SONG TO SONG (2017)

Written & Directed By: Terrence Malick 
Cinematography: Emmanuel Lubezki
Editor: Hank Corwin, Keith Frase & Rehman Nizarali 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michael Fassbender, Rooney Mara, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett, Val Kilmer, Berniece Marlohe 

Two intersecting love triangles. Obsession and betrayal set against the music scene in Austin, Texas.


The film offers cameos from bands and musicians. Like Robert Altman’s THE PLAYER only less about the life and business just what kind of culture it takes place in 

The film is filled more with moments of the day-to-day. That is broken into fragments and left for us to witness and examine. As really the film takes place and shows us the lives of those attending a music festival. 

As it becomes a travelogue of the surroundings with a love of narration, that is supposed to help explain but becomes more oddly poetic. Meaning that what we see while visually stunning is a surface. While we learn what is underneath from the narration. Which offers up an explanation of sorts. 

The films of Writer/Director Terrence Malick usually revolve around the individual and their relationships with the world. Romantic and intimate ones are at the heart of the films. 

This could have easily been a modern NASHVILLE type ensemble, but the music festival is a backdrop for the intentions of music. With emotions and thoughts expressed through the melody with words. just like an album has a bunch of songs. Some are in the same Mold and some are distinct. Others offer a different slice of life and a continuation of themes,  but still a different moment and rules.

Going in you don’t know what to expect. But when it comes to director Terrence Malik’s later films. You kind of do, wide-angle lenses, narration, beautiful cinematography, poetic license almost abstract to the non-existent story. Left for you to meditate on, believing that this new film will be the one they have wanted from him and waited for. That will be his next BADLANDS or DAYS OF HEAVEN 

He tries to stick with the story more and each time while considered good. Not the classic fans hoped for. Though that seems better and is taken more seriously later,  then When they come out originally slow them to be seen more as pieces of art. Then just movies. Even if more and more end up as passable yet disappointing to a certain degree rather than good or even memorable 

The camera never really stops. We see private moments more glossy and pretty people doing normal things. Only with more shine and attention on these moments. Offering Communication through images. Never let lies during full conversations do it.

Though you might know what to expect. Though he offers you shards and then Leaves you to interpret and figure out what just happened. Sometimes with Narrations that sound like excerpts from books 

Usually, Actors clamor to work with Mr. Malik and his films usually are star-studded. Only then did he cut out half of them from the film. As they are not needed in what he wants to present. Which he finds during the editing process. 

So his films always seem like a cut he came to that was releasable after cutting down in the editing room from what might be the first draft filmed. If there was even a script. That it ends up feeling like A book with missing chapters and characters whose fate we never learn.

It ends up feeling more Like a music video with a score but missing the main song as there is a score but no singing necessarily. 

As characters who are almost like newborns come in and take out the narrative partially after an initial connection. Twisting things around a bit. 

Then the actors are filmed like fashion shoots. Like a footnote or introduction to a side story that affects the overall narrative.

Usually one can get excited when he sets his films in the present. Not so much historical epics,  but his strongest films are those usually based on books and true stories that have actual plots. Allowing them each a few chapters they tend to overlap through each other. To be the one In control of their own POV and their marriage and romantic missteps with guest stars.

The film seems to want to be ambitious but leaves itself hard to grade as it comes across more as an art installation rather than a film. 

TO THE WONDER was his last most consistent film.  As it seems the most focused 

This ends up as A long movie that feels longer than it is and monotonous 

It seems like Michael Fassbender’s character is a music manager who is in love with Rooney mara’s character, who works for him and is mildly in the know but once she falls in love with Ryan gosling’s character. At first, she still cheats with Fassbender. Then once she stops, Fassbender meets and marries shortly afterward a waitress he picks up quickly. Where it is all love at first then they start to sleep around. Until she has a romantic liaison and he gets her into drugs and groupies 

Then His wife dies and Mara’s character is with gosling. But he seems to still have feelings for his ex and they break up. Once he finds out Rooney had an affair. She signs with Fassbender and then has a same-sex relationship. Gosling moves home to be around family and falls for Cate Blanchett who no one seems to think is good for him. So it continuously plays with this melodrama. 

This is one of these Films where you find yourself constantly checking the time where it’s headed and shocked it’s not over yet. 

A film that might be smarter than the audience. It is also a film that wants the audience To Interpret it all rather than explain. which can equal big filmmaking wishes handled by a true artist or someone who knows what they are doing.

