Archive for September 5th, 2017

 © 2017 by James Clark

      Filmmaker, Nicolas Refn (b. 1970), has, in his works, always resorted to sensational violence as apparently appropriate for his motives. He could be described as an expert in the ways of violence. Those who assume that comprehending the phenomena of violence is readily accomplished by reason of conventional morality tend to regard our helmsman as a clever but stunted practitioner, someone who, if not emotionally deranged, settles for lucrative crudity.

His most recent film, The Neon Demon (2016), has elicited abhorrence remarkable even for the routine complement of bounty hunters hoping to put him out of business. Though grudgingly acknowledged to be a master of optical sensations, only very few would recognize his persistence as painstaking investigation at a very high level.

In their rush to display what they seem to know about the bankruptcy of LA and the fashion business—by which to fault Refn as lacking sound judgment to be touching it—they tend to refer to a battery of earlier works of his devoted to crime. There is no one, though, whom I have seen who recalls, if it comes to a most telling link, the kick-ass Norse gladiator with a world of woe and wit in Refn’s Valhalla Rising (2009).

However, I think we are well advised here to leave in a subsidiary role those off-site matters and take a close look at what The Neon Demon actually presents. One thing it offers is a stream carrying the opening credits, constituting a big picture demanding far more attention than the products of the snack bar. We are, with this listing of names, offered the keynote of the action, before the residents of planet Earth get down to their penchant for butchering it. Since no one ever cares about those names and positions anyway, why not, our movie decides, bring forward the surfaces of distant, stony bodies in outer space, undergoing rich and changing color touches—red, purple, blue; shaped by the interstices of those inert entities—and a sonic rain of urgent percussion: pulsing, tinkling, resonating, as periodically interrupted by the rattle of machinery. On the heels of this inducement to ditch immortality, there is a shower of what resembles glitzy casino chips not entirely able to shroud the look and the sound of something priceless. The film title accompanies the neon-forward, distressed light, and from there we meet our world as represented by Jesse, the young protagonist, positioned on a sofa in the manner of a blood-drenched victim of an assailant bypassing all those lovely and loving reasons just on display. (more…)


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