utorak, 30. srpnja 2013.

Pharmakon - Abandon (2013)

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Margaret Chardiet was born and raised in New York City She has been making power electronics/death industrial music under the name Pharmakon for five years. As a founding member of the Red Light District collective in Far Rockaway, NY she has been a figurehead in the underground experimental scene since the age of seventeen. She points out that the environment there amongst so many other experimental artists (amongst them Yellow Tears & Haflings) inspired her to keep making increasingly challenging work. She describes her drive to make noise music as something akin to an exorcism where she is able to express, her “deep-seated need/drive/urge/possession to reach other people and make them FEEL something [specifically] in uncomfortable/confrontational ways.” Engineered by Sean Ragon of Cult of Youth at his self-built recording studio Heaven Street, Abandon is Pharmakon’s first proper studio album and also her first widely distributed release.
Unlike other experimental projects, Pharmakon does not improvise when performing or recording. She is concise and exact; each song/movement is linear with a clear trajectory. Perhaps more than any other style of music, noise is a genre almost exclusively dominated by male performers. Spin Magazine is apt to point out that her,“perfectionism might explain why her recordings are few and far between — a rarity in a scene where noise bros are want to puke out hour after endless hour of stoned basement jams into a limitless stream of limited-edition tapes. Her music may be as cuddly as a trepanning drill, but it’s also just as precise: She glowers in measured silence as often as she shrieks, and every serrated tone cuts straight to the bone, a carefully calibrated interplay between frequency and resistance.” The songs on this album were all written and recorded during a turbulent three month time period during which several fundamental life changes forced her to begin living in a completely new way and in a new space. She describes the lyrical themes of this album as being about, “Loss. Losing everything. Relinquishing control. Complete psychic abandon. Blind leaps of faith into the fire, walking out unscathed. Crawling out of the pit.” - www.sacredbonesrecords.com/

"Abandon," the new full-length album by Margaret Chardiet's Pharmakon project, couldn't open more aptly – a processed scream of anguish is held and allowed to develop, imbued with horror film synth, spoken vocals, and crashing, panning electronic hisses and pops. It's not until three minutes into the track that the listener is given some space, as a lurching bass tone begins to subtend sequenced oscillations, creating a rhythmic bed for Chardiet's truly tortured vocals. While the second piece follows a similar trajectory, all swarming masses of synth skree, stalking rhythms, and menacing vocals, the album's third track, "Pitted," yields something new (and more arresting), possessing a dirge-like component that recalls Zola Jesus at her most primitive. There's a raw physicality to the track that serves as the perfect lead-in to the album's final movement, "Crawling on Bruised Knees," a hypnotizing, largely instrumental work that constitutes a savvy denouement to the proceedings. A harrowing album of stark and brutalized songs, Pharmakon's "Abandon" will likely appeal to fans of Wolf Eyes, Black Dice and, beyond that, industrial music in general. – Alex Cobb, Experimedia

