Visit Paris At Night With Anoraak’s ‘Morning Light’

Anoraak wasn’t on the Drive soundtrack, but his love of cinematic productions and nocturnal journeys won him a spot on last year’s film-inspired tour with College and Electric Youth. Hailing from Nantes, France, the producer/singer born Frédéric Rivière first became know for his smooth, romantic take on synth-pop with 2008’s Nightdrive With You, then Wherever The Sun Sets in 2010. He’s now set to release third LP Chronotropic on November 5.

Here’s the first single and video from the album, "Morning Light." The song takes place as night starts turning into dawn, but promises to keep the party (or insomnia-induced anxiety) going with its insistent pulse. The clip, directed by Ben Chadourne, follows a lone skateboarder exploring Paris after dark. It’s a perfect fit for Rivière’s tales of nighttime isolation.
 

Obsession, Submission, and ‘Only God Forgives’: A Conversation With Nicolas Winding Refn

It’s the hottest day of the summer and Nicolas Winding Refn is sitting outside in a button down shirt peeling hard-boiled eggs. When I meet the acclaimed Danish director at the Bowery Hotel, he’s eating his lunch and taking interviews in the shade, not daring to remove his sunglasses and as always, keeps it cool. This is the second time we’ve met, having previously done an interview back in 2010 for Valhalla Rising—but things were different then. Not only was I quite young and on one of my first in-person interviews with a favorite director and shaking in all-too vibrant dress, but this was before the cult of Drive and the first taste of major Refn appreciation in Hollywood. 

Known for his violent, color-drenched films that serve up his fetishistic urges on a platter, Refn’s oeuvre is as stimulating and arousing as it is coldly removed from the reality of everyday life. No matter the subject, his characters exist in a world of his own creating, a heightened place where the inextricable link between death and sex is always present and gesture speaks far louder than words. His films are aggressive and carnal yet rather than giving us a stark look at that sense of grit, he slowly inches us towards that internal fire, shining a light onto the beauty in the brutal. 
 
With Drive, his ferocious pop fairytale, we saw a softer side to Refn—albeit still dangerous. There was a sense of romance and tenderness we hadn’t seen before in films like Bronson, Valhalla Rising, or the Pusher films. And in the process of creating that film and exposing himself to the Hollywood fantasy, he found his American leading man Ryan Gosling, whose near-silent protagonist drove us through a bloody kinetic love story with a bite. Now having re-teamed once again for Refn’s latest feature Only God Forgives, the two prove their symbiotic ability to transcend the work of the past and punch forward into the beyond.
 
Set in the neon-lit back alleys and seedier parts of Bangkok, Only God Forgives is Refn’s penetrating and evocative take on the Western. It’s a film so dark—both aesthetically and tonally—that when I first arrived to see the film fifteen minutes late, I found myself sitting in the isles because there wasn’t a shred of light emanating from the screen with which to find a seat. The revenge story about the connection between mother and sons, the struggle for morality, and the fear of submission plays out like a psychotropic nightmare, aided by a brilliantly visceral score from Cliff Martinez.
 
Starring Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Vithaya Pansringarm, Only God Forgives is a shot to the arm of pure id Refn. He employs the close-fisted anxious aggression of his pre-Drive days while taking his visual cues from a post-Drive world, completely blanketing us in the violent underbelly of Bangkok and putting a sword to our throat. Although the film is riddled with silence and languidly glides through darkened moments, Refn manages to hold us captive with his always-present sense of ecstatic desire. He plays on the dichotomy of what’s in and out of frame as well as what we do and not know is stirring in the characters’ psyche. It’s a film that warrants multiple viewings, but only because there’s a real pleasure in the experience of disappearing into his neon dreams and bloody obsessions, and as he says: that’s where the fun is.
 
Yesterday, I chatted with Refn about the importance of creative acts over result, the necessity of self-indulgence, and the polarizing nature of his work.
 
I interviewed you back for Valhalla Rising. That was one of my first in-person interviews, so it was a little weird.
Oh, cool. Well, now we get to reunite.
 
Back then you said you were going to make a Western in Bangkok once you made a movie with Ryan Gosling in Hollywood–so I guess that all worked out. 
[Chuckles]
 
You must have had some idea of what this would be back then but did your concept of the film evolve a lot from the and through meeting Ryan and collaborating with him on story and character?
Yeah, of course. Everything always mutates into something else. I very much always encourage that process and I very much like it. I don’t want to know what it is until it’s over.
 
