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Movie of the Day: The Neon Demon

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What It Is: Nicolas Winding Refn’s story about aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning) in Los Angeles is either a dark contemporary fairy tale or a stylized horror drama. As she rises to fame, Jess discovers that everyone she encounters, from the photographers to the makeup artists to the bitchiest group of mean girl models ever portrayed on film, wants a piece of her. Except in this movie, that’s not just a cliched Hollywood metaphor.

Why It’s Unique: Think of this movie as the twisted – or some might say more realistic – counterpoint to such “this is the price of fame and success” stories like La La Land or A Star is Born. Whether you love him or hate him, Refn has a distinct visual storytelling style that uses evocative, colorful lighting techniques and slow burn cinematography to express his vision of the world’s dark beauty. In addition to Elle Fanning’s enigmatic performance in the lead, there are some wonderfully bizarre supporting turns from Jena Malone as a necrophiliac makeup artist and Keanu Reeves (yes, that Keanu Reeves) as a sleazy motel manager.

Who Made It: Few filmmakers are as polarizing as Nicolas Winding Refn. Perhaps best known to audiences for Drive (or to straight women and gay men as the guy who dressed Ryan Gosling in that scorpion jacket), Refn has earned a cult following for his European arthouse spin on popular American cinema tropes from the 1970’s and 80’s. He has cited The Texas Chainsaw Massacre as one of his earliest influences, and it’s surprisingly not difficult to view this film as his glossy update of Tobe Hooper’s gritty horror classic.

What People Who Liked It Said:

What Someone Who Thought It Was “Meh” Said:

What Someone Who Hated It Said:

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