Rated R for profanity, ethnic slurs, nudity and graphic violence.
Grisly Crime Caper Finds Getaway Driver On The Run
This riveting cat-and-mouse thriller represents another solid outing by Ryan Gosling in which the under appreciated actor further establishes himself among the best actors yet to win an Academy Award. Here, he plays a Hollywood stuntman whose secret dream is to save enough money to become a professional racecar driver on the NASCAR circuit one day.
When not executing dangerous rollovers on movie sets, he supplements his meager income by moonlighting as a getaway driver. And just like Jason Statham’s character in The Transporter (2002), he doesn’t even want to know what each job is about, provided his price is met and his privacy is respected.
This philosophy works well for the unnamed loner we call Driver so long as he religiously protects his anonymity. But complications ensue soon after his Achilles heel, attractive women, rears its pretty head in the form of Irene (Carey Mulligan), a flirtatious neighbor living right down the hall.
Driver naturally assumes her to be a single-mom, since she shares the apartment only with her young son, Benicio (Kaden Leos). Sparks fly, and they start spending quality time together, almost like a family.
But before their budding friendship has a chance to blossom any further, Irene admits not only that she’s married, but that her husband, Standard (Oscar Isaac), is about to be paroled from prison. When he arrives home a week later, the two hide their feelings for each other.
The ex-con, who wants to go straight, is too busy to be suspicious anyway, because he’s being pressured to pull one last heist by a loan shark (James Biberi) he’s deeply indebted to. Against his better judgment, Driver decides to break his unwritten rule about not knowing his clients when he agrees to drive a getaway car for Standard.
Unfortunately, the robbery goes horribly wrong, and Driver ends up in sole possession of the million-dollar take. He subsequently finds himself being hunted by an army of vengeful mobsters threatening to harm him, Irene and the boy unless the cash is delivered.
The chase is on and, again and again, Driver makes the most of opportunities to demonstrate his elusive skills behind the wheel. The slippery fugitive is forced to fight on occasion, too, and he’s not one to shy away from a good rumble.
Based on the James Sallis bestseller of the same name, Drive is an alternately atmospheric and grisly crime saga that which devotes as much attention to character development as to gruesome action sequences. The film was directed by Denmark’s Nicolas Winding Refn, who boldly blends elements of the seemingly incompatible blood sport and romance genres.
The picture features a profusion of spellbinding performances besides Gosling’s, most notably Carey Mulligan as the femme fatale, as well as Ron Perlman and Albert Brooks as a couple of the scariest villains to grace the screen this year. Provided you have a strong stomach for gore, don’t miss this novel cinematic treat offering both an adrenaline fix and a compelling love story.
Excellent (4 stars).
Running time: 100 minutes.
The Weird World Of Blowfly
Godfather of Rap Belatedly Gets His Due in Jaw-Dropping Biopic
Clarence Reid is a legendary songwriter who wrote R&B hits back in the ‘60s and ‘70s for everyone from Sam & Dave to KC & the Sunshine Band. What many people don’t know, however, is that he also donned a flamboyant costume, periodically, to perform raunchy rap tunes as his irreverent alter ego, Blowfly.
With titles like “Rapp Dirty,” “Porno Freak,” “Butt Pirate Luv,” “Electronic Pussy Sucker,” “Funk You,” “Burning Pussy” and “Destructo Cock,” the bawdy ballads were laced with explicit lyrics which left little to the imagination, such as “Should I [expletive] that big fat ho?” Basically, Blowfly’s act involves bragging about his sexual prowess in much the same fashion adopted decades later by gangsta rappers.
Although well past retirement age, Clarence still tours the country as Blowfly, and he is being well received by young audiences, who appreciate his critical influence on the Hip-Hop Generation. Those debatable cultural contributions are the subject of The Weird World Of Blowfly, an aptly titled documentary directed by Jonathan Furmanski, with an emphasis on the word ‘weird.’
