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Archive for the tag “Ryan Gosling”

Ryan Gosling Teams Back Up with Nicolas Winding Refn for “Only God Forgives”

Just knowing that Nicolas Winding Refn is directing Only God Forgives would be enough for me to want to go see it. However, after seeing the above trailer, it quickly jumped to one of my most anticipated films in the coming months. Nicolas Winding Refn has proven he is a talented director (see Drive and Valhalla Rising) and with Only God Forgives, he rejoins Ryan Gosling, who starred in his prior film Drive. This bodes well for this release as the two seem to work quite well together, with Gosling able to really let his acting skills out with Refn’s characters. Let’s hope Refn can continue his streak of high quality films. If you enjoy crime thrillers and striking visuals, and don’t mind some quite graphic violence, look out for Only God Forgives when it releases this July.

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“The Ides of March” (2011) Review

Ides of March

“The Ides of March” is a smart movie, with a clever plot line. It is a film complete with a great cast, full of actors known to give great performances. It is also a movie that did receive some award nominations (mostly for adapted screenplay). What “The Ides of March” isn’t, however, is a film that has a clear vision of what it wants to be and contains authentic situations and characters.

In “The Ides of March”, the viewer is put in the middle of a close race for the Democratic party’s presidential candidacy. The film focuses on one of the two candidates and his campaign crew. The race twists and turns as media, consultants, and other politicians get involved and all look to blackmail and bribe their way ahead. For the first two-thirds of the movie, this story of one man’s race and another’s belief in him is compelling. However, at that point in the film, the story takes a sharp turn and begins to derail. From then on out, everything felt too implausible, and the characters flat. What this plot lacks most of all is emotion.

The majority of the film I spent just letting twist after twist unfold, without any of them really having any weight to them. I don’t know if this is due to the writing (which is mostly solid, but at times a little too contrived) or the acting (more on that next), but I just didn’t feel anything for most of the film.

Speaking of the acting, George Clooney has assembled a great cast – Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ryan Gosling (who always seems to play the same character in all of his films, except “Drive“), and Clooney, himself. As these talented actors entered the film, I was expecting some high-quality scenes. Yet, as above, most of the sequences just felt flat. There are two scenes during which I felt any kind of true emotion from the actors, while many more should have been more impactful. This combo of iffy writing at times and flat acting keeps the movie from really reaching any kind of major tension.

Why does Ryan Gosling always seem to play the same (or a close variation of the same) character in every movie (outside of "Drive")? As such, this face is always somewhere in each film.

Why does Ryan Gosling always seem to play the same (or a close variation of the same) character in every movie (outside of “Drive”)? As such, this face is always somewhere in each film.

All of the acting and writing aside, another piece of the film that fails to enhance the drama is the soundtrack. I only remember two particular scenes where the soundtrack was really noticeable, and even in those instances, it is underwhelming. I wish the music could have at least accentuated the key scenes when the writing and acting didn’t.

With the overall lack of feeling in the film, and my comments above, you would assume this is a poor film. I have to say, though, that it isn’t all that bad. The smart, political chess match that takes place during the first two-thirds of the film is still interesting despite the story not quite seeming to know what it wants to be or where it wants to go. All in all, “The Ides of March” is an entertaining film, as long as you don’t try to dig too deep into it all.

Final Score: 5.5/10

“Drive” (2011) Review

Drive Poster

Far too often are action movies focused solely on achieving the biggest explosions, unbelievable car chases, and one-against-the-world type heroes. These films lack the desire to have a plot any more complicated than the villain doing some kind of villainous deed to warrant the hero’s need to see him apprehended. “Drive” takes a different approach to the genre. Here, we have an unlikely hero who, in trying to help out a neighbor, becomes involved in a deadly situation.

One thing becomes obvious as you begin to experience “Drive” – there is minimal dialogue throughout the film. The conversations that do occur are beautifully written, and at times the silence is perfectly suited, but the film does begin to feel barren at times without more interaction. This has a direct influence on the plot of the film.

The plot itself is smartly constructed and wonderfully paced. Ryan Gosling plays a stuntman who also works as a mechanic and a getaway car driver. As he begins to get involved with his neighbor and boss, in trying to get away from his dirtier business, he becomes embroiled in a complicated mob scheme. It is nice to see a (somewhat) ordinary person become the hero through a series of events involving people he just wants to help. The film has some nice twists throughout and is always in constant motion. Even with the minimal dialogue, the relationships between characters are nicely developed and have you invested in their fates. Yet, I still feel that with some more dialogue, some scenes and relationships could have been even better. The movie still succeeds with this approach due to the wonderful work by its cast. Gosling and Mulligan complement each other well, and the villains, Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman, suit their roles perfectly.

Gosling and Mulligan manage to create some great on-screen chemistry with minimal conversation.

Gosling and Mulligan manage to create some great on-screen chemistry with minimal conversation.

As far as the cinematography goes, there is some great camera work that really accentuates the slick car chase sequences. Even when the action stops, the camera manages to add a nice layer of style to the film. One thing it also captures as well is the brutal violence in various scenes. There are some intense moments and Refn never shies away from showing every grisly detail.

Lastly, one other thing that detracts from parts of the film (like the dialogue) is the soundtrack. At certain points, the soundtrack is wonderful, varying from pulsing synths to laid-back clean tracks. Yet, some scenes have odd choices for sound, and in a film staying low on the dialogue, a more prominent and fitting soundtrack is needed to help give each scene some more weight.

Among the generic action and crime dramas being released, “Drive” stands out with its intelligent writing and plot. Though there some missteps with the dialogue and soundtrack, the film strays from the norm and successfully creates a refreshing crime drama that grabs your attention and doesn’t let go.

Final Score: 8/10

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