The Horror Honeys: Nicolas Winding Refn - a Honey Tribute

Nicolas Winding Refn - a Honey Tribute

Recently the Honey's were invited by the TIFF Cinematheque to review a selection of Nicolas Winding Refn's collected works to accompany a retrospective featured at TIFF Bell Lightbox October 23rd to Nov 5, 2013. Since Revenge Honey has already reviewed Only God Forgives we chose Bronson and Drive to contribute to the Refn retrospective in our own way.

Many thanks to TIFF Cinematheque for seeking us out!

Like all art forms, film is a media as powerful as weapons of mass destruction; 
the only difference is that war destroys and film inspires. - Nicolas Winding Refn

The True Crime Honey - Bronson (2008)

I should really just make this review all about Tom Hardy.  Not for the obvious reasons like bulging pectorals, mighty deltoids and fabulous arms, or that panty dropper of a moustache...le rawr.  No way.  Tom Hardy is an amazing actor, with incredible physicality, and the ability to really become his character.  Tom Hardy WAS Bronson.  Charles Bronson himself has been quoted as saying that no one else could have played that part, and I would tend to agree with him in a rather vehement manner.  The real Bronson also donated his moustache for the film - shaved it and mailed it to Hardy.  True Facts.

Based on the "real life" of Britain's most violent criminal, Bronson is a brilliantly shot film: a conversation between convict and audience, with action spliced between to fill in the blank spots.  Not being as familiar with Refn's films as I'm sure I should be, his filming style reminded me of what might happen if Guy Ritchie and Edgar Wright had an exceptionally precocious little crotch spawn.  I wasn't sure what to expect from Bronson and what I got, was way more than I bargained for.

Oops...lost my panties again. Damn that moustache.

Now, Tom Hardy for me, will ALWAYS be a young Jean Luc Picard clone from Star Trek: Nemesis.  To say that I've got a bit of a hard on for this guy would be the understatement of the decade.  Hardy is all things to this film (as he should be) - and he takes on Bronson's badass persona with a rough natural skill that I honestly didn't expect from him. Watching the elegant (yes I think he's elegant) Tom Hardy become a hardened convict and brawler was not like watching Tom Hanks pretend to be a badass in Cloud Atlas. As I mentioned earlier, because I considered this film more of a conversation with the convict, it's proving decidedly difficult for me to write a review judging the merits of the film.  I thought it was brilliant.  The personal nature of the conversation, the affable quality of the character despite his history and purposes made me like Bronson the man...beyond all of the things he had done in his life and his prison career, he was doing them for a reason.  A selfish reason, but a reason that drove the entire film and all of his actions from day one.  That selfish reason is something that I think everyone feels at some point or another: the need to be famous, to be special, and the decision about what lengths a person will go to achieve that renown.  Bronson is about these choices, and the kind of fame (or infamy in this case) that these choices bring.  Defining success is a tricky thing, and its different for everyone - did Charles Bronson get the fame he hoped for?  Or is this the only fame that he believed was available to him...when you're nothing on the outside, you have to be king on the inside.

I should also mention that Tom Hardy gets naked...a lot.  Practical me says "Of course he's naked, it's like Greek wrestling, no clothes, and no hair mean you're harder to hold on to in a fight.  Legit.". Pervert me wishes the scenes were longer.  Ahem.

True Crime Honey Verdict -   Bronson is powerful, physically and emotionally.  I was sad for him, I cheered for him, and I even got a few good laughs out of the dialogue.  If you've never heard of Bronson, this film will make you realize that you should have known who he was all along.

The Revenge Honey - Drive

I'm just going to start this by getting something off my boobs: I am NOT a member of the cult of Ryan Gosling. The "Hey Girl" memes were lost on me as I don't think he's that dreamy, and I DID think Bradley Cooper deserved "Sexiest Man Alive" because he's smart as hell, speaks French, is really sweet to his mom, and was a frigging badass in Midnight Meat Train. Maybe it's because I used to watch Gosling on The Mickey Mouse Club and thought he seemed really short. So, whatever. Gosling is a good actor, but give me Robert Downey Jr. any day. I digress.

It took me a reaaaaallly long time to actually sit down and watch Drive because of how many people had creamed their shorts over it. I can't even count how many bros I saw in Charlotte, NC walking around in the main character's shiny scorpion jacket. (insert epic sigh here.) But, after much pestering from a friend, I finally relented and watched the film one afternoon. And I believe my precise reaction was:

The fact is, I love me some 70s/80s style revenge-action flicks; ESPECIALLY the really subversive, dark, "in your face, bitches!" kind of revenge movies, like Rolling Thunder and The Last House on the Left. These movies were unrelenting in their violence, but there was also a grace to them that made them completely engrossing. This is why I just loved the shit out of Drive.

Simplenotsimple Premise: A stunt driver/mechanic known simply as Driver does a favor for his down-on-her-luck neighbor which, once it intersects with his old life as a getaway driver for the mob, drags him back into a life where blood pretty much flows like water. Then, as is always the case in such situations, love enters the equation and everything just goes to shit. Seriously. Watch this abso-fucking-lutely gorgeous scene and tell me that it isn't the visual manifestation of love = things going to shit.

Drive is the perfect combination of romance, bone-crushing (literally) violence, slow-paced tension, and a soundtrack that is just the balls. All of this awesomeness is in no small part thanks to director, Nicolas Winding Refn. His eye for framing shots as if they were terrifying postcards is remarkable and the pacing of Drive is almost painful: just when you're lulled into a false sense of security that the movie might be winding down, it throws even more intensity at you. Coupled with jaw-dropping performances from Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Carey Mulligan, Oscar Isaac, and Gosling, and this is truly a revenge movie that shouldn't be missed.

So no, I may not love Ryan Gosling the way all the other fangirls do, but I appreciate the way he melts into a role. And Drive is one of those movies that just lingers in your psyche long after its over, because no matter who you root for, you're always rooting for the bad guy... just a little.

Revenge Honey Stabby Points: 4 1/2 out of 5