You said that Drive was a film about how much you love your wife. And seeing this, is this your ode to your mother?
Well, you can certainly read anything into it—but no, it’s not my confrontation with my mother. It’s an interesting dramatic vehicle for male, masculine dangerous characters to confront their mothers much more than it is for them to confront their fathers. 
 
You don’t see that often in such a violent and bizarrely sexual way. I heard Scorsese say something once about all his films were about his father protecting his brother. But what was your initial spark for the film? Did it come from an image?
I had an idea of a clenched fist symbolizing the classic fight movie symbol—the clenched fist representing male aggression. At the same time, it’s an obvious phallic symbol, so the act of sex and violence in one movement is interesting. But if you were to open your fist and show the palm, it’s an act of submission. I thought there was a movie in that.
 
Your films all have a very primal, carnal feeling to them that’s very sexual but you never see that explicitly. It’s much more about what’s repressed like the clenched fist. Is that deliberate?
Not maybe so consciously, but maybe more of this is what I would like to see and less trying to understand it.
 
I really loved Bronson and this felt much more in the tone of that, a very primal aggression, which that departed a little with Drive because that was more of a fairytale. But in terms of aesthetics this felt like pushing forward into the visceral.
Whenever I make a film I almost make a point out of erasing all memory of it so that the next one I do bears as little resemblance. Of course if you use the same actor it’s reminiscent, but the challenge is to do something different. But for me, the act of creativity is more exciting than the actual product. I don’t really care about the end, I care about getting to the end.
 
Do you enjoy that collaborative process of working with an actor and molding them into someone different with each new role?
Yeah, especially when it works and then we challenge each other.
 
You’re certainly not one for exposition. Do you aim from that to evoke what’s really at the core of the story you’re trying to tell?
I like silence because it forces other ingredients to really come into the foreground—sound, music, gesture, compositions, camera angles, lighting, structure. We’re so used to the spoken word as a way to find story. 
 
And spoken word wasn’t really the most necessary in this film.
In this one I was interested in what was not being seen.
 
There’s something very haunting about what’s not shown and then when you do reveal thing, they’re extremely clear and graphic—like the scene where Mai’s masturbating, if felt like a trick to show these strong images and then hide so much around it.
It creates a  mystery between the two extremes that forces the viewer to connect the dots if they’re willing to go with it. If they’re not, they’ll just be very, very frustrated and they’ll be searching and searching—but that can also be a great experience. Remember, art is about the act of creativity.
 
I love Cliff Martinez’s music and your films are great at amalgamating image and sound together to create something that evokes something more than words could. How did you work with him to make this score because it adds so much to the film and submerges you so much deeper into their world.
Well, especially when you have silence, music becomes such a dominating force. It’s not only there to fill in the gaps, it’s an acting partner in the storytelling. You have a lot more discussions with your composer about what you want to evoke because it now becomes a key part. That means your relationship also becomes more intimate because the composer becomes much more a part of the storytelling. 
 
When this played at Cannes and going forth, the reactions have certainly been divisive. Do you enjoy that as a filmmaker, because if something’s not divisive than people are apathetic about it and what’s the point of making something that people are apathetic about?
Of course there’s a great pleasure in the act of polarization. You know you’ve touched people very deep if people can love or hate you for the same reason. But it’s never comfortable when people hate you, yet at the same time, you have to understand and respect the psyche and how it works. But I like the creativity of polarization because it means opposite ends, that’s almost what the films are: extremes.
 
I always seek to have a very physical reaction to a film—whether it’s good or bad, I want to feel something and if it can do that, than I usually have an appreciation for it. But that transcends to all art.
And that’s what it can do. It’s almost like you know how it can just evoke you into having a good time. To have a good time, there are so many other options, why would you choose this over something else? Being violated, either in a good way or a bad way, it leaves a very strong aftermath.
 
You talk about being a fetish filmmaker and seem more interested in expressing those desires very strongly rather than dissecting them. Would say that’s your main drive is, to put those obsessions on screen?
Oh yeah. Sure, sure. That’s what the fun is. It’s not about the result but about the process.
 
You shoot all of your films in chronological order. What do you find that enhances?
I don’t know any other way so it’s hard for me to sit down with a list, but I do believe that it helps to create a certain uncertainty and expectation and complete, utter self-indulgent element in seeing it unfold. And art is a very self-indulgent medium and is meant to be self-indulgent—how else can you create? I always take self-indulgence as a way of understanding your obsessiveness in what you do.
 
