So once again we have survived.

Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Winding Refn’

The Neon Demon

Tuesday, July 12th, 2016

tn_neondemonNicolas Winding Refn had been around for years before he draped Ryan Gosling in that silver scorpion jacket and became such a name among the movie savvy that he can get a John Hyams remake of MANIAC COP funded and put his initials on the beginning and end of his movies like they’re monogrammed towels. He’d had international acclaim for the PUSHER trilogy and VALHALLA RISING, but DRIVE was such a perfect balance of effective crime drama, zeitgeisty nostalgia and style, and arthouse indulgence that it became a bonafide cultural moment. And he’s been trying to punish us for it ever since.

I like that he lets his freak flag fly, and while most of my friends couldn’t hang with his follow-up ONLY GOD FORGIVES, it really spoke to me with its odd mix of revenge story deconstruction, broken martial arts movie structure and feverish surrealism. His latest, NEON DEMON, swerves even further off the road of logic and coherence in its exploration of the world of young models in L.A.

Elle Fanning (MALEFICENT, SUPER 8, THE NUTCRACKER IN 3D, SOMEWHERE), somehow looking five years younger and more naive than in whatever movie I saw her in last, plays Jesse, a newcomer to town trying to find gigs. Makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone, INHERENT VICE, SUCKER PUNCH) latches onto her after a shoot and introduces her to Gigi (Bella Heathcote, DARK SHADOWS) and Sarah (Abbey Lee, the Dag from FURY ROAD, also in GODS OF EGYPT), more experienced models who respond with jealousy and cruelty when the gatekeepers start treating her as something special. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

My new most anticipated movie: MANIAC COP

Friday, September 25th, 2015

tn_maniaccopWell, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD had a good decade-plus run as my most anticipated movie. And that worked out well. I doubt I’ll ever see another one pay off like that in my life, but it’s always good to have things to look forward to, to keep you going.

Right now there are plenty of lower key projects to be excited about, from the finally-happening BOYKA: UNDISPUTED IV to the new STAR WARS picture. But right now the one that pushes my buttons the most is actually a remake of MANIAC COP.

This has been in development for a while, to be produced by Nicolas Winding Refn and (last I heard) scripted by Ed Brubaker, writer of acclaimed crime comics (and Seattleite I believe). Sounds fantastic. But what takes this news to the next level is the director: John Hyams, the genius behind UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: REGENERATION, UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING, DRAGON EYES, THE SMASHING MACHINE and RANK. I have spent the last five years wondering why the hell some studio hasn’t given this guy a budget to deal with, since his straight-to-video works easily out-thrill, out-style and out-smart most big screen action movies, including $200 million dollar duds like, I’m sorry to say, the recent TERMINATOR picture. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Dying of the Light

Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

tn_dyingofthelightDYING OF THE LIGHT is yet another troubled Paul Schrader production. The story is: it was a Schrader script that Nicolas Winding Refn almost directed with Harrison Ford and Channing Tatum as the leads, but Ford and Refn disagreed on the ending (guess who wanted a happy one?) so I guess Ford went and did COWBOYS & ALIENS and Refn did DRIVE. Then Refn became executive producer for Schrader directing it himself with the, uh, less-assured-of-a-theatrical-release team of Nicolas Cage and Anton Yelchin. Then after it was filmed the other producers shut out Schrader and did their own edit and scoring, so Schrader, Refn, Cage and Yelchin effectively disowned it by wearing t-shirts with the “non-disparagement” clause of their contracts that prevents them from complaining about the movie. Also cinematographer Gabriel Kosuth (2nd Unit DP of SHADOW MAN, ATTACK FORCE, FLIGHT OF FURY, AGAINST THE DARK and A GOOD MAN) wrote a righteous guest column in Variety about the producers recoloring the whole thing against his will and ruining what he and Schrader were trying to do.

