Tag: gosling

MOVIE REVIEW | Only God Forgives (2013)

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We open on Bangkok, an ex-pat American of obvious ill repute is in a brothel.  He demands the resident pimp finds him a 14 year old girl.  When the pimp refuses, the American smashes a bottle over the pimp’s head.  Cut to, a badly beaten and dead young girl, obviously the victim of the American after his teenage girl request was denied.  Cue the music, Yackety Sax.  Coz this is gonna be a laugh riot !


OK, so maybe I made up that last part of my description of the opening few minutes of Only God Forgives.  But after watching the movie, I felt so down and depressed, I had to lighten the mood, if only for my own sanity.  A reunion of writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn, with actor/dreamboat Ryan Gosling, this makes their previous collaboration, Drive, look like The Care Bears Movie.

After the death of the cranky American, his brother, Julian, played by Gosling, does some investigating and finds his killer, the father of the film’s original victim.  Gosling and his brother are local drug runners and he assumes the murder was work related.  When he discovers it was revenge over his brother’s terrible act, Gosling decides the grieving father was justified and doesn’t deserve to die.  So now we know who the good guy is.  But with the evil brother dead, who will we be the movie’s villain?

Soon, Gosling’s mother, played by Kristin Scott Thomas, arrives.  And when meeting his girlfriend for the first time, she refers to her as a “cum dumpster”.  Ding! Ding! Ding!  I think we’ve found our villain.  While Scott Thomas puts out a hit on her son’s killer, an ex-policeman named Lt. Chang (delightfully nicknamed the “The Angel of Vengeance”) is also trying to keep his streets clean, one sword stabbing at a time.  As their paths cross more and more, the body count rises until  it’s Julian Vs. his Mum, Vs. Angel of Vengeance Vs. random hit men Vs. anyone else unlucky enough to get in their way.

The story is super pulpy and exploitative, the violence is stylised and kinetic, but somehow, at the same time, the pacing of Only God Forgives is glacial.  But in an interesting way that really works.  It’s almost like Tarrentino wrote the screenplay, but Interiors era Woody Allen directed it.  If you took every shot of someone staring blankly into the distance and cut it in half, the already short 90 minute running time would come down to less than half an hour.   Which brings me to one thing I didn’t really like about this movie.  There’s a very fine line between an emotionless stare looking like intense brooding and a blank stare looking like bored, or post lobotomy, obliviousness.

Only God Forgives is great…  I think…  I really don’t know…   I do know I’m still thinking a lot about it, so that has to be a good thing…  Right?  At the very least, it looks amazing.  It’s the kind of movie you could leave on with the volume down and be blown away by the visuals every few minutes.  Or the kind of movie you’d see flickering on a cracked screen in the background of a serial killer’s lair.

One last side note, here’s a little tip for Winding Refn.  If you’re film revolves around an intense badass, maybe don’t name the character “Julian”.   It’s just too wet and floppy of a name.  I can only think of a couple of names that would make him even less intimidating….  Tristan and Sebastian.

Only God Forgives
Directed By – Nicolas Winding Refn
Written By – Nicolas Winding Refn

MOVIE REVIEW | Pusher 3 (2005)

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Over the course of almost ten years and three movies, director Nicolas Winding Refn showed a real, tangible evolution as a film maker and story teller with his Danish Pusher trilogy.  In 1996’s Pusher, it was all selfishness, narcissism and badass style.  In 2004, Pusher 2 showed he could bring real characters with real emotions and depth to the series.  Then, a year later, Pusher 3 upped the anti again.


Milo, played by Zlatko Buric, was the antagonist of the first movie.  He showed up for one short, but pivotal scene in the second, and is now the main character of the third.  Until now, he has been the highest ranking of the small time dealers in the Pusher world.  He’s the wholesaler who has the big bricks that the lower level dealers will break up into little plastic bags.  But Pusher 3 is about the next level up, who wholesales to the wholesaler and who does he answer to?

The original Pusher confined the story to one very clearly depicted week.  While it’s not as definite as the first, Pusher 2 seems to be have been condensed to just a few days.  Winding Refn gets even more microscopic with Pusher 3, confining the entire story to just one day.  A day the starts with Milo at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting before heading to a drug deal where it turns out he’s bought a butt load of ecstasy instead of the butt load of heroin he was expecting.  Like the movies that preceded it, Pusher 3 shows the quickly unravelling efforts of a man getting increasingly desperate as he tries to fix one mistake, with every short term solution escalating into bigger, more dangerous problems.

The original was all about one selfish man and how his decisions affected him.  Pusher 2 widened the perspective to show the effects its characters actions had on the innocents around them.  Pusher 3 brings it back to mainly one man, but this time, the story starts with a character who’s already seeking some kind of redemption.  Milo has already learned from his mistakes, he just hasn’t learned quite enough yet to avoid what will go down on this one, horrifically eventful night.

Like the two before, the third film in the trilogy finishes on a maddeningly ambiguous, yet perfect note.  We’ll never know what ultimately happened to Pusher’s Franky, outside of one quick line of dialogue that all but dismisses him in the sequel.  Is Tonny from Pusher 2 living the quiet life of a suburban dad?  Where will Milo go after the events of Pusher 3?  It doesn’t matter.  None of these films are concerned about wrapping their stories up with a neat bow.  They’re about what happens when these characters make one mistake that spirals out of control and how they handle it in the short term.  Real life doesn’t have a neat ending to every story, and neither does Nicolas Winding Refn.

This is a great final installment to a really interesting and complex series that only got more interesting and complex with each addition.  But seriously, I’ll say it again, as good as this series is, you really need to see Bronson.  Even if you have, watch it again, then give the Pusher movies a go.

Pusher 3
Directed By – Nicolas Winding Refn
Written By – Nicolas Winding Refn