligan. I noticed Roger Ebert downgraded his review from 4 stars to 3.5. What gives?

David and Shamus, I don't loathe Quentin Tarantino's films. He is a clever director whose knowledge of a particular film culture is admirable. However, uber-violence is not cool, and I'm tired of pretending that it is.

The Siren said...

Y., thank you! I had found that clip myself but couldn't view it at work. The sex is much more close-up than I remembered it.

Shamus said...

Trish, as for Tarantino the all-knowing, all-encompassing, all-pervasive filmic encyclopedia- most of his allusions are exploitation trash anyway (not my adjective, mind you). And I don't care how many dozen times you've seen All that Heaven Allows: if you can still go ahead and make a movie like the Inglourious Basterds you're haven't really seen Sirk at all. Just naming a steak after him doesn't cut it (hiccup).

rcocean said...

I love Tarintino, he's one of the most interesting directors of the last 20 years.

He does need to hire better writers though.

Tom Block said...

If this doesn't cheer everyone up, then I don't know this blog:

http://www.criterion.com/films/27872-design-for-living

joe said...

I just saw this today. I loved the opening sequence, especially {spoiler} the way the TV and radio broadcasts of the basketball game were used so subtly and precisely, with the payoff at the end. Seemed positively Hitchcockian.

I didn't mind the gooey girl stuff; sure, Mulligan is kind of vanilla, but it seems like Refn is doing most of the emotional hefty lifting here through pacing, mood, music, etc. I'm not sure a more openly expressive performance would have really worked. (And sure, the elevator kiss takes a long time, but isn't that sort of the point? Time slowing down during what's both the culmination of his hopes and their inevitable end, etc)

I think I was also more willing to go with the flow on the stuff that might be seen as affected, like the music. I saw it more as painfully sincere, like Refn is charging straight ahead into his interests/obsessions, accusations of campiness be damned, and I liked that.

I do agree that Gosling doesn't quite sound right, for some reason. And I kind of cringed during the scorpion and frog bit, which was kind of half-hearted anyway, he doesn't even tell the whole story.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Here's the story -- told by Orson Welles in Mr. Arkadin.

Tony Dayoub said...

"And when Driver's true nature is finally revealed to her, she lets fly with a slap that's the least believable moment in the movie, and that's saying something considering that we also see Christina Hendricks rob a pawnshop in five-inch stilettos."

I agree. Just saw the movie today, Siren (you know where to read my thoughts in more detail). I was more disappointed in it than you, but I'm also sure all the undeserved hype played a part in it. DRIVE is as hollow an "homage" as I've ever seen. Neither De Palma nor Tarantino (or even Neil Marshall, who Refn took over for) ever made as superficial a film as this one. Impeccably photographed, though.

Trish said...

Shamus, I regard Tarantino's love of "exploitation trash" in the same way I regard comic books, pulp and science fiction. They all have value! I don't like the execution of some of his films, but I'm uneasy judging a director who received his education in a video store rather than a post-graduate program. It smacks of snobbery.

Shamus said...

Trish,

I wasn't trying to say that if Tarantino got a Ph.D. in film studies, if he was "sophisticated", he'd have made better films. But let it pass.

"...uber-violence is not cool, and I'm tired of pretending that it is."

You realize of course that without the violence, Pulp Fiction is nothing more than a long conversation about a bad cheese sandwich and a valuable watch up someone's ass. Now, it's squirrels and rats. Squirrels and fucking rats? Nice one, QT.

The Siren said...

I like Tarantino's films; do not love, but like. He's a naturally gifted filmmaker, as Refn seems to be. And you know what, god bless QT for telling the fanboys to watch Sirk (and any other number of films he's touted, by NO means all genre exercises). Anybody who does that is way cool in the Siren's book.

If I had to pinpoint what bothers me about Tarantino, it wouldn't be the violence (although there's been numerous times when I did a whole-body flinch); it would be that there isn't much feel for actual humanity in the movies I've seen. They are about people perceived at one remove, from other movies.

I don't think Refn and Tarantino are all that analogous, though, despite the old ultraviolence. Tarantino is a jazzier, flashier and wittier filmmaker and there's nothing in Drive that reminded me of QT's great looping bursts of dialogue. Also, as many references as QT throws at you in something like Pulp Fiction, there weren't as many as you get in 100 minutes of Drive.

The Siren said...

Tony's review is here folks; if you want to read a well-written outright pan of Drive (it's pretty much the only one I've seen--even Glenn Kenny and David Edelstein had kinder words). I liked the car chase and action sequences too much to pan the thing.

But (this is for you, Joe--thanks for making the opposite case) I was entirely seriously about Witness and Shane. They are both movies with a heroine who's been battered by life (McGillis is a widow, Jean Arthur is lonely and unhappy in her drudgelike marriage). And they both demonstrate that you can show that, without draining the woman of so much life that it renders the romance nonsensical.

Point taken about the kiss -- I thought as much too, but purely as a matter of personal filmmaking taste, it was several beats too long for my liking. (What the hell has this movie done to me? now I'm complaining about a too-long kiss?!)

For the record, I found the scorpion and the frog thing just find, because the story isn't actually retold, and Refn turns it into an obvious joke.

