6. Only God Forgives
This might be one of the most visually impressive films of modern cinema yet overall it’s pretty hard to watch. Nicolas Winding Refn directs a strange new age Shakesperean psychological thriller/horror/ drama about an American expatriate residing in Bangkok. Julian ( Ryan Gosling) owns a wrestling club and runs it with the help of his brother Billy (Tom Burke).
The wrestling club is only a front for their drug smuggling buisness which is mainly runned by the –seemingly inscestuous- matriarch of the family Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas). When Billy is murdered, Crystal flies to Bangkok to see his corpse and assure that Julian is going to find and murder Billy’s killer.
Only God Forgives has this rhetoric of aesthetically pleasing violence and disturbia which is one of the reasons it divided audiences and earned fanatic admirers and even more fanatic haters. One superficial “read” of the situations presented could cause someone to be immediately repelled and rejective of the film. And not without reason.
There is some pretentious undertone to the compelling interiors and the interactions between the characters are almost robotic. It feels as if Refn didn’t have enough time to present us with the specifics of the interrelations of his heroes so he has them tell us exactly who they are and what they do, spoiling all the fun we could have doing it using our brain. It’s pretty akward, as if there is no fourth wall.
However, the themes and parallelisms that are attempted are next level and several interpretations can be given. The title is merely a red herring pointing to vengence where in fact the Godly figure is present in the film and is the judge, administrator of punishment and redeemer. Every other character can be linked to a biblical figure and their passions.
The psychological and physical abuse between male and female is of central importance as well as the abuse of power (Crystal) and power struggle (Julian). Overall the film is so multilayered and filled with subtext that it is defenitely enjoyable because it makes one think, deconstruct it and reconstruct it in order to understand what allegory is being formed on the backs of its heroes.
Suspiria is defenitely a masterpiece of the Giallo genre and of the broader horror genre in general. Dario Argento directs a supernatural horror film starring Jessica Harper. Suzy (Harper) an american ballet dancer, finds herself in Germany in order to attend a prestigious dance academy. Upon arrival to the academy, Suzy quickly starts sensing the evil forces lurking within the building. Suzy decodes the dark events that have taken place in the academy. Only after a series of pretty grotesque deaths takes place though.
This murder mystery is so stylish and pretty contrasting skillfully the gory events it tells of. The intense neon red creates a nightmarish vibe that soaks one in and conveys the difficulty of escaping. The typical curisiosity of the heroes that come face to face with mystical evil powers is what pushes the story to go on, in order for the protagonist and the viewer to understand what is happening and acquire the visual tools to interpret it.
8. The Lure
Agnieszka Smoczynska adapts the story of the little mermaid in this film about two vampire mermaid sisters, Golden and Silver that come ashore and find “employment” in a nightclub. And because mermaid girls too have a thing for guys with guitars, Silver falls in love with a bassist, Mietek.
And Mietek is the typical boy that isn’t interested and says something like “I only see you as a fish not as a woman”. Now that Silver has fallen in love with a human that did not love her back, she has to go against her intuitions and bite him in order to be able to return to the depths of the sea.
The Lure is sometimes funny, sometimes painful and even a little boring. The shots are magnificent and the lighting mesmerizing but half way through one might lose their will to complete it. At this point is when you push yourself to make it to the end because it will worth it. Because it’s not only a chromatic odyssey filled with weird extracts but also does tell a story, even though it starts doing it half-way through. And the offbeat conception of the story doesn’t take out of all the issues touched: reassignment surgery, unrequited love, vengeance, the mechanics of physical being and the limitations or liberations that come with it.
9. Blade Runner 2049
California 2049 dystopia. LAPD officer K (Ryan Gosling) is tasked with hunting and killing rebellious “replicants”, bio-engineered humans that are used as slaves. K isn’t dwelled with killing replicants. He considers them unconscious agents, since they are not born but engineered.
To him, having a soul means “to be born”. K discovers an important secret concerning his own nature and replicant reproduction. He has to find the missing LAPD officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) to prevent a potential collision between humans and replicants .
Blade runner is a world with degraded nature and humanity. The distinction between soul and non, matter and idea, outer and inner are used to understand the placement of an agent-replicant or human- in hostile and dried out surroundings. The lack of interlink between these agents is adding up to the seemingly vain search of something real. In this universe what makes a special and conscious unit is “being born and not made” but even this is questionable.
Both interior and extriors of Blade Runner ooze of hostility but are lit and shot in an immersive manner. Repelling you from this Huxley like dystopic world and drugging you into it at the same time. Unreal as it may seem, it’s a world ultimately concerned with the nature of humanity, its replication, where does it come from and what does it lead to, who bestows human experience upon us and whether anyone should be allowed to terminate it.
The amalgam of beauty and beastly created is best captured in a scene where K crosses a bridge and suddenly sees the hologram of his artificially replicated girlfriend Joi (Ana de Armas), covered up in neon saturated pink and purple, promising to end his loneliness. However, in his eyes the emptiness of a clone’s promise is evident.
Dark Times at M16. Bond (Daniel Craig) is getting old. He wants to prove himself and anyone’s dad would be touched or see a little bit of their own ego trip in his middle-aged eyes. To do so he will have to re-pledge loyalty to M ( Judy Dench) and find the ones responsible for the recent attacks on M16 that threaten the service and the agents alike.
This Bond film manages to make its way to anyone’s heart regardless their age. You could say it rejuvenates the series in some sense and it is for sure terribly efficient in keeping the viewer’s interest constant as well as the excitement. Uk does it almost as good as America. Sam Mendes behind the decks so this might explain why.
Skyfall worths its watch because it does the whole Bond thing but in a new way. It is understandable, visually appealing to the max, well-acted and the dialogue is clever, having that cryptic charming wordplay between characters and a memorable villain portrayal by Javier Bardem. Finally, what distinguishes Skyfall from the previous Bond films is its stylistic superiority, precision and distinct neon blue, yellow and red use.