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Review: ‘The Neon Demon’ is a Dark, Beautiful & Grotesque Trip

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n the hands of director Nicolas Winding Refn, The Neon Demon turns into the most surreal, atmospheric and monstrous of depictions of the fashion world. He takes a familiar story and, rather than improve upon it, coats it in a thick glaze of his visually entrancing filmmaking.

The Neon Demon MovieSpoon.com

Elle Fanning faces the terrifying world of fashion in ‘The Neon Demon.’

Much like the world of high fashion, his picture is all about presentation and less about character. A unique commentary on the industry or just lazy screenwriting? It’s a quandary that is sure to make this film the most polarizing of his portfolio.

Refn keeps his characters cold and distant, making sure they never overpower the visuals. When the exceedingly young Jesse (Elle Fanning) arrives in Los Angeles to begin her modeling career, she is quiet and meek. Her introversion doesn’t seem entirely out of place with the people she associates with. Surrounding makeup artists, photographers and competing models drone on with inane dialogue. Could you guess that they spend most of their time talking about makeup, plastic surgery and who to sleep with to get to the top?

Jesse’s path can be easily telegraphed for her rise and fall. She slowly moves up the modeling chain and grows more insidious with each step. A kindly freelance photographer is tossed aside despite being one of the few to make her smile. A sympathetic makeup artist with romantic intentions is looked down upon by the rising star for her pathetic attempts at entering a lesbian relationship. Jesse learns to survive in an evil world where modeling agencies sign underage girls and landlords break into your hotel room to rape you.

The Neon Demon MovieSpoon.com

Jenna Malone plays a makeup artist in one of the most controversial scenes of the film.

What The Neon Demon lacks in depth of its character and story, Refn makes up for it with his trademark style of visual artistry. There are some amazing shots that will remain etched in your brain for days after. When Jesse makes her grand debut at a fashion show, she strolls into a representation of evil as she approaches occult imagery and basks in its tempting allure.

Painted with strobe lights, dizzying perspectives and an eerie score by Cliff Martinez, Refn composes a surreal nightmare of wonder. He takes the time to let the audience lose themselves in Jesse’s wicked world of color and status. For a movie that never features a scene of drug use, it’s a very hallucinogenic experience the way Jesse wanders her way into fame as though she made a wrong turn into the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks.

The picture manages to be a rather frustrating experience in how Refn becomes a master of wrapping the viewer into the artistic loss of innocence, but without a unique script to pull it along. The story was simplified in a manner that doesn’t match the unforgettable imagery. Any scene without the ambient score and intoxicating artistry comes off as dull minimalist writing.

Read more to watch the trailer for The Neon Demon:

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Have you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. 😉

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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