" I saw it more as painfully sincere, like Refn is charging straight ahead into his interests/obsessions, accusations of campiness be damned, and I liked that."

Since you put it like that, I SHOULD like the songs, I really should. But aside from the fact that the lyrics were so vacuous I was flinching more at them than some of the violence, it really does bug me that you can do this in an action flick and most critics won't even remark on it. I admit that's a personal irritant. Evidently if you give everybody a few grisly deaths, you can play "Wind Beneath My Wings" in the background if you feel like it.

Shamus said...

Siren,

Most of Q-tip's film references seem to me to be little more than masturbation. And I doubt very much if Sirk or Hawks or Kurosawa or Tourneur would be happy with his appropriations. And his dialogue, oh the dialogue- monotonous and wearying, interminable and insufferable- more wanking.

More disturbingly, he seems genuinely enthralled with Christoph Waltz's character: he is charming, urbane, intelligent, speaks about 200 languages, funny- a great guy. Someone you’d like to have as a friend. But of course, he’s a Nazi – so, he can kill just about whomever, right? It’s great to be a Nazi, isn't? So fucking cool. Not only do are we supposed to like Landa but Tarantino openly invites our identification.

I'm not implying Tarantino is a Nazi or anything like that but he seems to venerate Landa’s power. To call it juvenile and immature is highly complimentary: it’s dreadful, awful. I don’t expect he'd have seen Nuit et Brouillard (whatever his film knowledge) or read Primo Levi. But hey, if you can turn the Vietnam and Iraq wars into video games, why not have fun with the Holocaust too? (actually, this is pretty hard to argue with)

My guess is that he will make another movie with long monologues about plumbing or something and with references to some slasher film - My Girl Friend’s Vampire Penis Terrorises New York - in some other genocidal context and still get critics to come drooling after him (see especially, Michael Atkinson’s hyperbolic review, “which arrives to destroy film criticism as we know it”).

Shamus said...

Oh, well... I disagreed about pretty much everything you said and I hope it wasn’t ungallant. But "as we go down life's highway..." (complicated Irene Dunne hand gesture).

Tony Dayoub said...

Like you Siren, I think Tarantino and Refn are two different animals, and to bring in another point of comparison, De Palma is yet another director with different aims. De Palma is concerned with developing his technique, and I think he challenges himself using obvious Hitchcockian cliches in order to release himself from having to focuson the story. With him, to a certain extent, imitation is both flattery and an artistic obstacle he must overcome. RAISING CAIN is De Palma at his most engaging yet personally disengaged, so it seems amusing yet mechanical. CARLITO'S WAY is him at his most engaged and therefore feels less imitative than the rest of his oeuvre.

Tarantino is all about dialogue and there's a measure of theatricality in his dialogue that might explain some of the detachment you recognize. Except his inclusion of cinematic references as window dressing complicates things aesthetically. I would love to see what he could come up with in the form of a play, where he would be deprived of cinematic tools and technique.

As for Refn (and admittedly I haven't seen the rest of his work) in DRIVE, the imitation is akin to somebody trying to throw every movie he's seen up on a wall to see what sticks, and secondarily, to be appluded for displaying a "deep" knowledge of cinema. But often times, there is nothing underneath the use of such references to motivate the artistic choice. Example: I can't think of a single reason he chose to set the climactic conversation of the film in an authentic looking Chinese restaurant beyond the aesthetic resonance the shots have with similarly staged shots in Cimino's YEAR OF THE DRAGON. Or why he chose to sit the Driver in a corner booth with a wide glass window behind him at a diner except to evoke the same setup from Mann's THIEF.

I may have panned the film, but I wouldn't say I hated it if asked. I guess I sharpened my point a little more than I normally would because the excessive hype seems way overblown for this quality of movie. Excellently photographed as it is, most of the movie is filled with (un)pegnant pauses meant to put viewers in the position of filling in the blanks with their own readings like some cinematic Mad Libs. This allows Refn to pad the movie's short running time, and creates situations like the one you mention, Siren, in which Mulligan's slap goes on a few beats too long, revealing the actress's (not the character's) embarassment at having to strike a colleague, undermining the entire scene.

Tony Dayoub said...

Maybe you'd support your reading of Tarantino's abilities much better if you didn't lapse into simplistic potshots like, "My guess is that he will make another movie with long monologues about plumbing or something and with references to some slasher film - My Girl Friend’s Vampire Penis Terrorises New York - in some other genocidal context and still get critics to come drooling after him..."

It undermines your point and reveals how little you actually understand his last film, and his work in general. I won't sidetrack this thread to discuss Tarantino's work, but feel free to look up my review of BASTERDS if you wish to read my thoughts on it.

DavidEhrenstein said...

In person Quentin is quite a charming fellow. And it's obvious his knowledge of film history encompasses more than trash. But he loves trash. a fortiori he loves trashy attitudes.

As I trust everyone knows Quentin worked in a video store for a considerable period of time. One day someone came in asking for a VHS(DVD's were many years off) of a film whose title he insisted was "Reservoir Dogs." This baffled everyone, until Quentin, after thinking about it long and hard realized what the man was asking for
--


Au Revoir les Enfants

DavidEhrenstein said...