Where did the idea for Kristin Scott Thomas’ character emerge from?
The idea that the protagonist or antagonist was going to be his mother already evokes a lot of opportunity dramatically. The fact that she was like a insect that devours everything was almost like a movie about a man who’s chained to his mother’s womb. 
 
When you’re working on a film, do you find it better to isolate yourself from the creative world or to indulge in it?
The older I’ve gotten I just enjoy myself. The pleasure for me not the result, it’s the act of creativity and whatever that means. That’s where the fun is. 
 
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Stream the Incredible Cliff Martinez Soundtrack for Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Only God Forgives’

For months now, we’ve been showered with clips, teasers, trailers, posters, and soundtrack bits from Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive follow-up Only God Forgives. We’ve been teased with so much of the film, I was worried that upon seeing the feature, the experience would suffer. However, it certainly did not. The neon-lit and stoically violent feature set in Bangkok is a revenge film with teeth yet holds the dark beauty that all of Refn’s work possesses. And of course, Cliff Martinez’s haunting and powerful score for the film is only makes it all the better, weaving its way between moments, heightening each scene into the uniquely Refn world we know and love.

Nicolas Winding Refn & Ryan Gosling Are Looking to Make a Comedy + ‘Logan’s Run’ Goes on Hold

Ah yes, and the greatest cinematic bromance of this generation continues. After falling in love with one another whilst filming Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling have taken their simpatico onto Only God Forgives—which will premiere at Cannes this week. The actor turned actor/director Gosling and the filmmaker known for his violently stylish and visceral films are a match made in a film fantasy world, and after much talk about Refn’s Logan’s Run remake, it was a shame to hear back in October that Gosling would be dropping out the picture.

Originally set to work with Refn on the project, he most likely exited the picture out due to scheduling conflicts with his own directorial debut, the surrealistic How to Catch a Monster. But now, Refn has officially confirmed that the film is in fact "on hold"—I guess there really is no replacing his true Gos. But in the meantime, after Only God Forgives punches into theaters, the Danish director will begin work on his TV adaptation of Barbarella, sans Gosling.
 
However, in a conversation with Screen Daily, Refn revealed that the two are eying to make a comedy together. I mean come on, doesn’t the thought of that just send your heat aflutter? And although big laughs would be a new frontier for Refn, I have full faith that he’s truly capable of any genre and I’m sure it would be dark and bizarre no matter what. Obviously Gosling knows how to ham it up for the laughs and it would be interesting to see the two of them collaborate one something where Gos got to play someone a little less stoic and brooding.
 
Last year, the two sat down with Little White Lies for their Drive issue to discuss everything from their instant kismet to what the future has in store, but when asked the ultimate question: "What do you love about movies?" here’s what they each had to say.
Refn: Um…I think the best way for me to answer that is to say I can’t answer that because…It’s easier for me to answer what I don’t like about movies. And for me to answer that is just to say…Nothing.
 
Gosling: Well, I think, not to keep harping on the same note, I think…Well, for instance when I was in the fourth grade, maybe even… I forget what year, but it was sometime in junior school that I first saw First Blood and it kinda put me under a spell. I believed I was Rambo, and I filled my Fisher-Price Houdini Kit up with steak knives and took it into school and tried throwing them at some of the kids during recess. I didn’t hurt anybody, thank god, and I learned my lesson, you know, I’m sorry that I did it… But films have such a powerful affect on me, they always have done. I’ve tried to control that but I don’t think I’ve ever really managed to. But I don’t think I’m alone in recognising that.

Warner Bros. Will Take On Ryan Gosling’s ‘How to Catch a Monster’ + More From ‘Only God Forgives’

Between the production announcements for Wim Wender’s Every Thing Will Be Fine and Joachim Trier’s Louder Than Bombs, this has been a great week for anticipating 2014’s most coveted releases. But just in time for Ryan Gosling to head to Cannes for the premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, it’s been announced that his directorial debut How to Catch a Monster, has been picked up by Warner Bros. Back in January, we reported that English actor Matt Smith, best known for Dr. Who would be leading the picture opposite Christina Hendricks and alongside Eva Mendes and Ben Mendelsohn. 

