The Neon Demon (2016)


So fetch.

The Neon Demon: B

Is it Earth-shattering? No. It’s pretty fucking good though.

It’ll push all your buttons if you like Mean Girls, Dario Argento, and Mulholland Drive. It’s like all of those put together, and unlike Blood Orgy of the She-Devils, this film actually has a Blood Orgy of the She-Devils.  

The Nicolas Winding Refn aesthetic is there, so let’s talk about it because that’s probably why you are watching this movie. You don’t even know what the movie is about, do you? First of all, yes, there’s fucking NEON all over the place and there are really creepy synthcore sounds. Every shot is perfect, just like in his other films, so there’s that. If you like the man’s work, you will not be disappointed.  

What is the movie about? Not much: Jesse is this doe-eyed girl who moves to California to become a model. That’s kind of it. It is a mostly unoriginal story of show business “consuming” the innocent. Everyone is really mean and if you’ve ever seen Valley of the Dolls, you’ll probably feel like you are noticing things in the movie that others are not, so good for you. Keanu Reeves is in it and he pretty casually advertises he’s a sex trafficker.  

Jesse quickly becomes the “it” girl in town; everyone wants to photograph her or bang her or break into her motel room late at night to rape her because her chaste mojo makes her an irresistible gem in a swamp of artificial douche-bags. Her coworkers, are cruel 21-year-old minxes, fucking ancient crypt-keepers by industry standards, and they absolutely hate her and the way she lands gigs by just being her awestruck adorable self. You can tell early on that their jealousy is murderous. Stop trying to make staying alive happen, Jesse. It’s not going to happen!  

Supposedly, instead of yelling “Action!” before scenes, Refn would yell “Violence, motherfuckers!” and then the actors would, you know, do violence. The movie is mostly a centrifuge of nightmarish perfume ads and people hatefully glaring at each other as the “plot” slogs along. There is some really cathartic gore at the end (a “blood orgy”, if you will) too, so hang in there, gorehounds.  

People like to rip this movie a new asshole with the argument that it looks killer but lacks substance. Maybe the plot of Neon Demon is too simple for you because you are a fucking genius, so I’m sorry Christopher Nolan didn’t write this movie. If you wind up watching Neon Demon, you’ll just have to suffer with that huge brain of yours.

Look, I thought Only God Forgives was pretty awful (The pacing was like watching oatmeal ooze down a window and I just couldn’t give less fucks about the characters; what are they like kung-fu mobsters who are sad all the time? Get a fucking life.) but every shot was technically flawless and the boring nonsense looked incredible. It’s sort of the same here, but the characters aren’t just static cliches; they actually change and are interesting.

REVIEW: Ice Cream Man (1995)


Ice Cream Man – Grade: D

Opie Taylor. Richie Cunningham. When one thinks of America and everything that’s great about it, it’s the image of these two characters, both played by Ron Howard, that comes to mind. They showed us everything that’s good and hopeful about the U.S. of A. No doubt Ron Howard considers himself quite fortunate to have been able to play both of those parts.

Well, I hate to break it to you. America isn’t all smiles, candy, and fifties rock. America has a dark side. And that dark side could have been played by none other than Ron Howard’s brother in Ice Cream Man.

The film begins with a situation that the average American, the kind who isn’t hidden away in some ivory tower of wealth and privilege, knows all too well. That’s right, we’re talking about the murder of an ice cream man. How many of us can remember running out to greet the Ice Cream Man, only to witness him being murdered in cold blood? And the tragedy doesn’t just end there. It affects the lives of the children who witness such an atrocity. They go on to become ice cream men themselves, only they serve up a chilling helping of death along with all those delicious frozen desserts.

When Ron Howard’s brother scoops some ice cream that contains the eyeballs of the children he has murdered, it’s like his victims are looking back at him. Just as Shakespeare forces the audience to live in Macbeth’s skin while he washes the blood from his hands after killing King Duncan Donuts, we are shown that Ron Howard’s brother must look into the eyes of his victims. The brutal sacrifice may be over, but the souls of the victims live on as he scoops away. Not only that, but he offers these eyeball-filled treats to the neighborhood. It’s as though Ron Howard’s brother is saying to the entire neighborhood, nay, the entire WORLD: “Look what you have created! See what your society has wrought, and WOE, WOE UNTO US ALL!”

Overall, the production values were pretty shitty, and the effects were lousy. This movie was a heaping slice of ass.