In a very silly "Salon" pseudo-article the film that's central to all this post-Qentin detritus is mentioned in passing. You can see it complete on You Tube right now

JEAN-PIERRE MELVILLE & ALAIN DELON-- ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!!!!!!

joe said...

Siren, I'm tempted to go from thread to thread now, serenading you as a real human being and a real hero.

It's a pretty catchy song!

Shamus said...

Okay, I'll admit that was a potshot. Basterds was championed by many critics I immensely respect, Bordwell and Ebert among them, so I retract that statement.

I'd read your post(s) a couple of years ago, actually, when the movie first came out. I re-read it just now. It still makes no difference to the point I just made (and which you chose to ignore)- and your referring to Landa as one of the "protagonists" doesn't help your argument much.

And from my perspective, it doesn't look or feel like Tarantino is being disrespectful of the historical facts.

Well, I do and "facts" being only part of the problem. But I'll drop it.

Now would be good time to talk about Miriam Hopkins purring "fortunately, I'm no gentlemen." (Finally, I can replace my TCM-ripped copy of Design).

The Siren said...

You know what I'ma gonna do? I'ma gonna re-post my old Miriam Hopkins tribute sometime this weekend. I championed her ages ago and rarely brought her up again. She was a primo actress, whom Bette Davis simultaneously loathed and respected; Lubitsch and Mamoulian thought she was tops. So did Tennessee Williams. And Design for Living just absolutely rules. Who else but Lubitsch could make a movie of a Noel Coward play and *jettison the dialogue* and have it come out so brilliantly well?

Joe, the tune is catchy. That "river through the trees" thing has gotta go, however.

To bring this full circle, between QT and Refn, which director would you be willing to bet real money has seen Design for Living, and liked it? I know who I'd back.

Shamus said...

Design is wonderful and Hopkins is amazing. She was actually considered for To Be or Not To Be, wasn't she?

And the final shot in Design echoes the final shot of Trouble in Paradise: an example of Miriam always getting her way (having her way?)...

Tony Dayoub said...

"To bring this full circle, between QT and Refn, which director would you be willing to bet real money has seen Design for Living, and liked it? I know who I'd back."

In the words of Christophe Waltz's Nazi, "That's a bingo."

Shamus said...

And she "jazzes up the lingerie" in Smiling Lieutenant. Jesus, she went around.

DavidEhrenstein said...

You rang?

Karen said...

"Oh, don't worry about me! I knew it all along. Girls who start with breakfast...don't usually stay for supper."

There's a wealth of wisdom in that line.

Tony Dayoub said...

You seem a bit pompous and condescending, asshole. Undeservedly so, given your inability to make your points concisely or without throwing someone's words back in their face.

Yojimboen said...

Lee J. Cobb: Mat Black? Let me speak to Mat White.
(snaps fingers)

[Borrowed shamelessly from XT.]

Vanwall said...

I'll take a shot at the great new banner pic - how urbane Grant looks, a Webley calmly to hand like a good Englishman, and Mitchum, ever ready for a rough-and-tumble, with a war-trophy Luger, the choice of the post-war cool. It was a long time until I put away my black plastic frames as dull and ordinary, and a long time since I finally did; seeing them on Grant makes me wonder why, now.

Harry K. said...

I would also like to mention the choice banner. I watched the Grass is Greener the other day, and I'll be damned if Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr don't have the most powerful chemistry I've nearly ever seen. It was so strong in Heaven Knows that when the movie ends with that almost kiss I nearly throttled Huston from beyond the grave.

Also, on Design for Living, I'm rather unhappy about it. I just bought that Gary Cooper collection specifically for the thing and now I'm going to have to buy it all over again.

Noel Vera said...

Saw it. Impressed, somewhat. Refn knows how to stage car chases and even action sequences just fine; I'll have to agree with the Siren that he isn't as confident with developing sequences involving human relationships. He sure knows how to pose Gosling.

Funny thing is, I'm a fan of Mulligan; she was the bright young thang Steve Moffat wrote one of his very best episodes for in Dr. Who, "Blink," and if she seems wan and lifeless here I gotta assume it's the writing. When she has the lines, she can be bright and sparkling (just like the interview, I suppose).

I'd go so far as to say Refn's a more talented filmmaker than Tarantino, but that Tarantino, I suppose, has the edge on clever dialogue. I suppose as a solution I'd recommend Tarantino write a script for Refn. I don't know if it'd be emotionally engaging (neither of them to date have created a believable human character), but at least it might be watchable.

G said...

After having just seen Drive, it was great to come home and read your post about it.

While I didn't hate it, I think it is essentially rather hollow and is leading many to project a LOT more into it than is actually there (the recent epitome of this for me is No Country for Old Men - but also includes Clooney's recent "The American" and Collateral).

Gosling is OK but for me lacks some kind of inner fire that would draw you into this mostly silent character. He and Carey Mulligan had no chemistry and I was distracted by how much she reminded me of Michelle Williams in the MUCH better "Blue Valentine" (a somewhat woeful girlish blonde with a young son who becomes attached to Gosling's character). Anyway, without any emotional investment in the two main characters' love story, it makes the whole enterprise pretty pointless.

It bugged me too - that we are supposed to just BUY Gosling being a great driver AND a great killer. I mean, I don't see what one thing has to do with the other.