Penned by Gosling, How to Catch a Monster is a surrealist dreamscape of a film that takes place in a vanishing city, centering on a single mother being swept into a macabre and dark fantasy underworld when her teenage son discovers a secret road leading to an under watch town. It was alluded to a few months ago that the film had some "Lynchian" elements about it—but nowadays that just means it’s probably psychologically stirring with haunting surrealist undertones. However, if it is indeed "Lynchian" in the term’s most academic definition, that would a delight. And for an actor that has been working for over a decade now alongside some of film’s most acclaimed and beloved directors—from Refn to Terrence Malick and Derek Cianfrance—one can only hope that he’s absorbed a bit of their craft, technical skill, and eye for telling authentic and emotional stories in a wonderfully cinematic way. 
 
But before we can even get our selves excited for How to Catch a Monster, we’re still counting down the days until Only God Forgives rolls into US theaters this July to punch is right in the gut and pack that Refn sense of style and kinetic energy we’ve been missing. So although we’ve seen about a million photos, trailers, clips, etc. for the Thai boxing thriller, there are still more rolling out. Today we’re graced with another poster for the film—a tinted blue design that’s not quite as enticing as the last, but it’s Ryan Gosling, so who’s complaining? The type harkens back to Drive‘s incredible hot pink credits but we’ve been assured by Gosling that this film is much, much different.
 
So check out the new look at the film, along with a few more photos and read Refn’s full director’s statement below.
The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God. That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life – we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy – and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me.
 
With that as the concept, I elaborated by adding a character who believes he is God (Chang), obviously the antagonist, with the protagonist being a gangster who is looking for religion to believe in (Julian). This itself is, of course, very existential because faith is based on the need for a higher answer but most of the time, we don’t know what the question is. When the answer comes, then, we must backtrack our lives in order to find the question. In this way, the film is conceived as an answer, with the question revealed at the end.
 
With hindsight, I am able to see the similarities between Chang and One Eye in Valhalla Rising, and Driver in Drive – all are rooted in fairytale mythology and have difficulties living in the everyday world. I can see that technically, there is a resemblance in their stoic behavior, silence, and fetishistic portraits even though they live in different times and are portrayed by different actors. In Valhalla Rising, One Eye is enigmatic – we don’t know his past but he is defined by his name. In Drive, Driver is defined by his function. And in Only God Forgives, Chang is first of all defined by his enigmatic behaviour, to such an extent that he becomes a disembodied character, an ‘it’, defined not by his name but solely by his image.
 
In a way, Only God Forgives is like an accumulation of all the films I’ve made so far. I think I was heading toward a creative collision, full speed ahead, in order to change everything around me and to see what would come after. I have always said that I set out to make films about women but I end up making films about violent men. Now that everything is colliding, it may end up turning things upside-down for me. This collision is exciting because everything around me becomes so uncertain and we must not forget that the second enemy of creativity, after having ‘good taste’, is being safe.
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Read Nicolas Winding Refn’s Full Director’s Statement & See New Stills for ‘Only God Forgives’

"The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God," says Nicholas Winding Refn in the director’s statement for his upcoming thriller Only God Forgives. "That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life – we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy – and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me."

And with the film’s premiere at Cannes this month and the theatrical release this July, we’ve already received an influx of promotional materials for the feature—from multiple trailers and stills, to a full track listing of the original soundtrack by Cliff Martinez. But the most valuable information on the Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas-led Thai boxing picture comes from Refn’s own musing on the project. We can speculate all we want on the stylized violence and sensational performances that have become a staple of Refn’s work but with this full statement, we get a closer look into the mind of one of modern cinema’s biggest heroes. 

He goes onto compare the character of Chang from the film to One Eye in his 2007 feature Valhalla Rising and the Driver in Drive, saying that they’re all "rooted in fairytale mythology and have difficulties living in the everyday world. I can see that technically, there is a resemblance in their stoic behavior, silence, and fetishistic portraits even though they live in different times and are portrayed by different actors." And with the similar thread in his last three works, Refn notes that:

Only God Forgives is like an accumulation of all the films I’ve made so far. I think I was heading toward a creative collision, full speed ahead, in order to change everything around me and to see what would come after. I have always said that I set out to make films about women but I end up making films about violent men. Now that everything is colliding, it may end up turning things upside-down for me. 

So with these thoughts in mind, there’s also a batch of new stills from the Bangkok-set film to feast your senses on. For the full statement head HERE and in case you haven’t been keeping an eye on this one, see HERE, HERE, and HERE for more on one of our most anticipated films of the year.