He sets himself apart as Brave. Most filmmakers choose to have the audience interpret relationships or endings or characters. 

Whereas by the end explaining the plot/story is simple as there is so little of it. It whereas it is started out with visuals montages narration poetry, but barely any music which the title suggests there should be more of some 

It all feels Pretentious where One might wonder if the director had a script as it feels like there is none and they are making it up as they go along at the location and trying to fit it all In

In the end, the film doesn’t offer as much music as expected 

Grade: C

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013)

Written & Directed: Nicolas Winding Refn 
Cinematography By: Larry Smith 
Editor: Matthew Newman 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam, Tom Burke


I couldn’t wait for director Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to DRIVE. In a weird way, this is kind of what I expected and hoped it wouldn’t be.

The Film stays in his style. A little story to speak of, Ryan Gosling is like a mannequin as he is silent mainly expressionless, and feels like a stand-in for a character. He also stares a lot which if you have a crush on him is great. The film is over-indulgent and pretentious. I still liked it but wouldn’t call it good. It’s a revenge tale and an eastern western with despicable characters and the villain is murderous but honorable. Ryan Gosling seems to be a pawn. Though it does have a stillness and slow-motion without an actual slow-motion effect in-camera.

I liked the production design and the camera work. It becomes obvious with each new film that Refn doesn’t really care about the story or plot. It seems for him to be all about moments and having the central figure be kind of a surrogate for him and his fantasies. Though I will say his films have a fetishistic quality to them. Which does well as his characters are plainly one-dimensional which makes them simple to figure out, but it seems like some of the actors namely its lead thinks there is something more to him.

I believe he has an overabundant amount of skills to make a film vividly and well, but like other directors who excel at visuals, it seems recently they have a hard time telling a contained sort without it seeming to leap into indulgence. Nicolas Winding Refn when listening to his interviews about his films makes them sound so Interesting and symbolic then when you see them, you feel lost like everything in it means something though never fully explained. Allowing you to read into it what you will. He reminds me of an abstract artist though his work is more understandable where there is supposedly an idea behind everything or at least a theme yet he leaves you to figure it out. Or it’s based on some theme he thought up that you never really see or figure out fully.

It doesn’t help that though he is a little extreme the supposed villain of the film is the character you like the most as he seems to be the only one doing the right thing.

This film is filled with morals and codes every main hacker seems to live by one of the ones who don’t seem to get slaughtered.

As most of the film is silent as far as dialogue, The score by Cliff Martinez is heaven-sent as it set’s the mood of the scenes and it seems of the character as they trail through this neon wasteland. The score accompanies them and is more of a guide than the script or action on-screen at times.

The film is shockingly violent for the audience high not the director if you follow his work. Though shockingly this is one of his least violent as most of his films deal with lurid lifestyles that have the promise of violence they are usually lightweight in the gore department except for Valhalla rising. Though in his films he treats violence as an everyday normal thing at least to the characters.

Kristin Scott Thomas has the best scenes as the cruelest mother ever put to film who is heartless through and through. Crystal, Julian’s mother, is modeled after Shakespeare’s character Lady Macbeth and Fashion Designer Donatella Versace.

The film sets up a strange oedipal situation that is never clearly defined but slightly disturbing.

The action that sets this whole film in motion seems rather random we never get to know the reasons the action took place, maybe it was living high on the hog he felt he can do or have whatever he wanted. Maybe his soul had grown so empty he needed to do vile things to feel alive or top himself. Either way, a senseless act leads to swift and complicated justice and sworn revenge though we more see it from the crooked side.

Nicolas Winding Refn included karaoke in the film because he found out that, unlike in the west, karaoke was almost religious for Thai people.

Nicolas Winding Refn got the idea for the film while his wife was pregnant with their second daughter. He felt very existentialistic and felt he had much anger and violence in him, but did not know how to let it out. Suddenly he had the idea that the definite person to hold all the answers to existential questions and life’s problems where God and imagined himself having a physical fight with God.

Nicolas Winding Refn got the idea for the film while his wife was pregnant with their second daughter. He felt very existentialistic and felt he had much anger and violence in him, but did not know how to let it out. Suddenly he had the idea that the definite person to hold all the answers to existential questions and life’s problems where God and imagined himself having a physical fight with God.