Totally agree Albert Brooks was just great. I thought the scene where he killed someone (am trying to avoid spoilers here) was especially well done.

a couple other remarks in regard to other comments:

- My favorite Miriam Hopkins role is in "The Heiress" - it's a real heavyweight cast and I think she may just give the best performance out of all of them.

- While I have very mixed feelings about Tarrantino, I am hoping he brings his A game to his next project Django Unchained, as it sounds like it COULD be amazing.

Yojimboen said...

At a London seminar about 100 years ago I heard Donen all but disavow The Grass is Greener - his least favorite film - mainly because he was coerced (by Universal and producer Cary Grant) into shooting the thing in Technirama, which was a monstrously cumbersome system combining 8-perforation horizontal transport plus anamorphic squeezing to produce a kind of VistaVision on steroids; he said hated the 2.35 to 1 ratio. I remember he spread his arms like an albatross to bitch about “all that space left and right of the central action, it has be filled with crap…”

He admitted the Technirama/CinemaScope ratio was great for musicals viz Seven Brides and the “I Shouldn’t Have Come!” number in It’s Always Fair Weather, but for a talk-fest like TGIG it was a time-waster. For a while there was talk of shelving the picture, Donen thought it was so bad. It was not a success. It speaks volumes that for its UK Home Video release, they lopped off no less than 24 minutes.

But you’re right M VW, pretty never hurts; those glasses are beyond cool!

The Siren said...

Vanwall and Yojimboen - I saw The Grass Is Greener under fun circumstances a while back. I was at the beach with a group of friends, and the beach house had a Not-TCM channel that was playing this film late one night. None of us, including me, really meant to get into it all that much, but the women saw the incredible twofer of Mitchum and Grant and refused to vacate the couch. And the men calmed down once (ta-da) Jean Simmons showed up. She's the funniest thing in it. Major flaws in that one, but it has something. I think it's a case where the stars make a movie worth watching. The Technirama Y. talks about was something I hadn't known, but it makes sense; as I recall, the movie's looks are rather stiff, which is pretty much the last thing you expect from Donen. No wonder he disliked it, although he does his damnedest with the framing.

G and Noel, thanks very much for your esteemed respective votes of confidence in my perceptions. In case nobody noticed, I like actors. It gives me no pleasure to report that any actor, especially a still-breathing-and-young one, gave a performance I disliked. (Plus, as Noel points out and I touched on, too, a lot of times they're just following the director's wishes for good or ill.)

Do you remember that old 20 Actors I Don't Particularly Enjoy list (or whatever the hell I called it)? Since I made it, I've realized several of those actors gave enough good performances for me to remove them; Loretta Young is one, Richard Conte another. And even as I type this, I am trying to get my hands on The Shrike. I have a date with another June Allyson Anti-Fan to see if the part met the actress at last.

All that is by way of saying that everyone tells me Mulligan is terrific in Shame, including Lou Lumenick, who thought she was bland in Drive. I'd genuinely love to find out that I agree.

DavidEhrenstein said...

I'd love to know where this thing started about Quentin's dialogue. Pseudo "smart" quips (full of "product placement") do not a Sacha Guitry make.

He's very good at casting, and when he calsm down can direct in an acceptable manner. Jackie Brown is his best film to date, IMO.

Tony Dayoub said...

Agreed on JACKIE BROWN.

Karen said...

Coming in after, clearly, too long an absence, to find our pleasant salon, where we have always been free to disagree both with each other and with our hostess, has been invaded by someone who doesn't quite understand the basic rules of civil discourse. What a douche! (And I, of course, refer to the earliest use of the word as a shocking and unpleasant shower of cold water.)

On other topics: I've always adored Miriam Hopkins, with her wonderfully mannered speech (Hollywood received pronunciation layered over her Georgia roots), her cross of Billi Burke ditziness with Bette Davis steeliness, and her fascinating features. It was a source of great surprise to me when I learned that she was not universally beloved.

Quentin Tarantino, on the other hand....well, my knowledge of movies comes from TV viewing and rentals, rather than academia, so I don't believe my distaste for him is snobbishness. He is to be commended for his comprehensive, wide-ranging familiarity with the medium. I'm just not crazy about what he does with his knowledge, and the works that he valorizes most highly--his grindhouse passion--don't actually do much for me. So I might respect his technique, but I don't care for his films enough to bother familiarizing myself with it.

As for Ryan Gosling...well, I just don't get it. I get that he's a talented actor; I just don't get him as a sex symbol, despite his impressive six pack. He has the face of a character actor, to me; not of a star. I suspect this article may have more to do with explaining his status as tween-girl cover boy than does his acting.

The Siren said...

Karen, we're on the same page with Gosling. I have nothing against him, and I don't think he's a bad actor at all--he has several moments in Drive that are very well played indeed--but I don't laser in on the superstar quality everybody else is over the moon about. Just as a for-instance, I got more out of the roundly dissed Jake Gyllenhaal in Zodiac.

As for Miriam, the trouble with re-posting my old Hopkins tribute is that I did it so long ago I still hadn't seen The Smiling Lieutenant. 2005, wow. I have been at this a long time.

The Siren said...

