Tag: ryan gosling

MOVIE REVIEW | La La Land (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It delivers flashy song and dance numbers that somehow manage to be fantastical and real at the same time.”

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“This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!”

I’ve been very slack in writing this review. Generally, I write a review they day of, or maybe the day after, watching a movie.  If it’s a new movie and still in theatres, I try to post the review within a week.  I’m writing this more than three weeks after watching La La Land and by the time it’s posted, it’s a little over a month later.  In that time, the movie nerds and sites I read have declared La La Land a masterpiece and Oscar front runner, before backlash saw it painted as an overrated piece of style of substance, before a backlash to the backlash had much of the public opinion coming back around to masterpiece and Oscar front runner.

Breaking the record for number of Golden Globes won by a single movie could be seen as a good thing or a bad one, depending on your opinion of the trashy celebrity jerk off that is the Golden Globes.  For me, La La Land is a movie that I loved when I walked out of the cinema.  It’s a movie I have recommended to anyone who’ll listen in the weeks since, and it’s a movie I’ve thought about every day since seeing it, and smiled whenever I do. (more…)

***21016 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | The Nice Guys (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s not quite as wacky as the trailer had me hoping it would be, but I still loved it and laughed constantly as I watched it.”

Nice A.jpg
“You’re the world’s worst detectives.”

In 1987, screenwriter Shane Black defined the mismatched buddy copy action movie as we know it, with Lethal Weapon.  He accomplished the rare feat of delivering a sequel that more than live up to its predecessor with Lethal Weapon 2, and let his darker tendencies show on the The Last Boy Scout.  A movie that starts with quarterback shooting opposition players in front of a capacity crowd before killing himself, and only gets more and more bleak from there, while still finding room for plenty of jokes, smart ass comebacks and zingers.

Those movies, plus an uncredited punch up on action classic Predator, put Black on the kind of streak that made people wonder if he could do any wrong.  Turns out, he could.  1993 saw a million dollar pay cheque for a re-write on the floptacular Last Action Hero, before he scored a record breaking $4million for writing the monumental shit bomb that was The Long Kiss Goodnight.  The kind of movie that is only remembered and talked about today because of just how spectacularly it flopped. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Pusher (1996)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A really impressive effort from a first time director.”

Pusher-2010
The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

“For instance, there was this Turkish guy once. He fucked up and owed Milo some money. So I went over to his place. I’d been there many times before, asking for the money in a polite way, without any luck. Finally, I took a knife, stabbed it in his kneecap and teared the shit up. Sometimes, I’d like to have another job. Believe me.”

Before scoring a massive, mainstream hit full of Gosling goodness with Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn directed one of the most mind blowing movies I’ve stumbled across in recent years with Bronson (it’s like Chopper…  If the main character was more insane, more violent, more darkly hilarious and based just as much on a real world figure.  Seriously, if you haven’t seen Bronson, you really should).  But before that, and whole lot of other stuff, Nicolas Winding Refn kicked off his career with Pusher.


As the title suggests, this is all about the world of drug dealing.  Kim Bodnia plays Franky, a low level Copenhagen dealer who’ll sell whatever he can his hands on to make a buck and fund his own habit, as well as drinking and hanging out with his partner Tonny, played Mads Mikkelsen.   Franky already owes Milo, his local wholesaler of the hard stuff, 50,000 kroner, until the promise of one big sale to an ex-prison buddy puts him closer to 300,000 in debt.

Soon, Franky is going from one end of Copenhagen to the other, trying to call in money owed to him, borrow more, make deals and do anything he can to pay his debts and save his life.  I don’t think it’s any accident on the part of the screenplay that almost every “deal” is done on credit.  Constantly Franky and others buy and sell everything from drugs, to firearms, to mobile phones, and on almost every occasion, when it’s time for money to change hands, the buyer is asking for credit with a promise to pay soon.  It’s like the entire black economy of the movie is nothing more than numbers floating in the air, based on and handshakes and promises.  Which makes it only hit harder when the very real, very mortal consequences begin to bare down on Bodina’s Franky.

One thing I really liked about Pusher is its objectivity.  This is no cautionary tale about the pitfalls of a life of crime or drug use.  But at the same time, it’s in no way a glorification of any of that either.  It looks like an accurate, fly on the wall account of people doing a particular job and the bullshit that comes with it.  Well, it looks accurate to my white bread, suburban, upper working / lower middle class eyes, anyway.  Franky is never portrayed as a hero or tragic victim.  He’s a man doing what he thinks needs to be done it.  He’s not misunderstood, he’s not struggling with any inner demons, he’s just dealing with decisions he’s made and the consequences that come with them.

