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A Sneak Peek at The Driver (1 Viewer)

haineshisway

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I got an early look at the next Twilight Time release, The Driver. It's such a great 70s movie, the kind that made that decade so great, when filmmakers just made films - most of them weren't about brands and sequels and films from the Syd Field and Robert McKee school of screenwriting. Some were hits, some weren't, but so many films from that decade are just interesting in one way or another. Duds, certainly, every decade has 'em. But more often than not, the films are worth watching. As is The Driver. Minimalist, definitely in the Jean-Pierre Melville mold, but just a quirky, strange movie that is compulsively watchable. Ryan O'Neal speaks very little but has the gravitas to carry the film. Bruce Dern speaks a lot and his cop character is one of his many great loathsome characters. Isabelle Adjani is stunningly beautiful. Great shots of downtown LA circa 1978, one great sequence inside one of the poker casinos on the outskirts of LA (i'm sure it's The Bicycle Club - I used to play there quite often), and all shot on real locations, with interior scenes shot in low light with pushed film, which gives those scenes their texture and style. The score by Michael Small is a major plus (and I'm happy to say we've released it with two other Small scores, Black Widow and The Star Chamber - it's still available).

I think this transfer is going to garner a lot of the usual chatter. There is a lot of crawling grain in the low-light pushed sequences, just as their should be. Once you're in sunlight or bright light, then blacks are deep and contrast is as it should be. But I think a lot of the wags are going to think they're seeing "noise" - they're not, but they'll think they are. I saw the film several times when it was released, and this is pretty much what it looked like. It's a brand new transfer done this year and I thought it looked great, just like a 1978 film should look shot under these conditions and on this budget. The color is fantastic, the sound excellent mono.

Just for fun, I then put on the DVD and all I can say is wow. No texture, no detail, no grain, just DNR and edge enhancement that is so strong even I could see it. That, BTW, is not what The Driver should look like and boy am I glad they did this fresh transfer. I don't know that the film is for everyone, but if you like quirky, great 70s movies it's worth a try if you haven't seen it. Of course, it has the Tarantino stamp of cool - he wishes he was this cool. I saw the remake, which I have absolutely no memory of other than loathing every minute of it. THIS is The Driver.
 

Mark Cappelletty

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It's available now! Pre-ordered it on July 3. Go straight to Screen Archives' site. And Bruce, there was a remake? Or are you thinking about the amazing DRIVE with Ryan Gosling (which is somewhat similar)?

My only beef about this title is that I was hoping Criterion would get its hands on it-- I would have loved a "Downtown LA Then & Now" documentary. Saw it at the New Beverly when Edgar Wright showed it and was stunned at how rough downtown LA (which is still plenty gritty) was back in the 70s.
 

haineshisway

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Yeah, I meant Drive - which seemed like a remake of The Driver to me - I didn't care for it at all. Maybe I should watch it again.
 

Robert Crawford

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haineshisway said:
Yeah, I meant Drive - which seemed like a remake of The Driver to me - I didn't care for it at all. Maybe I should watch it again.
I think you should as I thought it was very good film. However, you know how that goes with personal and subjective taste in films.
 

Robert Crawford

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As to The Driver, I can't wait until I get my preorder which is holding up some other titles like Love is a Many Splendored Thing and Sleepless in Seattle.
 

Dick

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haineshisway said:
I got an early look at the next Twilight Time release, The Driver. It's such a great 70s movie, the kind that made that decade so great, when filmmakers just made films - most of them weren't about brands and sequels and films from the Syd Field and Robert McKee school of screenwriting. Some were hits, some weren't, but so many films from that decade are just interesting in one way or another. Duds, certainly, every decade has 'em. But more often than not, the films are worth watching. As is The Driver. ,
What I recall about my very frequent movie-going experiences in the 70's, inclusive of THE DRIVER, is that a preponderance of films were a pretty nihilistic, and that the decade produced an almost limitless number of thought-provoking (though often downbeat), stories that were heavy on characterization and intelligent scripts, something we see little of today. Back then, movies often really did have and interest in providing commentary on social issues (in our current climate of non-news news and gossip and speculation of all, such films don't have much of a place in our cinemas anymore). I loved the movies of the late 60's and 1970's. I had the energy then to sit through two of three in a night, and might go out twice a week to one of two area cinemas (big screens then, not these multiplex abominations). Mono sound, yeah, but hey, the stories were the important thing back then, not the effects and DTS assaults.

Anyway, a little deviation from the topic, but THE DRIVER is a film I well remember from the era, and it fits right into the era. Probably wouldn't be made now.
 

