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Episode 108 - The Driver (w/ Edgar Wright)


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Poll: Episode 108 - The Driver (w/ Edgar Wright) (50 member(s) have cast votes)

Should "The Driver" enter The Canon?

  1. Yes (31 votes [62.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 62.00%

  2. No (19 votes [38.00%] - View)

    Percentage of vote: 38.00%

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#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 25 June 2017 - 11:06 PM

Director Edgar Wright joins Amy this week to discuss the 1978 crime thriller “The Driver.” Edgar explains why it’s the perfect 90-minute movie and how it influenced his new film “Baby Driver,” as well as the trickiest part of directing a car chase. They pick apart the root of actor Ryan O’Neal’s stoicism, praise the power of Walter Hill’s script work, and finally they cast their votes on whether “The Driver” should be let into The Canon.

#2 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 10:02 AM

Enjoyable movie, and I definitely see the influence on modern filmmakers (that's the strongest argument for canonization, IMO).

I tilt slightly to the "no" side, in that I consider it another good movie that falls short of greatness. It also probably doesn't help that I watched a YouTube version with not-so-great picture quality, but those are the breaks.

#3 Chet Roivas

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 10:31 AM

I saw this for the very first time a few months ago, and all of the old review snippets that Amy read out at the beginning of the episode are absolutely bang on the money. I love Edgar Wright's work as much as the next person, and I expected his enthusiasm to win me over a little, but it felt like pure nostalgia talking.

The Driver puts style before substance to be sure, but I don't understand how anybody is able to properly engage with its utterly infantile plot. The endless brooding pregnant pauses never answered any of the multiple questions that I had about how this crime syndicate is supposed to operate, and there's a complete and utter dearth of actual suspense, hardly ideal for a thriller.

Ryan O'Neal has absolutely no screen presence and almost appears to be floating around waiting to be revealed as a ghost. Bruce Dern is as wonderful as he's ever been, but the mano-a-mano aspect of the story never compels because his antagonist is barely there.

At least it's relatively lean and there are some really terrific car chases in it, but films as relentlessly derivative as this have to at least bring something new to the party. I'm happy that Wright and QT think this film is "cool", but I think it's a bit of a crock.

In short: Non.

#4 Naranek

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 03:11 PM

Loved this episode, it's refreshing to have a strong, enthusiastic guest (Edgar Wright, no less!) go to bat for their pick for the Canon. I'm reserving my vote until I watch the film, etc etc... So, uh where is Amy actually from? I've been listening since day one, enjoyed her greatly as the yang to Devin's yin [...we still need another host to anchor it]
With this episode I have finally stopped getting over Amy's cherry-picking where she hails from. Enough of that, it's starting to feel that she is being disingenuous when ever she claims ownership over a different hometown whenever the discussion moves her to augment her backstory.

#5 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 03:13 PM

I love The Driver. It's been a favorite of mine for a long time. This is a great noir, especially in how it builds off of Ryan O'Neal as a sort of western misfit. I also love how beautifully the set pieces hold up. The Driver is so watchable, and so much fun. I'm right there with Edgar Wright. This is a lean, near-perfect ride, and kind of a miracle. Easy yes.

Also, was Amy thinking of an iris shot? Maybe it's just the way she was describing it, but that's what it sounded like.

#6 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 09:49 PM

View PostNaranek, on 26 June 2017 - 03:11 PM, said:

Loved this episode, it's refreshing to have a strong, enthusiastic guest (Edgar Wright, no less!) go to bat for their pick for the Canon. I'm reserving my vote until I watch the film, etc etc... So, uh where is Amy actually from? I've been listening since day one, enjoyed her greatly as the yang to Devin's yin [...we still need another host to anchor it]
With this episode I have finally stopped getting over Amy's cherry-picking where she hails from. Enough of that, it's starting to feel that she is being disingenuous when ever she claims ownership over a different hometown whenever the discussion moves her to augment her backstory.


Some people moved around a lot as kids/teenagers. It might not be cherry-picking.

Though it would be nice to get some explanation here.

#7 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 26 June 2017 - 10:08 PM

View Postsycasey 2.0, on 26 June 2017 - 09:49 PM, said:


Some people moved around a lot as kids/teenagers. It might not be cherry-picking.

Though it would be nice to get some explanation here.

Tracking her mentions on the show, I think she was born in Michigan, then lived in Texas, and then went to college in Oklahoma.

Also, yeah. When you've lived in a few different states for several years at a time, you do sort of begin to say you're from multiple places. Maybe it is cherry picking, but it's waaaaaaay easier to say "I'm from blank" than to go through your entire geographic history.

#8 AbeFroman

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 03:28 AM

Gets in for its influence alone. Would we have Michael Mann's career without this film? I was taken aback by how much of Thief and Heat's DNA come from this film.

I'm a massive Walter Hill fan. He may be America cinema's most underrated auteur, even more so than John Carpenter, who has been canonized in recent years.

Is it Hill's best film? No, I think The Warriors is more Canon worthy. I also enjoy Southern Comfort and Extreme Prejudice more, but The Driver's influence is undeniable.

#9 Dicey Dice

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 06:01 AM

I vote no.
I don't like New Hollywood.

#10 User name User

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 08:26 AM

I like the film, but it's not Hill's best. The history of the film is a good discussion point, but I don't think Wright did a compelling job of judging the film on its' own merits. I found him struggling to provide another answer of why it's worthy that didn't feel overly sentimental. I kind of agree with Amy on that the characters don't feel fully fleshed out. I'm not saying the show should be a litigious slog, but John Fugelsang made such a great case for John Waters that felt simultaneously personal and logical.

