Tag Archives: Nicolas Winding Refn

Review: The Place Beyond the Pines

The Place Beyond the Pines is a film of three parts, which, rather than revealing a conventional story arc, portrays lives within three generations – all scarred and shaped by small choices, large actions and the intertwined relationships of both those struggling to get by in life, and those with the chance of prominence and glory.

The Place Beyond the Pines Poster

Each of the main character’s different personalities is emphasised by Director Derek Cianfrance’s application of shifting styles and tones. For Ryan Gosling’s Luke, see loud, erratic cinematography and an electric pace. For Bradley Cooper’s Avery, see a more stable yet edgy tempo, set in a murky, paranoid-filled backdrop of politics and corruption.

For the final chapter, a mostly depressing contemporary modern America is accentuated by bleak scenery, tones of emptiness, and despairing youths fuelled by frustration. This concluding episode is filmed with the anxiety of an imminent horrific occurrence a la We Need to Talk About Kevin. The suggestion of tragic conclusions (which has no-doubt worked its way into the American population’s psyche, through unfathomable crimes committed in recent years by the generation of ‘lost’ teens) is somewhat inevitable when you see the emotional struggles these young characters are forced to battle with. Continue reading

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Review: Stoker

Stoker is an unsettling, atmospheric thriller starring Nicole Kidman (Eyes Wide Shut), Mia Wasikowska (Alice in Wonderland), and Matthew Goode (Watchmen). It is Director Park Chan-wook‘s first English language film, and after his much-lauded Vengeance trilogy – in particular the second of the three films, Oldboy – the expectation for him to deliver another masterclass in cinematic suspense, has almost been matched by our anticipation to see it.

Stoker Poster

Although based in the modern-day, the Stoker family live an almost Victorian existence. Daughter India (Wasikowska) attends high school where she is picked on for her Carrie-esque personality of an outdated wardrobe, inability to conform, and willing disconnection from her surroundings. She lives with her mother, Evelyn (Kidman), in a mansion full of gossiping servants, dust-ridden decor and a strangely haunting ethereality.

The film opens with the dreamlike introduction of India. She is curiously exploring the woods and fields surrounding the Stoker family home as her whispers inform us of her strange ability to both see and hear what others cannot – a sort of murky sixth sense which attracts her to a darker, secretive existence. We are fully introduced to her  after the unseen death of her father (Dermot Mulroney), the one person in her world who she had a worthwhile relationship with. Continue reading