Friday, September 02, 2011

Nicolas Winding Refn

Two cinematic and surreal films recently appeared on my TV, both directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (Danish directory).

Bronson, a fictionalized portrayal by Tom Hardy (he of Inception cast fame), of one of Britain's most violent prisoners, a man who went to jail for the theft of less than 28 pounds from a UK post office and ended up spending a significant fraction of his life behind bars due to his extremely violent nature. The strangeness of the real life events is transformed into an even more surreal stage setting by Hardy and Refn that touch on an almost artistic expression through violence that is are worth the price of admission.

Valhalla Rising is an minimalist film of a Viking, also a violent prisoner, who is forced to fight by his captors. Earning his freedom in a violent escape, One-eye, the prisoner's name as given to him by his young companion, ends up joining a group of crusading Christians, who then find themselves in the new world among the natives, and not in the holy land as originally intended.

I first became acquainted with the director from his first movie Pusher. As the name suggests, the movie deals with a drug dealer. The realistic and brutal violence in this film shows a theme that continues in the director's work, but it's not the stylized cartoon violence of so many directors who ape Tarantino, but something else.

Highly recommended.

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