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June 24, 2016


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Hated Drive, loved Only God Forgives and haven't seen Neon Demon, so don't really have a horse in this race, but in your review and here I didn't see a lot of evidence for WHY Refn's images are derivative, WHY the film was genuinely offensive, etc, which is disappointing because as someone who is lukewarm about Refn and bored of contemporary filmmakers in general I'd like to see someone like yourself put some effort into breaking down why Lynch could get away with what he did and Refn/today's-Lynch-knockoffs couldn't (since I believe Lynch was accused of some of the same charges you level against Refn).

Glenn Kenny

Fair question. There's only so much you can do with 300 words. The other directors referenced (that's the nice word for it!) in "Demon" include Bava, Argento, even Brakhage...the fellow has a lot of movies under his belt. The motel stuff has a real "Inland Empire" simulation vibe, and he achieves all the effects with technical panache—but it feels not just borrowed but calculated. Watching a Lynch movie, for instance, one is carried along by the conviction that he's communicating what scares him,what makes him anxious. And that's true in a sense even of a lurid rank sensationalist like Lucio Fulci. With Refn, and a LOT of other genre directors today, the name of the game is contriving images and scenarios that they very self-consciously believe will "shock" and appall. I don't wanna give away too much but there's a specific scene at the end that's a gloss on a notorious scene from Fulci's "Gate Of Hell" and it's just so pissily contrived that you can practically hear Refn giggling in the background. Which ties in to why it's offensive: it combines this glossy crud with a "critique" of beauty standards that's as half-hearted as it is facile.


Sounds stupefyingly dull, despite lesbian cannibalism. Refn's certainly managed to squeeze a lot of publicity out of it - how on earth did this manage to appear on the cover of this month's Sight & Sound? There doesn't appear to be much worth seeing in movie theaters this year. I found even the critically praised "The Assassin" really pretentious and dull. So am looking forward to your blu-ray guide...


"How on earth did this manage to appear on the cover of this month's Sight & Sound?"

Hey, 20 years ago 'Johnny Mnemonic' made the cover.

Zev Fagin

I very much appreciated your short review in The Times of "Neon Demon." I saw it at the Angelika and the director spoke with a theater employee -- this is putting things charitably, a tactic I think you managed well in the review -- after the dull screed. Most of the audience seemed to love everything and I felt a bit insane, so I am comforted by your review. An audience member did ask about his (uninteresting and inane) misogyny -- the film ("about women," he claims) is lovingly dedicated to his wife -- and he then explained why "women are much better than men." I had to cover my ears during the brutal credit music at the end and wanted to close my eyes during the title sequences. What's a Neon Demon?


Neon Demon is pretty ridiculous with its "thin" characters and its languid pacing. Is there another current director who takes chances with their images like Refn does in Demon? I enjoyed the Daft Punk aesthetic of the runway and night club as well as that bright white photo shoot room. Those scenes are borderline music video but held my attention more than the movie as a whole.


Looking forward to your next Bluray roundup and hoping the latest releases from two of my favorite '70s directors make the cut: Roeg's "Eureka" and Cammell's "White of the Eye." Both seemed to come and go before the prints even dried, and reviews were brutal. But 30 years later, "Eureka" is much improved and "White of the Eye" is a revelation. Both are flawed near-masterpieces from cinema visionaries, with levels of artistic maturity that Refn seems unlikely to achieve.


Theeb is sort of film that would fit snugly on your blu-ray round up: a ragtag Arab western set in Wadi Rum and featuring mostly bedouin tribesmen as actors. Released on a very decent region-free Blu ray last month and puts one's faith back into foreign films and arthouse after Refn effectively kills it for the summer.

Phil Freeman

I haven't seen Neon Demon yet, and likely won't, but I'm gradually becoming convinced that Refn's only good movie is Valhalla Rising.


Now you've gone and stirred up The Great Unwashed with your review of Tarzan on RogerEbert.

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