Thursday, June 30, 2016

Broadgreen Pictures Film Review - The Neon Demon

The cutthroat ultra fiercely competitive world of modeling is the focus of   Nicolas Winding Refn's latest feature film. Refen's film brings the audience backstage , to auditions , parties wile exploring the day to day interaction between individuals usually seen walking down the runway at major designer's collections.

Jesse (Elle Fanning) is the new fresh face in town. She is 16, has no family but is not as doe eyed as she appears on the surface.  She lands a contract with a large L.A. modelling agency headed by Roberta Hoffmann excellently portrayed by Refn regular Christina Hendricks. Who tells Jesse to tell potential employers that she is 19 and not 18 as that would be too on the nose.  Jesse has test pictures taken by a friend (Dean) Karl Glusman who wants more from their relationship. At the shoot she meets  make up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) who can't get past Jesse's perfect skin.  Ruby befriends the new girl in town inviting her to an exclusive party where they meet up with Ruby's other two seasoned model pals Gigi ( Bella Heathote) and Sarah (Abby Lee) who seems to have had apparently had every type of plastic surgery possible and fears being out of the game by the time she turns 21.

Refn takes a writing credit for the film. The narrative presents a different turn on the young girl fresh off the bus to L.A. looking for fame and fortune. Jesse knows what she is, her strengths how to use them as currency and is unapologetic about getting to much too soon. The story pulls out a big chunk from the shallow intellectual puddle that is the world of modelling going to a new depths depicting what participants are willing to do to silence a threat to their livelihood.

Elle Fanning has a lot to do in her role as Jesse. All other characters bounce off her performance. She gets the innocent but cunning balance just right. Fanning stepped into the role that was originally linked to Refn favouritere Carey Mulligan adding her input to Jesse dialogue to authenticate how a 16 year old would act and react. Jena Malone is strong as Jesse best L.A. gal pal Ruby. She knows the industry having seen and worked on many a promising face that have flamed out in the past and recognizes Jesse unique qualities immediately. However its in her other job where she deals with the ultimate mannequins where Ruby truly shines. Look for Desmond Harrington in a small mostly silent role as an uber intense hard to book fashion photographer.

The Neon Demon  presents a new vision on the world of fashion featuring elements that has an alien sci-fi look and feel. The ensemble cast excel in their roles. The production does not shy away from heading to the fringes to make a point. The graphic nature of some of the scenes may not be for some viewers but its a film that will likely lead to repeat views in the theater and beyond.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

The Neon Demon | Nicholas Winding Refn | France / Denmark / U.S.A. | 2016 | 118 min.

Tags: Modeling, Beauty, Youth, Innocence, Audition, L.A., Make Up, Morgue, Fashion Shoot.    



Sunday, June 26, 2016

Blue Infinity Films Film Review - Searching for Paradise

Ace (Chris Young) is a vigilance who believes that his work makes the world a better place as he metaphorically looking to return home.  His assignments are to terminate the worst killers in the world to improve the fate of the species as a whole.  The short opens with Ace towering over a cowering middle aged man whose back story eerily resembles that of Canadian schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo. Ace dressed completely in black ignores his targets pleas and completes his contract.

Ace's other target is based on Anders Behring author of the 2011 Norway mass murders.  In the piece Adam is presented at two stages in his life. However,  this time our protagonist has an epiphany that makes him question and change his role from a tool of death to one of mercy.

Writer directors Chris Young and Chloe Bellande did extensive research to build the profile of the targets. An event in Chris' life was the spark for the Ace character who does a complete flip of his driving force during the film as he comes to realize that his actions make him no better than the people he is hunting.

Medhat Hanbali's score deserves special mention. The short features stripped down dialogue making the score key in filling in the gaps. Hanbali work shines especially to set the heavy dark tone of ice cold assassin in the opening then at the point of the life force change that overblown bright light and airy.

Searching For Paradise is a lean succinct production that relays on a few key moments to make its point. There is enough of a skeleton her to flesh out a full feature or television production. There are no wasted moments in the 20 minus production. The message is a valuable one yet one that may not be readily received with the recent violent events in spots like Orlando, Paris and Brussels.

*** out of 4

Searching for Paradise | Chris Young / Chloe Bellande | Canada | 2016 | 21 Minutes.

Tags: Hit Man, Serial Killer, Vigilance, Execution, Forgiveness, Dark, Light, Redemption