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Old 07-22-2013, 01:30 AM   #13381 (permalink)
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Valhalla Rising? I thought it somewhat self-indulgent, pretentious and boring. I'm guessing I won't like Only God Forgives then.

I also thought Drive was overrated, though.
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Old 07-22-2013, 12:08 PM   #13382 (permalink)
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Valhalla Rising? I thought it somewhat self-indulgent, pretentious and boring. I'm guessing I won't like Only God Forgives then.

I also thought Drive was overrated, though.
Probably won't like it then. I'm a sucker for pretentious art films.
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Old 07-22-2013, 01:28 PM   #13383 (permalink)
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Kevin Hart's Let Me Explain



This is probably the first time that I've ever went to the theater to see a comedy special and it was definitely worth it. He had an awesome skit at the beginning that tied the whole thing together before he got onto the stage. This was the movie that I needed to see after having such a roller coaster week.
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Old 07-22-2013, 03:34 PM   #13384 (permalink)
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The conjuring was better than I thought it would be, great horror film definitely eerie.
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Old 07-22-2013, 04:34 PM   #13385 (permalink)
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Had a wonderful Friday in Toronto at the TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) Lightbox. I saw three very different films, here are my thoughts on them.


The Act Of Killing
This was a very interesting and unique documentary that focused on the lives of Indonesian executioners who slaughtered "communists" in the mid-1960's. I don't know a ton of information about their movement, but the film examined their methods of killing and how they felt about it. The killers, now old men, felt mostly proud of what they had done. I felt that the first hour lacked direction, but it did get a lot more interesting, gripping, and even amusing as it went on. The filmmakers instructed the killers to come up with cinematic recreations of the murders they committed, and these short segments ranged from horrifying and intense to bizarre and surreal. There was one towards the end that was so funny, sad, and meta, it's worth watching the entire film for it alone. 7/10


Only God Forgives
Like Spring Breakers from earlier this year, I've had to really sleep on this one. Going in, I knew what to expect in terms of plot, dialogue, and themes, so the glacial pacing and silent, solemn tone came as no surprise to me. Fans of Drive be warned, this is NOTHING like that film. It's actually much more similar to Refn's Valhalla Rising, thematically, tonally, and stylistically.

Much has been made of how violent this film is, and while it is very unsettling and often gruesome, Drive and Valhalla Rising were both more graphic. This film is very much in the realm of what to expect from Refn. The only part that had me grabbing my face in horror was a suspenseful, agonizing torture sequence involving ice picks.

The plot is extremely minimal, as is the dialogue. Dialogue only serves two purposes in this film - to drive the plot where action and silence cannot, and to shock and offend. Basically, if you're coming to this movie for an interesting crime thriller like Drive, you're coming for the wrong reasons. The movie has a 45-minute story stretched out into 89 minutes to make a brooding, hypnotic, and meditative experience. And that's what it is, it's an experience.

The visuals, as always, were phenomenal. It might be Refn's best-looking film to date with its neon reds and blues, Kubrickian framing, and Lynchian atmosphere. I was worried that it would be too much and get old quickly, but there was enough variety in the scenery to keep it interesting. And while the film didn't pulse with the catchy, euphoric synthpop of Drive, it did have a stunning soundtrack of its own. Climactic scenes were heightened with abrasive industrial music, while the more introspective segments were complemented by wonderful ambient tracks from Cliff Martinez (who seems to be drawn to neon-lit films like this, Drive, and Spring Breakers).

Perhaps my favourite part of the film was the themes, imagery, and allusions. Because the plot and characters are so vague and simple, there is a lot of room for analysis. Taken at face value, the film won't satisfy you. Most of the appeal in this film is trying to figure out what exactly the characters and actions represent.
Spoiler for very minor spoilers:
The antagonist, Chang, a Thai police chief is the personification of God.

Gosling's character, Julian, and his mother, Crystal have a very complex Oedipal relationship.


