June 26, 2016No Comments

Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn, 2011

Often times, a film considered innovative and nonconformist is the most form-obeying piece of cinema you’ll ever find. Drive is the case. Its story pieces are assembled like the bricks of a Lego house. First the ground floor, windows, roof, then chimney. Its subject also follows in the path described by JL Godard, - “all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl”. Belmondo’s place was useless to mention, we had it by default. Gosling is Belmondo in this gun & girl story.

LESSON - it is in the STYLE where the film sets himself apart. Acting is style. Lighting. Movement, Blocking. If form is grounded, style can roam free.

*** “The kiss” scene comes like ice-cream to the desert, and the quick shift between the fantastical (lights turn off around lovers) and the reality space (killing, fighting) works great. Gosling’s look at the end of the scene, after the killing, best of his career. 

June 16, 2016No Comments

The Neon Demon, Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016

The Neon Demon, Mr. Refn’s latest effort, follows in the steps and builds upon his previous one, Only God Forgives, in that it creates an intensely stylised filmic experience. He injects glamour aesthetics into an experience intended to shock the audience. He torments his characters with envy, greed and selfishness. He goes political by commenting on Hollywood’s voracious appetite for fresh faces. And yet, for all the tricks in his sleeve (think purple tinted necrophilia scene) he fails to scare. To thrill. To excite. Mind you, being shocked is not being scared. The unseen evil spirit lurking in the shadows is left unexplored. 

And so I found myself being stuck in a sticky limbo, a tiring paradox. How could I manage to take pleasure in the amazing pictures and manage not to yawn and fret with impatience at the film’s overall silliness. 

All in all, Mr. Refn is a master of style - and this is wonderful. One can’t easily be good at style and form and sniffing out the human condition. 

Like Nuri Bilge Ceylan is.  

June 16, 2016No Comments

A War, Tobias Lindholm, 2015

Danish officer in Afghanistan (sounds like a joke already) deals with problems of war while wife and children back at home deal with problems of running a family. One day, amidst a firefight battle, the officer calls for an air strike that saves his platoon but, unknowingly to him, kills 11 civilians.  

Moral-dilemmas ensue. Officer is prosecuted, called back home. He feels like admitting that he ordered the strike without seeing who’ll be targeted. Wife (blame it on the women!?) reminds him, vigorously least to say, that his duty is with his family & kids, that what’s done is done. From this point on, film turns into court-drama, with the same old court-drama dramas and drama-queens. Will the good officer cover the truth, or go out in the open, letting the truth shine?

The story lacks teeth partly because the values at stake, family / truth, are touched unimaginatively, literally and simplistic. 

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