Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Gosling’

 

Release date: October 7th, 2011

Running time: 101 minutes

Written by: George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Beau Willimon

Based on: The play Farragut North by Beau Willimon

Directed by: George Clooney

Starring: Ryan Gosling, George Clooney, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and Evan Rachel Wood

The Ides of March is a political thriller revolving around Stephen Myers (Ryan Gosling), a young campaign manager for Mike Morris (George Clooney) a democrat who is running for president. Stephen is assisted by senior campaign manager Paul Zara (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and opposed by Tom Duffy (Paul Giamatti) who is running the campaign for the opposition. Duffy approaches Stephen and asks of he’ll work for him instead of Paul. This, on top of being involved with a young intern named Molly (Evan Rachel Wood), pull Stephen into a world of secrets and lies.

I should say right now that politics don’t interest me in the slightest. Perhaps it’s because of my age, but I can’t of too many things that bore me more than politics. Yet in spite of that, I still really enjoyed The Ides of March. While the story is very political, it’s written in a way that makes it accessible to any audience. You don’t have to know the inner workings of politics to understand the drama of the film. This is because of a great script with great dialogue that gets better as the film progresses.  The film starts out good, but starts to really excel as the film hits its second act. From there, the film just continues to improve scene after scene until it eventually reaches its great ending.

What really shines through in this film is the acting. I’ve been a fan of Ryan Gosling for a long time. Half Nelson, Lars and the Real Girl, Blue Valentine, Drive, and now The Ides of March. I wouldn’t say his performance in this is his best role, but it ranks among his best. Stephen is a character who is a good guy and genuinely believes in what Mike Morris stands for. He’s smart and efficient, and Gosling brings a lot of charisma to the role. Stephen also goes through a very interesting arc through the film. He starts out as an innocent man who genuinely believes that he’s doing the right thing. But the deeper he goes into this world the more he begins to question his morals. The arc is very reminiscent of Michael Corleone’s in the first two Godfather films. Even the final shot of The Ides of March is evocative of The Godfather Part Two.

The film also has one of the strongest supporting cast I’ve seen all year. George Clooney isn’t exactly doing any acting stretches, but he is perfectly cast as presidential candidate Mike Morris. Philip Seymour Hoffman is also quite good as the senior campaign manager Paul. Hoffman is very commanding in the role and there are times where you can’t take your eyes off him. He brings in a lot of intensity when necessary, but he also gives the character a lot of credibility and makes Paul feel very wise. But for me, the best supporting performance came from Paul Giamatti.  Tom Duffy isn’t a flat-out villain, but Giamatti gives the character such a threatening presence that he dominates any scene he’s in. One of the best scenes in the film is a confrontation near the end between Duffy and Stephen. Giamatti doesn’t have a lot of screen time, but he does a lot with what he’s given and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an Oscar nomination. The film also sees strong performances from Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, and Marisa Tomei.

If the film has one weakness, it’s that the revelation that politicians play dirty is not a very surprising revelation. After decades of films, books, and music about how corrupt politicians are, it isn’t a very big reveal. We also live in a world where information is leaked immediately. Politics don’t have the same dark and mysterious feel they use to. This isn’t a big problem mind you, and the film is more than smart enough to make up for this.

If I had to compare The Ides of March to one other film, it would be last year’s The Ghost Writer. Like that film, The Ides of March is a thriller that doesn’t rely on shoot outs and explosions to thrill the audience. It doesn’t bother with pointless action scenes that don’t mean anything. Instead, The Ides of March is film that stands on it’s excellent drama brought to life by some terrific performances. I highly recommend The Ides of March, easily one of the best film’s of the year.

Rating: A

Release date: September 16th, 2011

Running time: 100 minutes

Written by: Hossein Amini

Based on: The novel “Drive” by James Sallis

Directed by: Nicholas Winding Refn

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, and Bryan Cranston

Drive has been one of my most anticipated films of the year for a long time. I still haven’t seen any of director Nicholas Winding Refn’s other films, but the trailers were bursting with style. I’m a huge admirer of Ryan Gosling and looked forward to seeing him tackle an action movie. On top of that, the film has been receiving rave reviews from critics. It was even nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and Refn won Best Director. So now the question is, does Drive live up to the hype?

