Archive for June 25th, 2014


© 2014 by James Clark

It could well be that one of the surest ways to identify a modern film’s holding a strong hand is its linkage to that metaphor of Beauty and Beast tracing back to the tiniest flames of revolt on a violently subdued planet. One filmmaker who seems to know where the loot is hidden is Jonathan Glazer, a rock video and TV commercial alumnus. Glazer, from what I’ve seen, is a past master of edifying desperation, acutely obsessed about our being implicated in a monstrous struggle for sensuous equilibrium, a struggle with the odds heavily stacked against making the merest go of the merest advances.
One way to approach his position amidst that protracted landslide is by noting that his debut feature, Sexy Beast (2000), shares a fascination with the pitch into uncontrollable hatred and violence elicited by the debut films of Nicolas Refn, namely Pusher (1996) and Bleeder (1999). Moreover, in Refn’s Drive (2011), a deft and serenely poised central figure dons a mask at the point where the impudence of a partner-in-crime occasions his losing his composure and butchering the irritant with a hammer. The mask which the presentable young protagonist has fixed upon disguises him as a bald, wiry, middle-aged, cold-eyed Everyman for a dead planet. And therewith it resembles one of the three protagonist-candidates for the title, Sexy Beast (in Glazer’s film), namely, Don Logan, a bald, wiry, middle-aged, cold-eyed ascetic, crazily intent on forcing a former-partner-in-crime to abandon retirement living on Spain’s Costa del Sol and taste again the gratifications of a heist, this one bursting upon safety deposit boxes back in home-town London, the contents of which comprising extraordinary wealth. (Also, that the young driver of Drive gets under the skin of Under the Skin’s enigmatic young woman driver [from 2013], for the sake of complementing her slippage by means of his attaining to high discipline, tolerance for isolation and capacity for sustained affection, somewhat completes our perusal of a delta of reciprocal homage between Glazer and Refn. We might also note the geographic and situational affinities between Under the Skin and Refn’s Valhalla Rising [2009]. These considerations of propelling back and forth matters of cinematic design are, I think, very necessary in the context of Sexy Beast’s seemingly being reducible to the roiling of strictly visceral dramatic action, and Under the Skin’s seemingly being a misty shroud of mood. Artists like Glazer and Refn, we have, I think, to appreciate, strike a balance between virtuoso cinematographic conjuring and reciprocal erudition about the historical architectonics informing kinetic crises.) (more…)

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