Saturday, June 25, 2016
By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay
THE NEON DEMON
Not quite sure what to make of filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn's latest picture The Neon Demon. I imagined it would be a bit campy, in a good juicy way, but I didn't expect it to get so dark, nightmarish and sick. Although, actually, I can take watching necrophilia and cannibalism, what I can't take is slothful, long drawn out scenes created for an effect that for me it didn't achieve.
Jesse (Elle Fanning) is a fresh faced 16 year-old girl new to LA. When asked, she just says her parents are not around, but never elaborates on what that means. At one point one of the catty models throws her parent's death into her face, but Jesse doesn't really respond. I got the feeling they were probably useless junkies or something like that, but not dead. Regardless, the girl is on her own, naive in some ways, but smart enough to know she's pretty in a way that can make her money in this town.
And she's right, she has no trouble breaking in, the modeling/fashion world embrace her as if she were the latest designer drug. Only her quick rise to stardom attracts rivals who begin to seethe with jealousy.
Everyone Jesse meets wants to be her, f*ck her, kill her, or all three. The players include her benevolent but obsessive make-up artist friend played by Jena Malone [Julia Roberts' step-daughter in 1998 "Stepmom"], a pair of openly jealous b*tchy frenemies (Bella Heathcoate and Abbey Lee), both ridiculously thin and blonde with preposterously large blue eyes), her sweet-hearted meathead boyfriend (Karl Glusman), and the creepy manager of the seedy motel where she lives, played wonderfully by Keanu Reeves, who’s so well-cast against type that his acting work is practically done before he opens his mouth. It’s really fun to watch Reeves act like a weird perv for some reason. READ MORE Vince Mancini UpRoxx.com
T&T AGREES & DISAGREES...
Jesse may be on the fast track to success, but “The Neon Demon” moves like sweet, shimmering molasses; nearly every scene proceeds at a seductive crawl, as if Refn were meticulously draining every last molecule of oxygen from the room. It’s an approach that could have seemed stultifying, but instead it serves to amplify the film’s otherworldly eeriness and ghoulish comedy, even as a creeping undercurrent of dread builds and builds in the background. READ MORE Justin Chang Los Angeles Times
TT: This is an apt description and yet it's too praiseworthy for what I felt exiting the theater.
FILM SCHOOL MOMENT...
Giallo directors of the 1970s, especially Mario Bava, whose fashion-themed horror Blood and Black Lace even shares a hypercolor palette with The Neon Demon. READ MORE April Wolfe The Village Voice
[Giallo (Italian pronunciation: [ˈdʒallo], plural gialli) is a 20th-century Italian genre of literature and film, usually with mystery elements and often with slasher, supernatural horror or crime fiction elements.- Wikipedia]
|My #CinemaSneaknSnack for this movie:|
Graftify Gluten Free Pretzel and Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Spread
Bottom Line: I wish I could remember more specifics about Refn's 2011 movie Drive starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan. I remember liking it a lot, that it was creative, but not in that dream logic Lynch or Mallick way of filmmaking. I feel The Neon Demon tries too hard to make a shocking and unexpected statement about the superficial, soul sucking world of beauty and modeling; but what you get are too many places where the movie "Jumps the Shark". I also wanted to see Jesse descend into being a "Neon Demon", but her transition from virgin in peril, to snooty narcissism is too quick.
What does work here are all the locations and decor. Visually perfect for the story it's trying to tell - from the seedy motel where Jesse lives to the dingy nightclub ladies room, to the old movie star mansion where Jena Malone's character is house sitting. Everything has that tinge of melancholy like a Sunday evening around 5pm. A feeling I equate with many movies set in LA.
T & T's LAMB (movie bloggers association) Score: 2 outta 5
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