Monday, September 19, 2016

Cannibal Supermodels in Hollywood Babylon, or I Watched The Neon Demon, So You Don’t Have To

 With a haunting electro soundtrack, and stark symmetrically framed scenes lit in magenta, purple and well, lots of neon, The Neon Demon (2016) is a glossy erotic horror art film by Danish film director Nicolas Winding Refn of Bronson (2008), Drive (2011) and Only GodForgives (2013).  Experiential and surreal, with a quiet, deadpan acting style that can seem off-putting and polarizing the movie follows Elle Fanning, Dakota’s sister, as Jesse, the latest underage aspiring actress/model to hit the mean streets of Hollywood.  She is both awkward and unaware of her jailbait sex appeal and latent star power, an ambitious babe in the woods among the wolves, in this modern fairytale set in the LA modeling industry.
Reminiscent of Tony Scott’s The Hunger (1983), Boogie Nights (1997) with a dash of Daughters of Darkness (1971) and pretty much every David Lynch movie but especially Mulholland Drive (2001), the Neon Demon has all the elements of a photo shoot by David LaChapelle or Pierre et Gilles without any of the narrative impact.  I didn’t exactly like this movie and I really wanted to, it’s very stylish but ultimately not compelling, largely because of Elle Fanning.
Elle Fanning has an accessible, non-threatening girl next-door prom queen beauty, but she’s no Kate Moss or Linda Evangelista.  She’s not super-model attractive, and that ethereal, alien quality is essential to her character in this film.  Most supermodels can’t act (I’m looking at you, Cindy Crawford in Fair Game, 1995) but just because the director and every actor in the film treats you as the most beautiful girl in the world won’t necessarily convince the audience to arrive at the same opinion. 
With cameos by Christina Hendricks as a modeling agent and Keanu Reeves as a sleazy hotel manager, The Neon Demon is an on the nose commentary on how this industry literally consumes these anonymous, small town girls with big eyes and bigger dreams. 



my first novel?  thanks for asking:)  it’s a the first book in a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series chock full of killer kung-fu witches, haunted carnivals, punk rock assassins, and a 24-hour diner with the best pie in town…
read for free on kindle unlimited or buy the paperback, available at fine bookstores everywhere (amazon).