Saturday, 19 November 2016

Capital Celluloid 2016 - Day 332: Mon Nov 28

Only God Forgives (Winding Refn, 2013): Prince Charles Cinema, 6.30pm

This screening is part of the Nicholas Winding Refn season at the Prince Charles Cinema and you can find the full details here. This film is one of the most remarkable of recent years. Most critics were dismissive but the review below by the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw is a very good summing up of the movie's qualities. It is a one-off and, as Bradshaw argues, "deserves to be seen".
Guardian review (full version here):
Like a thwacked piƱata, critical opinion for something provocative at a film festival can swing off in any direction. But it was, for me, surprising to find that one of the very best movies at Cannes this year had such a shrill and hostile reception. Nicolas Winding Refn's brilliant, macabre and ultraviolent anti-revenge movie Only God Forgives – his most interesting work since the Pusher trilogy in the Mads Mikkelsen era – was deafeningly denounced at its first screening. Some booed from their seats, cupping their hands around their mouths so that the sound carried that vital few yards further. Then came the nervy, brushfire social-media consensus – a new feature of criticism at festivals – as insecure pundits checked their Twitter feeds and committed themselves to derision, evidently taking Refn's supposed failure to be the "story", and in any case believing that something has to be seen to take a pasting if the praise-economy is not to go bankrupt. And all the while, middleweight products and franchise mediocrities are cordially waved through.
I can only say that Refn's movie is entirely gripping, put together with lethal, formal brilliance, with bizarre setpieces of sentimentality and nauseous black comedy. It has its own miasma of anxiety and evil, taking place in a universe of fear, a place of deep-sea unreality in which you need to breathe through special gills – and through which the action swims at about 90% of normal speed through to its chilling conclusion. It is a kind of hallucinated tragi-exploitation shocker, an enriched uranium cake of pulp with a neon sheen.
Peter Bradshaw

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