REVIEW: The Neon Demon [2016]

“Are you food or are you sex” Fame: all that’s glittered and gold, the intrinsic “it” quality we’d kill for but never do. That aura with an expiration date; beauty, confidence, radiance, and whatever other label outsiders use to transform you into a commodity to be bought, sold, and exploited within the tiny window before someone younger takes your place. This is Nicolas Winding Refn‘s The Neon Demon, an unexplainable concept jumping person to person without definition or discernment. It consumes the souls of unwitting vessels, makes them and breaks…

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REVIEW: Lost River [2015]

“Here in my deep purple dream” You cannot watch Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut Lost River without recalling the divisive surrealism of Only God Forgives. He’s the first to admit how much of an influence Nicolas Winding Refn was, pitting the Dane’s heightened realities against the emotive authenticity of another favorite collaborator in Derek Cianfrance. Gosling places himself somewhere in the middle of their two disparate sensibilities and while I get what he’s saying, the apple falls much closer to Refn’s tree. Unsurprisingly booed out of Cannes as it earned the…

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REVIEW: Down and Dangerous [2014]

“Who says I’m not having fun?” If you’re familiar with writer/director Zak Forsman’s work you’ll know that it was only a matter of time before he branched out from subtle character pieces to the action genre. Whether the stoic performances, attractive compositions, or pulsing beats by composer Deklun, Forsman and his team at The Sabi Company have found the talent necessary to make Hollywood-caliber productions on a shoestring budget. And while the diptych of his Heart of Now and producer Kevin K. Shah’s White Knuckles aligns more with that independent…

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REVIEW: Only God Forgives [2013]

“No matter what happens, keep your eyes closed” I’ve never seen a film by Alejandro Jodorowsky, but it doesn’t take a long glimpse into the auteur’s internet biographies to understand why Nicolas Winding Refn dedicated his Only God Forgives to the legend. Descriptions are riddled with labels such as “avant-garde”, “violently surreal”, “mystical”, and “religiously provocative”—terms also very clearly formed while watching this newest, meditative jaunt through the stoic minds of morally tortured killers from the critically acclaimed director of Drive. More akin to his ethereal visual poem Valhalla Rising,…

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Posterized Propaganda October 2012: Summer Excess and Festival Freshness

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. Summer is over and the studios still have a few genre flicks to unload before the arthouse, festival favorites begin rolling out. Oh, and Halloween is here too. The sad…

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REVIEW: Drive [2011]

“There are no good sharks?” Part-time stuntman, part-time mechanic, part-time wheelman, and full-time brood—this is Ryan Gosling‘s Driver. He’s a man of few words with determination stamped on his face and a code of morals that exist inside a very murky gray area blurring the line between right and wrong when loyalty comes into play. A very cerebral actioner that harkens back to director Nicolas Winding Refn‘s Valhalla Rising more than Bronson, Drive lives up to its stature of incomparable cool. This thing is slick as hell, existing in a…

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REVIEW: Bronson [2009]

“You just pissed on a gypsy in the middle of nowhere” Michael Gordon Peterson is the kind of guy that begs to have his story told, no matter how loosely or non-factual. Known as Britain’s most violent criminal, as well as by the alias Charlie Bronson based after the actor, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for armed robbery of a post office. Thus far, he has spent thirty-four years incarcerated—thirty of which were in solitary confinement. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson depicts this intense creature made up of…

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TIFF09 RECAP: Connecting to Your World … and mine

Every year at the Toronto International Film Festival seems to get better and better. Is that due to the increase in films from six to eleven to fifteen? It very well might be. And I’ll just say now, watching fifteen films in less than four days may not be the healthiest thing in the world. Between the vendor sausage/chicken dogs/nitrates on a bun being easily accessible and a standard meal when going from one film to the next with barely enough time to catch your breath and the sheer fact…

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TIFF09 REVIEW: Valhalla Rising [2009]

“The boy said he was from hell” Sometimes a movie comes along that is almost indecipherable, but for reasons unknown, still can’t be shaken from my consciousness. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Valhalla Rising is one such example. It concerns a one-eyed, mute Norse warrior’s quest to discover his lot in life and/or death … I really don’t know which. It could have been the fatigue of being the fourteenth movie seen in less than four days at the Toronto International Film Festival, or perhaps it was intentionally vague to utilize its…

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