Valhalla Rising

Currently streaming on Netflix.

I’ve never seen a man so disfigured, give me the biggest chubby I’ve never known.  Nicolas Winding Refn doesn’t seem to know how to write women (Valhalla Rising would miserably fail the Bechdel Test); but, Refn knows how to write the most sexually electrifying  male leads to ever see the big screen.  See Drive.

To say Valhalla Rising is slow-paced, is a sure under-statement.  The first spoken words come as a surprise, because so much time has passed without language.  That is not to say it is silent.  Refn selects jarring, intense music that sets a perfect Purgatorial mood.  Normally, I give up easily on slow-paced movies.  I am often impatient and bored.  I was neither during this one.  The moments of stillness added to the suspense.  The gorgeous landscapes (filmed in Scotland) interspersed with shocking red clairvoyant impressions were enough to keep me at the edge of my seat.

The protagonist, a Norse warrior, begins as a slave with unrivaled fighting skills.  Refn’s movies are like the bashed-in heads he loves so much.  Rough, bloody, and raw, but soft on the inside.  The Norse warrior is 100% hero.  A noble savage that meets his match when he meets nobler savages, also known as Injuns.

Valhalla Rising did have a fatal flaw – a disappointing ending that I won’t spoil for you.  Even still, the movie is entirely worth watching.  I wholeheartedly recommend it… $11

As a side note, the picturesque landscapes of this movie reminded me of one my all-time favorite music videos.  Though entirely different in tone, it shares gray skies and rolling hills. See here.

Yolkie’s Recommendations:

The Hidden Blade
Let the Right One In

Other Reviews:
Vahalla Rising Review
The Speculative Scotsman
Between the Seats

Nicolas Winding Refn’s & Hossein Amini’s Drive

Drive is about perfection. Which is to say PERFECTION is what Drive IS DOING. Ryan Gosling for example has no pores. Pores for him would be a marker of defeat. There is no defeat in Ryan Gosling’s complexion. His complexion is a flawless ecosystem of radiance and coincidental lubrications. Ryan Gosling’s face is in fact an epiphyte. An epiphyte collecting its radiance from the moisture and nutrients in the air and rain and other coincidental detritus.

There is something perfect about watching a cat chase a mouse. Especially when the cat is deranged Albert Brooks armed with many shivs and abalone-encrusted razorblades.

People who saw Anton Corbijn’s The American know it was not perfect. The American did not contain Ryan Gosling for one thing. Well, Ryan Gosling could never be CONTAINED. But The American did not make an attempt to touch Ryan Gosling, did not attempt to CORRAL him, which was its primary mistake. In other ways The American was allowed to share some characteristics of Drive’s perfection. Its sparseness. Its assiduous attention to the movement and pacing of THE SCENE. Its desire to connect lonely souls for momentary alleviations of sufferings. Its desire to tear loved ones apart so as to intensify the sensation of longing. Its longing. Its willingness to produce longing. A longing to break from unsalvageable situations.

Sofia Coppola should sue Drive. For one thing Drive has stolen HER MOVIE from her. They have stolen HER MOVIE and made it better than she could have made it. That is the most painful form of stealing. As when a thief steals your lemons and makes his lemonade. As when a thief steals your girlfriend and puts her on a diet. Drive gives the illusion the narrative is meandering when the opposite is true. Each deviation adds up to the tightly-wound contraption of their narrative.

No Country for Old Men was perfect but not because of Javier Bardem’s haircut. Or was it? Maybe aesthetic perfection can be achieved by making a handsome man very, very ugly.

Oscar Isaac does something ingenious with his role. He saves his role from being easily forgettable. He is his own savior. That is sort of like being Jesus Christ if Jesus only saved one person. And that person was a role in a movie.

Violence – too much? A lot of spurting involved. A lot of spurting and Ryan Gosling stomping his boot through skulls. Skulls are like pumpkins to this guy.

Music. David Lynch thinks music should be very intrusive upon the spell the movie is making. David Lynch also thinks the Transcendental Meditation technique is going to help him levitate. The soundtrack of Drive does seem to levitate and speak above our conscious desires. When I put the Drive soundtrack in my own car I did think I was levitating for a moment, but it turned out I was only driving very slowly up a hill. Then I felt disappointed in the car I was driving. Conversely my car felt even more disappointed I was not Ryan Gosling.

Carey Mulligan is looking good as a blonde.

Slow motion. No one uses slow motion anymore. That is because nothing is perfect anymore except for brevity. But Drive is not afraid of slow motion. So as to prolong brevity. So as to prolong the only scrap of perfection that is offered to us.

Best movie out right now . . . $11

If you heart Drive:

Recommendations by Day Gun Sho
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai
Wild at Heart
Punch-Drunk Love

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