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Check Out ‘Only God Forgives’ Soundtrack Details and Full Track List From Cliff Martinez

Not only was Cliff Martinez’s score for Drive beautiful and Brian Eno-esque, but it elevated the story to another dimension. It enhanced the way in which Nicolas Winding Refn’s cinematic use of physical space and the silence between its characters could be filled with emotion. It wasn’t manipulative, but a guiding force that strapped us into Drive‘s hero story and spoke for the moments its silent and stoic figures could not. Yet it also made moments tingle, casting a glow on the darkness, and giving the violence the potency it needed to transcend mere aggression.

And after such a collaboration, it makes perfect sense that Martinez has taken on the task of scoring Refn’s latest film, Only God Forgives. The Ryan Gosling-led Thai boxing thriller is slated to premiere at Cannes this month and just in time, Film Music Reporter has the full track listing for the film. Set to be released by Milan records, the soundtrack is almost entirely Martinez—save his collaborator Gregory Tripi. And unless there’s anything missing from this list, it doesn’t appear there will be a future sensation a la "A Real Hero" or "Under Your Spell" to come out of this soundtrack. Remember the first time you saw Drive and "Nightcall" started playing? Even if you loved the song before, it never sounded so perfect.

Alas, check out the track listing below and let’s just keep listening to the PROUD’s "You Are My Dream" from the trailer—a song that at first glance sounds uplifting and sweet, but has the after taste of something evil.

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1. Only God Forgives – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi
2. Ask Him Why He Killed My Brother – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi
3. Chang and Sword – Cliff Martinez
4. Chang Vision – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi
5. Do As Thou Will – Cliff Martinez
6. Can’t Forget – Cliff Martinez Feat. Mac Quayle and Vithaya Pansringarm
7. Crystal Checking In – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi
8. More Hands – Cliff Martinez
9. Sister Part 1 – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi
10. Take It Off – Cliff Martinez Feat. Mac Quayle
11. Leave My Son In Peace – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi and Mac Quayle
12. Falling In Love – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi and Ratha Phongam
13. Crystal and the Bodybuilders – Cliff Martinez
14. Ladies Close Your Eyes – Cliff Martinez Feat. Gregory Tripi
15. Bride of Chang – Cliff Martinez Feat. Mac Quayle
16. Wanna Fight – Cliff Martinez
17. You Are My Dream – Proud

Enjoy Three New Clips From Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Only God Forgives’

Three years ago, when I interviewed Nicolas Winding Refn, he told me that yes, he would be making a Bangkok-set set thriller, but not before going to Los Angeles to make a movie called Drive with Ryan Gosling. And it’s been quite a while since, but after developing a wonderfully symbiotic and fruitful relationship in the process of creating that film, Gosling and Refn are back together again for the highly-anticipated Only God Forgives.

From the moment the credits rolled on Drive, I have been counting down to their next film—and although we’ve seen trailers, posters, and stills thus far, there are now six-minutes worth of clips from the film to watch, amping up your excitement even more. Unfortunately, the Thai-boxing thriller will not be hitting theaters until late July, so you’ll have to quell your desire for bit more time.

Watching the previews, I’m already in love. Refn’s signature use of saturated high colors, his keen sense of music as psychological device, and the affinity for stylized violent drama, is clearly all there and this looks to take the aesthetic that seemed to be solidified with Drive to an even higher level. Personally, I won’t be watching these clips for fear of spoiling anything for myself—I want the first time I see the film to be completely immersive and to hit me straight on. However, if watching these gorgeous snippets won’t tarnish a second of the film as whole for you, enjoy below.

Feast Your Eyes on the New Teaser Poster for Nicolas Winding Refn’s ‘Only God Forgives’

Nicolas Winding Refn’s highly-anticipated Drive follow-up Only God Forgives finally hits theaters this summer. And now that we already have an incredibly rich, visceral, and wonderful red band trailer, a teaser poster for the film has been released as well. And in true Refn style, it’s a neon-lit and visually intriguing poster that may be sans Ryan Gosling fighting in a suit, but packs enough punch to thrill. "It’s Time to Meet the Devil" marks the poster for the film that follows:

Julian (Gosling) lives in exile in Bangkok where he runs a Thai boxing club as a front for the family’s drugs smuggling operation. When Julian’s brother Billy is killed their mother, Jenna (Kristen Scott Thomas), arrives in the city. She wants revenge and forces Julian to find the killer. Julian’s contacts in the criminal underworld lead him directly to The Angel of Vengeance, a retired police officer who knows everything and who is both Judge and Punisher. Jenna demands that Julian kill The Angel of Vengeance, an act that will cost him dearly.

Check out the poster below and watch the trailer again..and again until the release July 19th.

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