Cinema: Petrified Pretensions

Drive, He Said is a bush-league disaster that might have passed unnoticed, and perhaps unmade, but for the participation of Jack Nicholson. His much-touted performance in Easy Rider won him the chance to make a movie almost literally all his own: he collaborated on the scenario for Drive, He Said, then directed and co-produced it. While other fledgling directors would be allowed to fail in comparative privacy, Nicholson's reputation makes his failure agonizingly public.

Nominally about the spiritual agonies of a basketball star at a large university, the movie makes several elaborate feints at symbolism, then quickly collapses under the weight of...

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