Tag Archives: Nicolas Winding Refn

Brian’s Review – “Drive”

In this thriller, Driver (Ryan Gosling), a Hollywood stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver, is lured from his isolated life by a lovely neighbor and her young son. His newfound peace is shattered, however, when her violent husband is released from prison.

Brian – 6 out of 10

It’s hard to get past the hype of a film when so much positive attention has been given its way. I’m sure many of you through either word of mouth or a good review from a publication have heard enough about a film that it made you excited to see it. Then, when it doesn’t live up to your expectations, you feel disappointed. I guess I felt exactly that way after seeing Drive. I had heard a lot about it including its possible inclusion come Oscar time. But, at the end of the day, it grades out as a good crime thriller that never gets close to greatness. A lot of interesting elements are here. The idea of a Hollywood stunt driver working on the side transporting criminals after they rob an establishment is certainly interesting fodder. It opened the door for possible amazing action scenes that are partially delivered and partially not.

The opening is fantastic. We get to see Ryan Gosling’s character listening to a police scanner while evading police by not just out-driving but also out-thinking them. Then, the film takes a detour and steers(these puns are getting out of control) towards a romantic story that never really feels complete. Carey Mulligan is supremely likeable but she’s given so little to work with. Her background is never explored. All we know is her husband just got out of jail, she’s crazy about her son, and she has feelings for Gosling. The rest of the time she’s forced to sit back and watch people in peril but never really reacts very much or even offer her own opinion on the matter. If you’re going to write a film where the romantic connection is supposed to be the anchor to the dramatic arc, you have to create a better sense of who these people are. That brings us to Gosling, who does exactly what’s required from the script but he’s so indelibly creepy that it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to get involved with him. There are long dialogue sequences where he’s completely silent or sitting with a half-cocked grin on his face like he’s a serial killer from a Thomas Harris novel. So, after all my criticism, why is this film a 6? The crime element worked very good. There’s a fair number of scenes that offer a great sense of suspense. I found myself on the edge of my seat whenever he was on a job as a getaway driver. I suppose it’s a film that at the end of the day tried to reach higher than its script would allow and partially delivers.

Brian’s Review – “Valhalla Rising”

After years of slavery, Viking warrior One-Eye (Mads Mikkelsen) escapes from his captors and seeks refuge on a Norse ship bound for his homeland. When a storm throws them off course, the crew lands at a mysterious realm inhabited by invisible demons. As the bloodthirsty creatures claim one sailor after another, One-Eye rediscovers his fighting spirit but begins to wonder if they have arrived in Jerusalem or someplace much more sinister.

Brian-

Rating – 3 out 10

This is one of those movies that you wish something would just fucking happen.  I can’t remember feeling as bored as I was watching this film.  There’s no character development, painfully long stretches where there’s no dialogue, and when something does happen it’s usually wrapped around gratuitous gore.  So, your average stretch of storytelling will be:

1.      Main character looks intensely at opposing character.

2.      Each character brandishes either a weapon or a deadly gaze back at the other.

3.      Opposing character attacks main character and gets the absolute shit kicked out of him.

4.      Main character goes back to staring at nothing.

I can only imagine what the script writing session must have been like.  Hmmmm, what do I do next?  Oh yes, I’ve got it!  I’ll have the main character stare at nothing again (This literally happens dozens of times in the film)!

How do you have a protagonist that says nothing and displays no emotion and keep an audience interested?  It’s not clever.  It’s just bad writing!!  I will say the film is well shot and has some interesting visual elements but it isn’t enough to be thought of as any less than a boring dud.

Bronson

Nicolas Winding Refn (Pusher) directs this biopic that delves into the life of Britain’s most notorious prisoner, Charlie Bronson (Tom Hardy) — who’s been jailed for nearly 35 years — and attempts to dissect the real man behind the deranged persona. While Bronson’s primary ambition was to be famous, he became a celebrity of sorts as a criminal who seized myriad opportunities to demonstrate extreme and terrorizing savagery.

Matt
Rating: 5 out of 10

It’s hard to believe there are people who want Charlie Bronson out of prison. He is an intriguing person — a thug by all definitions who has battered prison guards, held people hostage in jail, held up convenient stores and jewelery stores and has spent more than 35 years in prison. Most of that time — 30 years! — have been spent in solitary confinement. Any opportunity to have freedom is squandered by Bronson, who couldn’t be more violent and contemptuous for society, law, order or human nature.

Tom Hardy, who was excellent in “Inception,” is brilliant in the role. He put on a lot of muscle and had to go to some dark places to become Bronson (born Michael Gordon Peterson) the way he did. There is an intensity in him that is palpable when you watch the film. His unblinking eyes, massive gate when he walks, clenched fists and hunched shoulders become so encompassing that all sense of Hardy is lost immediately.

The problem with this film is in its direction. I understand that not all films have a linear, point A to point B approach. There are a lot of ways to tell a story. But when you want us to understand a character you need to take the time to develop it. Refn fails because the entire movie just hops in rapid succession to one violent act to another, with small moments where he attempts to develop character. There is a 1 minute scene where he tells a prostitute he loves her, and when she says she has a boyfriend, the next scene is him robbing a jewelry store — which does depict Bronson. But Refn never takes his foot off the breaks. I think if he took out some of the violence — not because I thought it was too violent — and replaced it with some genuine character development, he would have been more successful. We know he’s violent. He’s a renowned violent man, and that needs to be shown and shown with a sense of reality. What I want to know is, why? Refn didn’t answer the obvious or attempt to. This felt more like an action movie at times, rather than the biopic it was pitched as.

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