THRILLER DRIVE (18) 100min ●●●●●
You should never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly. If only Ryan Gosling’s Hollywood stuntman/getaway driver had heeded this advice he might not have got mixed up with beautiful mum Irene (Carey Mulligan), her jailbird beau (Oscar Isaac) and local Mr Bigs Bernie and Nino (Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman).
Over the last decade writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn has proved to be (arguably) one of the greatest film stylists and genre anarchists working today. His Danish Pusher trilogy deconstructed the modern crime family saga; Bleeder and Fear X took Freud’s letter opener knife to the infant horror fantasy and vigilante thriller respectively; and let’s not even get started on the Ken Russell-esque excesses of Bronson and how Valhalla Rising was the best Viking pic that Carl Theodor Dreyer never made. Born in 1970, it’s no surprise that Refn should now wish to
tackle the cinema he soaked up between the ages of eight and 17 years old when his parents moved from Copenhagen to New York – films that clearly had a profound effect. We are talking about that very American, very specific period when the contradictory charms of the daylight noir reigned supreme. In the colon of Refn’s film lie the undigested remains of Walter Hill’s The Driver, Michael Mann’s Thief (aka Violent Streets), Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo and Richard Rush’s The Stunt Man. Subterranean mise-en-scène and throbbing electronica are the order of the day here, while the dialogue is reductive, elusive and cloaked in cod portent and existential yearning. This is film noir curdled by sunlight and in bad clothes, where women are silent supplicants and the action violence is extreme. It’s all beautifully marshalled and Gosling is the mighty vacuum at its centre, sucking in the dust of cliché and appropriation. Drive is a top gear achievement. (Paul Dale) ■ General release from Fri 23 Sep.
HORROR/THRILLER DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK (15) 99min ●●●●● DRAMA MADEMOISELLE CHAMBON (12A) 101min ●●●●●
ROMANTIC COMEDY MIDNIGHT IN PARIS (12A) 94min ●●●●●
Looming large in the childhood memories of many pop culture aficionados, the original Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was a minor but effective 1973 TV movie in which Jim Hutton and Kim Darby played a couple menaced by demonic creatures in a haunted house.
Producer Guillermo del Toro focuses instead on Sally (Bailee Madison), the daughter of couple Kim (Katie Holmes) and Alex (Guy Pearce), who are sprucing up the interior of their new home. Sally finds a furnace in the basement where she believes monstrous sprites are living, but struggles to convince her parents that the creatures exist. In re-imagining Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, del
Toro pays tribute to a film he clearly loves, but with first-time director Troy Nixey seemingly directing by proxy, there’s little sign of the style or imagination of Pan’s Labyrinth or The Devil’s Backbone. Both versions of Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark hark back to HP Lovecraft’s story The Rats in The Walls, but comic book artist Nixey’s CGI creations are somewhat cheesier that Lovecraft’s many- splendoured, but far nastier creations. (Eddie Harrison) ■ Selected release from Fri 7 Oct.
62 THE LIST 22 Sep–20 Oct 2011
Mademoiselle Chambon is another bittersweet and elegantly orchestrated chamber drama from Stéphane Brizé, the French writer-director of Not Here to be Loved, which plays like a Gallic variation of Brief Encounter. Jean (Vincent Lindon) is a builder in a provincial town, leading a seemingly contented existence with his factory worker wife, Anne Marie (Aure Atika), and their young son, Jeremy. A chance meeting with his child’s primary-school teacher, Véronique Chambon (Sandrine Kiberlain), triggers some unexpected longings in Jean.
This isn’t a melodramatic tale of amour fou in the manner of last year’s Leaving, but an understated study of two adults who struggle to express the depth of their intimate feelings. Favouring long takes and medium shots, Brizé concentrates on his characters’ looks, gestures and silences, keeping dialogue to a minimum. Musical pieces such as Elgar’s ‘Salut d’Amour’ and Franz von Vecsey’s ‘Valse Triste’ express the yearnings of his hesitant protagonists, whilst the performances of Lindon and Kiberlain – themselves once a real-life couple – are movingly restrained. (Tom Dawson) ■ GFT, Glasgow from Fri 23–Thu 29 Sep.
Midnight in Paris is one of the warmest and wittiest Woody Allen films in recent memory. Allen invests what could be a New Yorker short story with a Twilight Zone twist. Allen sets the scene with picture postcard visions of Paris landmarks. It is a way of relaxing the mood for a sweetly nostalgic romantic comedy. Owen Wilson is one of the more effective Allen substitutes as Gil, a blustering Hollywood screenwriter on holiday with his fiancée Inez (Rachel McAdams) and her stuffy parents. One evening, Gil is walking aimlessly through the streets when a car pulls up and whisks him off to a party where he is soon bonding with F Scott Fitzgerald (Tom Hiddleston) and chatting with a pugnacious Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll).The next morning he isn’t sure if it was fantasy or reality but it is a world he wants to revisit. Amusing and cleverly sustained, Midnight In Paris is also perceptive about our longing for people and places we can never experience. It confirms that even in the autumn of his career, Allen can still surprise and delight. (Allan Hunter) ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh from Fri 7 Oct; GFT, Glasgow from Fri 14 Oct and selected release.