We’ll get into that stuff later, but first let’s consider the Damaged Goods Cut on its own merits. It’s a flawed movie but more watchable and original than other recent basically-DTV Cage vehicles. Cage plays Evan Lake, a decorated CIA field operative who 22 years ago was tortured and had his ear mutilated by a young track-suit-wearing terrorist named Muhammad Banir (Alexander Karim from the Johan Falk series). Lake refused to give up any information and was about to be executed when commandos stormed in and saved him. Now he’s kind of like their mascot. They have him give the tough guy speech to the fresh-faced new recruits, but he’s a depressed desk jockey who isn’t taken very seriously by the agency or allowed in the field. A big part of his day is trying to control or hide his shaky hand. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Only God Forgives

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

tn_onlygodforgivesFor ONLY GOD FORGIVES, the latest from writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE, VALHALLA RISING, etc.), Ryan Gosling trained in Thai boxing to play a quiet American running a Muay Thai gym in Bangkok. That lady who sued DRIVE for not being like THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS is gonna have to sue this one for not being like BLOODSPORT.

Or for not being like DRIVE, for that matter! This is not a commercial movie at all. It’s all mood and ambience. Slow, deliberate camera moves down hallways, precise, Kubrickian compositions, men introduced standing in poses rather than walking into rooms, not alot of dialogue, credits in Thai. It doesn’t explain much and leaves alot of weirdness lying around to either interpret, enjoy as surrealism, or get frustrated by. Of course I like to read a little symbolism into some of it, but I think it also works taken literally. This is a foreign, dangerous world that people like us wouldn’t understand. Not just because it’s Bangkok, either. The Bangkok you live in is just a sugar coated topping. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Drive

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

tn_driveRemember how the driver in Walter Hill’s THE DRIVER didn’t get a name, he was just “The Driver”? The driver in Nicolas Winding Refn’s DRIVE is so minimalistic he doesn’t even get a ‘the.’ Or an ‘r’. Ryan Gosling plays said driver, a mysterious toothpick-chewing dude who’s a masterful getaway driver and does stunt driving for the movies. He also works at a garage for Brian Cranston, who helps set up his jobs and prepare his getaway cars. When not working Drive is sparking up a relationship with his neighbor, Carey Mulligan and her son. He’s better with the kid than you might think – even offers him a toothpick. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Valhalla Rising

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

tn_valhallaVALHALLA RISING is a slow, quiet mood piece about back in the day when Christians had “pushed the heathens to the fringes of the earth.” Mads Mikkelsen, the bad guy from CASINO ROYALE, plays one of those heathens and he starts out the movie in those fringes, locked in a cage, then tied to a pole like a junkyard dog, forced to beat other warriors to death. Not in a cool action type of way but in an upsetting “oh shit, he just exposed that guy’s brain” type of way.

Before long he’s free and traveling toward “home,” wherever that is. He tells people he came from Hell, and he’s such a scary motherfucker they tend to take that literally. Actually, he doesn’t say a word, but a little boy accompanies him, speaks for him, and names him “One Eye.” “Well, you need a name,” he explains. “And you have one eye.” (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

DIE HARD 5 to be directed by guy who did MAX PAYNE

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

tn_diehardBruceOkay, that’s not official, but I’m going by the time honored rule that if the insider Hollywood people report a “short list” of possible directors it will go to one of the worst or least interesting on the list. For example this happened with THE WOLFMAN (Joe Johnston over John Landis, Frank Darabont, Bill Condon). In this case Deadline is reporting three directors people around here like and John Moore. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

Bronson

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

tn_bronsonBRONSON is pretty entertaining. Tom Hardy, some British actor who’s apparently substituting Treat Williams style as Mad Max in FURY ROAD, worked out and scaried up to play some real life dude they tell us is famous as “Britain’s most violent prisoner.” His real name is Michael something but he calls himself “Charlie Bronson.” He does have a mustache, but it’s a twirly circus strongman type deal and with a bald head, it’s not a Bronson vibe at all.

Hardy seems a little self-conscious at times, but then so does the character. The important thing is that he throws his full weight into the craziness, spending a good deal of the movie naked, smeared in paint, getting in knock down fights with the screws, yelling that everybody’s a bunch of cunts. One of his main hobbies is taking hostages, even though it never seems to get him anywhere. I like when the warden asks him what he wants and he thinks about it for a second and asks, “Well, what’ve you got?” Usually his only demand is a disgusted “Fuck off,” which is too bad because I read that the real guy likes to make demands like an inflatable doll, a helicopter and a cup of beans. (read the rest of this shit…)

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.