Was the film as good as Drive? Well, like I said, they are two entirely different films. I really felt that Refn had more to say with this one, but I cannot in good conscience call it better than Drive. Drive is one of the most exciting, rewatchable, and satisfying films in recent memory. Only God Forgives is an entirely different animal. It's more experimental, it's more philosophical, and it's a much more difficult film. It has some flaws, I wish that there had been a couple more plot points to make it seem less bare. As I said before, it's a 45-minute film stretched into 89 minutes. I also didn't feel quite the same level of confidence in Refn's vision as I did with Drive and Bronson. Some harsh dialogue did feel gratuitous, though I suppose it added to the Lynchian weirdness of it all. It was a good film, and one I look forward to watching again. That said, I understand the hatred for it, and I do hope that Refn takes a break from his silent, saturated style in his next film. 7.5/10


Before Midnight
It was my second time seeing the film, and I definitely appreciated it even more on this viewing. I'm not going to bother with a synopsis, since you won't get it if you haven't seen the two preceding movies. While I'll probably always prefer the first one, this film is probably the most polished, confident, self-aware, and mature film of the Before trilogy. I didn't care for Before Sunset as much, it was too much of a downer and didn't have the magic of the first one. This film had a much better balance of grown-up themes with the youthful, blissful beauty that I loved from the first one. It's the most cinematic of the three movies, and it benefits from it. The score was lovely, the locales and sights were explored without being gratuitous, and the chemistry between the leads was better than ever. It's one of the best films of the year, and if you loved the other two, there's no way you won't love this one. 9/10
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Old 07-23-2013, 07:11 AM   #13386 (permalink)
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I've noticed people who dislike it really fucking hate it, and people who like it really love it. I really loved it, I just watched it again. It's more Valhalla Rising than it is Drive.
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Only God Forgives
Taken at face value, the film won't satisfy you. Most of the appeal in this film is trying to figure out what exactly the characters and actions represent.
Spoiler for very minor spoilers:
The antagonist, Chang, a Thai police chief is the personification of God.

Gosling's character, Julian, and his mother, Crystal have a very complex Oedipal relationship.
I kind of disagree with you both. SG, I thought it was an entertaining 90 minutes but I really did not love it or hate it. I simply liked it. As for art films, I think Valhalla Rising is better than Only God Forgives but I found neither of them pretentious. Both rely on atmosphere and Refn has pretty much mastered atmosphere building.

Alfred, I think that what the characters and actions represent are right there on the surface, in plain view. I think the appeal is just watching the extremely simple story unfold. And the action scenes that are always brutal and/or gruesome.

Overall, I felt the minimal plot and story was rectified with an incredibly good atmosphere and I wasn't bored by the film at any point. I didn't find it to be particularly cerebral or "Lynchian" (Lynch uses a lot of story and plot, however much he distorts and and obscures them).

Kristin Scott Thomas really steals every scene that she's in, although maybe that's because she's the only one who has lines made of multiple entire sentences. Gosling's acting was as at least as minimal as everything else and it kind of validates this parody:

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Old 07-23-2013, 01:29 PM   #13387 (permalink)
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Alfred, I think that what the characters and actions represent are right there on the surface, in plain view. I think the appeal is just watching the extremely simple story unfold. And the action scenes that are always brutal and/or gruesome.

Overall, I felt the minimal plot and story was rectified with an incredibly good atmosphere and I wasn't bored by the film at any point. I didn't find it to be particularly cerebral or "Lynchian" (Lynch uses a lot of story and plot, however much he distorts and and obscures them).

Kristin Scott Thomas really steals every scene that she's in, although maybe that's because she's the only one who has lines made of multiple entire sentences. Gosling's acting was as at least as minimal as everything else and it kind of validates this parody:
Maybe it was because I mostly spoiled the major plot points for myself by reading post-Cannes discussion, but I really was not watching this film for the plot. I was watching it to see how the plot fit together, how the pacing was, how the tension was built, symbolism, etc. And of course to admire the film's technical aspects.

