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The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby ctaulbee » Sep Mon 19, 2016 12:12 am

The Neon Demon (2016)


Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Alessandro Nivola

Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn
Music by Cliff Martinez        
Cinematography by Natasha Braier

Running time: 1 hour, 57 minutes

Rated R for disturbing violent content, bloody images, graphic nudity, a scene of aberrant sexuality, and language.





"The Neon Demon," is a slick-sicko-shock horror show that mixes low-end grindhouse taboos with high-grade arthouse aesthetics. Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn, the Danish auteur behind "Drive" and "Only God Forgives," it is a movie primarily about Elle Fanning's face. Specifically, the inimitable, effervescent, and most importantly, youthful beauty of her character, Jesse, a young model making her way into the gaping maw of the modeling industry in Los Angeles. There's a real obsession and focus on her innocent, rounded visage that drives the film.  Refn, is convinced that profundity resides beneath the shallows of narcissism. It’s a tough sell, but an intoxicating one, especially upon subsequent viewings.

Refn is hardly the first movie-maker to find a link between supermodels and scary monsters, but he may be the most style-minded one to make the connection. Imagine an issue of Vogue with Maleficent as guest editor. "Are you food, or are you sex?" older model Gigi (Bella Heathcote) demands of Jesse upon their first meeting, while slicking on a lipstick called "Red Rum," the name a glorious double entendre. In this world of LA models, these are the two ways to be consumed, so virginal Jesse has to decide fairly quickly which one she wants to be.

The Neon Demon swoons along with the Hollywood denizens who encounter Elle Fanning’s Jesse, a hayseed with an angel’s face (but maybe not the innocence) who seeks L.A. stardom just past the age of 16. Her beauty, youth and implacability ruffle the feathers and sharpen the teeth of fixated fashionistas played by Jena Malone, Abbey Lee and Bella Heathcote, all slightly older than Jesse (20 is considered ancient in this jaded realm). They jealously consider her both a threat and a celestial presence: “You’re the sun,” one hungrily admires.

This is a Los Angeles David Lynch might recognize, Jesse lives in a Pasadena motel managed by Keanu Reeves’ sleazy Hank, who has more kinks than a Slinky but Refn’s not interested in a cautionary tale about getting mixed up in a culture where men, indulging a quasi-paedeophilic impulse, violate and re-purpose young girls while teaching them to hate themselves; there’s no cathartic eureka moment with Fanning declaring she doesn’t need this shit, yearning for a return to the wholesome and honest surroundings of her small town.

Frequent Refn collaborator Cliff Martinez heightens the dread with his seductive electronic score charging the mood with a frenzied heart and waning glimpses of crystal chimes, which beautifully meshes with Natasha Braier’s iridescent cinematography. Together they make the vapid seem deep add in Jesse's vintage-inspired wardrobe, the aggressively colorful visual design, and the dry, wry campiness, "The Neon Demon" feels like a 1970s cult flick, inspired by the female-driven horrors of Dario Argento's "Suspiria," or Roman Polanski's sexual-psychological doozy "Repulsion," starring Catherine Deneuve.


"The Neon Demon" is far less operatic than these films -- colder, controlled. But it's just as archly silly, quotable, visually hypnotic and perfectly suited for repeat viewings. On first watch, the film is bizarre, hallucinatory, shockingly gruesome. A second watch unlocks the dumb-clever charms of Refn's script, written with Mary Laws and Polly Stenham, with lines like, "plastics is just good grooming," and "beauty isn't everything, it's the only thing." You'll chuckle along, and you're supposed to, though the performers are deadly serious.

There’s no denying the beauty of Refn’s images, even if his puerile instincts are at odds with his obvious pretensions. Those who cry it’s shallow and ugly won’t be wrong; others will love it for those very reasons. The Neon Demon’s going to frustrate anyone who goes in looking for a conventional film or a thriller that has any interest in actually scaring you.


EFX Rating30 stars


The Neon Demon, Trailers
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby Fogdude » Sep Mon 19, 2016 5:04 am

I've considered seeing this one, but it strikes me as being a bit too artsy for my taste. I'll have to wait & see if others find it so...
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby kylumi » Sep Mon 19, 2016 9:57 am

Based on this review..............I'm going to give the movie a go. 8-)
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby Fogdude » Sep Mon 19, 2016 10:10 am

I trust you'll let us know how you liked it?  :-)
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby ctaulbee » Sep Mon 19, 2016 1:23 pm

It's very arthouse ;-)
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby Fogdude » Sep Mon 19, 2016 2:32 pm

ctaulbee wrote:It's very arthouse ;-)


That was my sense of it. Thanks for confirming. I'll pass.  :-O
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby chouette » Sep Mon 19, 2016 11:41 pm

Fogdude wrote:
ctaulbee wrote:It's very arthouse ;-)


That was my sense of it. Thanks for confirming. I'll pass.  :-O


Ditto... ;-)
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby VincentLupo » Sep Tue 20, 2016 6:01 pm

Nice review CT. I'm in.  I usually like arthouse.
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby Fogdude » Sep Tue 20, 2016 6:11 pm

VincentLupo wrote:Nice review CT. I'm in.  I usually like arthouse.


I worry about you, sometimes, Vincent! It takes a peculiarly twisted mind to be able to tolerate arthouse films! :-O
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby chouette » Sep Tue 20, 2016 10:28 pm

Fogdude wrote:
VincentLupo wrote:Nice review CT. I'm in.  I usually like arthouse.


I worry about you, sometimes, Vincent! It takes a peculiarly twisted mind to be able to tolerate arthouse films! :-O


I worry about him also Fog, he's been passing on a lot of good movies and then says he's in for this??? Really??? I'm very, very worried, lol

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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby ctaulbee » Sep Tue 20, 2016 10:44 pm

This is a good film to invigorate your mind, glad to see Vince is up for the challenge.

:-O
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby chouette » Sep Tue 20, 2016 11:01 pm

ctaulbee wrote:This is a good film to invigorate your mind, glad to see Vince is up for the challenge.

:-O


I HATE to invigorate my mind! It's TOO MUCH WORK! :-l lol
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby VincentLupo » Sep Tue 20, 2016 11:22 pm

Well I have to keep you guessing.  Wouldn't want to be predictable.
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016) - Review

Postby Fogdude » Sep Wed 21, 2016 6:30 am

VincentLupo wrote:Well I have to keep you guessing.  Wouldn't want to be predictable.


It's certainly working! Just when I think I have you pegged, you go off on a tangent I had not imagined! :-O
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Re: The Neon Demon (2016)

Postby Moviebugg88 » Aug Fri 10, 2018 12:59 am

I couldn't have said it any better CT....Wonderful breakdown of this film
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