The title sequence of Drive cracked me up. I thought it was going to be an empty-headed action vehicle for Ryan Gosling. Instead it’s moody, gorgeously shot and the director left all the talking to Albert Brooks as a vicious gangster and his stupid, vain partner Ron Perelman. Talk about tough Jews. I’m not sure Ryan G. is a great actor but he gives good early 80s Richard Gere.
Before I started the movie I watched a few YouTube clips of Paul Schrader. I could listen to this man speak about script writing, directing and 80s cinema for hours - anything to avoid watching his movies. I’d thought I’d seen them all but I found an on-set interview for his glorious mess Cat People. He was tanned, buff, successful, articulate - and definitely in a strange head space. Miserable, marriage in trouble and maybe even on drugs. He was reportedly obsessed with his lead actress Natasha Kinksi and while this was understandable at the time he was clearly suffering from it. And loving that suffering, too no doubt. For a repressed Calvinist he made some of the most stylish and sensual films of the early 80s that were always on conflict - hot topics that were always served cold.
In the first five minutes of Drive, it was obvious that someone had watched their American Gigolo, Cat People as well as Risky Business and Thief. Light Sleeper, too, which might be the last 80s movie in the early nineties. The music was heavy of the 80s synths but not the electronic drums (thank heavens) but the font used for the credits! Electric pink! Jagged italics! It was amazing that with one title sequence I was back watching a slick Paramount Picture in my parent’s house on a Friday night. The only thing missing was a soaring sax solo and a shot of Tawny Kitaen getting out of the shower.
Oh, and Christina Hendricks in black leggings. Her character doesn’t meet a pleasant fate but she does provide another guilty pleasure in a film that knows what surfaces to ogle.