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The Driver (1978) – The 60’s and 70’s were good to the nameless badass genre as well as the car chase flick.  The two go hand in hand and certain trappings of each continue to be emulated on occasion to this day.  The Driver features comedy and romance leading man staple of the 70’s Ryan O’Neal, shaking off his audience friendly persona and going into a understated McQueen mode as our nameless protagonist, a driver for stick up men who says little but whose skills behind the will are without equal.  The emotions are buried deep and the car chases are deftly handled by pro Walter Hill.  I bet Michael Mann loves this movie.  Hill has spent most of his career making under the radar or forgotten action movie gems (Southern Comfort, Trespass) and The Driver fits nicely into his resume.  I had never heard of Driver until recently.  O’Neal’s career would spend the next decade fizzling which is a shame.  Between Paper Moon, What’s Up Doc?, and The Driver, as well as Love Story for the ladies, he clearly had across the board range which many, including himself it seemed, forgot how to  appreciate.


36 Quai des Orfèvres (2004) – A crafty French cop thriller with the often great Daniel Auteuil, another guy who does great stoicism, and stalwart Gerard Depardieu as rival cops caught up in backstabbing politics against one another.  The plot runs around and around itself, never quite settling into one place, which doesn’t work against it.  36 begins as a cops and robbers piece, moves into something more akin to a cop against cop conspiracy flick and then gradually downshifts into revenge film.  It’s stylishly made by Olivier Marchal who manages to keep his shifting focus mostly in order.  A fair amount convoluted happenings are required to make all the pieces fall into place but everything has been assembled with such compelling atmosphere and skill that there’s no need to hold much of a grudge.  It’s a cool import with bursts of action and melodrama that should keep even the most subtitle averted viewer paying attention.


Rubber (2010) – It would have taken a director of unique skill to make this conceit work.  A tire comes to life, yes a tire, and rolls around killing those who slight it.  How does a tire kill?  See Scanners.  But director Quentin Dupieux clearly is not the guy to do this bizarre scenario justice.  There’s an idea here and not a bad one, that within the world of film anything can be made terrifying or compelling, no reason necessary, but Dupieux clearly hasn’t the faith in his audience or the balls as a movie maker to handle it straight.  He fills out his weird experiment with fourth wall breaking filler that never accomplishes anything other than annoyance.  A hillside bound audience watches the movie with us, constantly serving to voice whatever insecurities might be mounting in the viewers at home.  What should be handled as avant-garde horror/action film is simply turned into a pretentious, pointless art house goof.  Seekers of the curious and weird may find something to appreciate about this but otherwise it’s mostly a waste.


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