‘Drive’ review – A slow film about a man who goes quickly

On Saturday night i finally got around to watching the film Drive.  I’ve heard a lot of fuss about this film, comparing it to classic driving movies such as Vanishing point, the French Connection, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, Death Proof.  I love all of these films –  a good driving movie is perfect popcorn fodder, not to mention the fact that the genre is normally replete with excellent anti-heroes.  i mean Kowalski isn’t referred to as the last American hero for no reason.  He is a snarling, amphetamine taking, crazy driving, unwashed throwback to the crashing end of the 60’s.  His mission a statement on the political era it was based in.

I had heard that Drive beat a similar path.  I had also heard that the first 20 minutes of the film were virtually silent.  I decided that this factoid might be best kept to myself, as it would be nigh impossible to persuade my significant other to watch a driving movie with no talking.  So.  Minor deceit complete, excitement levels high, i slid the blue-ray into the PS3, and hit play.

Drive is not Vanishing Point.  Drive, is, in fact, pretty much the exact opposite of Vanishing Point.

This became clear when he went to run his first job in in the film.  The protagonist is a stunt driver who occasionally takes jobs as a getaway driver.  He has rules for his clients – i am yours for 5 minutes.  miss the window, unlucky.  Promising.

Then the job starts.  His car is shiny.  the thieves run out and get into the car, and the chase begins.  Excellent, i think, time for popcorn and handbrake turns and….oh.  wait.  This car chase appears to involve driving sensibly.  at some points, he just stops.

Now i appreciate that this is probably a more realistic version of the getaway, but it just sort of reminded me of the Eddie Izzard sketch comparing British cinema to American.  The popcorn only makes it halfway to your mouth before you throw it back in disappointment at the snooze fest you find yourself watching….oh…I….oh.

And this to me was the real problem with Drive.  I was bored.

I understand that the director may well have been trying to make a more intelligent film, but he’s skipped all the potential to make Drive more than a one trick pony.

Let me put it another way.  Drive is a slow film about a man who drives quickly.  How slow?  You may be familiar with shot construction rules, you may not be.  Try this – watch TV.  It doesn’t really matter what you are watching, just get some on.  OK.  Now count the duration of the shots.  Normally you’ll find something around 2 seconds per shot. There is movement in longer shots, to help keep the momentum that you get from sticking together a series of short shots.  Now, while watching Drive, it occurred to me that it seemed visually slower than usual, so i decided to time the next shot.   This happened towards the end of the film, but is a fairly good indicator of how bored i was at that stage.  How long was the random shot i decided to time?  22 seconds.  i’ll say that again – 22 long, dull seconds.  it was like the cinematographer had specifically set out to give people the time to REALLY watch the amazing shot he had constructed.

Yawn.

Another thing that bothered me was that the report of minimal dialogue for the first 20 minutes was inaccurate.  There was, in fact, dialogue.  it just wasn’t particularly interesting or engaging dialogue.  I began to think that rather than being a film about a driver, it was a film about a man with a crippling social condition that precluded him from making basic conversation. Ever.  When he got a love interest,  I found that I did not particularly care about it,  other than hoping beyond hope that it might lead to a car chase.  Preferably with someone strapped to the bonnet of the car (thanks Death Proof)

No dice.  No car chase.  in fact, driving takes a bit of a backseat (hur hur) while he goes off stamping on peoples faces until their heads pop, and having a hammer which he holds with a REALLY SHAKY hand to show us all how unhinged he is, and other things that i didn’t really care about.

I think the point had to be that actually, as a driver, the majority of the protagonists time its about keeping control and composure, until he attempts a stunt, or a sudden visceral accident shatters the illusion of control that he maintains.  The brief moments of extreme violence echo this approach to portraying the loss of control he feels.

So.  the violence is like a car crash.  Driving is largely sedate, and this guy with a scorpion on his back is flirting very badly with some woman and her ex.  what would really round this off?  oh, i know,  how about some really awful 80’s sounding music.  Actually, scratch that, we’ve spent all of our money on this cinematographer who wants the world to see his long drawn out shots of the sun, is there any way we could get away with just, you know, buying 3 songs and then playing them over and over again?

Seriously.  i haven’t been this annoyed with the music from a film since i watched midnight cowboy (argh buy another song). i understand that you want a theme for your film, but sometimes variety is good too.  Especially if the rest of your film is, to put it gently, a bit dull.

So, to sum up.  i didn’t particularly like this film.  True, it was nicely shot, and true, it can be nice to have an alternative to all the explosions you get with mainstream cinema, but there are just too many negatives to enjoy it.

I will not watch drive again, and i don’t even care about it enough to google the name of the main character.  Sufficient to say, it wasn’t Kowalski.

Oh yes, and just to prove there’s no gender bias here, my girlfriend hated it too. A lot.

Drive – 2.5 car crashes out of 5

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Planning Your Social Media Video Content 5 simple tips to help you to get your video right – Part 2

Welcome back for Part 2 of my guide, enjoy!

  1. How will you use your video? Are you going to use the video exclusively on your website?  Are you going to be creating DVDs and sending them to people? Is your video going to be part of a series? This can influence the length and content of a video – if you want to send people a DVD, then chances are by the time they get around to watching it, they have already seen your brand name on the letter you sent it with (or the box of the DVD) and have decided to watch. However, if you will be tweeting your content and one of your followers re-tweets there is a chance that whoever clicks the link has no idea who you are or what you do – which means you need to include information about how potential clients can reach you.

  1. How are you going to market your video, and how does your video fit in with your marketing strategy? You might want to use social media to let clients and potential clients know about who you are and what you do, but how will you achieve this? Are you going to release a video every day? Week? Month? How will people know when a video is going live? Consider whether you want to blog about when videos are going to be added, or whether you want to schedule your content to come out every Friday, for example.

  1. Practice! Standing in front of a camera and talking is strange. The more you can practice delivering the content the better! Try presenting your content to a mirror, filming yourself with a smart-phone, or, if you teach a class, try out the video content on them first. People look best when they appear natural in front of a camera – if this isn’t you then the best way to get this result is practice practice practice!

Planning Your Social Media Video Content 5 simple tips to help you to get your video right – Part 1

So you’ve decided to include some video on your website, or to use a promotional film to market your brand. Congratulations! But what’s next?

 Below I have included a few tips to help you to start to plan exactly what you are saying and who you are saying it to. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just intended to help you think about the end goal for your digital content as having this in mind at the start of the project can be invaluable!

  1. Think about your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Is your video intended to attract new clients or to provide information to existing clients? If it is aimed at your current clients, then who exactly are they? Do the age/interests/location/etc. of your clients change the type of video that you want to make?

  1. What is your video trying to do? You might be trying to gain more clients directly, perhaps with an advert. However, if your video is part of your social media content the video may provide another purpose – to sell yourself and build people’s confidence in you as a brand. There are many different types of digital content, so think about what might work best for you.

     I Hope this has been helpful, but that’s it for now! 

    Check back next week for the last 3 tips!

First Steps

So.

Blog under construction.  website being worked on.  films being edited.  twitter being trawled.

then the blog will commence properly.  there will be updates on various movie projects i have in mind, as well as anything else that occurs and is film related.

watch this space!