Tag: ryan gosling

‘The Ides of March’: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

The Ides of March (2011)
Directed by George Clooney
101 mins.
***(out of four)

By Tim Lucia

George Clooney’s fourth directorial feature The Ides of March has hit theaters, as the Fall movie season is now in full swing.  Clooney’s first two efforts, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night and Good Luck were met with critical acclaim, the latter earning some Oscar nods.  His third feature, Leatherheads, was met with mixed reviews, but is a fairly enjoyable film in the tradition of classic Hollywood romantic comedies, a la Tracy and Hepburn.  March is his latest, a political drama with an all-star cast; a cynical view on the behind-the-scenes goings on during a campaign.

Stephen Meyers (Ryan Gosling) is an idealistic staffer for Presidential candidate Mike Morris (Clooney), and a rising star in the political campaign world.  Philip Seymour Hoffman is on board as Morris’ campaign manager, Evan Rachel Wood as a sexy intern.  Against his better judgement, Stephen takes a meeting with the manager of the rival campaign (Paul Giamatti) and hooks up with said sexy intern.  With a reporter (Marissa Tomei) on his case, Stephen is caught between a rock and a hard place, and soon realizes he will have to get his hands dirty, just like everyone around him.

Adapted from the play Farragut North by Clooney, Grant Heslov, and playwright Beau Willimon, March features some very sharp dialogue and solid performances.  Hoffman steals every scene he’s in, Clooney brings a dark mysteriousness to the character of Morris, and Gosling broodingly stares down everyone, as he does so well.  But, the film is too short for its genre, clocking in at only 101 minutes; Hoffman, Tomei, and Giamatti are all underutilized.  Wood’s character was not entirely believable, and the film was fairly predictable at times.

March is a decent and fairly enjoyable film, but it’s not without flaws.  Though I’m giving it three stars, there’s really no need to rush out and see it in the theater.  Clooney will be on the big screen again November 16th with The Descendants, director Alexander Payne’s (Sideways, About Schmidt, Election) first film in seven years (I am excited).  If you need another dose of the brooding Gosling, Drive, Nicholas Winding Refn’s instant cult-classic is also out there, an incredibly directed film which blends action, crime, and romance with shocking violence and a great soundtrack.  Stay tuned for Clooney in The Descendants and 2012’s Gravity, a sci-fi thriller from Children of Men and Y Tu Mama Tambien director Alfonso Cuaron.

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First Impressions: ‘Drive’

Drive
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Written by Hossein Amini (screenplay) & James Sallis (book)
100 min.
Rated R

3 1/2 out of 4 stars

By Josh Perrault

Coming into this film it was difficult to imagine what to expect, like how every film should be. Drive blew me away within the first couple seconds of the film. A constantly engaging film that has surprises lurking at the beginning, middle, and end of each scene. Winner of Best Director at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, Nicolas Winding Refn delivers this hypnotic film that stands out from many since Brian De Palma came out with Scarface in the early 1980s. That is to say, I found Drive to have the same fresh feel and stylistic approach that Scarface had, while still keeping some soft edges. Ryan Gosling stars as stuntman and part-time getaway driver known throughout the film simply as the kid, who discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist goes terribly wrong. Ryan Gosling has increasingly stepped up in book throughout his filmography. We can all agree we remember hearing about Gosling after his breakthrough film The Notebook in 2004. I’ll admit, which I’m sure most men will, I neglected the actor due to his “chick flick” role. It’s unfair, I know, but I’ve also matured since then and have grown to appreciate Gosling immensely. And let’s just say, this film helped. Gosling put his acting chops to the test in this action thriller where he played alongside Carey Mulligan who plays Irene, apartment neighbor and lover interest, and Bryan Cranston who plays Shannon, mechanic and Gosling’s right hand man during his stunts. Along with this already amazing cast comes the great Albert Brooks (Taxi Driver), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), and Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hellboy).

It’s not an exaggeration at all when I say I was literally hypnotized by this film. There is an overall look to the film that isn’t seen much. Like I said, it has a little bit of the feel from Scarface mixed with the grittiness of Taxi Driver and the cerebral effect from a David Lynch film. The soundtrack holds a hint of the 80s, and not to mention the hot pink script font that letters across the screen during the credits. The film may seem to start slow as we get to get a feel for Gosling’s character as well as the ones that become close to him leading to his biggest job ever. By that point the film gets that vibrant look. And by vibrant I mean gory (remember, Scarface). And by gory I mean, you definitely weren’t expecting it. This shouldn’t turn those off from seeing the film though. There may be a lot of intense images and blood, but again it gives it that feel that you don’t find in very many films… which I love.

I can’t stress enough the overall feel of this film and how it differs itself from films today. It’s very cool and hypnotic. From the first scene you’ll find your eyes glued to the screen and never under any circumstance wanting to leave. The cinematography is beautiful, the music is killer, and the acting is superb. And honestly who doesn’t love to find all of those elements in a film?