Based off of the James Sallis novel of the same name, Drive tells the story of a part-time stunt driver and mechanic by day who also just so happens to be a freelance getaway driver by night. His only real friend is Shannon (Bryan Cranston), his boss at the garage where he works and the man who sets him up with both his stunt and getaway jobs. Everything changes for our protagonist known only as Driver, however, when he meets his next door neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan). Despite developing feelings for her, Driver agrees to help the father of Irene’s son with a robbery after their lives are threatened, but when his two world’s collide, Driver must take drastic action to ensure everyone’s safety. As Driver, Ryan Gosling is a man of few words, and is mostly expressionless throughout. While this may sound like a criticism, it’s not, because when Driver does emote, it’s either suitably subtle and sweet like in scenes with Irene and her son, or calculatingly brutal when he has to deal with the Los Angeles underworld. The real star here, however, is director Nicholas Winding Refn. Combining iconic cinematography and moody synth-pop music, it’s probably not an exaggeration to state that Refn has created the standard of which every subsequent neo-noir crime film will be compared.
Community Season 2
Criminally under appreciated, Community Season 2 ups the ante from season one for the pop culture obsessed series. Following the antics of Greendale Community College’s most notable study group, the eccentric, yet likeable cast that includes Joel McHale (host of the E! series “The Soup”) and Chevy Chase often get their biggest laughs when paying homage to some of their favorite film and television tropes.
While it’s difficult to narrow it down to just a few episodes, one of the season’s earliest highlights is “Epidemiology” where the student body begin exhibiting zombie-like symptoms at Greendale’s annual Halloween dance due to discount taco meat. Later in the season “Critical Film Studies” simultaneously pays homage to Pulp Fiction and My Dinner with Andre while “Paradigms of Human Memory” pokes fun at the clip show trope by presenting viewers with clips from past episodes that were never actually produced. By far, though, the most ambitious and hilarious moments come from “A Fist Full of Paintballs” and “For a Few Paintballs More.” As one would no doubt expect, spaghetti western director Sergio Leone was a big influence here as the school participates in an epic game of paintball. The game takes a turn towards the stars in part two, however, when an evil mastermind of Darth Vader proportions reveals himself and the scheme he has concocted to destroy the school.
Creepy-crawlies? Check. Moderately disgusting “special makeup effects”? Check. Things popping out of nowhere, loudly? Check. A relevant environmental message? Check?! This movie is a sort of weird hybrid of found-footage horror (think Paranormal Activity-style, or, if you’re an old like me, Blair Witch-style) and what I lovingly refer to as feel-bad activist documentary (King Corn, Food, Inc., etc.). The only previous entry in this hybrid genre, to the best of my recollection, is The Cove (note the similar title, even!), the one about how some people just can’t stop eating delicious, delicious dolphin meat, but it turns out that was actually just straight documentary. If you’re a fan of silly horror movies, as I am, and maybe give a hoot about the state of our planet, this movie will offer you a good time. And it’s short, so even if you’re not the biggest fan of it, it’ll be over before you know it. Except in your creepy-crawly-infested nightmares, of course!