What makes the film fascinating is the fact that several rap pioneers like Chuck D. and Ice T. make appearances to pay tribute to their degenerate mentor, thereby confirming that what otherwise appears to be just a dirty old man in a mask is telling the truth when he claims, “I invented rap.” For example, Chuck D. states that “Rapp Dirty” served as the inspiration for the Public Enemy anthem “Fight The Power.” Who knew?
Cringe-inducing debauchery courtesy of The Godfather of Rap!
Very Good (3 stars).
Running time: 89 minutes.
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening September 23, 2011
Abduction (PG-13 for sexuality, teen partying, intense violence and brief profanity). John Singleton directs this action thriller about a teenager (Taylor Lautner) who ends up on the run from a team of hitmen when he tries to determine his true identity after seeing his baby photo on a missing persons website. With Sigourney Weaver, Alfred Molina, Maria Bello and Denzel Whitaker.
Dolphin Tale (PG for mature themes). Fact-based family drama, shot in 3-D, recounting the heartwarming story of a boy (Nathan Gamble) befriended by a bottlenose dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap. Cast includes Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Kris Kristofferson and Harry Connick, Jr.
Killer Elite (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and graphic violence). Jason Statham stars in this cat-and-mouse caper based on the case of a special ops agent who came out of retirement to rescue his mentor (Robert De Niro) caught in the clutches of an Arab oil sheik (Rodney Afif) with an army of assassins. Cast includes Clive Owen, Dominic Puircell and Yvonne Strahovski.
Moneyball (PG-13 for profanity). Baseball biopic about Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the Oakland Athletics’ general manager who pioneered a successful method of drafting players on a modest budget by relying on computer-generated, statistical analysis. With Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jonah Hill and Robin Wright.
A Bird Of The Air (Unrated). Romance drama about a freewheeling librarian (Rachel Nichols) who helps an uptight loner (Jackson Hurst) locate the owner of the loquacious parrot that flew into his trailer home. With Buck Henry, Judith Ivey, Linda Emond and Anjanette Comer.
Machine Gun Preacher (R for sexuality, profanity, violence, disturbing images and drug use). Redemption drama chronicling the real-life exploits of a recently-paroled biker (Gerard Butler) who ventured with his wife (Michelle Monaghan) to war-torn Sudan in order to rescue hundreds of kidnapped orphans after becoming a crusader for Christ. With Michael Shannon, Kathy Baker and Madeline Carroll.
Mardi Gras (R for crude humor, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and pervasive profanity). Ribald road romp about three college buddies (Nicholas D’Agosto, Josh Gad and Bret Harrison) headed to New Orleans to sow their wild oats over Spring Break. Featuring Carmen Electra, Regina Hall and Dominique DuVernay.
Puncture (R for profanity, drug use, nudity and a sexual reference). David vs. Goliath courtroom drama about a substance-abusing attorney (Chris Evans) who sues a mammoth pharmaceutical company on behalf an emergency room nurse (Vinessa Shaw) accidentally pricked by a contaminated needle. With Mark Kassen, Kate Burton, Michael Biehn and Brett Cullen.
There Was Once… (Unrated). Tolerance-themed documentary about a Hungarian high school teacher who recently decided to create a memorial for members of the local Jewish community totally wiped out during the Holocaust. (In Hungarian with subtitles.)
Thunder Soul (PG for smoking and mild epithets). Musical documentary chronicling the 35th reunion of members of Houston’s history-making Kashmere High School Band with 92-year-old Conrad “Prof” Johnson, the legendary coach who led the ensemble of African-American, inner-city kids to a number of championship titles in nationwide competitions during the ‘70s.
Weekend (Unrated). Out-of-the-closet drama about a straight guy (Tom Cullen) who picks up a man (Chris New) at a gay club for what was supposed to be just a drunken, one-night stand only to have the homoerotic encounter blossom into a full-blown love affair.
The Whale (G). Orca documentary, narrated by Ryan Reynolds, revolving around the exploits of Luna, a young killer whale that befriended residents of Vancouver Island after becoming separated from his family.
White Wash (Unrated). Surfing documentary, narrated by Ben Harper, exploring race relations through the eyes of black surfers in Hawaii, Jamaica, Florida and California.