Nicolas Winding Refn has turned into a total cinematic enigma



Nicolas Winding Refn has turned into a total cinematic enigma. If his earlier films such as “Drive,” “Pusher,” and “Bronson” had critics on his side, his last two features have split the cinematic world in half and left many audience members in total and utter puzzlement.
Refn followed up “Drive,” his greatest critical and commercial triumph, with “Only God Forgives,” a very black, nearly abstract piece of work that came out as his own bloody, twisted version of Stephen Frears’ 1990 classic “The Grifters.” It was perverse art-action and again starred “Drive” lead Ryan Gosling. The visuals were tremendous, but the story left many cold. Boos were heard at Cannes. It only got worse when he followed up that film just this past year with “The Neon Demon,” a film that angered even more people with its cannibalistic, highly stylistic satirical jab at the fashion industry. Boos were again heard at Cannes, but Refn was unfazed, that it was “a film to penetrate your mind and absorb whatever you think it is, which is the essence of creativity.”
The 46-year-old director is as eccentric as they come. Yet that eccentricity lends itself very well in terms of the visuals Refn is able to create within his films. You can complain all you want about the artistic merits of “Only God Forgives” and “The Neon Demon,” but you can’t deny the visual eye candy and use of colors that infuse his most sumptuous images. When you realize that the man is color-blind, it becomes damn near fascinating.
His inability to see certain colors, more specifically midtones, makes for films with high contrast. If they’re not in high contrast, he can’t even see them! It does explain a lot about why his images are so appealing to the eye. “Drive” takes place at night and yet there is such color to his Los Angeles evening that you feel like you’re visiting an otherworldly place.

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