Nicholas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon is a triumph of style over substance. The narrative may be thin, but the film atones for this with its sumptuous imagery…
Jesse moves to Los Angeles with the dream of becoming a model. Her youth and beauty are an appeal to those working in the industry. However, Jesse’s appearance also captures the eyes of those with more nefarious plans…
Following on from Only God Forgives, director and co-writer Nicholas Winding Refn latest also favours imagery over dialogue in his latest film. Dialogue and narrative take a backseat to visual engorgement in The Neon Demon. The film has overtones of a rock opera in its thematic style and delivery.
The Neon Demon begins as something of a cautionary tale of narcissistic folly. Young and inexperienced, Jesse begins her modelling career with little knowledge of the pitfalls of the industry. There is danger all around for the protagonist, which manifests symbolically as well as physically. The film ends up in a much darker, and absurdist, place than the opening third betrays. Refs turns the symbolic into the literal as the film progresses. The preoccupation with youth and beauty is played out to horrifying effect.
Cliff Martinez’s score is excellent. The music really compliments the tone of The Neon Demon. Production design is superb, crafting a distinctive look for the film. Rein’s film works in contrasts; the innocence of the Hollywood Hills scene is a distinct contrast to the final scene, in composition, sharpness, colour and tone. Performances in the film are stilted, but this is seemingly deliberate. Elle Fanning is well cast as protagonist Jesse. She shares some of the film’s most natural scenes with Karl Glusman’s Dean.
There are small laughs to be found in the absurdity of it all. For the most part, however, The Neon Demon is a strangely engaging film. Allowing for the absurd and the risqué, the film is a worthwhile endeavour for the style alone.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s revenge thriller Only God Forgives is a masterclass in immersive filmmaking.
Julian runs a boxing club, which is a front for a drug-smuggling operation. When Julian’s brother is killed, Julian is expected to find his killer and exact revenge. The pressure is heightened with the arrival of Julian’s mother, baying for blood…
Only God Forgives is light on both plot and dialogue. This coupled with the emphasis on style and atmospherics makes the film immediately comparable to Winding Refn’s last film Drive. The flimsiness of plot is not a problem, however, as any lack is compensated by the pervasive atmosphere.
There is a sense of tribalism to the whole of Only God Forgives. Themes of revenge and accountability reign supreme. Nicolas Winding Refn does not hand these to the audience on a plate. Exposition is limited in Only God Forgives; viewers are left to come to their own conclusions about characters and their motivations.
Whether intentionally or not, Only God Forgives appears unmistakably Lynchian. The cutting from violence to song and the blurred reality give the film a surreal edge. This is a big part of what makes Only God Forgives so absorbing.
The violence in the film exemplifies the barbarism of the story itself. Some of the most violent scenes are difficult to watch. This will not be a surprise to viewers who have seen Drive.
Only God Forgives is highly stylised. The art direction is fantastic, using a limited palette to offer memorable imagery. The use of red and artificial lighting is key to the whole appearance of the film. Composition is exemplary, and the direction is superb. Sound is also used to great effect, generating an uneasy and burgeoning atmosphere. Cliff Martinez’s score is great.
Performances are in-keeping with the overall style of the film. Ryan Gosling and Vithaya Pansringarm were obviously directed to maintain an expressionless countenance which mirrors the mood of proceedings. Kristin Scott Thomas is marvellous playing the grotesque Crystal.
Only God Forgives may frustrate a minority, but most will find the film engrossing and rewarding.
Plenty of new trailers this week, including The Call, The Frozen Ground,and Only God Forgives…
Halle Berry plays an emergency call operator in The Call. Also starring Abigail Breslin, film looks like a fast-paced thriller, from the trailer at least. It at least serves as a warning to always keep your phone adequately charged. The Call is out in UK cinemas on 20th September 2013.
The Frozen Ground
Watching this trailer, it’s hard to believe that John Cusack is the same guy who was in Say Anything. The Frozen Ground is based on the true story of the hunt for a serial killer in Alaska. Also starring Nicolas Cage and Vanessa Hudgens, The Frozen Ground hits the big screen on 19th July 2013.
Only God Forgives
Here is the latest trailer for Only God Forgives. Kristin Scott Thomas is barely recognisable. And Nicolas Winding Refn really does seem to like neon. Starring Ryan Gosing, Only God Forgives is out in UK cinemas on 2nd August 2013.
Monsters! Robots! Action writ large! Pacific Rim (I can’t with this name) is Guillermo del Toro’s future-set action blockbuster. If gigantic monsters started popping out of the ocean, I think I would just hide under the bed. But perhaps this would not make for a very exciting film. Pacific Rim hits the big screen on 12th July 2013.
Justin Timberlake plays a college student who pays for his tuition through online gambling in Runner Runner. In fairness, he could be a mature student. The film also stars Gemma Arterton and Ben Affleck, in his second role since his Argo success. Runner Runner is out on 27th September 2013.
Hawking is a new documentary on the life of the most famous living scientist in the world, Stephen Hawking. His fame seems to concentrate on his work as a physicist and his disability, so perhaps this film is an opportune chance to discover more about the renowned scientist. Hawking is released on 20th September 2013.
Posters and trailers for some of the summer’s most anticipated releases here, including Only God Forgives, Elysium, and Kick-Ass 2…
Only God Forgives
One of the most anticipated films of the year, Only God Forgives reunites Ryan Gosling with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Also starring Kristin Scott Thomas, Only God Forgives hits UK screens on 2nd August 2013.
I think ‘star-studded’ is the correct term with which to describe The Councellor. Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Michael Fassbender, Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz and Brad Pitt, The Counsellor is due for release later this year.
Here is the latest trailer for future-set blockbuster Elysium. The film, which stars Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, offers a dytopian vision of Earth, with its inhabits trying to get to a perfect planet. Elysium is released in UK cinemas on 23rd August 2013.
Kick-Ass 2 has been in the news thanks to Jim Carrey’s recent comments. I don’t think this bit of publicity will hurt the film’s box office chances too much. Kick-Ass 2 hits UK screens on 14th August 2013.
Here is the latest trailer for horror The Conjuring. I tend to find a lot of recent horror films quite disappointing in their ability to scare. I hope The Conjuring will do the trick. The film is out in UK cinemas on 2nd August 2013.
Above is a featurette for upcoming biopic Rush. The film focuses on Formula 1 rivals James Hunt and Niki Lauda. Starring Chris Hemsworth, Rush is released on 13th September 2013.