The film rationalizes their acts by seems to let the audience forget head are horrible people. The only one with partly a soul is gosling’s character. He seems ambivalent and sedate through most of the film and lots of closes up’s on his hands. He seems more forced into seeking revenge hen actually wanting it. The. As he sees the tolls of it and how deep he Is getting, he starts to question his role in all of this. This is all in the film but the film seems to go out of its way to be vague. Luke Evans was originally cast in the lead role but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with the Hobbit. Ryan Gosling replaced him.

Ryan Gosling looks good in his minimalist wardrobe, but not much is asked of him, his long lingering gazes and stares are how you feel in the audience hoping there is something on the horizon to save the film. There is a bunch of symbolism, filters ad neon to represent the mood and underworld out in the open.

I did enjoy that the fight scene wasn’t the unbelievable epic we are lead to believe will happen. It’s brutal and one-sided. I have to admit it’s a guilty pleasure that I would watch again just for the surreal craziness that seems to be going on, just not explained.

SPOILER

It was Ryan Gosling’s idea to open the stomach of Julian’s dead mother. He had it after director Nicolas Winding Refn asked him if he’d rather smile or cry after Julian’s mom’s death. He replied that he’d open her uterus to see what’s inside.

SPOILER END

There is something very haunting about the film. It is original and unforgettable in many ways both positive and negative. Needless to say, i am sure many people want to see this. Trust me no rush.

GRADE: C

LA LA LAND (2016)

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Written & Directed By: Damien Chazelle
Cinematography: Linus Sandgren
Editor: Tom Cross
Music By: Justin Hurwitz 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, J.K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, Callie Hernandez, Jessica Rothe, Sonoya Mizuno, Valarie Rae Miller, Tom Everett Scott 

Aspiring actress serves lattes to movie stars in between auditions and jazz musician Sebastian scrapes by playing cocktail-party gigs in dingy bars. But as success mounts, they are faced with decisions that fray the fragile fabric of their love affair, and the dreams they worked so hard to maintain in each other threaten to rip them apart.

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LOST RIVER (2015)

Lostriver

Written & Directed By: Ryan Gosling
Cinematography By: Benoit Debie
Editor: Nico Luenen & Valdis Oskarsdottir
Music By: Johnny Jewel 


Cast: Christina Hendricks, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan, Iain De Caestecker, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Barbara Steele

“Lost River” is a dark fairy tale about love, family and the fight for survival in the face of danger. In the virtually abandoned city of Lost River, Billy, a single mother of two, is led into a macabre underworld in her quest to save her childhood home and hold her family together. Her teenage son Bones discovers a mystery about the origins of Lost River that triggers his curiosity and sets into motion an unexpected journey that will test his limits and the limits of those he loves.

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GANGSTER SQUAD (2013)

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Directed By: Ruben Fleischer
Written By: Will Beall
Based On The Book By: Paul Lieberman
Cinematography By: Dion Beebe
Editor: Alan Baumgarten & James Herbert 


 Cast: Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Michael Pena, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, Anthony Mackie, Robert Patrick, Mireille Enos, Troy Garity, Nick Nolte De’Aundre Bonds, Giovanni Ribisi, Jon Polito, Michael Bacall, Don Harvey, Derek Mears

It’s 1949 Los Angeles, and gangster Mickey Cohen has moved in, with the intention of controlling all criminal activity in the city. He has bought local judges and police, and no one is willing to cross him or testify against him. Everyone except Seargant John O’Mara, a former World War II soldier, whose goal is to settle with his family in a peaceful Los Angeles. Police Chief William Parker decides to form a special unit whose mission is to take down Cohen, and chooses O’Mara to lead the unit. O’Mara chooses 4 cops and asks another cop and vet, Jerry Wooters to join him but Wooters is not interested. But when he witnesses the murder of a young boy by Cohen’s people, he joins them, and they decide to take apart Cohen’s organization. Cohen wonders if a rival is going after him, but eventually he realizes it’s the cops.

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THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES (2012)

place



Directed By: Derek Cianfrance
Written By: Derek Cianfrance , Ben Coccio & Darius Marder
Story By: Derek Cianfrance & Ben Coccio
Cinematography By: Sean Bobbitt
Editor: Jim Helton & Ron Patane
Music By: Mike Patton 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, Bradley Cooper, Ben Mendelsohn, Ray Liotta, Harris Yulin, Rose Byrne, Mahershala Ali, Dale DeHaan, Emory Cohen, Bruce Greenwood, Robert Clohessy, Gabe Fazio


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