Monday, December 3, 2012

#547: Drive, He Said

(Jack Nicholson, 1970)

Drive, He Said is the third (fourth - I've also seen the dated Easy Rider) film in the BBS box set Criterion released a few years ago that I have seen - I've watched The Last Picture Show, the most famous film in the set, five or six times over the years, and I saw Five Easy Pieces years ago. The former is one of my favorite movies and one of the great films of the 70s - both are certainly deserving of a standalone release, but they probably won't get one because of licensing issues.

The Last Picture Show is also notable in this set as the only film Jack Nicholson didn't have a direct hand in. The only other film he doesn't perform in is this one - which he directed. In fact, the movie is the first film directed by the actor, one of just three that he made. It was filmed between two of Nicholson's greatest roles, his work in Five Easy Pieces and Carnal Knowledge. Both of those movies are much more worthwhile than this one, an occasionally interesting but entirely forgettable piece of quirky film history that never really stops being an experiment.

Nicholson, of course, is well known now as the highest profile Lakers fan, and Drive, He Said confirms his interest in the sport is not a recent development. More importantly, the parallel between the sport of the protagonist and the political struggle of his roommate feels especially insightful as a metaphor for the generational gap that was readily apparent as the 60s bled into the 70s. But I don't know that the insights of the film delve any deeper than this initial observation. Furthermore, the story drags and feels half-baked, like they created the screenplay as they were going. The camera work and acting is similarly amateurish, making the film seem even more tossed together on the side, but without any of the crackling energy of the best projects of this nature.

I don't expect any other film in this set to be so slight (though there's probably a reason why it shares a disc with A Safe Place, while the other movies all get their own). Obviously Nicholson looms large in these films, so including Drive, He Said seems logical and worthwhile. But the film itself is a handful of interesting ideas strung together into a feature that doesn't amount to very much.

No comments:

Post a Comment