Julian, who runs a Thai boxing club as a front organization for his family's drug smuggling operation, is forced by his mother Jenna to find and kill the individual responsible for his brother's recent death.
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Ryan Gosling, fresh off of a revelatory turn in the excellentPlace Beyond the Pines, unfortunately chooses to squander his talent in Only God Forgives, playing Julian, an American expatriate in Thailand whose boxing club fronts for a narcotics ring. When his immoral brother Billy (Tom Burke) kills a girl and is murdered in turn, Julian’s disgusting mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives from the States and insists that Julian seek revenge – even if this means eliminating a formidable police detective, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm).
In a pretentious feat of style-over-substance showboating, director Nicolas Refn and his collaborators place so much emphasis on their ostentatious color schemes, self-conscious compositions, and generally gratuitous visual flourishes that they very nearly succeed in ruining what, in less limp-wristed hands, could have been a solidly gritty story of a family vendetta. Worst is that most of the actors in this nearly dialogueless drama appear to have been instructed to behave as robotically as possible, never smiling, as if every movement of every muscle is meant to convey existential angst, every second of every moment an endless Holocaust of the soul which, rather, screens as overly deliberate soullessness. The copious music of Cliff Martinez, a mixture of organic and synthesized sound, is both a blessing and a curse, as some lackluster scenes receive energy from these contributions, while others seem overly noisy where silence would be preferable.
The film does contain some very good scenes and in places achieves an adequate level of suspense. Those looking for action or for any kind of hero will be disappointed, however. An odd performance notwithstanding, the compulsively watchable presence of Ryan Gosling is, ultimately, at least half of what makes this idiosyncratic effort work to the modest extent that it does.
3.5 grudging stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Only God Forgives is:
[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]
6. Drug-ambivalent. The film passes no apparent judgment on the brothers’ drug trafficking. Different characters smoke in an indifferent manner, though Julian’s mother’s exhalations at a restaurant table would seem to be intended to parallel her disrespectful words.
5. Slut-ambivalent. While the film shows the physical danger that goes with a prostitute’s lifestyle, the representative whores are graceful and beautiful creatures who conduct themselves with elegant composure.
4. Pro-miscegenation. Julian engages in voyeurism and limited sexual contact with whores, not from any apparent apprehensions of disease, but out of a misplaced reverence for oriental pussy. His mother enjoys ogling Thai musclemen.
3. Pro-police. Chang, a karaoke singer, exemplifies the law enforcer as fetish...
(”Only God Forgives” is briefly mentioned in this.)
Not since Nicolas Refn’s Only God Forgives has this reviewer seen such a shameless triumph of style over substance. Overrated Rushmore auteur Wes Anderson, the most artificial of all filmmakers, delivers in Grand Budapest Hotel a work that is less a movie than a succession of fetishistic explorations of elegant line and symmetry and fastidiously composed tableaux of actors making eccentric faces and striking unnatural poses. Anderson’s admirers will probably enjoy this nonlinear, tonally anachronistic account of the various characters – several big name actors in small parts among them – whose lives revolve around the titular luxury accommodation. Others are, however, advised to seek their lodgings elsewhere.
3.5 of 5 possible stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Grand Budapest Hotel is:
8. Anti-gun. An absurd and needlessly destructive gunfight erupts in the middle of the hotel.
7. Anti-slut. It is Agatha’s (Saoirse Ronan – worst name ever?) purity that makes her attractive.
6. Anti-Christian. Lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) pushes over a piece of religious statuary, breaking it into pieces.
5. Anti-fascist (i.e., pro-yawn). “I find these black uniforms very drab.”
4. Pro-gay. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) is a stylish and comfortable bisexual, prompting bigoted bad guy Dmitri (Adrien Brody) to call him a “fruit” and a “faggot”.
3. Anti-white. The hotel’s clientele is described as “rich, old, insecure, vain, superficial, blonde, needy.” “Why blonde?” “Because they all were.”
2. Pro-immigration and pro-miscegenation. “You can’t arrest him simply because he’s a bloody immigrant. He hasn’t done anything wrong.” Agatha’s marriage to immigrant Zero endorses the dissolution of national identities and, in view of her Mexico-shaped birthmark, advertises its relevance to the present Mestizo settler colonization of the United States.
1. Zionist.The Grand Budapest Hotel evinces a very Jewish sensibility, racking up a few extra shabbos goy points for the director, and The Jewish Daily Forward‘s review of the film is actually titled “How Wes Anderson Became a Jewish Emigre Director&...
With The Lobster and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, director Yorgos Lanthimos has become something of an awards-season/top-ten-list darling, one of those auteurs whose shots are rigorously framed and whose work lacks sentimentality and whose worldview is dark, dismissive of humanity’s humanity.
Skip Rotten Tomatoes, they’re biased SJWs too afraid to criticize things like the Ghost Busters reboot. Avoid giving them ad revenue by using the minimalist alternative, Cinesift, for a quick aggregate:
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