Moody Lighting, Red Hallways and Religious Symbolism Run Amuck in Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives - Ryan Gosling

A piece of human scoria (Billy Burke) with strong ties to the Bangkok criminal underworld murders an underage prostitute and is then justly dispensed of by the avenging angel ex-cop, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), which sets off a sequence of violent events as Billy’s brother, Julian (a practically speechless Ryan Gosling), is ordered against his will by his evil wicked-witch of a mother, Crystal (Kristen Scott Thomas – so brilliant at going against type and positively oozing with diabolical dirt-baggery), to mete out Chang.  Suffice it say…(am I spoiling anything here?)…wrong move, brother.  Only God Forgives is a film about the scum of the earth…ahhhh…but it’s an art film!

If Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive was the best neo-noir “love story in the city of dreams” since David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, then Only God Forgives is a despicable neo-noir “hate story in the city of sin.”  Continue reading

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To Queue or Not to Queue

As tumbleweeds blow through the dust bowls of our nation’s cineplexes — Sunshine CleaningThe Soloist…where are you? — March has become a great time to stack your Netflix queue and catch up on all of the films that slipped through the cracks the previous year.  From the colossal bombs (Blindness, Miracle at St. Anna) to the buzzed about but little seen indie character pieces (Frozen River, I’ve Loved You so Long) to the high-profile curiosities that just didn’t connect (Changeling), the question before us now is:  To Queue or Not to Queue? 

All five films, though vastly different in story, structure and execution, share concurrent themes of people pushed to extremes when faced with societal injustices.  Meanwhile four of the five are galvanized by commanding performances from females in lead roles, and three of those four depict mothers who will stop at nothing to protect their children. Continue reading