Where I find the film "Lynchian" is mostly in how Refn messed with tone and realism. A film like Blue Velvet begins with the tone of a normal crime thriller, before introducing some of its more bizarre characters and going full-on Lynch. This film had the same occasional tonal irregularities that only served to make the film more bizarre as it went along.
Spoiler for some plot points:
The film opens with an absolutely captivating sequence at Julian and Billy's boxing club, before Billy decides he wants to hire a prostitute. In the most calm and subtle voice, he tells the pimp, "I want to fuck a 14-year old." I know this caught a lot of people off guard, myself included at my screening, and there were a lot of nervous giggles.

The same thing happened when Kristin Scott Thomas' character (who is like a bull in a china shop in this film, and sharply contrasts with the silent, solemn characters) calls Mai a "cum-dumpster" and exclaims how enormous Billy's cock was compared to Julian's (as dramatic music plays).

Even Chang's post-maiming karaoke scenes had their own bizarre, uncomfortable Lynch feel. I'm not saying that Refn was purposely imitating Lynch's style, because these are two very different directors, but there are many similarities to be drawn. I feel like he was going for the same sort of weirdness, but of course, he handled it in his own way.
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:13 PM   #13388 (permalink)
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Maybe it was because I mostly spoiled the major plot points for myself by reading post-Cannes discussion, but I really was not watching this film for the plot. I was watching it to see how the plot fit together, how the pacing was, how the tension was built, symbolism, etc. And of course to admire the film's technical aspects.

Where I find the film "Lynchian" is mostly in how Refn messed with tone and realism. A film like Blue Velvet begins with the tone of a normal crime thriller, before introducing some of its more bizarre characters and going full-on Lynch. This film had the same occasional tonal irregularities that only served to make the film more bizarre as it went along.
Spoiler for some plot points:
The film opens with an absolutely captivating sequence at Julian and Billy's boxing club, before Billy decides he wants to hire a prostitute. In the most calm and subtle voice, he tells the pimp, "I want to fuck a 14-year old." I know this caught a lot of people off guard, myself included at my screening, and there were a lot of nervous giggles.

The same thing happened when Kristin Scott Thomas' character (who is like a bull in a china shop in this film, and sharply contrasts with the silent, solemn characters) calls Mai a "cum-dumpster" and exclaims how enormous Billy's cock was compared to Julian's (as dramatic music plays).

Even Chang's post-maiming karaoke scenes had their own bizarre, uncomfortable Lynch feel. I'm not saying that Refn was purposely imitating Lynch's style, because these are two very different directors, but there are many similarities to be drawn. I feel like he was going for the same sort of weirdness, but of course, he handled it in his own way.
I can't really argue with any of that. Although, I do think that Lynch is both more plot driven and weirder than Refn.
Also, I wasn't bashing Gosling's general acting. I could do without the fake toughguy accent (that he uses in ALL of his films and, apparently, in real life) but I can't really criticize what he did in this movie because it was what the part called for. The guy's obviously got dynamic talent as seen here:

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Old 07-23-2013, 06:17 PM   #13389 (permalink)
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That Gosling acting range video was priceless.
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Old 07-23-2013, 10:07 PM   #13390 (permalink)
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Before Midnight
It was my second time seeing the film, and I definitely appreciated it even more on this viewing. I'm not going to bother with a synopsis, since you won't get it if you haven't seen the two preceding movies. While I'll probably always prefer the first one, this film is probably the most polished, confident, self-aware, and mature film of the Before trilogy. I didn't care for Before Sunset as much, it was too much of a downer and didn't have the magic of the first one. This film had a much better balance of grown-up themes with the youthful, blissful beauty that I loved from the first one. It's the most cinematic of the three movies, and it benefits from it. The score was lovely, the locales and sights were explored without being gratuitous, and the chemistry between the leads was better than ever. It's one of the best films of the year, and if you loved the other two, there's no way you won't love this one. 9/10
I loved this movie too, as I have loved the two previous movies. Great acting, great mood, and totally believable.
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