“The Socratic pharmakon also acts like venom, like the bite of a poisonous snake (217-18). And Socrates’ bite is worse than a snake’s since its traces invade the soul. What Socrates’ words and the viper’s venom have in common, in any case, is their ability to penetrate and make off with the most concealed interiority of the body or soul. The demonic speech of this thaumaturge (en)trains the listener in dionysian frenzy and philosophic mania (218b). And when they don’t act like the venom of a snake, Socrates’ pharmaceutical charms provoke a kind of narcosis, benumbing and paralyzing into aporia, like the touch of a sting ray (narkē)” – Jacques Derrida, “Plato’s Pharmacy”
     Etymologically, much has been made of the pharmakon as the duality of poison and remedy. But let’s begin instead with therapy: therapeia, curing or healing, from “attend, do service, take care of”: therapon, “servant, attendant.” Margaret Chardiet, a.k.a Pharmakon, is your literal attendant, a presence there in your face, right between the eyes, but you’ll be her servant.
Physical therapy and psychotherapy both heal wounds, exterior and interior. However, as Derrida put it in his reflection on pharmakos, the idea that outside and inside exist separately and separated by a demarcation is a misconstrual; rather, the one contains and creates the other. Or, in Chardiet’s words, “it is about two things that are opposite being the same thing.” There are wounds and wounds: physical and psychic, though for a reductionist, the psychic is physical. Chardiet might treat the one with maggot therapy, the other with the primal scream. She’s not only the attendant, then, but the pharmakon, the one who administers the drugs to the outcast — the outcast nourished at public expense as pre-modern human standing-reserve, before, in times of trouble, s/he (as scapegoat) is beaten on the body and the genitals, and expelled, put to death, burnt.
Those latter verbs provide some clues to Pharmakon’s pulverized atmosphere. Where many death industrial and power electronics acts tend toward childish, black-metal-esque imagery and a tryhard-transgressive obsession with fascism and serial killers, Pharmakon deftly sidesteps these to create something far more disturbing: “I know it’s offensive, but the human race is disgusting. If they think I am acceptable, then I am doing something wrong, frankly” (Chardiet). It’s thereby made apparent that genuine transgression “is not thinkable within the terms of classical logic but only within the graphics of the supplement or of the pharmakon” (Derrida).
Abandon is a sacrificial rite, one that thus brings to mind Teenage Jesus and the Jerks , but it’s not that it sounds like the No Wavers, exactly. Rather, there’s the same quality of a speculum scraping open the Id, transforming logos back into mythos. Chardiet shares Lydia Lunch’s confrontationalism, her need to make her audience uncomfortable, to evidence her contempt and nihilistic rejection of any connection except that in which suffering is inherent (which is all connections), to make the listener feel her pain with an impact visceral as well as aesthetic. “Pitted’s” insistent thud might be the door of Lunch’s closet slamming shut, while in moments like “Ache’s” hindquarters, there’s a certain soughing, defeated dreaminess, which gestures past “dark ambience” (if I may use that awful phrase) to Nico’s frozen warnings.
But let’s leave comparisons aside: Abandon’s hammering slow pneumatic-drill beats are not so much an all-out assault as a grueling siege, in which the beleaguered inhabitants of the psyche find themselves starving, barely existing in a rising cesspool of their own shit and vomit, ridden with epidemic disease, turning to cannibalism and to frantic final Decameronesque debaucheries.
The pharmakon, however, is not only a painful pleasure, the pleasure of the pain that scratching an itch relieves: but “even beyond the question of pain, the pharmaceutical remedy is essentially harmful because it is artificial.” Chardiet’s manipulated and distorted, incomprehensible shrieks and howls not only speak to art-i-ficiality, but remind one of Derrida’s pharmakon as “a literal parasite: a letter installing itself inside a living organism to rob it of its nourishment and to distort [like static = “bruit parasite”] the pure audibility of a voice.” Purity is the last thing that will be found here.
Yet Abandon is an exorcism, and an exorcism is a rite of purification. Chardiet’s brand of catharsis is also a Derridean pharmakon in the sense that it is “an elimination [that], being therapeutic in nature, must call upon the very thing it is expelling […] the pharmaceutical operation must therefore exclude itself from itself.” This is a suffering that calls itself up in order to cathart itself, which expels itself from the mouth, like bile, and is captured mechanically in order to perform the same paradoxical operation of penetrative-aggression-that-is-exorcism upon the listener.
“The pharmakon would be a substance — with all that that word can connote in terms of matter with occult virtues, cryptic depths refusing to submit their ambivalence to analysis, already paving the way for alchemy — if we didn’t have eventually to come to recognize it as antisubstance itself “
Derrida suggests that writing is a pharmakon, but we might engage in our own alchemy, poisonous lead as golden larvae and posit music in that role. The essence of the pharmakon is that it has no stable essence, that it is insubstantial. Despite our fetishization of vinyl and cassette, the literal application to music in the digital age should be apparent. Vinyl, we shouldn’t forget, is constituted from the crudely-transmuted dead; and in regard to “lumpy objects,” as we know the pharmakon by nature contains its opposite. Here and now, substanceless therefore has a necessary relation with viscerality (and that’s how Chardiet wants it). Furthermore, as Derrida adds, since this pharmakon has no being and its effects are constantly changing, it can’t be handled with complete security. Recorded music, like writing, is a de-composition of the voice — the pharmakon “introduces and harbours death […] makes the corpse presentable […] perfumes it with its essence […] a perfume without essence.”
A perfume without essence for les yeux sans visage. “Bewitchment [l’envoûtement] is always the effect of a representation […] the vultus.” Abandon yourself — allow Chardiet’s gaze to hit your face — and be witched. -


New York City artist Margaret Chardiet, aka Pharmakon, makes brutal noise music that aims to both confront people and draw them into her harrowing universe.

