Cinema Saturday, 12/26/20

Red Band Trailer! Viewer discretion advised!

Only God Forgives

Year: 2013
Runtime: 1h 30m
Rated: R

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn

Stars: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm

“I don’t understand you. And I never will.”

Initial: After watching Fear X (2003), I promised myself that I’d watch more of Refn’s movies.

Production Notes: Filmed entirely in Bangkok.

What Did I Think:
I was in the mood for hallways, moody lighting, and a nearly mute Ryan Gosling, so this movie definitely fit the bill.

Refn never seems to bother with exposition. On one hand, I think he expects audiences to be smart enough to keep up. Which is nice considering that many movies spoon-feed every plot point. On the other hand, sometimes when watching a Refn movie, you’re left not really knowing what’s going on. If you can just go along for the ride (down a dark hallway), most things will make sense eventually. Only God Forgives has some of the murkiness of Fear X (Julian, our main character, has some visions of the future) and the brutality of the most violent moments of Drive (2011).


Thor: Ragnarok

Year: 2017
Runtime: 2h 10m
Rated: PG-13

Director: Taika Waititi

Writers: Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, Christopher L. Yost, Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Jack Kirby, Greg Pak, Walter Simonson, Carlo Pagulayan

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett

So, last time I saw you, you were trying to kill everybody. Where are you at these days?

It varies from moment to moment.

Initial: Rewatch.

What Did I Think:
There are some movies I watch because they are (like Refn’s Drive) “good cinema.” And there are some movies I rewatch because they are enjoyable and satisfying.

A lot of Thor: Ragnarok relies on 21st century jokes and references, which may not be entirely appropriate to immersive world building (something I have a problem with in the more recent Star Wars movies). But really, the tone is consistent and jokes are funny. The action is well-done and there is a nice roundness to the plot. And if we are going to engage in era nostalgia, I’d rather it be for the late 70s and early 80s when fantasy films were being scored by rock bands than the sweet sentimentality of Spielberg. Say what you will about needle drops, but is there score more appropriate to Thor than Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song”?

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