Only God Forgives -2013-

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Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. 90 mins.

 Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on Amazon Instant Video)

 Only God Forgives has been trashed pretty unanimously among critics, and in light of this fact, I feared that the film would be to director Refn what To The Wonder was to Terrence Malick, who had previously been batting one thousand. The film doesn’t come close to matching the stripped-down brilliance of Drive, but I found it to be enigmatic and engrossing. Mark me down in the “dissent” camp.

 The film’s poor reviews are right to bemoan the film’s often glacial pacing, but I suspect the negativity was also influenced by the audience’s desire to see another Drive. Refn didn’t make it for them – instead, he made a spiritual follow-up to David Lynch’s Inland Empire. I guess Nic got tired after waiting six years and counting for another Lynch. If you want to get anything done…

 All of the trappings are here: the long pauses riddled throughout dialogue scenes, the femme fatales, the macabre criminal underworld and psychotic characters, and plenty of singing in nightclubs. Even the score by Cliff Martinez carries the influence of Angelo Badalamenti in its notes. Much like Inland Empire, Only God Forgives is a movie that the viewer shouldn’t try to “solve” in a sitting. After all, if you dissect a frog, you’ll understand why it works, but then again, ya killed it.

My recommendation – view the film when you’re already drowsy, and let the nightmare wash over you.

 (Seen and originally written on 2013-07-30)

The Driver -1978-

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Directed by Walter Hill. 91 mins.

Worth my time? Yes. (Watched on DVD)

My exploration of the Hillmography continues with the director’s sophomore caper. I should remind that reader that just because I write that a film was worth my time does not necessarily mean it was a “good movie.” While The Driver has some great chases and a few clever plot developments, it has more than its share of boring stretches and poor acting. To make matters worse, Bruce Dern (the only cast member making any serious effort to act) seems miscast as the rogue detective.

Still, I believe that there is virtue in knowing my roots as a film fan, and The Driver was worthwhile since its influence carries on to this day. The most obvious recent example would be (no surprise here) Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn. Both films feature actors named Ryan playing quiet, gun-adverse getaway drivers who acquire someone’s dirty money after a job-gone-sour. Ryan O’Neal was a great pick to play the Driver, since his complete inability to act fits the character’s stoic nature perfectly.

Unless you’re a hardcore fan of the genre or curious to see what influenced your fave Ry-Gos film, you can probably skip this one. Still, The Driver was a step up from Hard Times. Next up in the Hillmography: The Warriors.

– Come to think of it, Ryan O’Neal has a knack for using his lack of acting talent to great effect. Take Barry Lyndon for example: O’Neal’s performance is unconvincing at every turn, a perfect fit for the protagonist’s sociopathic lack of empathy.

(Seen and originally written on 2013-01- 24)