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« Miss Kubelik, I adore you »

Carey Mulligan is the Shirley MacLaine for a new era. No samsara jokes, please.

I enjoyed Drive more than I expected to, but felt a little ashamed. It’s hard to deny it is a very decadent film: the Byronic intensity! The smouldering! The lingering! And above all the gazing—punctuated by convulsions of the old ultraviolence.1 Is this what we’ve come to? Well. And isn’t the unnamed hero something out of a chanson de geste, what with his mighty steed and his noble mien? Such rarefied courtliness! Of course, a lack of carnality in the bedroom is made up for in dead Saracens. The white knight even sports prominent heraldry! The dissertation all but writes itself.

All joking aside, this is what straight action movies ought to be. I watched Escape From New York last week (for a reason, honest), and by the end I felt as though I’d spent the evening with a dry-cleaning bag over my head. And while the anachronism emphasizes John Carpenter’s essential want of taste, nothing much has changed since 1981. An instructive comparison to Drive might be Jason Statham’s breakout vehicle, a very typical piece of high-octane flatulence called The Transporter. Macho stoicism, fisticuffs, car chases, damsels in distress, moody glares, double-crosses—but only one of these films is functioning above the level of the limbic system. Which one is it? 

1 In the words of Oliver Stone, “Holy shit—you see that fuckin’ head come apart, man?”