24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Drive

Follow to Ryan Gosling and Winding Refn's 'Drive' heads to U.S.

March 1, 2012 | 12:26 pm

Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn, the actor-director team behind this season’s artsploitation hit “Drive,” are coming back to U.S. theaters.

The duo, who are currently shooting the Thai revenge western “Only God Forgives” in  Bangkok, have sold U.S. rights to the film to Radius, the Weinstein Co.’s new multi-platform label.

The move took some in the industry by surprise — a hot duo, after all, has chosen a new label to distribute its movie.

But Tom Quinn and Jason Janego, who run Radius, had distributed four of Winding Refn’s previous films (including his well-regarded “Pusher” trilogy) in their prior positions at Magnolia Pictures and had a strong relationship with the director. The sale of the independently financed feature was likely also facilitated by the fact that Bob Berney, the distribution guru who spearheaded the release of “Drive” at FilmDistrict, is no longer at that company.

While Radius has been pegged by some a company specializing in on-demand releases, Quinn emphasized in an interview that this was not the case and that a theatrical release will be a big component of the “Forgives” release.

“We’re not going for a one-size-fits-all strategy,” Quinn said. “We’re going to find the best and most convenient way for moviegoers to see it.” The film could possibly be ready for a release in late 2012, but will more likely come out in 2013.

The campaign for “Drive” was a more conventional theatrical one. Quinn said he hoped that using various platforms could broaden the audience for the latest Gosling-Winding Refn collaboration.

“Forgives" tells the story of Julian (Ryan Gosling), a one-time kickboxer and a gangster who embarks on a mission of vengeance after the murder of his brother. Kristin Scott Thomas costars. Winding Refn told 24 Frames at the Cannes Film Festival that he was heading to Asia to make a movie far away from the mainstream movie business to "remind myself where I came from."

With a serious film-geek streak, Winding Refn has a history of doing this his own way. He told 24 Frames in an interview last year that he made "Drive" in Los Angeles with American producers because he “wanted a Hollywood experience — at least once."



'Drive' offers road thrills but loses some critics with gore

'Drive': Albert Brooks recalls a breathtaking deleted scene

Albert Brooks in 'Drive': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

— Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from "Drive." Credit: FilmDistrict.


Golden Globes: Albert Brooks on his sharp performance in 'Drive'

December 15, 2011 | 12:31 pm

Albert Brooks in Drive

Filmmaker and actor Albert Brooks hadn't been on the big screen in six years when he returned to tangle with Ryan Gosling's character in the slick neo-noir thriller “Drive.” His performance as the charming but sinister mobster Bernie Rose was worth the wait: Brooks was nominated for a Golden Globe for  supporting actor (though he was passed over by the SAG Awards on Wednesday — and don't think he didn't notice). Brooks chatted with 24 Frames from his home in Los Angeles about his nomination, his character and why Globes host Ricky Gervais might want to keep his distance.

How did you find out about your nomination?

I got the good news on Twitter. I tweet, so I woke up and went on Twitter and saw a lot of people say, “Way!” Twitter tells you a lot of things. I expect to hear about the end of the world through Twitter.

What was your initial reaction?

Well, I was happy. It’s better than being left out.

Were you surprised that a character as dark as Bernie was embraced?

The thing is, I think the film worked. I’ve done a lot of roles in other people’s movies that I was proud of but somehow the movie doesn’t lift off the ground. And if the movie doesn’t lift off the ground, then nothing sort of lifts with it. So I was really happy that “Drive” worked so well and that I could play that kind of a character. I think the movie had to be really interesting, and I think [director] Nicolas [Winding Refn] did a great job of that.

Did you enjoy playing Bernie?

The actual physical stabbings I wouldn’t really describe as fun. Because you’re doing it sometimes for six or seven hours to get it to look right. And you’re covered in blood, and you have to work yourself up into at least a frame of mind where you’re going to even do that kind of physical activity, and it sort of leaves you feeling weird at the end of the day. Some of the talking parts, the attitude that guy had, I enjoyed that — where he wasn’t taking [anything] from anybody. But stabbing people is not so much fun. At least not more than once.

Are you looking forward to the ceremony?

I’ve never been to the Golden Globes, actually, in my whole life. I figure you go and it’s like a party; at least you get to eat there, right? … I’m easy. Just tell me what time, and I’ll show up.

Any thoughts on host Ricky Gervais?

I thought he was pretty funny last year, so we’ll see where he goes.

Are you prepared if he throws some jokes your way?