Sigh. I replied to Karen without seeing the comment below hers. I'm reminded of the story about Tallulah Bankhead getting roaring drunk at a party at Dorothy Parker's place. When Tallulah made her exit at last, Parker poked her head out and asked, "Has Whistler's Mother left yet?"

Of course, when Tallulah was obnoxious, she was funny.

Mat, you were patronizing and snide to me, implying in a most unsubtle way that when confronted with a deep and important movie, all I'm gonna notice is what everybody is wearing. And that is why three of my commenters (all of them talented writers in their own right) are competing to find le mot juste for your behavior. If you truly don't understand what our problem was with your manners (I believe you do, but just in case), let me direct you to Joe, above you, disagreeing with my every point in a way that doesn't suggest I should be writing for Fashionista instead of presuming to critique great art. Below your comments, you will find Noel Vera (another excellent writer) disputing some things in like manner.

You have your own blog. Air your thoughts and grievances there to your own readers, because here, you are boring mine. Get out.

You see, on the Internet, I am NOT too short for that gesture.

Rachel said...

The mention of Tallulah Bankhead makes me think just how amazing it would have been to have her and Miriam Hopkins in the same picture. Could the screen withstand so much concentrated Southern firepower? Not sure if a director could have survived it, though.

Well, there is a connection. Both actresses did get to play the Jezebel role on stage.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Ryan Gosling is most defintiely sexually attractive. But a "Sex Symbol" requires something more. The way I'd put it is that a "Sex Symbol" inpsires your imagination for doing things with him or her outside of the bedroom. And no I don't mean what The Beatles reccomended.

"Sex Symbols" are people you want to run away with and have adevntures (eg. Garbo, Dietrich, Alain Delon, George Clooney.)

Gosling is more like the guy at the end of the bar that you've been oggling all evening who you manage to snag before the "sidewalk sale."

Shamus said...

Tony,

I posted my comment on Tarantino B.M (Before Mat) and now I regret giving offence.

Let me add that most of Tarantino's champions have one indisputable fact in their favor: QT's unerring aesthetic sense. I agree with our hostess that he is a natural filmmaker and he certainly knows how to frame, compose and cut. There are moments even in Basterds which are exquisitely textured: Landa putting out his cigarette in the cream for instance, a la Davis; all the reds that in the film have such a tactile feel to them.

But I still think that he cannot write for shit and his fascination with killing and the worship of those who are able to kill freely, is utterly deplorable. Certainly, he appeals to the inner juvenile among us, which is why he seems to gravitate such ferocious (often brilliant) partisans who try to rationalize away his films: but I think that calling his movies "fantasies" or "movies-about-movies" is simply evading this central point and I've never been able to find an article which has been able to seriously address his bloodlust and come out in his favor (and I've tried, believe me). You must be aware of Daniel Mendelsohn's article, for instance.

Anyway, I hope we'll be able to bury the hatchet (or whatever Tarantino-philes favor to scalp your victims- me, I prefer a goose quill dipped in acid: it does wonders).

Tony Dayoub said...

No personal offense taken, Shamus. I was simply irked at your easy dismissal of QT's talent. I'm actually less of a fan of PULP FICTION or KILL BILL, the two works he seems to be most celebrated for. But I basically disagree with your premise that he "worships" killing.

If anything, I think his final Nazi massacre in INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS - to pick one example - is meant to feed our bloodlust initially (because who can argue with killing a Nazi), then implicate us as equally reprehensible for delighting in the killing of any human being, Nazi or not. The fact that he manages to do this while making an overt reference to the prom massacre in De Palma's CARRIE makes it all the more clever.

Shamus said...

Thanks, Tony. No, I said "worships" people who are able to kill without remorse and without being met by any obvious reprisals. These characters are seen as cool: I could produce endless examples- Vega and Jules in Pulp Fiction, Landa in Basterds although it is hard to tell the Nazis apart from the "good guys", the Basterds. How do you tell them apart, actually?

As for killing Nazis, Daniel Mendelsohn's entire thesis in that article is that the films makes Jews into Nazis and Nazis into Jews and Nazis. How can you ascribe morality to any group that kills any other, without compunction, without any real feeling?

We are now swimming in very deep water but I don't think there is anything in Tarantino we could look for guidance. My impression (no offence here) is that you're reading too much into his works and you cannot seriously find anything worthwhile in a filmmaker who blows people's heads off for laughs (P Fiction). But I've not watched Jackie Brown so I may not be seeing what you are.

(Curiously, Scorsese's latest films have some Tarantino in them: blowing off the protagonist's head met with laughter in the elevator scene in Departed and the completely dispensable scene of the concentration camp in Shutter Island. I'm wondering if anyone else saw it that way.)

DavidEhrenstein said...

Not really. The chief infleunceon Shutter Island is Val Lewton.

As for cinematic violence re the nazis I've been looking at The Pianist quite cosely lately. In once scene the Nazis line up Jewish men on a slave labor detail, pick out the oldest among them, have them lie doen on the groudn and shoot each of them in the head. When they get to the last man the shooter has to reload, and Polanski shows us the look on the face of the victim who has been given a few seconds more of life than his friends.

Quentin is incapable of Thinking about the likes of this.

There's also a scene in which a Jewish woman prisoner asks a guard about whwere they're being taken and he takes out a gun and shoots her in the head. This wasn't in the real-life account on which the film is based. It's something Polanski saw with his won eyes as a child inthe Krakow ghetto.

