Challenging filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn has made quite the mark on the current cinematic landscape. He had - of course - been making films prior, most notably 2008's Bronson, which boasts a stunning performance from Tom Hardy. However, it wasn't until Drive in 2011 that Refn was almost immediately declared one of the most exciting filmmakers to emerge in some time.
The film was received incredibly well, delighting critics and audiences alike with its stylish and unconventional approach to the heist thriller narrative. Swiftly noted as a neon masterpiece, a follow-up to Drive was anticipated in many cinematic circles. Rather than serving up something similar, Refn provided viewers with the stylistically similar but far more ambiguous allegory of 2013's Only God Forgives. To put it lightly, the film proved rather divisive; many of those who platformed Refn as the century's next great filmmaker quickly retracted their wondrous praise.
Yet, Only God Forgives managed to secure the director a more devoted cult following, of which must have been his aim all along. It was an acquired taste, and made with a niche in mind - it was dedicated to Alejandro Jodorowsky - who seemed to cherish it. Fortunately, the production's reevaluation continues to this day.
Expectations for Refn's next film were uncertain. How do you follow up a film like Only God Forgives? It was hard to know whether to anticipate a complete deviation from such artistic exercise or an even more indulgent embrace of such pursuits. Three years later, we got The Neon Demon; a creative critique of the modelling industry. This subversive horror film proved more accessible than his previous effort, but still proved to divide audiences - some found it far too self-indulgent and pretentious, others found it to be a thought-provoking commentary paying luscious homage to the work of such filmmakers as Dario Argento.
The Neon Demon (@tnd_film) October 3, 2016
When one considers his body of work over the course of this decade, there is evidence of auteurship, and visually there is a startling cohesion. This may continue with Too Old to Die Young, the director's - co-created with Ed Brubaker - new ten-part television series. During an interview with ScreenDaily, composer and recurrent collaborator Cliff Martinez revealed that all ten episodes will be roughly ninety minutes in length. Essentially, the series will consist of ten connected features; certainly an exciting concept for Refn fans.
According to IndieWire, the series "... stars Miles Teller as a grieving police officer forced to investigate Los Angeles’ criminal underworld, which includes working-class hit men, Yakuza soldiers, cartel assassins sent from Mexico, and Russian mafia captains."
It sounds like a broad culmination of the director's career over the current decade and more. It has been in production for a long time, but hopefully, news of a release date will surface soon. Nicolas Winding Refn entered the decade with a benchmark release, of which very well could go on to earn classic status. Against the grain, he will likely conclude it with his most divisive work yet. It's what we've grown to expect.
In other news, Chris Pratt has addressed Indiana Jones rumours.
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