Does he do that?

A little bit, yeah.

Oh, I’ll stab him right in the eye. [laughs] I’ll show him.

He’s been warned now. Any parting thoughts?

I just tweeted … I said, “Thanks to the Golden Globes. If you had a health plan, I’d leave SAG altogether.”


Golden Globes: The complete list of nominees

Golden Globes: 'Extremely Loud,' 'Tinker Tailor' snubbed

Golden Globes: 6 nods for 'Artist'; 5 for 'Help,' 'Descendants'

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Albert Brooks as Bernie Rose in “Drive” Credit: Richard Foreman / FilmDistrict.

'Drive': Nicolas Winding Refn discusses his grim fairy tale

December 12, 2011 |  2:59 pm

With its gleaming, neon-lit nightscapes and a cast led by Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, the car-meets-noir thriller "Drive" is often a treat for the eyes. Even so, the film is punctuated by moments of graphic violence, which some critics — including the Times' Kenneth Turan — found gratuitous.

For "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn, who recently attended the Envelope Screening Series, the film's unflinching gore is a necessary element of what he considers to be a modern fairy tale.

"The whole idea of the movie in terms of the structure really came out of the Grimms' fairy tales," Refn said. "The idea [was] that the film was basically about a man who falls in love with the purity of love."

Such fairy tales, Refn said, always start sweetly: "And then when it flips, it goes very dark and extremely violent in its tone and what you see. But in a way, you need that to counter the other."

Check out the video above for more of Refn's thoughts on violence in art — and to find out how "Pretty Woman" inspired "Drive."


'Drive': Albert Brooks recalls a breathtaking deleted scene

'Drive': Albert Brooks sheds light on his dark place [Video]

'Drive' director Nicolas Winding Refn on serenading Ryan Gosling

— Oliver Gettell

'Drive' director Nicolas Winding Refn on serenading Ryan Gosling

December 8, 2011 |  4:59 pm

Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling
Sometimes partnerships form in the unlikeliest ways. For "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling, an awkward first meeting seemed to threaten the chance of them ever working together but ultimately kindled a serious bromance. The fast friends are expected to re-team on a "Logan's Run" remake and as many as two other films.

At a recent installment of the Envelope Screening Series, the Danish director recalled the bizarre circumstances of his first encounter with Gosling.

"That was a very strange date," Refn said. "We had never met, but he asked if I would meet him for dinner. The only dilemma was when I came in, I had gotten the flu on the plane. I was very sick. And so we met, but to get my fever down, I had gotten these anti-flu drugs … it made me high as a kite."

Refn was so zonked and aloof that he barely made it halfway through dinner, at which point Gosling drove him home. But on that fateful ride, Refn's pitch, which consisted mostly of a spirited radio singalong to REO Speedwagon's "Can't Fight This Feeling," must have struck a chord with Gosling, who was already halfway in character as a wordless driver prowling the streets of Los Angeles. The rest is history. Watch Refn tell the whole story in the video below.


'Drive' offers road thrills but loses some critics with gore

'Drive': Albert Brooks recalls a breathtaking deleted scene

Albert Brooks in 'Drive': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling. Credit:  Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

'Drive': Albert Brooks recalls a breathtaking deleted scene

December 7, 2011 |  6:30 pm

Playing the mobster and former movie producer Bernie Rose in the neo-noir thriller "Drive," Albert Brooks uses both the carrot and the stick. When the situation calls for it, Bernie will schmooze, haggle or crack a joke. But when words fail, watch out — because he won't think twice about resorting to coarser methods.

In a recent visit to the Envelope Screening Series, Brooks recounted a scene — eventually left on the cutting room floor — that demonstrated Bernie's matter-of-fact viciousness.

"This scene didn't make it into the movie," Brooks said, "but it's one of the most amazing things that ever happened to me."

He went on to describe a scene in which his character confronted a noisy neighbor and asked him to keep it down. The hapless neighbor soon learned that Bernie is not a guy to be messed with. At the encouragement of director Nicolas Winding Refn and with the blessing of actor Ben Marley, Brooks gave the scene his all, and the results were startling, to say the least. Get the whole story in the video above.


