Thursday, June 30, 2016

Film Week

A review of the films I've seen this past week.

THE NEON DEMON (2016)
This was exactly what I was hoping for. Elle Fanning, in a performance that proves she's very talented and I'm not just being forgiving, plays Jessie, a 16 year-old who starts modeling. Almost immediately, everyone she comes in contact with is fascinated by the unattainable quality of her natural beauty, and how exploitable it could be. An expressionistic sort of movie, almost like a giallo film, but not an overt horror film. I did need a little while afterwards to decompress. Stunning to look at (and to listen to; the score works incredibly well with the feeling director Nicolas Wending Refn is trying to create in the viewer), with its neon colors and its flashbulbs as everyone around Jessie tries to make her the thing they want her to be (and she sheds layers of societal misogyny to allow herself to be who she is). Refn clearly sees the beauty industry as something that consumes its own, and in The Neon Demon he deals in the weird hostility that beauty can create. I can't stop thinking about it. It's not for everyone, but I thought it was beautiful and strange. Jena Malone, as a make-up artist who supports Jessie, is pretty bold and fearless in the movie. An excellent, polarizing film, and finally a worthy successor to Refn's Drive. (Let's just move past Only God Forgives.) ****

SISTER (2012)
Interesting drama about a 12 year-old boy who lives near a ski resort in Canada. Living in poverty with his sister (Lea Seydoux), he heads up to the resort each day to steal skis and other equipment that he can re-sell to feed himself. He doesn't appear to go to school. His sister, who is obviously prostituting herself between jobs that she quits because they're boring, disappears for days at a time. It's a story about doing what you have to do to survive, and it's very compelling, but then something re-contextualizes everything and the real desperation of the boy's life is shown in relief. I was quite moved by it. ****

3 comments:

MC said...

I've been watching the remix version of Ladytron's Seventeen which is featured in Neon Demon, and the imagery and some of the weird scenes contained within make me really want to see the movie... like that was some weird shit.

MC said...

That was... wow... that took a turn.

But the artistic choices, the framing... it is going to be a movie that stays with me for a long time.

SamuraiFrog said...

I'm glad to see you gave it a chance. I still remember vividly how much I needed to just sort of decompress after seeing it. I respect that it completely committed to its choices. There's something about this movie I've just found completely unforgettable.