Home Of Pure Retro Movie Love.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Drive (2011) And My 10 Favorite Neo-Noirs Of The 80's

Drive is Retro Movie heaven. A loving homage to the stripped down Neo-Noir and Action Films of past. In particular of the 1980's varietal. The Film elevates the genre a bit to almost arthouse aspirations. Much like Jean-Pierre Melville did with his own tribute to The Noir in 1967 with the stripped down masterpiece, Le Samourai. Though it skirts with the idea of an Action/Noir Film becoming something a bit more, Nicolas Winding Refn's Picture is one that never pretends to be something it isn't. This is a Movie that is filled with quiet moments, but also of rousing Action and tension. This is assured Filmmaking and pure Cinema goodness.

What it also does that most Action Films and their bratty Filmmakers forget, is that It pays astute attention to it's environment. So many Movies look and feel like they could be just about anywhere... In a warehouse or a lot with a giant Green Screen in a lot of cases... Whereas Drive is set against modern day Los Angeles and it's lucious though intimate photography by Newton Thomas Sigel (frequent collaborator of Bryan Singer) breathes new life into the oft-filmed city.

You don't get anymore L.A. than a Film about a guy who moonlights as a Movie-Car Stuntman when he's not a getaway driver or a mechanic.


Nicholas Winding Refn and his accomplices take the genre very seriously. They know of it's trappings and that it's story could be easily convoluted. Instead, it's here presented in a very straight forward manner. The Film is very lean and never becomes one of excess like so many Movies of today. My very observant wife pointed out to me that a couple of different interiors even utilize the same wallpaper. I haven't watched a Film in the genre this intimate in such a long time. It reminds me of the days when Films wanted to tap into a mood and rhythm all their own without having to feel the need to constantly shake up the audience.

Drive does have it's fair share of Action and violence, but above all else, it's a thing of beauty. This is a Film that could easily be thought of as style over substance. However, much like Tom Ford's A Single Man from 2009, it's designs are to be both painstakingly crafted and to be a profound entertainment. My kind of Movie. And the best Film of the year (so far)

Wardrobe as a character in a film: Drive is all about the details


Because Drive harkens back the memories of 80's Films past, from it's choice of credit font right down to it's Tangerine Dream-like score, why not make a list of my favorite Neo-Noirs from that decade?



1985. William Friedkin's Film is pulse pounding and hypnotic. Pure 80's cool.


1983. Jim McBride's super stylish remake takes the genre to a whole new place entirely. Love this Movie.


1985. Brian De Palma's playful homage to Rear Window is a gorgeous 80's Film lovers' treat.



1986. The most eccentric Neo-Noir of the decade is also one of the best.


1980. Paul Schrader plays it as crisp and cool as Richard Gere's meticulous wardrobe. Love the Giorgio Moroder soundtrack.


1980. William Friedkin's excellent and exciting Noir dives into a subculture and never looks back.

1984. The Coen Brothers playful exercise in 80's Neo(n) Noir.


1988. Robert Towne's mostly forgotten love triangle spin on Noir is beautifully shot and well played by it's leads.


1981. Lawrence Kasdan revitalizes the idea of Classic Noir and gives it a fresh 80's Noir spin. 


A Michael Mann 2-for-1 Neo-Noir Double Feature:

1981. Mann's film is a clear inspiration for Drive. Hard edged and deeply entertaining.


1986. Mann's spin on the Lecter story is both Miami Vice cool and totally engrossing.


More 80's Neo-Noir goodness:

Out Of Bounds
Positive I.D.
Sea Of Love
The Big Easy
Still Of The Night
Streets Of Fire
52 Pick-Up
The Morning After
House Of Games
Slam Dance
Choose Me
P.I. Private Investigations
No Way Out
Best Seller
Perfect Strangers
Union City
Cop
White Of The Eye
Cutter's Way
8 Million Ways To Die 
True Confessions
Hammett
Blade Runner
Tightrope
No Mercy
Angel Heart
Black Widow
Out Of The Dark
Johnny Handsome


    10 comments:

    John Baxter said...

    Some great films there, really enjoyed your blog on Drive too.

    Ty said...

    Great write-up and recommendations! Drive was an intelligent, fun and violent! The opening credits were really cool. Loved the 80s vibe.

    Also: Albert Brooks was excellent.

    MrJeffery said...

    i'm so glad you enjoyed 'drive.' wasn't it fun? i'm pretty obsessed. i need to check out some of those 80s neo-noirs of the ones i've seen i love them (even 'cruising'... which is pretty fascinating).

    Cinema Du Meep said...

    Thanks John & Ty!

    Albert Brooks was really great in this. He deserves the Oscar.

    Jeffery-- I love when I can get obsessed about a new movie. It so rarely happens. I'm glad you share that love for this film.

    The Goodkind said...

    Was it better than the original though? Cause that was a great film.

    CS said...

    Mann's films (especially Thief) and De Palma's films immediately came to mind for me when watching Drive.

    Glad to see Cruising and Body Heat on the list as well. In fact, I cannot argue with any of the 10 neo-noirs you listed. All are solid choices.

    Mike Lippert said...

    You could have just put Body Heat 10 times and the list would still have been perfect. That movie is just so good in so many ways.

    dtmmr said...

    I feel a little bit guilty saying that Drive needed more driving. When the action comes it is tense and artfully done without shying away from the extreme violence, but that all starts to go away as soon as the characters start talking, or sighing and looking at each other. Nice review. Check out mine when you get a chance.

    Direct to Video Connoisseur said...

    I can't wait to see Drive. I love that list of 80s Neo-Noir, because I always associate the 90s as the decade for that, and I forget how many great ones came in the 80s too. It's good to spotlight those ones too.

    kishmot said...

    Cool. Thanks for the run-down. Small quibble: The titles written out and not just from the posters as not so easy to see on mobile. But really glad for the list. Kishmot

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