wWith his latest project Copenhagen Cowboys, it looks like filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn — having been going by NWR more and more of late for ease of consistent and concise branding — faces a turning point on several fronts.
Back in his native Denmark for the first time since 2005, working under the constraints of Covid, settled into a streaming miniseries stint that took him from Amazon to Netflix, and recently turned 50, he The point has been reached where most artists can conduct a personal inventory and grow as a result in some meaningful way. A liberal reading of his career flattening arc suggests that he has No This is a testament to the clarity and force of his polarizing, but undeniably singular vision. With unstoppable confidence in his style and pet subjects, he is projected through every reason to transform and cast his Serbian gangsters, Thai martial artists, vengeance angels, POV hand shots and neon-infused rave lighting For the plans have been swiftly organized.
A less charitable take would counteract that Refn’s locked-in set of strengths and weaknesses doesn’t agree with the sprawling six-hour run time, which only serves to put more space between the flashes of hauntingly intense beauty that kept him in the ranks. Is. of A-league arthouse auteurs. At feature length (as in his 2011 masterpiece Drive), he can interweave long stretches of silent formalism with flickers of sadistic violence or arresting compositions at intervals long enough to hold the audience. But when oblivious to any demands for consent, he gives in to his brooding tendencies, peppering each installment with endless interludes of 360-degree camera panning with a cast of wordless stoics. No matter how meager Refn’s reward, they’re littered with too many mesmerizing moments to discount him entirely; Even and especially because of this personal stagnation, he has become a slippery quantity to pin down, his lingering talents at odds with his lack of interest in pursuing them. He’s the same badass, with an increase in viewers debating whether he’s still worth the patience.
Refn’s active disdain for the rhythms of serial television unfolds in a loose string of action that can be generically defined as a plot that’s engrossing on paper and near-intermittent in practice. In an androgynous Finn Wolfhard haircut and a blue tracksuit she wears like Superman spandex, our hero Miu (Angela Bundalovic, playing the slate-faced Cipher), is a “living lucky charm” with superhuman qualities that earn her a living in Denmark. Makes a valuable quantity. criminal underground. She’s passed from one sinister creep to the next as chattel, from a gangster matriarch hoping to get pregnant to one of the black-market pornographers Refn Aryan is very fond of for a family of psychopaths, with some vampiric DNA in the mix as well. Can be Incredibly, little of it plays out as interesting on screen, a pulpy subject matter sterilized by a glacial gloom that treats the paperback adventure as a momentous struggle between ancient good and evil.
The notion that there is a fundamental basis for Miu’s parade of beatings—a parallel track on the astral plane to her vengeful warpath on Earth—only receives a canny visual representation in the final episode, during a battle that takes each blow Combines with a distorted chop – Simulated sound effects bridge the gap between our dimension and the unreal. Refn delivers something we’ve never seen before, only a slog oozing with meager joy after spending hours on it: Cliff Martinez’s pulsating synthpop score, actually in the form of the calamitously incompetent Coke deal attended by Refn. In A Dose of Levitation In a cheeky cameo, there are some devious visual parallels between humans and pigs. (Though that last one is somewhat more difficult to appreciate when one reads about an on-set incident in which a porcine actor was intentionally shot to death.)
Refn has gone on record saying that the title has nothing to do with the content of the show, acknowledging that the phrase Copenhagen Cowboys came to him before he started writing, and adding that “I like the two words together”. Huh”. Their creative logic doesn’t really get much more complicated than that, the simple pursuit of whatever signifier tickles their fancy in a rapidly hot-to-cool sensibility. With the backing of those famously permissive dream executives, he could very well spend the rest of his days pointing purple lights at torsos sculpted with pockmarked tattoos, blinking occasionally. But he has also hinted at a return to cinema as his next step, its forcible conclusion having a welcome effect on his focus. Like the invincible Miu, her clumsy and unpredictable powers activate most strongly under pressure.