By Brandon Stosuy 

Photo by Jane Chardiet
 Pharmakon: "Crawling on Bruised Knees" (via SoundCloud)
Pharmakon is the noise project of 22-year-old New York native Margaret Chardiet. I first became aware of her a couple of years ago through her incredible live show-- surrounded by electronics and possessed with an intense multi-octave scream, she alternates between staring audience members down and disappearing into her own head.
For four years, Chardiet lived in, and helped run, the Far Rockaway, New York, punk house Red Light District. (I organized a show there in May 2011.) In January, due to Hurricane Sandy as well as personal reasons, Chardiet relocated from Red Light to another DIY space, 538 Johnson in Bushwick. Following this shift, and a handful of CD-R’s and cassettes, she’s about to release her first widely distributed collection, Abandon, on May 14 via Sacred Bones. The five-song record is a journey into Chardiet’s all-consuming approach: across 27 minutes, she moves between industrialized clatter, amped-up death-rants, chilly power electronics, and harrowing apocalyptic soundscapes. At times she brings to mind Diamanda Galás, at others Throbbing Gristle, early Swans, or Prurient. (Listen to the Abandon track "Crawling on Bruised Knees" above.)
I spoke with Chardiet at 538 Johnson about the new album, while other members of the household were getting things ready for a black metal/punk show happening later that night.
Pitchfork: What is the meaning behind Abandon's cover art?
Margaret Chardiet: The artwork was conceived and executed by me, and photographed by my sister Jane. The concept comes from a very real experience where I was throwing away most of my belongings and going through old ephemera, and I found an old love letter. When I opened it, there was a pressed flower that fell onto my lap, along with a bunch of writhing maggots. They had been eating the flower. I had this sense of abandon and I just burned it all. I thought, "This isn't true anymore. I don't own this." And I just let it go.
I recently went through sudden, drastic life changes that were completely out of my control and not by choice. All of a sudden, there was no stability in my life; everything I'd viewed as constant slipped away. In this weird way, it became a catalyst for a drastic shift in my creative life as well. When the bottom falls out and you have to crawl your way out, when you get to the top, you’re alone-- and you're different than you were. If you let go and give yourself over to it, you’re lighter and freer, too. The album’s about fiercely holding on to what's true and unapologetically abandoning what's not.
"I've been going to punk shows since I was a baby-- my dad brought me to a Nausea show and threw my dirty diaper into the pit."
Pitchfork: You grew up in New York and you live in Brooklyn now, during a time when much of the area’s scene involves people from elsewhere. Did growing up in New York affect your approach to music-making?
MC: A huge part of my fascination with this idea of confronting people by being vulnerable-- forcing someone to look you in the eyes, to connect with you-- has a lot do with growing up where there can be someone crying or vomiting on the subway and it's rude to look, let alone offer help. Or you see a parent beating their kid in a bodega and no one does anything. I used to come home from elementary school every day and have to walk around this half-naked homeless woman who was constantly changing clothes. You’re surrounded by people to the point where they’re crowding on top of each other and everyone’s in each other’s faces all the time, but no one acknowledges each other. Everyone has their own little bubble. There’s a huge disconnect. And my desire to make people feel something and truly be present in the moment and connect has a lot to do with that.
Growing up in the city, you see things that most children don’t see. Your childhood is cut short. But it’s not all bad. You have so much access to culture. As a kid, I would go to the Met and spend all day there if I was bored. You grow up faster emotionally and intellectually, too, so you know who you are sooner and enjoy more of your time on earth.
Pitchfork: What are your parents like?
MC: Both my parents are punks; my dad's a guitarist and my mom's a painter. I grew up listening to Dead Boys and the Stooges, and going to punk shows literally from the time I was a baby. My dad brought me to a Nausea show and threw my dirty diaper into the pit-- that young. When I first showed them my music, they said, "Oh, you found the one thing more extreme than how you were raised." Not that it's about that at all.
Pitchfork: How did you arrive at your sound? Did you ever have a project where you were playing guitar or were you immediately drawn towards electronics?
MC: I’ve had a guitar since I was a kid. When I was 14, I started making these horrible recordings of myself in my bedroom. I wanted to do something new. I was making weird noise-y things that were basically bad punk songs with tons of distortion and keyboard. When I discovered noise/power electronics I was like, "This is what I'm supposed to be doing." And then I became really serious about making music.
Pitchfork: You were one of the people who founded and worked out of Red Light District, the DIY space out in Far Rockaway. How did that start?
MC: Me and my friends who played in bands with one another decided that we wanted to live together so that we could practice as loud as we wanted, and also have shows. There was really nowhere good to play in New York for noise and weird underground experimental stuff. I had already been living in Far Rockaway with my dad, so I was like, "There’s this neighborhood where no one wants to fucking live, so you can rent actual houses for cheap."
That was over four years ago. There's an underground network of amazing experimental sound artists across America who would tour and play our venue, and it became an important destination for noisers for a while. Unfortunately, due to Hurricane Sandy, there's no longer a subway going to Rockaway, so shows have pretty much stopped for the time being. But I hope, it will pick back up in the summer. I don't live there anymore, but I plan on staying involved, and all the people that comprised the Red Light are still my dearest friends. We’ll always be a clan.
Pitchfork: Something that impressed me about Red Light District was that people went all the way out there to see music. Especially in New York, where you can walk a block and be at a bar or walk to the subway and be at a show in 10 minutes, it felt special.
MC: Right. Because you had to take an hour and a half subway ride to get there, you didn’t get people who were at the show because they just wanted to party. Cultural tourists are not going to trek that far. Being a part of that community meant dedication. It was a very genuine, honest place.
Pitchfork: When we did the show with you and Peter Sotos and Yellow Tears in 2011, I didn’t see anyone on their cell phones.
MC: That's how it should be. Something is happening and people are actually experiencing it, letting it affect them, contemplating it afterwards, and letting it sink in-- instead of forming their opinion immediately based on what other people will think of their opinion or whether it will make a good post on social media.
Pitchfork: There’s something powerful about being able to forget things.
MC: Yes, because then the stuff that stands out-- the things you do remember-- holds weight, and the other things kind of float off into the distance.
Pitchfork: You don’t have an online presence. Is that intentional?
MC: Yeah. Because everyone is guilty of hearing about a band and then going online and listening to it on shitty computer speakers and thinking, "Let me form an opinion on this immediately." It becomes disposable. What I’m doing deserves to be listened to in a more real way than that. I don’t think it should exist in that internet realm because it can’t be properly understood if you hear it that way. I would prefer it for people to hold a record or a CD and be able to look at the artwork and read the lyrics and have the full concept when they hear it, or to see it live. YouTube videos are never really fully attached to the performance, but people know it’s a document of something else and view it as such, so that's OK.
"I don't want to appeal only to people who are cool enough to have all the right records to understand the backdrop of where my music is coming from. If it can reach the uninitiated, it validates the art."
Pitchfork: Abrasive music has found a bigger audience over the last few years. Do you see what you do as something that could potentially cross over?
MC: The music that I make is about connection and making people feel something, so I would hope that people would be able to latch onto those very raw, human aspects, and that it could appeal to their base inner nature. I’m interested in the idea of the art being valid on its own without context-- of not having to be initiated into experimental music or noise to appreciate it. I don't want to appeal only to people who are cool enough to have all the right records to understand the backdrop of where its coming from. If it can reach the uninitiated, it validates the art.
Pitchfork: Noise is a male-focused scene in a lot of ways. Do you feel like you have to prove yourself to people more because you're a woman?
MC: It’s really not something I think about much. There have been women making noise since the 80s. It’s a male-dominated scene but not more so than any other scene. Pharmakon is me, so I take it very personally. It’s the most sensitive part of my mind and my heart. When I put that out to someone and the only thing they can say is, "oh look, it's a girl screaming," I want to fucking kill them because I’m literally pouring my heart and soul out, being so vulnerable. If the only thing you can grasp from it is something so superficial as the fact that I’m a woman making noise, that suggests to me that you’re not listening very carefully.