The story is simple. Ryan Gosling plays an unnamed getaway driver who also works as a stunt car driver and at a local garage. “The Driver” has a strict code for his work. He waits five minutes, no more. He doesn’t help with the job and he won’t work with you again. He’s a driver, he drives. “The Driver” works for Shannon (Bryan Cranston), who gets “the Driver” various criminal jobs throughout the city. Early on in the film, “the Driver” develops an intimate relationship with his neighbor Irene (Carey Mulligan) and her son Benecio (Kaden Leos). Irene’s husband (Oscar Isaac) has just completed a sentence in jail, and when released, he entangles “the Driver” within a complex web of crime. Other actors play prominent roles such as Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Christina Hendricks, and James Biberi.

Despite the simplicity of the story, the script is very well crafted. The crime story is pretty interesting, and it is enjoyable to watch the relationship between “the Driver”, Irene, and Benecio unfold. There is minimal dialogue in the film, characters only speak when necessary. Some may be bored by the lack of dialogue, but personally, I couldn’t have been happier. So many films have so much unnecessary dialogue that more often than not just points out the obvious. Drive trusts that it’s audience can figure out what’s going on without the characters constantly explaining everything. When characters do speak, the dialogue is good, but straight forward. Once again, this straight forward approach is not a problem, it’s actually very helpful given the film and it’s story.

Ryan Gosling is an excellent actor, but I feel he isn’t being given the proper respect for his performance as “the Driver”. I think the main reason is that his role isn’t a “showy” one. He doesn’t have lots of dialogue and he does seem, at first glance, like a simplistic character. His character is very reminiscent of Clint Eastwood’s”Man With No Name.” His character is something of an enigma. We don’t know too much about him. He’s a silent badass who wanders through and changes things for everyone. As the film progresses, you begin to see the darker side of “the Driver.” These moments are incredible and Gosling plays them to perfection. Gosling’s name better be considered when award season starts. It’s also interesting to note that Gosling speaks less than 20 sentences in the film, yet leaves an unforgettable impression.

The supporting cast is also very impressive. Bryan Cranston is very good as Shannon. He’s very likable and you can’t help but feel sorry for the guy. Carey Mulligan is also very good as Irene, “the Driver’s” love interest. Like Gosling, Mulligan has to rely mostly on body language and facial expression, which she pulls of quite well. Of course it’s the criminals who really stand out. Albert Brooks plays the sophisticated crime lord Bernie Rose. He’s very charming and likable, but also very threatening. In all honesty it’s hard to take your eyes off him. Ron Perlman plays Bernie’s partner Nino. While Perlman doesn’t quite hold up to Brooks, he’s still very good and threatening in his own way. The entire cast does a very good job though. All of the characters are interesting in their own ways.

But the real star of the film is director Nicholas Winding Refn. Refn took the script and turned it into a director’s playground. Drive is a very stylish film with a fine handle on tone and atmosphere. Refn also paces the film in a smart way. The first half is slow, but it introduces you to the characters, as you invested in their lives, and the story begins to progress. This means that in the second half when s*** hits the fan, there audience has genuine attachment to the characters. Some may find the first half overly slow. Admittedly most of the first half is about the relationship between “the Driver”, Irene, and Benecio. But I loved these scenes. The juxtaposition between the lighter scenes and the darker story turns later on gives the film a big boost.

The film is even very successful on a technical level. The cinematography is gorgeous. The film has a very gritty look and the camera movements are really impressive, especially during the action scenes. I also loved the score by Cliff Martinez, who scored Contagion earlier this year. The film also makes good use of source music, particularly the song “A Real Hero” by College. The editing is also quite good. I’ve already mentioned the tight pacing, but scenes are also cut together in a way that really amps up the tension.

Those expecting action beats minute to minute may be disappointed. Drive sets out to be a good film first, and a good action film second. That said, the action in the film is spectacular. Scenes that jump to mind include a violent confrontation in an elevator and a bloody shoot-out. And of course, with a name like Drive, the car chases are all great. The first car chase I found especially impressive. Mainly because it wasn’t just about speed, but also about suspense. It’s also fun to watch character’s have to rely on their brains during a chase instead of just trying to go the fastest.

Film critic Xan Brooks of the Guardian described Drive as his guilty pleasure at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year. While I appreciate what Xan is trying to say, I don’t like his use of the term “guilty pleasure,” implying that Drive is an enjoyable film, but not a good one. But Drive is a good film. In fact, Drive is an excellent film. Nicholas Winding Refn took a simple story and proved that execution is everything. I adore every second of this film, easily among the best of the year.

Rating: A+