So, let's start with one of my favourite films from the past couple of years - Drive.
Not just because of the ever so lovely, (everyone has a crush - yes, straight men too), Ryan Gosling, and not because of my favourite British actress, the understated Carey Mulligan. No, because it has been one of the few films in recent months which has hung about in my head - always a good sign.
First off its a cracking genre film, starting with that amazing hot pink choice of font which slashes boldly across the opening credits. Perhaps a metaphor for the way the violence in the film suddenly jumps out at you and smacks you across the face. Literally. And wow. I was not expecting that.
The scene in the lift is breath taking, not just for gosling getting those MTV award winning lips out to kiss Carey. No, just because you are not expecting it at all, and you really don't expect the way it continues. Oh right, you're kicking the guy... And now you're kicking in s head, and now his head is mush.... Oh my.
But as genre film it's an interesting metaphor, a kind of modern day fairy tale. Gosling is the hero, kitted out in white shining satin (armour) chasing the princess who needs rescuing. The problem is, The Driver, as he's only ever know, is stuck in a fantasy story of his own, one warped by his day job. I think the driver seems himself as a kind of knight, he's ultimately fighting to protect innocence at any cost. But just like a knight in a fairy tale the reality is warped. There isnt going to be a happyily ever after, as Mulligan's face confirms at ate end of the lift scene. The driver lives in a fantasy and his actions play out to prove this. Why else would he wear the mask to kill the evil Niño?
That scene at the beach stuck in my head for ages. Why does he go to the restaurant and look in the window wearing the mask? Why does he leave the car perched on the top of the cliff with the list shining? Why does he stalk the dying Niño into the waters? I think because his mind as been lost - he cannot distinguish between what is real and what is a movie and by wearing the mask from his stunt scene, he literally becomes a superhero. He feels invincible. He is removed from his identity. The bad guy dies - the good girl lives - and he's at the centre of the action.
I love the detail of this film too. That statin jacket! What a great touch, like a suit of armour in a fairy tale it shines out thought the dark streets of LA, and like armour, through the film it becomes muddied with the evidence of battle. He never cleans it, it becomes a badge of honour.
Also I like any director who hires Christina Hendricks to then blow her head up 10 minutes after she appears on screen. It seems like a waste, but then again, that's one point of the film: there's so much violence that we've resorted to treating it casually.