Bronson (2008)

Bronson
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Brock Norman Brock, Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Tom HardyKelly AdamsMatt KingJames LanceJuliet OldfieldKaty BarkerJoe Tucker
Seen on: 8.1.2017

Plot:
When Michael Peterson (Tom Hardy) is 19 years old, he robs a post-office. He is apprehended pretty quickly and sentenced to 7 years in prison. But due to his violent behavior, his sentence keeps getting prolonged and he spends most of the decades he ultimately is imprisoned in solitary confinement. There he grooms his public persona Charles Bronson, who started as a bare-knuckle fighter. Peterson/Bronson notoriously becomes Britain’s most violent prisoner.

Bronson is not an easy film to watch but it’s a film that leaves a mark. It definitely left a deep impression on me.

Continue reading

The Neon Demon (2016)

The Neon Demon
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Polly Stenham
Cast: Elle FanningJena MaloneBella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Karl Glusman, Desmond Harrington, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Alessandro Nivola
Seen on: 8.6.2016

Plot:
Jesse (Elle Fanning) just moved to L.A., dreaming of a career as a model. She meets photographer Dean (Karl Glusman) and make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) who both take a shine to her and try to help. Since there is something about Jesse, that seems barely necessary though – her career is definitely off to a good start. But young girls like Jesse are quickly swallowed by the fashion world and grow older too fast – which is what happened to Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), who can’t stand Jesse waiting in the wings to take their place.

The Neon Demon is a hypnotizing film that manages to conjure up an intriguing atmosphere that kept me glued to my seat. But – as with Drive – it only worked for me because I read it completely different from what Refn apparently intended to say.

theneondemon

[SPOILERS]

Continue reading

Re-Watch: Valhalla Rising (2009)

Valhalla Rising
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Roy Jacobsen
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Maarten Stevenson, Alexander MortonGary LewisJamie SivesEwan Stewart
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
Around 1000 A.D., a man (Mads Mikkelsen) is enslaved by vikings for his almost supernatural fighting strength. When he is sold from one king to the next, he manages to escape [among other things because he can see the future] together with a boy (Maarten Stevenson). When they meet a group of templars, the boy and the warrior – now called One-Eye – decide to join forces with them to go to the holy land.

I saw Valhalla Rising almost five years ago and the film intrigued me. A lot. So getting another chance to see it in the cinema was quite a treat, especially since I might be even more intrigued after the second watch.

Valhalla_rising Continue reading

Only God Forgives (2013)

Only God Forgives
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam, Tom Burke

Plot:
Julian (Ryan Gosling) manages a boxing club in Thailand, including some drug business with his brother Billy (Tom Burke). When his brother kills an underage prostitute, police man Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) allows the girl’s father to kill Billy. Her son’s death brings Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) to Bangkok, where she demands that Julian avenge Billy. But Julian is hesitant about this.

Only God Forgives is a heavy movie. It’s slow, gory and tells its story in dreamlike fragments. I understand that it isn’t for everybody, but I could lose myself in it.

onlygodforgives

Continue reading

Fear X (2003)

Fear X
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Hubert Selby Jr.
Cast: John Turturro, Deborah Kara Unger, James Remar, Jacqueline Ramel

Plot:
Harry’s (John Turturro) wife Claire (Jacqueline Ramel) was shot and killed. Nobody knows why or by whom. Harry spends all his spare time looking at security footage and trying to piece everything together. He is haunted by visions of Claire which are slowly but surely pointing him in a certain direction. So Harry starts investigating even harder and finds a trace that leads him to Kate (Deborah Kara Unger) and the murderer.

Fear X is an idiosyncratic movie. It’s beautiful to look at, with a mesmerizing performance by John Turturro but it won’t fit any mold easily.

fearx

Continue reading

Drive (2011)

Drive
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer: Hossein Amini
Based on: James Sallis‘ novel
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Albert Brooks, Christina Hendricks, Ron Perlman
Part of: Viennale

Plot:
The Driver (Ryan Gosling) is actually a stunt man, but he also works as a getaway driver for robberies. He is always on the move. The only constant in his life is his employer/agent/friend Shannon (Bryan Cranston). Shannon tries to find funding to get him established as a race car driver. When the Driver gets involved into a heist for the sake of a friend, things start to go wrong very quickly.

The buzz for Drive is pretty impressive. What’s even more impressive is that it’s also absolutely true. It’s an incredibly intense, well acted and beautifully shot film.

Continue reading

Valhalla Rising (2009)

[/slash Filmfestival.]

Valhalla Rising is the newest film by Nicolas Winding Refn. It stars Mads Mikkelsen and Maarten Stevenson.

Plot:
Around 1000 A.D., a man (Mads Mikkelsen) is enslaved by vikings for his almost supernatural fighting strength. When he is sold from one king to the next, he manages to escape [among other things because he can see the future] together with a boy (Maarten Stevenson). When they meet a group of templars, the boy and the warrior – now called One-Eye – decide to join forces with them to go to the holy land.

Valhalla Rising was completely different from what I expected. Probably because I had only seen the trailer before, which emphasises every brutal moment. Anyway, what I thought I would get was a viking bloodbath; what I actually got was a calm, a little trippy movie with occasional bouts of violence. And once I got over my expectations, I enjoyed the hell out of it.

Continue reading