Sunday, October 23, 2011

some things are better left unsaid.

Despite the half-baked villains, uninspired plot, and (extremely well done) gratuitous violence, Drive captured the way it feels to live in the infinite chasm between moments. Most of us anxiously anticipate the middle of the moment where the uncommon is the focal point and everything else is just background. Drive inverts the spectrum, forcibly showing us how the seemingly drab background has its own vibrant backbeat. Sometimes (most times?), it’s what isn’t said that matters: the suppressed blaze of a brow, the awkward quiver of a lip, the blank stare into nowhere, the slowness of silence, or the expression of an expressionless face. This is how I usually see the world, actually, and I’m glad someone out there understands.

One meta-critique: Ryan Gosling’s character, much like Tyler Durden in Fight Club, could never ever be an actor, a minore an actor playing this very character. Furthermore, the authenticity that Drive comes so close to capturing is destroyed by the very act of displaying it, a fortiori when the medium is the silver screen. You simply can’t talk about what’s better left unsaid. Those who get it don’t need to hear it; those who don’t, won’t; and those who think they get it will write stupid blog posts about it.

“Well, why the hell are you talking about it, then?”

To show how stupid it is to try.

Also: The movie captures what it’s like to live in L.A., and the soundtrack as a whole is the utter epitome of the pink word ‘Drive’ written in cursive. Awesome.

Addendum: Perhaps the dubious villains and the “eh” plot were on purpose? I doubt anyone is that clever.

*Plot [sic] Spoiler*

On reflection, I’m convinced my prima facie impression was correct. The reason why the knife fight in the last scene between Gosling’s character (henceforth GC) and Bernie is chronologically spliced up and concurrent with their “prior” Chinese restaurant conversation is because we’re watching GC running various subjunctive conditionals through his mind about what Bernie would do. GC knows that if he’d go head to head with Bernie, his chances of coming out on top would be 50/50. Those aren’t horrible odds, given the conditions, but why settle for them if you could do better? Furthermore, having a full on scuffle in broad daylight would attract the kind of attention that would eventually come back to haunt GC. To get the edge on Bernie, then, GC acts as if he isn’t expecting Bernie to stab him. By coming off as if his guard were down, Bernie would go for a quicker yet less-lethal blow, for it’s better to incapacitate quickly and then kill than to lower your odds of killing altogether by delivering a potentially more fatal yet slower blow. But, as it actually pans out, GC anticipates Bernie’s anticipation that GC isn’t anticipating Bernie stabbing him, which means that Bernie is caught completely off guard when GC stabs him back without flinching.

Isn’t it weird how counterfactuals—would be facts that aren’t facts—can contribute causally to the actual facts?

Had GC not reasoned counterfactually, then GC wouldn’t have done what he actually did.


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