Tag Archives: 2013 films

Only God Forgives (2013)

8 Aug

After the surprising success of 2011’s stylish neo-noir Drive, director Nicholas Winding Refn had a lot of expectations to live up to.  When it was announced that heartthrob actor Ryan Gosling would again pair up with Refn to star in his next film Only God Forgives, fans were ecstatic, and creating something with more style and substance found in Drive would be no easy task.

While it is nowhere near from becoming a sort of “Drive 2”, Only God Forgives is a remarkable, and greatly under-appreciated film rich with subtleties.  The story follows a boxing gym owner/drug dealer named Julian (Ryan Gosling), whose brother is brutally murdered after the rape and killing of a 14 year old. Violence ensues as a vendetta between Julian’s family and the vengeful local law enforcement.

Visually, Refn is at the top of his game.  The scenes in Only God Forgives are stylishly shot with pin-point precision and detail. Refn has never been one to shy away from violence, but the blood in this film feels so raw and powerful, and the gore gives off such a shock when contrasted with the beauty and elegance found in the rest of the film.

The warbling, synth-ridden soundtrack by Cliff Martinez also helps gives the film a unique, darkening tone which culminates during the film’s standoff between Julian and the leading cop Chang. Kristen Scott-Thomas makes for a chilling mother, and gives the film an added depth of Freudian speculation.

While the plot doesn’t have the amount of complexity fans loved in Drive, Only God Forgives is still a brutal and dark film that grows on you the more you think about it.

Rating 7/10

Similar to: Drive, The Master, Stoker

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Gangster Squad (2013)

8 Jan

Gangster Squad is to films noir what The Avegners was to superhero flicks.

It is loud, explosive, fast paced and just good ol’ crime-fighting fun. Sure, it’s not the most intellectual piece of cinema, nor the most dramatic. But Gangster Squad gets it ferocity from it’s fast-paced, episodic action sequences, and a slew of great performances.

The casting here is remarkable and the drama is cleverly paced with welcome bouts of comedic timing. Sean Penn, as the ruthless crime leader Cohen, is at the top of his game. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are great together and Josh Brolin makes a whole-hearted likable good-guy (for once).

Added to the film’s style is a pitch-pefect retro look and beautiful Matrix-esc action scenes. The story is catered to meet modern audiences, but is still reminiscent of great films noir and gives heaping doses of thrills and emotion.  This film packs a violent punch and though not genre-defining, Gangster Squad is one of the best crime films I have seen in a long time.

rating 7/10 

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