'Drive' tours an L.A. that isn't on postcards

Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn share the ride

An interview with 'Drive' director Nicholas Winding Refn

— Oliver Gettell

'Drive': Albert Brooks sheds light on his dark place [Video]

December 6, 2011 |  5:47 pm

Albert Brooks
One of the dark delights of the stylish thriller "Drive" is veteran actor and filmmaker Albert Brooks' performance as Bernie Rose, a onetime B-movie producer turned mid-level gangster who feuds with Ryan Gosling's laconic wheelman. Played with equal parts charm and menace, Bernie is a snappy dresser with an affable demeanor, but he's also a ruthlessly pragmatic mobster who won't hesitate to get his hands dirty if the need arises. And in "Drive," the need arises more than once.

"I wish I wasn't as familiar with the dark place as I am," Brooks said of his character during a recent conversation at the Envelope Screening Series. "To me, violence and all emotions are like a billionth of an inch from each other. And if you look at really violent people, they're generally the most pleasant people when they're not violent."

Treading the line between violent criminal and benign businessman is what makes Bernie so chilling, and so watchable. See more of what Brooks had to say in the video below.


Albert Brooks plays deadly sweet in 'Drive'

Cliff Martinez scores a strange success with 'Drive'

'Drive' locations: Refn's film shows grittier sides of L.A.

— Oliver Gettell

Photo: Albert Brooks in "Drive." Credit: Richard Foreman / FilmDistrict

New York critics name 'The Artist' best film of the year

November 29, 2011 | 10:50 am

The artist

"The Artist," a black-and-white silent movie, was named best picture of 2011 Tuesday morning by the New York Film Critics Circle. The film's director, Michel Hazanavicius of France, also earned best director for his valentine to the early days of Hollywood.

It is the first time the critics have given its top award to a silent film. Earlier in the morning, the film earned five nominations for the Spirit Award.

Meryl Streep was named best actress for her performance as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady," which opens in L.A. on Dec. 30. It is the fifth time the New York circle has honored Streep. The last time was two years ago for "Julie & Julia."

Brad Pitt took home best actor honors for his performances as Oakland A's manager Billy Beane in "Moneyball" and as a stern father in Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life." It is his first honor from the critics' group. Steve Zallian and Aaron Sorkin won for best screenplay for "Moneyball."

This year's golden girl, Jessica Chastain, was named best supporting actress for her roles in "The Tree of LIfe," "The Help" and "Take Shelter." Albert Brooks won best supporting actor for a rare dramatic turn in the film noir "Drive."

Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams' won best nonfiction film, while "Margin Call," written and directed by J.C. Chandor, was awarded best first feature. Cinematography honors went to Emmanuel Lubezki for "Tree of Life."

Foreign-language film honors went to Iran's  "A Separation," which has already won multiple awards and is the country's submission for the foreign-language film Oscar. The Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz, who died in August, got a special posthumous award.

The awards will be handed out in a ceremony in Manhattan on Jan. 9.

The New York Film Critics Circle, which was founded in 1935, is the first major critics group to announce its picks for the best of the year. The organization, made up of critics from daily newspapers, weekly newspapers, magazines and online sites, traditionally voted after the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures and the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. But in October, the 33-member group announced it would move its awards selection ahead two weeks.

The voting was supposed to have happened on Monday, but the group didn't have the chance to screen David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," which opens Dec. 23, until Monday morning, so the voting was delayed until Tuesday. The film received no awards.

Over the decades, the New York critics' selections and those of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have differed. Last year, the circle chose "The Social Network" as the top film and the academy gave "The King's Speech" the best film Oscar. The two groups agreed two years ago on "The Hurt Locker."

The National Board of Review of Motion Pictures announces its selections Thursday morning.


"New York Film Critics movies awards dates to see 'Dragon Tattoo'"

-- Susan King

Photo: Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo in "The Artist." Credit: The Weinstein Co.

'Footloose:' The '80's are dead. Long live the '80's.

October 17, 2011 |  8:00 am

The original "Footloose." Its 2011 remake pulled in $16.1 million at the box office.
Seasons, like paychecks and Republican presidential front-runners, come and go. But some things remain constant. Like '80s remakes. And, specifically, their power to make us yawn.

This weekend saw the moviegoing public shrug off two more retreads, a revival of a 1984 Kevin Bacon classic and a prequel of a 1982 John Carpenter cult hit. "Footloose," that Bacon revival, pulled in $16.1 million -- not a terrible number, but considering how heavily the movie was marketed, not exactly auspicious, either. Results for "The Thing" looked more grisly -- the movie eked out only $8.7 million.

The films join a long list of '80s reboots that have yielded lackluster results: "Fright Night," "Conan," "The A-Team," "Arthur."

But whilem any specific '80s titles have failed, the ethos of that decade actually remains alive in some of moviedom's most popular films.

