Posts Tagged ‘murder’

Only God Forgives – Nicolas Winding Refn

only-god-forgives-786998l“This isn’t about your dead daughter.
It’s about your other living daughters.
This is to make sure you never forget them.”

The narrative has only a main plot there are no secondary stories. The secondary characters’ existence is completely linked to the main protagonist and antagonist characters’ motifs. Some extras are used but not to create a background, an atmosphere of life going on alongside this particular drama but only to raise the conflict’s death toll or to witness its development. Everybody is involved.

This undistracted focus leads inherently to leitmotifs and a kind of static and mannerist mise-en scene, acting and use of color.

The use of such a rigid structure when the story is about the murdering of an under-aged prostitute by an American interloper and the unorthodox way of handling the investigation by a sword-bearing police lieutenant is not very common. If the target audience is the very patient art-house cinemagoer keen on bloodbath à l’asiatique then it becomes a solution.

Therefore Only God Forgives cannot be an action movie Hollywood style nor European style. It is not a story about individuals: some crazy brother, his “different” little brother, their unscrupulous mother and a sadistic cop. They are symbols, archetypes, if you like.

Nicolas Winding Refn dedicates this movie to Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky so this must be more than a revenge story in Bangkok. Jodorowsky has made a lot of films denouncing American hegemony, west’s invasive culture and imperialism. So maybe Refn’s is not bowing necessarily in front of Jodorowsky’s artistry but more likely in front of his sociopolitical views.

Refn’s story is about racism, xenophobia, the clash between the white intruder and the local “Chinese nigger”. They ceased a long time ago to be the curious tourist or the bystander ex-pat and the ever-smiling native host obedient to tourist whim. Most probably they never really were in a sincerely friendly relationship. The native is now fed up with the rich, abusive foreigner.

The native cop’s character, Chang (Vithaya Pansringram), is probably the most intriguing. He is the quintessence of fight against acculturation and white man’s abuse. All we know about his personal life is that he has a family but the only family scene we witness is about a conversation with his wife regarding dinner, traditional dish, naturally. He prefers to render justice with a traditional sword and he tortures with objects that can be emblems on sex tourism brochures. The most extraordinary elements are his Karaoke performances in front of his fellow officers with The Great Chinese Wall in the background. Some surrealist political statement!

The little brother, Julian (Ryan Gosling), is stuck between two worlds. The one he viscerally belongs to and the one he mentally wants to be in. But he has not yet escaped his prejudices. He’s still a xenophobic; the reason he does not dare to touch the native girl is a mixture of that and the guilt of being an intruder. He has not yet escaped homophobia; the emasculation his mother puts him through still weighs on him. His sense of guilt is actually what creates the whole atmosphere and guilt is what this story is built on. It haunts him like it haunts Lady Macbeth. He obsessively checks his own hands, the tools of crime. “Out damned spot!” becomes his nightmare too.

The mother, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), is Lady Macbeth without the guilt part, she is the white superiority complex, Home Country, Uncle Sam, western hegemony, holding all her children by their balls.

To escape from her sultry womb is impossible without a painful cut.

A sickroom with a kino view – Pina, La Sconociuta, Män som hatar kvinnor

It was a great beginning of September, with all in it, movie-like or not. Then, quite decently I might say, a virus came to show me where I really have to be with my feet, that is, on the ground. But, before being locked in the sickroom, I got the chance to see Pina by Wim Wenders.
What a beauty, what a style, what a flow of emotions! Dance, a great philosopher once said, is the signature of divinity and Pina Bausch’s activity proves that it really is as sublime as the wise quote suggests it.
The 3D documentary is a sensitive tribute to the great choreographer. It is also totally indebted to her shows. So, there is not much left to say about Wim Wenders’s own contribution to it, except maybe his view on Wuppertal and its surroundings used as outdoor scenery for the dance pieces from Bausch’s works; here his work worths every penny.
But I think Wenders is a bit over-sentimental making the dancers gracefully and very meaningfully staring into the camera with their own commentaries on Pina Bausch from off camera. The content of these interludes are not bad or unnecessary, but the method does not assure a fully valid dialog with the dancing parts, which are awesome. What we learn about Pina from her dancers is that she was rough and gentle in the same time, a perfectionist who offered freedom of creation, freedom that often, intimidated, scared and exhausted the dancers but also made them discover themselves. For them Pina Bausch was a real guru and some of them now feel orphaned.
My conclusion on Wenders’s Pina is that if you see it and you didn’t know who she was, you might want to find out more and that if you did know who she was, you might really want to visit Wuppertal and get on that monorail and see some of her shows at the Tanztheater. The bottom line is that we have to see those shows! Book your tickets quickly!

With Wenders’s Pina my highbrowed cinema experience of mid-September ended and, with the virus bleakly pressing down my brain and a half closed wound on my elbow, I took a dive in thriller movies. It really helped me kill my virus and close the wound!

The first was Giuseppe Tornatore’s “La Sconociuta”.
It is a harsh story of an abused prostitute who tries to change her luck with some of the old interloper methods she picked up on her long journey in a hell of a life. Tornatore uses quite disturbing flash-backs to depict the heroine’s past. Then, with all the violence the Italian criminal world can offer and the good quality suspense, the story evolves slowly but surely to an ending more suitable to soft family dramas. Anyways, the movie keeps you alert and two of the characters are hard to forget. The main character “Irena” is played by Ksenia Rappoport with such delicacy that when the first uncommon gesture appears you feel totally lost and from that point on you’ll never know what to expect from her. But in the end the melodramatic ending fences her in. Michele Placido offers a great performance as a villain, the pimp; my stomach could hardly stand him. Maybe it was the medicine’s effect but he really is what you can hate and fear the most, a nightmarish character.

A Swedish thriller! Sounded very tempting by simply being a Swedish thriller. There are not many, I found only 25 titles on the internet. “Män som hatar kvinnor” (Men who hate women) directed by Niels Arden Oplev is one of them.
Now this was the entertainment a sick and injured patient like me needed to be cheered up with! It has everything! Investigative journalism against big industrialists and their dirty businesses, murder investigation, tutorial abuse, child molestation, nazism, computer hacking, serial killers, consensual and non consensual sex, car chase, girl on bike, bright future promising amount of money, pregnancy and heart breaking family drama. That is the short list!
All these elements of the story, that might seem a bit too many for one story only are firmly handled by Niels Arden Oplev. Thus, the story line being easy to follow, you have plenty of time to play the detective but also to enjoy one of the most satisfying revenge scenes seen on-screen which I’ll bet you’ll watch with an honest grin on.
The novel the movie is based upon, written by Stieg Larsson, has a second adaptation called ”The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo” to be released this december.
Meanwhile, my throat is better, my impressive wound slowly turns into an insignificant scar, I am back on may feet and ready for the road again.

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