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Originally published September 15, 2011 at 5:55 AM | Page modified September 15, 2011 at 5:55 AM

Scarecrow Video recommendations for "Drive"

After a summer full of bloated, sluggish, so-called "spectacles," this weekend we get a real action movie for a change. "Drive" is simultaneously a lean, pulpy neo-noir and a slightly Tarantino-esque pastiche of, in part, some seminal crime thrillers of the late '70s and '80s. Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver and part-time getaway wheelman who ends up in a very violent confrontation with some gangsters. It's exciting and very stylish and entirely worth your time, and to go along with it we thought we'd tell you about some of the films of which it is so reminiscent.

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After a summer full of bloated, sluggish, so-called "spectacles," this weekend we get a real action movie for a change. "Drive" is simultaneously a lean, pulpy neo-noir and a slightly Tarantino-esque pastiche of, in part, some seminal crime thrillers of the late '70s and '80s. Ryan Gosling stars as a Hollywood stunt driver and part-time getaway wheelman who ends up in a very violent confrontation with some gangsters. It's exciting and very stylish and entirely worth your time, and to go along with it we thought we'd tell you about some of the films of which it is so reminiscent.

First and foremost is Walter Hill's seminal 1979 thriller "The Driver," starring Ryan O'Neal as the titular character, also a getaway artist. He's a stoic, hard-bitten professional who prefers to drive rather than talk, and his character is a primary inspiration for Gosling's in Drive (in both films the lead character's name is not mentioned). Hill's film is so slick and terse that it approaches a kind of poetry, and maintaining that balance is what makes it such an enduring, essential classic.

Then there's "Thief," from director MIchael Mann. James Caan stars as, you guessed it, a thief who specializes in complicated, high-end heists. But he's so good that he attracts the attention of both some corrupt cops and some greedy mobsters, both of which want Caan to work for them. He's forced to decide between his lucrative career, his ironclad criminal/ethical code and his desire to walk away and start a normal life. This is another highly stylized, existentialist crime drama, made all the more interesting for setting the foundation for themes that Mann has explored throughout his career in other films like "Heat," "Collateral" and "Miami Vice."

Finally we have the gritty, monumentally scummy and very, very '80s "To Live and Die in L.A.," from William Friedkin, director of "The Exorcist." Future "CSI" star William Petersen headlines as a Treasury agent trying to take down the counterfeiter (Willem Dafoe) who murdered his partner. The twist here is that Petersen's character, a dangerously unstable adrenaline junkie, is perhaps more sleazy and vicious than his quarry, who in turn is a deeply disturbed weirdo artist gripped by such fierce existential angst that he can only burn his own paintings and print fake money. This film also features a crazy-great score by, seriously, Wang Chung. Bonus points if, like this writer, you are into cool fonts, because it's packed with them (sounds strange, but trust me).

Till next week!




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