In "Drive," the well-reviewed art-house piece that has established a loyal fan base, Nicolas Winding Refn channels the spirit of "Miami Vice" and other pastel-colored entertainment. Throwback action movies such as "The Expendables' and "Fast Five," meanwhile, have turned into the biggest hits of the last couple of years. "Footloose" may have struggled, but its spiritual descendants, the "Step Up" films, has blossomed into one of the hottest teen franchises of the last few years.

And this summer J.J Abrams looked to the movies of the 1980s, like "Stand by Me" and "The Goonies," in creating his coming-of-age adventure "Super 8." The film went on to become a huge global hit.

There are good reasons we're looking back to the movies of several decades ago: There were some storytelling values to that period, for one thing, and there are only have so many stories to tell.

Even a contemporary director such as Jason Reitman, one of the more original-minded filmmakers out there, said he felt the ghosts of decades past when he gets behind the camera. "In a strange way, I always feel like I'm doing a remake," he told 24 Frames in an interview last week. "I mean, 'Thank You for Smoking' was 'Jerry Maguire' if Jerry sold cigarettes."

In a new column, my colleague Patrick Goldstein takes a look at why so many producers these days choose to resurrect the past, offering the theory that platforms such as Netflix and YouTube make a new generation more willing to accept older stories. "With a century of culture just a click away on any computer, young consumers have become the ultimate archivists, just as willing to embrace familiarity as innovation," he said.

In that sense, Hollywood is giving us what we want with these throwback pieces -- films that remind us of stories we've heard before. It's just that we prefer they don't remind us so explicitly.


"Real Steel" shimmies past "Footloose" for No. 1

Has "Footloose" been given a conservative makeover?

Is Hollywood's mania for remakes spinning out of control?

-- Steven Zeitchik


Photo: The original "Footloose." Credit: Paramount Pictures

Albert Brooks in 'Drive': Betsy Sharkey's film pick of the week

September 22, 2011 |  5:35 pm

Albert Brooks in "Drive"
If, like me, you’ve missed seeing Albert Brooks doing big things on the big screen, then “Drive” will satisfy that hunger. As Bernie Rose, a B-movie producer turned mob boss who changes the destiny of Ryan Gosling’s “driver,” Brooks alone is worth the trip -- though I’ll have lots to say about Gosling’s cinematic power in Sunday Calendar.

But back to Brooks as Bernie -- careful in his dress, conciliatory in his conversation, ever the dealmaker whether it’s money or payback on the table, and unwavering, even a little apologetic, when tough decisions have to be made.

Brooks first won me over in the ‘80s, as an actor/filmmaker capturing a new generation of the disaffected and taking a big swipe at consumerism in 1985's “Lost in America” -- the "nest egg" rant is still a classic. To this day, I’m charmed by his flop-sweat in 1987's “Broadcast News.” Then he seemed to go into remission -– work that was interesting but didn’t require much attention. If you missed it, it didn’t seem to matter. (There were other movies, I know, and some terrific TV turns, but I'm talking film here, people.)

Finally he resurfaced, sorta, as the voice of the never-give-up dad in “Finding Nemo.” But I missed the face, because Brooks knows exactly how to use that mug. Self-deprecating charm comes easy, and he is better than most at telegraphing irony -– in the slow, knowing blink of an eye, the set of his chin, the way his head cocks to one side, a slight laugh to ease tense situations, the shrug. It’s all there with even more force in “Drive.” One bad dude, one big deal gone very wrong, one super-bad (and by that I mean very, very good) performance. Did someone say supporting actor Oscar nomination? I think so.


Tour L.A. with 'Drive's' director [multimedia]

'Drive' locations map

Is Ryan Gosling turning into George Clooney?

-- Betsy Sharkey

Photo: Albert Brooks as the never-flustered B-movie producer turned mob boss in “Drive.” Credit: Richard Foreman / FilmDistrict

'Drive' locations: Refn's film shows grittier sides of L.A.

September 21, 2011 |  4:45 pm

Drive ryan gosling
“There are 100,000 streets in this city …” begins Ryan Gosling’s getaway-car driver in his new L.A. noir, “Drive,” and over the course of the film, he explores a good number of them.

