Friday, December 20, 2013

Only God Forgives and My Understanding of it

6 of 8 viewers "Liked" "Only God Forgives" (2013, Denmark/France)
Here's what the citizens of the Overlook Theatre had to say:

Johnny Ocelot - "You want scenery, check. You want violence, check. You want Ryan Gosling as an introverted badass, again check. The man that gave you "Drive" grants you another offering of blood soaked revenge in seedy underground Asia. Oh and Muay Thai fans can be excited by the choreography." - 4 Stars

Lord Battle - "Even love seems unfamiliar in this journey through a surreal neon nightmare." - 4 Stars

Book Wyrm - "The mise en scene for this movie was exceptional. The enrapturing scenery gave me a light in this movies eternal darkness. Story wise? I couldn't tell you about that." - 2 Stars

Huntress - "My first impression was that I didn't like this movie because it was too fragmented and abstract. But thinking back, all the questions I had were answered in due time and through some very inventive scenes. This movie would definitely benefit from a rewatch." - 3 Stars

Ice Giant - "I enjoyed this movie but a one time viewing was enough, It seemed to have everything I'd love in a movie but it went down pretentious alley one too many times for me to consider it a classic." - 3 1/2 Stars

Math Mage - "There are three movies here that collided (Psychic cop battle/Creepy incest mafia/Brutal torture pron)." - 3 Stars

The Great Hornito - "I really enjoyed this movie. The pacing was slow but the visual beauty kept the film interesting. The characters and the acting made the movie watchable despite the lack of story and lack of suspense. Overall I thought this film was a very good watch." - 4 Stars

Drumachine - Fell Asleep/Left - Default 2 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
Most people watched this film expecting a Drive 2 and were caught totally off guard. But really it is kinda implied, I mean Gosling and Refn are taking on neon neo noir again... That is still no excuse for the backlash this film suffered, especially when you find out this is an homage to Alejandro Jodorowsky (king of violent surrealism, among other awesome things). So instead of crying about people not giving the film a chance because it's not what they wanted it to be, I'm gonna take a shot at what this film is about.
- Spoiler -
I'm going to start with what I know, this film is an homage to Jodorowsky. This tells me to expect provocative (if not outright offensive) surrealism and heavy (yet hidden) themes of religion and spiritualism. But before I get into that though, I need to point out that Julian (Ryan Gosling) was molested by his parents. This is most strongly supported by the extremely uncomfortable contact between him and his mother and the fact that she knows how big her sons' *ahem* members are. Another couple of hints could be his brother seeking an underage partner and the unexplained reason Julian's mother had him kill his father (being obviously abusive towards his family). This sets up the theme of innocence (which I feel lame even mentioning as most people who don't understand film theory say every film is about, well more of a "loss of innocence").
Innocence is the driving force of this film, as children are coveted. Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) gives a father a chance to avenge having his daughter's innocence being stolen from her, more so than her murder. Chang also tells children to cover their eyes as he tortures a man. Julian also chooses to spare Chang's daughter. 

Julian himself is a lost child in the body of an adult as he too had his innocence stolen at a young age. He constantly struggles with how he is expected to act and how he feels he should act, like when he spared the man who killed his brother (his brother also represented his father as his mother respected him much more, demonstrated when his mom went as far as to belittle his manhood in front of his love). Julian let him go because although the man took his brothers life, his brother was evil and deserving. This of course was Julian's personal justification, no one else would understand.
We don't see the extent of Julian's delusion until we see Mai (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam) for the first time. Mai is a prostitute that Julian is obviously in love with, just that he has no idea how to convey his emotions to her. Julian ends up with a hand fetish (most likely due to the abuse he suffered in his youth) and pays to be tied to a chair and watch her touch herself. This fetish becomes a metaphor for love, which we see as he lovingly puts his hand into his mothers open wound (this is not a pun, get your mind out of the gutter). Hands representing love also explain why he thought the man that murdered his brother had suffered enough, after he lost his arm. This also drums up the image of praying hands, which I'm sure Jodorowsky would want.

Lastly, (as this is getting kinda lengthy) the Math Mage added that Chang is a paladin and his sword is his holy avenger. This would explain why only certain people were worthy of a sword death, being the sword could only harm evil people worthy of its justice.

All in all, films that favor a visual narrative are more open to interpretation, so learn to have fun with it and look for clues as to what might actually be going on. If I ever get around to it, I'll post my thoughts on "The Lords of Salem" and show you how I think Rob Zombie made a cooler movie than even he knew.

The crazy poster above was found here impawards by Randy Ortiz, awesome work.
- Lord Battle

*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

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