Saturday, October 15, 2011

Driving In Cold Weather

First of all, I want to thank you, John, for giving me what I was looking for. This whole thing started simply because I was curious. I wasn't looking for John to change my mind (and knew that I would never change his), but I just wanted to know why John liked Cold Weather more than Drive. And John, as usual, gave me a great response that allowed for the debate floodgates to open. Well done; if you had asked me why I like Drive better than Cold Weather first, I would've just gone with, "Man smash head with foot. Man drive fast car."

Why I like Like Drive more than Cold Weather by Guy Blogger

To paraphrase a part of the Bujalski quote, "there isn't much of a point in making something that you've already seen. You make movies to do some different."

So that's Bujalski, not Katz, which is fine; Katz (like any filmmaker with a brain) would tell you the same thing. Yet aside from giving us mumblecore/noir, I don't feel as if Cold Weather gives us too much of what we haven't seen before. I can think of hundreds of movies that have achieved similar things; Cold Weather might do those things more effectively than others, but that doesn't change the fact that it's been done. And again, I say that as something of a fan. The movie certainly builds on the mumblecore movement, but it doesn't necessarily build on film in general.

I also want to expound on something I said in my first Cold Weather post - which is that it feels like it was based on a novel. And again, in this non-existent novel, there's room for further character development and just more examples of the scenes that make the movie interesting. I truly feel that the Cold Weather novel would be more effective than the film. Drive, on the other hand, is actually based on a book. I haven't read one sentence from it, but I guarantee that it isn't as effective as the film. And sure, they're different mediums and aren't capable of achieving a lot of the same things. But the point remains that Drive is better cinema, in my mind.

I hold Refn in high-esteem because I feel he builds his scenes in a visually dynamic and memorable way. Give me the shot of the Driver walking up to Nino's restaurant in his stunt mask any day over reading the description in the book (if that even happens in the novel).

John made the point that he feels as if Cold Weather is more ubiquitous than that the former is more than just a film (it's life and existence) and the latter is as mechanical as the Chevy Impala Gosling drives in the film. I almost feel like ubiquity (or, maybe more accurately, relatability) is overrated in every medium. Sure Gail and Doug's relationship might make me think of my own strong connections with siblings or friends...but to quote John Owen - "so what?"

Switching to another medium - with music, a lot of people only like songs/bands that validate who they are, what they're thinking, or what they're going through at the time. And while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, it should never be the sole reason for listening to music. That can be just as superficial. But come on, people, we also need an interesting melody, a guitar riff we haven't heard before, or a powerful drum beat, etc. Cold Weather's lyrics might be familiar and validating, but the music is a little on the generic side.

And with Drive, I do see a lot of emotion and heart. The Driver shares strong bonds with Shannon, Irene, and her son. They might not be the most developed, but the Driver would do anything to protect Irene and Benicio.  Some of Drive's greatest moments aren't the violent scenes that seem to dominate most of the talk surrounding the film, but the scenes in which Gosling and Carey Mulligan only seem to stare at one another, or when he takes Irene and Benecio for a drive. It could appear superficial (Mulligan's lonely because her husband's in prison...and then she meets a cute guy who lives in her building) but there is a refreshing purity to it and there's even some growth. I refer to the end of the elevator scene...that great moment when Irene gives him a look that says, "what the hell was that?" Their relationship has changed forever.

And sure Cold Weather might do relationships better than Drive, but I still fail to see it beating it in any other category. Drive offers so much more for me.

To Ben, I think you're right that Katz isn't looking to tie things together nicely, (I don't always want that in my pictures either) and maybe he isn't so concerned with an overall focus, but he does have one and every good story needs something resembling one in order to be effective. The focus is Doug and Gail. They grew up together and were once very close, but then they started their own separate lives around graduation and spent time in different cities. Now they're living together again and even working together to solve this mystery. Gail becomes his Watson, his sidekick....but more than that, she is someone who he can trust and  I think the last scene where they're listening to music together is one of my favorites from the film. There is a definite connection (connecting audience to characters) in that moment and it is very genuine and real. Then there are the moments of high tension - the restaurant scene and Doug going to bring the get-away car around. It certainly isn't without its merits.

Again, I can understand why Ben and John are trumpeting Cold Weather, and I know deep-down John understands why we're trumpeting Drive. There's definitely a mutual respect, but yeah, doesn't mean we can't argue about this shtuff.

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