But forget Sunset Boulevard, Rodeo Drive and Mulholland — “Drive” isn’t going there. Starting near MacArthur Park and ending on Sherman Way in the San Fernando Valley — and cruising in-between through colorful locations downtown and along the concrete banks of the L.A. River — “Drive” finds beauty in unlikely places. Gosling’s character may live on the fringe of glamour (he’s a part-time stunt driver for the movies) but his reality is the gritty side of the city, with its greasy garages, seedy strip malls and grimy grocery stores. The film does feature the Pacific Ocean, but mainly as an accessory to a crime.

Multimedia: L.A. through the eyes of "Drive" director Nicolas Winding Refn

It’s no accident that the movie shows an L.A. that’s well off the tourist map. Gosling, whose drives around the city with director Nicolas Winding Refn helped inspire the story, used to live at 4th and Main streets downtown. He said he “fell in love” with the neighborhood and hasn't “seen it represented properly in films before.”

The city depicted in “Drive” is one that some viewers will find completely alien; others will regard it as hauntingly familiar. Whether you’re in the former group (and wondering just where this strange L.A. is), or the latter (and have gotten an odd twinge of recognition at seeing your local pizzeria pop up on the silver screen), here’s a look at some of the key locations:

View 'Drive' map in a larger map

Drive MacArthur Park MacArthur Park
Real place: corner of W. 6th Street and S. Park View Street, Los Angeles

Driver (Gosling) and Irene (Carey Mulligan) live at the Park Plaza apartments on S. Park View Street, across from the park. She’s in #408, he’s in #405. Driver’s window affords him a view stretching from the Westlake Theatre east to downtown. No hipsters and gentrifiers here—it’s the park where Driver later meets Irene’s husband, a thug and a female accomplice (Christina Hendricks) in one of the movie’s many menacing moments.

Echo Park market
Real place: Big 6 Market, 500 block of S. Rampart Boulevard, Los Angeles

Driver’s trip to the grocery turns serendipitous when he spots Irene and her son Benicio shopping in the cereal aisle. In the parking lot, her car breaks down, and Driver offers them a ride home. It pays, apparently, to shop local.

Shannon’s Garage
Real place: Picture Car Warehouse, 8400 block of Reseda Boulevard, Northridge

When he’s not doing stunts for the movies, Driver is often under the hood at a garage owned by the weathered Shannon (Bryan Cranston). When Irene has her car towed to the garage, Shannon urges Driver to give Irene and Benicio a lift back to the apartment, as a tentative hint of romance begins to bloom.

L.A. River
Real place: L.A. River near Reseda and Victory boulevards, Reseda

On the way home from the garage to MacArthur Park, Driver, Irene and Benicio take a detour, driving along the concrete banks of the river, and finding a little oasis of sorts. Gosling, it turns out, had his own idyllic moment here. “Nic wanted something different and romantic for [Driver and Irene] to do. I’d heard that you can actually drive up the L.A. River,” Gosling recalled. “So we tried it, and it worked—until we got to this one spot where out of nowhere there was this patch of shrubs and trees and you couldn’t go any further. There was no reason for it to be there. It was kind of magical.”

  Ninos pizzeria Nino’s Pizzeria
Real place: Vincenzo’s Pizza, 11000 block of Balboa Boulevard, Granada Hills

When we first see it, Shannon comes to Nino’s Pizzeria to ask Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) for $430,000 so Driver can have a race car. The restaurant is more an office for the menacing Nino (Ron Perlman) than a real eatery (they snack on Chinese food, not pizza). It’s also the site of one of the movie’s most graphic scenes. Let’s just say that local restaurateurs might want to stock plastic forks from now on.

Pawn Shop
Real Place: Santa Clarita Elks Lodge, 17700 block of Sierra Highway, Santa Clarita

Driver idles in the parking lot as he waits for a criminal to finish a robbery. (He’s lending a hand to help Irene’s husband get out of trouble.) But Driver’s good intentions go all wrong in a matter of minutes.

Point Mugu
Point Mugu State Park and beaches

When things go bad at the pawn shop, a car chase ensues near Malibu and Driver is set on a collision course with Bernie and Nino. Later, on a deserted, foggy crag, Driver and Nino have a late-night run-in that ends in the surf. A car is the weapon and the Pacific Ocean, so often in cinema a symbol of peaceful respite or lofty dreams, becomes something far more sinister.


Movie review: 'Drive'

Is Ryan Gosling turning into George Clooney?

Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn share the ride

-- Julie Makinen and Steven Zeitchik

Top photo: Ryan Gosling in "Drive."

Middle photo: A "Drive" scene filmed in MacArthur Park.

Bottom photo: Ryan Gosling in "Drive."

Photographs by Richard Foreman Jr. / FilmDistrict


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