As pretentious as it may sound to say, the camera really is almost its own character in Pusher.  Constantly in motion, even when the characters it’s shooting are not, the camera work goes beyond hand held.  Almost every single scene starts and finishes with the camera following someone in and out of the given location.  This might be one of the only movies I’ve ever seen where we see characters’ backs almost as much as their faces.  But this non-stop motion really does add to the movie, making the viewer almost as anxious and on edge as Franky when the walls start to close in around him.

Pusher

This is a really impressive effort from a first time director and you can see hints of where he was headed with something like Drive more than fifteen years later.  And maybe the Scandinavian setting, characters and costumes threw me off, but it doesn’t look fifteen years at old at all, it has aged really well.  Seriously though, if you haven’t seen Bronson, see it first.  Then give Pusher a go if you have time.

(Review originally posted Aug 5, 2013)

Pusher
Directed By – Nicolas Winding Refn
Written By – Jens Dahl, Nicolas Winding Refn

MOVIE REVIEW | The Nice Guys (2016)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s not quite as wacky as the trailer had me hoping it would be, but I still loved it and laughed constantly as I watched it.”

Nice A.jpg
“You’re the world’s worst detectives.”

In 1987, screenwriter Shane Black defined the mismatched buddy copy action movie as we know it, with Lethal Weapon.  He accomplished the rare feat of delivering a sequel that more than live up to its predecessor with Lethal Weapon 2, and let his darker tendencies show on the The Last Boy Scout.  A movie that starts with quarterback shooting opposition players in front of a capacity crowd before killing himself, and only gets more and more bleak from there, while still finding room for plenty of jokes, smart ass comebacks and zingers.

Those movies, plus an uncredited punch up on action classic Predator, put Black on the kind of streak that made people wonder if he could do any wrong.  Turns out, he could.  1993 saw a million dollar pay cheque for a re-write on the floptacular Last Action Hero, before he scored a record breaking $4million for writing the monumental shit bomb that was The Long Kiss Goodnight.  The kind of movie that is only remembered and talked about today because of just how spectacularly it flopped. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Place Beyond the Pines (2013)

The-Place-Beyond-The-Pines
The rise of Ryan Gosling over the last few years has been interesting.  I first remember hearing about him because of art house and festival darlings like Half Nelson and Lars and the Real Girl.  Around the same time, he had also made an impact as a class–A dreamboat with The Notebook.  In the years since, he’s made an obvious decisions to not be nailed down to any genre or style of movie.  Instead, picking hugely different roles and hugely different collaborators.  From B-grade genre stuff like Drive and Only God Forgives, to big budget cheese like Gangster Squad, to serious drama, like Blue Valentine.   Then, there’s a strange movie that’s a combo of all of that, and a little bit more, The Place Beyond the Pines.


In a pretty amazing single shot, Gosling’s Luke makes his way from his dressing room, through a carnival and into a circus tent where he performs as a motorbike stunt man.  It turns out that a year or two ago, when the carnival was travelling through the same town, he knocked up town hotty, Evan Mendes as Romina.  When he finds out he has a son, Luke quits the stunt show so he can stay and try to build a life for his son.

Looking for work, he meets Robin (Ben Mendelshon), a local mechanic.  When garage work doesn’t pay the bills for either of them, they decide to use Luke’s motorbike skills to rob banks.  During one robbery, Luke gets in a high speed chase with local beat cop, Avery (Bradley Cooper).

It’s almost 50 minutes into The Place Beyond the Pines before Cooper’s character is introduced, and the movie takes a totally unexpected left turn.  Then, as soon as you get a handle on the new, Bradley Copper focused direction, it changes track again for the last third.  And while all three sections take place over different time periods, focusing on different characters, there is a very clear connection between them all.

Both Gosling and Cooper’s characters do some terrible things, and they both do them all in the name of their families and the pursuit of being good fathers.  We also get some straight up Bronte shit with some Wuthering Heights style themes of people suffering for the sins of previous generations.  Don’t let that put you off though, even at almost two and half hours, The Place Beyond the Pines turns these ideas into an unrelenting story that never drags.

As well as Gosling, Cooper, Mendes and Mendelssohn, the cast is also rounded out by Ray Liotta and Rose Byrne.  This is an awesome cast that is never wasted in any way.  Every actor gets their own little moments to shine and none ever seem under utilised.

When I saw director Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine, I thought it was perfectly OK, while also the epitome of ultra depressing movie festival cliché.  Which was the reason that despite all the great reviews, I actively avoided The Place Beyond the Pines for a long time.  But that was a mistake.  It’s a clear step forward for Cianfrance as a writer and director and enough to make me see whatever he makes next.

The Place Beyond the Pines
Directed By – Derek Cianfrance
Written By – Derek Cianfrance, Ben Coccio, Darius Marder 

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)

r.pusher3

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