Again, Quentin has no conception of this

Tony Dayoub said...

I don't think anyone would argue that Tarantino is capable of describing the Holocaust as well as someone like Polanski, someone who lived through it himself. But I don't think Tarantino is even attempting to address the Holocaust.

I think he understands his limitations and is addressing movie violence using a familiar movie construct, American war movies and their archetypes, to get his points across. As egotistical as QT reportedly is, I don't think he ascribes himself any of the qualities of cinematic godhood that the media or his fans have. His aims are actually quite small.

Shamus said...

David,

I remember The Pianist as being some kind of a masterpiece (possibly his best movie, altogether) but I haven't seen it in some time. It's also pretty underrated, though, and comparing Polanski with Tarantino is like comparing Mizoguchi's works with a Godzilla film. No contest.

Tarantino fetishizes his violence but, like the Coens, his only conception of the world is what arrives from the movies. By contrast, in Polanski's films, violence is never aesthetic. Period. It is always deeply upsetting (as you point out) and, whatever the many else he may be, his movies seem deeply moral. Is he one of the greatest filmmakers alive?

Shamus said...

And I was talking about the blood-brimmeth-over scene in the Commandant's office. Copiously red, Tarantino-style. Lewton never had any blood in his films and (sorry to say) Shutter Island doesn't begin to approach I Walked with a Zombie, although that is certainly one of the influences. (Scorsese also mentions Laura as another in one of the interviews).

Vanwall said...

I leave the Tarantino aspects, with only a comment on the liberal "borrowing" or "sampling" of myriad others' previous work - many with almost exact transposition - without attribution and shameless acceptance of the accolades, which rather should be approbations on occasion. There's a whole subculture of using pastiches as original thought, and leavening it with modified snatches of other, more perceptive, author's words, and taking the credit with a simpering smile: “I’m smarter than you are.”- but only by appearances. I was rather put out by what seemed ages before the Coen brothers' brilliant example of this, "Miller's Crossing", was finally married in the critical minds to the actual Dashiell Hammett material it was nailed together with. They delved deep and long into his work for snatches and gestures, and here is the crux of the matter - for the 'clever' ones, obscurity is security: it wouldn't do to slice and dice "Citizen Kane", or "Gone with the Wind", the blood spatter would still be noticeable; must seek sources from other countries, or jump in the Wayback Machine and carve up the old stuff.

Yojimboen said...

Toe-stepping time: I think Tarantino is a punk – in the strictest sense – a punk making punk movies for punk audiences. Granted, he’s mildly amusing at times, but if one listens to him being interviewed (as compared with say a contemporary like Kevin Smith – a brilliant and natural wit) he is an embarrassment – if any were needed – to the American school system.

If we loosely define an ‘intellectual’ as someone who thinks about thinking, then QT couldn’t be less of one. He is the apotheosis of the current film director – he makes movies about life as portrayed by other movies about life as portrayed… etc., ad infinitum. As said, despite being mildly amusing and entertaining at times, I find it difficult to believe QT ever had an original thought in his life.

DavidEhrenstein said...

"Is he one of the greatest filmmakers alive?"

Roman Polanski? Yes.

The others: Godard, DeOliveira, Rivette, Ken Jacobs and above all Patrice Chereau.

Shamus said...

David, I'm shocked, shocked that you left out Alain Resnais. Then there is Chris Marker. But I've never even heard of Patrice Chereau. Jesus, I'm stupid.

As for Tarantino's interviews, well, even Ford and Hitchcock were known to hid their light under a large bushel. Maybe, QT is doing the same, a large bushel about the size of his ego. Then, again I don't think that Hawks or Ford or Hitchcock opened their premieres with "Do you want to fucking kill some Nazis?" (Crowd roars approval; stupid crowd).

It's hard to defend Tarantino because he gives so much rope to hang his defenders with (although Roger Ebert, David Bordwell, J Hoberman and Glenn Kenny ain't chopped liver).

jim emerson said...

"One lengthy shot has Irene at a mirror, in profile, putting a baby clip in her hair, then staring at her reflection. Is she afraid for herself, for her son? Is she melancholy at the thought of a man she can't have? Is she thinking, "Goddamn it, why can't I just hook up with a nice dentist for once?" The Siren can't tell you. Mulligan just looks mad at her hair."

THANK YOU for that! I was puzzling and puzzling (till my puzzler was sore) during that sequence, wondering what, if anything, could possibly be going through her mind, and there didn't seem to be anything at all going on in there. Now I understand: the hair! (After that scene, though, my eyes kept locking onto the hair clips because there was nothing of interest going on in Mulligan's face, unfortunately...)

The Siren said...

I'm still trying to see Inglourious Basterds; I have to work myself up to see Holocaust-related movies, even ones as [insert your own adjective, because I haven't any yet] as Tarantino's. He has a prodigious sense of cinema and I'm always interested in what he's doing. He engages my eyes, my ears and my intellect; what he hasn't done yet is pull in my emotions. I am not so foolish as to think that means he won't in the future, thought.