Jon Hertzberg

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Dick said:
What I recall about my very frequent movie-going experiences in the 70's, inclusive of THE DRIVER, is that a preponderance of films were a pretty nihilistic, and that the decade produced an almost limitless number of thought-provoking (though often downbeat), stories that were heavy on characterization and intelligent scripts, something we see little of today. Back then, movies often really did have and interest in providing commentary on social issues (in our current climate of non-news news and gossip and speculation of all, such films don't have much of a place in our cinemas anymore). I loved the movies of the late 60's and 1970's. I had the energy then to sit through two of three in a night, and might go out twice a week to one of two area cinemas (big screens then, not these multiplex abominations). Mono sound, yeah, but hey, the stories were the important thing back then, not the effects and DTS assaults.

Anyway, a little deviation from the topic, but THE DRIVER is a film I well remember from the era, and it fits right into the era. Probably wouldn't be made now.
Well said, Dick. I either wasn't there at that time, or was too young to participate, but I yearn for those days just the same.
 

davidHartzog

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Nice take on The Driver, which i ordered. Didn't care for Drive either. The seventies, esp. the early years, was a great time for flicks, it seemed that great American films were coming out all the time, from Five Easy Pieces to The Long Goodbye to California Split to the Conversation to Night Moves. Today, you get johnny depp with a dead bird on his head. Hello?
 

larryKR

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Thanks for the info haineshisway. I have the dvd so it's good to hear that the bd is a good upgrade, which I pre-ordered on July 3rd. As to DRIVE, I thought it was a fine film.
 

ahollis

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Ok Bruce you sold me. And I am sure when the Blu arrives it will sell me too. Thanks for review and thoughts. You have not failed me yet.
 

JoHud

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I just bought this movie last Fall on DVD and needless to say it was an excellent 70s film brimming with a great understated screenplay and some quality stuntwork and cinematography to boot. Certainly a good double bill with Hard Times.

Needless to say, I have this TT release pre-ordered.
Dick said:
What I recall about my very frequent movie-going experiences in the 70's, inclusive of THE DRIVER, is that a preponderance of films were a pretty nihilistic, and that the decade produced an almost limitless number of thought-provoking (though often downbeat), stories that were heavy on characterization and intelligent scripts, something we see little of today. Back then, movies often really did have and interest in providing commentary on social issues (in our current climate of non-news news and gossip and speculation of all, such films don't have much of a place in our cinemas anymore). I loved the movies of the late 60's and 1970's. I had the energy then to sit through two of three in a night, and might go out twice a week to one of two area cinemas (big screens then, not these multiplex abominations). Mono sound, yeah, but hey, the stories were the important thing back then, not the effects and DTS assaults.

Anyway, a little deviation from the topic, but THE DRIVER is a film I well remember from the era, and it fits right into the era. Probably wouldn't be made now.
Definitely. Those sorts of themes are very common of the era and offer a unique viewing experience that is very rarely attempted today. That said, whether some some films that approached the subject matter were good is a whole other matter. Thankfully, The Driver is one of the better examples.
 

Robert Crawford

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I watched this BD on Sunday. A very good video and audio presentation. I always liked this film and considered it an underrated modern film noir.
 

Worth

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Dick said:
What I recall about my very frequent movie-going experiences in the 70's, inclusive of THE DRIVER, is that a preponderance of films were a pretty nihilistic, and that the decade produced an almost limitless number of thought-provoking (though often downbeat), stories that were heavy on characterization and intelligent scripts, something we see little of today. Back then, movies often really did have and interest in providing commentary on social issues (in our current climate of non-news news and gossip and speculation of all, such films don't have much of a place in our cinemas anymore).
That type of filmmaking has shifted away from the movies and onto cable television. If guys like Sydney Lumet, Alan Pakula and Robert Altman were working today, they'd be making shows for HBO, Showtime or AMC.
 

Dave B Ferris

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Professor Echo

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Gosling definitely channeled Ryan O'Neal in his performance in DRIVE, it's very obvious throughout the film, which is a very good movie and though the homage is there, it still works on its own. And Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman are both extremely good as the badder guys.

Interestingly, though at the time thought miscast as "The Driver," I find this to be O'Neal's best film and performance by far. I always figured the less he said the better he would be, but I never expected such absolutely compelling screen presence from him. Hill is a master at making even average actors look amazingly good.
 

Dave B Ferris

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haineshisway said:
I think they did this already, but what haven't they done: Divorce His, Divorce Hers - same deal.
Interesting; I had never heard of the earlier film(s).

Judging from most of the user comments at Amazon, one *could* hold out hope that over the course of 40 years, someone has figured out a way to do this more effectively. Is it likely to be the "first-timer", as mentioned in the linked article? History would say "no", right? How many first time directors knock it out of the park (on their first try)? Maybe "Fruitvale Station"?
 

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