The Neon Demon
Nicolas Winding Refn's latest film is a synth-infused mood piece whose narrative has strayed even farther and loopier than even the rudimentary progression of "Only God Forgives". Parceled out like a glam-pop music video with bits of David Lynch dreaminess tossed in for good measure, ultimately, "The Neon Demon" suffers from a wallop of rote ideas and well tread commentary. We get it. The Los Angeles fashion/model scene is cannibalistic and treacherous. As the film winds down to its conclusion, all I could stop thinking about is "where the hell is that house with the swimming pool and why hasn't it been featured more prominently in an L.A. film before?" I'm sure Refin wanted more reactive passion than that from his film.
Hunt For the Wilderpeople
I can think of a handful of films in which a young boy is pitted against a curmudgeonly old man and, slowly, they not only form a bond but come to resemble something close to a family. That formula is followed here in Taika Waititi's comedy, "Hunt For the Wilderpeople" and it succeeds thanks to the wonderfully etched relationship between newcomer Julian Dennison and Sam Neill, as well as Waititi's acerbic sense of editing and perfectly timed laughs. The film also eschews laughing "at" something (such as those zany New Zealand bush folk) and imparts a generous sense of zaniness all around.