I also don't find Tarantino all that obnoxious in interviews etc., probably because he's always throwing out an enormous array of references that I hope send his fans scurrying to Netflix. I don't think that when he does things like name his production company A Band Apart, he's trying to say "Over here, baby, I gotcher next Godard RIGHT HERE." He's too admiring of his idols.

But I am probably not destined to know that for sure without getting him drunk one night.

Which reminds me, Peter Nelhaus has promised a post about the Night He Got Drunk With Nicholas Ray. Something to look forward to.

Jim, thank you so very, very much for showing up to praise that particular paragraph. Did my heart good.

joe said...

I guess what it comes down to re: "Drive" is that I don't mind the tension between the innocent puppy-love nature of the romance and the brutality of the story. I find it pretty compelling, actually, which I guess says something about the way I see the world, for better or worse. The romance isn't nuanced, it deals with broad emotions rather than complicated ones, which is fine by me. You can see the influence of 80s teen films that Refn has cited. (Maybe a hint of Wong Kar-wai, too, it occurs to me now?)

Noel Vera said...

Thanks for your kind remarks, Siren. As for the unwanted poster--I think it's a mark of rudeness to overstay one's welcome in a house; same applies to a blog's comment section, I feel.

Shamus, I feel the exact opposite about Tarantino--I think he's got a clunky visual sense (Kill Bill pretty much confirmed it for me) prettified by the pick of cinematographers and editors and production designers. Refn from the evidence of Drive is twice the filmmaker he is. Visually and rhythmically speaking.

I do think he can do dialogue. Basically variations of his voice replicated in men and women, over and over again. I can't see him doing the speech patterns of anyone who does not talk like him, much less create a character who does not think like him. That's his limitations as a writer, far as I can see.

On the ending of Inglourious Basterds, I think I've seen that kind of massacre--where you enjoy the deaths, then find yourself implicated by your enjoyment--done before, and better, in Aldrich's Dirty Dozen.

gmoke said...

Dear Siren,
Evidence suggests that you are not too short for ANY gesture.

Shamus said...

(Slow Day: flies buzzing, newspapers crackling in cliche non-existent breeze)

Noel, are we implicated by the massacre at the end? At that point I was so bored out my mind that I couldn't wait for the film to end so that I could, dunno, stand and stare at the sidewalk, or take a leak, or anything. I didn't enjoy the massacre but Quentin, bless him, might not have intended it that way. But Aldrich is a master and everything Tarantino does has been done better and smarter, before he chose to do it. Which brings me to:

David Ehrenstein, it's funny you should mention Godard because doesn't Godard really licence all the Tarantino excesses? Don't Tarantino and his admirers acknowledge Godard as T's direct ascendant? Or something?

Siren, what you said about getting Tarantino drunk was... deeply disturbing. Think of all the ways people get blown, dismembered, ripped-apart, chopped up and scalped etc. etc., in his films. Do you really want to know what happens when he gets drunk? For gods sake, stay away! Get back!

Shamus said...

That should have read blown up, but hey, whatever, right?

DavidEhrenstein said...

You're right Shamus, I forgot Alain Resnais -- who Lambert Wilson tells me is still at it despite a wildly debilitating muscle disease. His latest You Ain't Heard Nothing Yet is based on a Jean Anouilh play and stars Lambert and the usual Resnais suspects, set to music by my old Communist Martys High School pal Marty Fulterman (aka. "Mark Snow")

DavidEhrenstein said...

Quentin doesn't understand Godard

Shamus said...

Oh dear, oh fuck, why is the video playing at 10x? (20x?) If that is the way it is supposed to be seen, then I'm afraid Tarantino isn't the only one to have that distinction.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Here's another Film Socialisme trailer

Casey said...

I realize I'm coing in way late on Drive, but I just read your piece today. In flipping through the comments, I was surprised that nodody mentioned Walter Hill's The Driver. I haven't read James Sallis book, but from the summary I looked at he seems to be borrowing heavily from Hill's movie. And watching Drive, I just assumed it was a remake. While there are many differences in the plot, the basic concept and the arc of the story are very similar. I know a lot of people have problems with The Driver, but for my money, it's much more compact and much less pretentious than Drive.

DavidEhrenstein said...

For all the personal and professional roadkill he's left in his wake Ryan O'Neill did manage to make an impression in three really goo movies: The Driver, Barry Lyndon and above all So Fine

Noel Vera said...

"Noel, are we implicated by the massacre at the end? At that point I was so bored out my mind that I couldn't wait for the film to end so that I could, dunno, stand and stare at the sidewalk, or take a leak, or anything."

That was Mr. Dayoub's proposition. I'm more simpatico to your stance. Agreed re: Aldrich.

David Eh: So Fine over Barry Lyndon? I liked it but--hm.

The Siren said...

I liked The Driver very much but it had been ref'd so often in other reviews I didn't bother to mention it. I'd have had to agree with you, Casey, that it's a more enjoyable movie for me and I didn't want to beat up on Drive any more, considering that I liked parts of it.

David - My personal favorite Ryan O'Neal performance is What's Up, Doc? He was a wonderfully good-looking man but kind of opaque on screen. In the Bogdanovich he really seems to loosen up and I find him hilarious, spurred on Madeline Kahn especially. "There's a movie on, a war movie. They're getting dressed for the big battle." I love the whole movie. Sheila O'Malley wrote a great piece on it a while back.

