Tag Archives: Drive

Sunday Soundtrack – Nightcall (Kavinsky)

Way back on the first Sunday Soundtrack I asked for suggestions from you lovely lot and one was from the beautiful but dangerous Tyson from Head in a Vice who suggested something from Drive, a film we both think is bloody brilliant. Now I could have chosen one of many songs from the Drive soundtrack, which I actually reviewed a while ago, but my favourite is probably Nightcall by Kavinsky. Here it is…

If you have any suggestions for a future Sunday Soundtrack entry, pop them in the comments below and I’ll hopefully get around to them eventually.

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Film Review: Only God Forgives

Julian (Ryan Gosling) runs an amateur boxing club in Bangkok as a front for drug smuggling. After his brother is killed, his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) orders him to avenge his brother’s death. However, local law enforcer Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) is a constant presence, one that is both ethereal and deadly.

Nicolas Winding Refn’s previous collaboration with Ryan Gosling, 2011’s Drive, has become one of the most revered films of the past few years with many praising Gosling’s ‘strong, silent type’ performance as well as Winding Refn’s existentialist themes and stunning cinematography. With Only God Forgives, both parties offer up more of the same, although those hoping for Drive 2.0 will be sorely disappointed.

It’s difficult to really get your head around Only God Forgives in that it’s one of those films that will likely reflect back at you a piece of yourself, giving out whatever you bring to it. It’s a very voyeuristic film; the POV shots placing you within the characters, Julian in particular, which allows you to draw your own conclusions, something that will likely empower some and frustrate others.

Ryan Gosling

The film’s story is reasonably straightforward but there’s a huge amount going on beneath the surface, if you want to see it that is. With castration anxiety, oedipal issues and a heap else, Only God Forgives is littered with subtexts and allegorical sections that really give the film more depth than it first appears, although the fact that these themes aren’t plainly laid out may irk those who prefer a more conventional, straightforward narrative.

The aesthetics of the film may also be slightly contentious for some. The cinematography is undoubtedly impressive, but it does feel slightly contrived at times. Everything is lit to within an inch of its life, often bathed in various hues of red, pink and blue. It’s so highly stylised that it can feel like you’re watching a slideshow of neon-drenched artwork. This does, however, give the film an ethereal, nightmarish quality that, for me, was wholly absorbing.

Performance-wise, it’s difficult to really elaborate on anyone other than Kristin Scott Thomas as Julian’s disturbing yet cowardly mother, Crystal. Vithaya Pansringarm just really hurts people and Ryan Gosling stares at things, and that about sums up those performances. Scott Thomas is excellent, however. As Crystal she’s a truly repulsive creature but steals every scene she’s in. When Julian tells her that his brother raped and killed a young girl, her response is simply, “I’m sure he had his reasons.” She’s the beating heart of the film and, although abhorrent, constantly demands your attention.

Kristin Scott Thomas

Mention has to go to the Cliff Martinez’s superb score. Martinez contributed heavily to the excellent score for Drive and he’s once again delivered the goods. A mix of unnerving, industrial pieces mixed with more catchier tunes really helps add a huge amount of atmosphere to the film and is just as essential a component as the direction or cinematography.

Everything about Only God Forgives feels very deliberate and methodical. From the framing of the shots to the slow, purposeful movement of the characters, it’s clear that Winding Refn had a very clear vision of what he wanted to create, almost regardless of the effect it would subsequently have on the audience. In fact, everything feels so planned out that it comes close to crossing the line into pretentious self-parody territory at times. If Quentin Tarantino was trying to make a Stanley Kubrick film, Only God Forgives would be the result.

Having said that, it drew me in, asked questions of me and made me think, and not a lot of films have done that this year.

4 pigeons

4/5 pigeons

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Soundtrack review: Drive

Drive SoundtrackWith some films, you could be forgiven for walking out of the cinema afterwards having not even noticed its score or soundtrack. Drive, however, is not one of those films. The music in Drive is just as important a part of the film’s composition as any other (as it should be) and perfectly reflects the tone and milieu of one of the god damn coolest films released in quite a while. Everything about Drive oozes cool and a big part of that is thanks to its soundtrack, perfectly capturing the retro flavour the film portrays.

The soundtrack starts off with four ‘proper songs’ before heading off into the score, and although the distinction between the songs and score is an obvious one, the feel and atmosphere continues seamlessly.  It kicks off with a superbly grimy electronic track, ‘Nightcall’ by Kavinksy and Lovefoxxx (you might recognise her from CSS), layering lighter female vocals over a heavy synth track, and continues in similar style with the following two track, ‘Under Your Spell’ by Desire and ‘A Real Hero’ by College and Electric Youth. Next is a bit of a curveball with Riz Ortolani’s ‘Oh My Love’, featuring his wife Katyna Ranieri. This wouldn’t sound out of place as the big love song on a Broadway stage and stands out a mile from the rest of the tracks. On its own it’s a bit of an oddity but it somehow works next to everything else and rounds things of nicely before the score kicks in.

The first track of the score is ‘Tick of the Clock’ by The Chromatics and has a certain 16-bit quality to it, again harking back to the good old days of yesteryear. The rest of the score is composed by Cliff Martinez (former drummer of the Red Hot Chili Peppers), and he’s done a fantastic job of carefully blending soaring, uplifting melodies with sinister undertones.

Some tracks grab your attention more than others; some you may pass you by completely on the first few listens, but on the whole it’s a superbly atmospheric score that captures the feel of the film perfectly. As with the majority of (all?) film scores, it’s a huge advantage if you’ve seen the film first – would anyone buy a soundtrack without seeing the film first? With Drive, if you’ve seen the film you can pinpoint a lot of the tracks, which really helps to transport you back to the film’s multiple standout moments – and all the sections in between.

All in all, Drive’s soundtrack is one of the most significant parts of the film and really help make it what it is. It does a great job of cementing the film’s retro tone whilst perfectly charting The Driver’s actions and conflicts through to conclusion. If you’re a fan of Drive, the soundtrack is likely one of the reasons why and is a lesson to filmmakers on how to enthrall your audience aurally as well as visually.

Words: Chris Thomson

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