It's good to see how it influenced other great work, like Heat and Drive. I'd rather see the Warriors or one of Hill's other works get the recognition, like the Warriors, The Long Riders or Southern Comfort.

I wonder how Hill's recent film plays against the narrative of being ahead of the curve in terms of a progressive/regressive attitude. Hill has caught a lot of flack.

#11 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 27 June 2017 - 07:37 PM

Unlike last week, where I was conflicted, this is an easy choice. I both greatly enjoy the film and regard it as highly canonical. Amy complains about tropes it helped establish and Dicey Dice says he dislikes "New Hollywood", but that's just further evidence for how canonical it is. Thief, Driver series of games (and perhaps GTA to some extent), that series of BMW commercials with Clive Owen that in turn inspired The Transporter series, Refn's Drive and now Baby Driver are all lineal descendants. And that's leaving aside broader things like "strong, silent character". And it's not like those descendants have completely displaced it either. I think there is something to be said for "purity", stripping something down to its essence, and there won't be any reason for people to even attempt making a more pure version of this because Walter Hill already did it. Going back to my comment about last week, Amy should know that as promised I did vote for Black Orpheus despite preferring City of God, and since it was decided by one vote that means I cast the winning vote which doomed my preferred movie.

I only saw the version in which Adjani's Player is clearly a bought witness (whereas in Le Samourai I think she merely chooses to lie), and didn't know other versions existed. She's a great actress in other things, but despite my high regard for this film, her performance is rather forgettable. With all due respect to Bruce Dern (and that's a significant amount) I think he's exaggerating what a big deal the female roles in this were. The Charles Bronson quote says more about Bronson himself than the year he said it, and isn't quite as funny as his remark on receiving the script for Death Wish that it sounds fun and he'd love to do it, by which he meant shooting muggers rather than starring in the movie.

#12 User name User

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 05:29 AM

One thing occurred to me as I was listening again. I wonder how crazy the set of Nightcrawler got. If we're talking 4am decisions, there must have been plenty of them.

BTW, it was Isabelle Adjani's birthday yesterday.

#13 Johnny Pomatto

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 09:27 PM

I've always been a really big fan of THE DRIVER. To me, it's my go to film when I think of 70's heist films. Is it Canon worthy? I'm not sure. I really love it, but Devin really loved Re-Animator, but I'm not sure if that meant it should have been welcomed into The Canon. To me, The Driver is a blast, but I wouldn't necessarily consider foisting it on the public and list it as an essential film. But should I vote my passion? I certainly appreciate Edgar Wright's enthusiasm for it, and I just came from a screening of Baby Driver and was very appreciative of its influences. But if we let THE DRIVER in, does that mean that we can't let in Le Samurai because cool silent protagonists are covered? And can we then not let in The Blues Brothers because we already have a film about destruction of cars? And Two-Lane Blacktop is already in The Canon, right? I like The Driver more, but I enjoy them both and I'm not sure if we need both. Hmmmm. Tough choice. It is probably my favorite Walter Hill film so... sure. Let's vote it in. If for no other reason, as a noteworthy film that influenced so many others.

#14 bbolisarte

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Posted 28 June 2017 - 11:01 PM

I am a firm "yes" on The Driver. I completely appreciate the terse dialogue and tightness of the editing. This falls into the category of crime flick to that is about being a true professional - it's competence porn, if you will. The Driver is a master at what he does, and he is proud of it. He stays cool and doesn't talk much because that is un-professional; in the world of crime, that's what gets you caught or killed. I love this kind of film, because it boils the struggle down to the perfect elements of the struggle of being alive, the struggle of conning other people into believing you and not falling for their cons. Amy is clearly not a gambler; this is the gambler's M.O.

I actually don't like Heat, but I think this movie is the apotheosis of the driver movie (also seen in The Transporter series). I'm voting yes, also because I think this is an unsung masterpiece that doesn't get the credit it deserves.

#15 Louisjab

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Posted 29 June 2017 - 09:27 AM

Really on the fence for this one. It's a really fun film. the plot is tight and lean, very little fat. Loved the performances of Dern and O'Neal. It is the epitomy of "cool". However, it want so much to be cool that it forgets to give me a reason to care about those people. They're not even people, they don't seem to be real.

#16 killertapir

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Posted 30 June 2017 - 09:04 AM

I think this might be my favourite film that I've watched specifically because of the Canon. Well maybe tied with The Nights of Cabiria.

Either way, I loved it. It's a great film, it's hugely influential. It just ticks all the boxes for me.

#17 Dale Cooper-Black

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Posted 01 July 2017 - 10:58 PM

Is this really happening? Is The Driver going to enter the Canon in a landside? Are people's critical faculties that seriously impaired?

Maybe Joss Whedon can come on and nominate The Last Chase and we can all vote for it just to kiss his ass.

I don't think the Canon can recover from this.
Guy Fawkes in Socks

#18 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 02 July 2017 - 03:00 PM

View PostDale Cooper-Black, on 01 July 2017 - 10:58 PM, said:

Is this really happening? Is The Driver going to enter the Canon in a landside? Are people's critical faculties that seriously impaired?

Maybe Joss Whedon can come on and nominate The Last Chase and we can all vote for it just to kiss his ass.

I don't think the Canon can recover from this.

If we can live in a world where Working Girl is in the canon, while Empire Strikes Back is ineligible for further consideration, I think we can live with The Driver entering the canon.

#19 AbeFroman

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Posted 03 July 2017 - 04:19 PM

The people have spoken: Walter Hill belongs in The Canon. Even if it's not for The Warriors.