Vanwall said...

I love "What's Up Doc", O'Neal is only one the tasty courses - it had one the best supporting casts in any film, ever. I liked "The Driver", too, it was a 'spare' film in that way a stripped down Mustang is all forward motion and horsepower.

Kevyn Knox said...

I suppose, after reading your review, that I must have enjoyed Drive a lot more than you. As I of course loved the final act (as I believe you did as well) I also quite liked all the gooey stuff (cute-but-wounded) as well.

Yes, perhaps Mulligan did not have much to do but look (again) cute-but-wounded, and Hendricks was a much more volatile actress, but she works (I believe) in this role.

And yes, that scene did make me think about Grease (as well as To Live and Die in L.A.). An I too thought the songs sounded very 80's-ish (as the credits looked 80's too).

Dave said...

"Who else but Lubitsch could make a movie of a Noel Coward play and *jettison the dialogue* and have it come out so brilliantly well?"

I dunno? Ben Hecht, maybe?

The Siren said...

Ha, Dave. Touché! Of course, Lubitsch did hire him...

DavidEhrenstein said...

Well not So Fine itself over Barry Lyndon, but O'Neal's performance in it. And yes he's alos good in What's Up Doc? with Babs. Thsoe were the glory days of Sue Mengers.

Shamus said...

Maybe it was the perverse Bressonian in him that made Kubrick hire all the top grossing stars in the world and deliberately parade them as mannequins. Although O'Neal does acquit himself pretty well under the circumstances.

And you really shouldn't be using Babs unless you're referring to Barbara Stanwyck.

Yojimboen said...

@ Chère Madame: “I liked The Driver very much but it had been ref'd so often in other reviews I didn't bother to mention it.”

Right, The Driver! The Isabelle Adjani film! Was Ryan O’Neal in that too?

Yojimboen said...

And you really shouldn't be using Babs unless you're referring to Barbara Stanwyck.

Let me handle this one, DE?
Okay, hands off Ms Streisand or else I’ll post a link to some more Stanwyck nudes and turn you into a babbling idiot like the last time.

Shamus said...

MORE STANWYCK NUDES ????!!!! Stop this horseplay, man- post them... Aaaaaarrrgh

The Siren's Myrna-in-the-bathtub was enough set my blood racing, and Paulette Goddard sent me crashing to the floor but Stanwyck... My heart may not be able to take it...

Yojimboen said...

Only in the interests of artistic inquiry and with the permission of our hostess.

Shamus said...

What inquiry could possibly be more artistic?

Shamus said...

And our hostess adores Stanwyck. And, correct me if I'm wrong but so do Vanwall and X. Trapnel and Ned and Karen... C'mon guys... some help, huh? Yojimboen is sitting on some treasure here.

And, Mr. Yojimb., how about a "study" of Carole Lombard while you so kindly decide to indulge me?

X. Trapnel said...

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies"

If you say so, though not above Ruby['s].

Yojimboen said...

Very well

(Absent our hostess’s disapproval, and just this once):

B. Stanwyck by Alfred Cheney Johnston:

#1 #2 and #3

The Siren said...

Disapprove? Of nude Stanwyck spam? Hell, the only thing I disapprove of is that I missed Paulette Goddard.

Yojimboen said...

Again, by Alfred Cheney Johnston, Ms Paulette Goddard.

DavidEhrenstein said...

Utterly lovely pics of utterly lovely goddesses

DavidEhrenstein said...

Ruby Stevens looks a tad different here in this candid shot with my boyfriend

DavidEhrenstein said...

As for Babs (the Streisand) she's scarcely to every taste. But there are certain things she can do quite well.

Michael Dempsey said...

"Maybe it was the perverse Bressonian in him that made Kubrick hire all the top grossing stars in the world and deliberately parade them as mannequins. Although O'Neal does acquit himself pretty well under the circumstances."

That's one way to put it. But Neal LaBute had another: "Ryan O'Neal kicks acting ass" in "Barry Lyndon." Agree totally. No one in "Barry Lyndon" is any way, shape, or form a mannequin.

This is just one of innumerable reasons why this sublime picture is my favorite film.

It's also central to my novel(via Amazon) "This Transient Life" -- the title being another film reference (to what the late Akio Jissoji's deeply affecting "Mujo" is called in English).

Blatant self-promo, I realize, but forgivable, I hope, since the role of film in this project might help make it of special interest to those who write here in such lively ways.

Vanwall said...

M Yo - Thanks for reminding us all of the kind of natural beauty that was Miss Stanwyck. Then she goes and shows what a helluvan actress she was. Whatta dame.

Shamus said...

Yojimboen,

I took one look at them and I fainted. Took me a long time to recover. Did me no good at all. None whatsoever. But...

Thank you.

C_Oliver said...

"Jackie Brown is his best film to date, IMO."

No self-respecting Tarantino thread should let 50-odd comments pass before this is pointed out.

Karen said...

Babs is sporting quite the six-pack in those photos (I'd only seen one of them before). Impressive, for nearly a century ago.

I may be, of course, the only person who noticed her six pack.

Noel Vera said...

Huh?

Shamus said...

Karen, before losing consciousness again, I was able confirm that, yes- she does have that impressive feature, and no- you weren't the only one who noticed.