Margaret in Redlight District’s backyard.
I Want to talk about Pharmakon’s beginning. Tell me about where you were in your life, at that time.
Well, I guess at the time that I started Pharmakon; it was a really lonely time… but I think it is not as though ‘the place’ was the reason. It was always dark before then, too. It has always been dark. It wasn’t specifically that time or place that bred Pharmakon; it was something that accumulated over the course of my entire life.
When I found out about noise, it was an amazing revelation. I had found my medium. It was like: ‘Holy shit, this exists, this is what I have been looking for. This is what I have needed for all these years’… I was making this other stuff [music] that just wasn’t doing it for me. Pharmakon was something that had been boiling inside of me for sixteen years.  I could finally fucking exorcise it out of me. And look at it. And evaluate it. It wasn’t where I was living or what I was doing, [pharmakon] had been coming a long time.
Do you still feel the same way about Pharmakon?
Yes. Whenever I have problems with Pharmakon I am a complete fucking wreck and I find it really hard to function. I feel very, very depressed, very withdrawn. Very driven, but also very negative. I question myself, and the world, every step of the way.
There is always this part when I break through… I have a fucking revelation and then it’s like … The set has come together. Everything is okay again and I feel empowered and I can move on.
So Pharmakon is the Most important thing in your life? 
I could not stop doing it or I would literally go insane. Pharmakon is about a very specific concept, but it is not something that is outside of myself, it is an extension of myself. It is not like Pharmakon is my alter ego or just some alias that I go under. Pharmakon is me. At all times. There is no way to extricate myself from it, which is kind of scary and depressing.
Do you feel comfortable talking a little bit about the specific concepts behind Pharmakon?
The name it’s self is the gateway to understanding what the project is about. Pharmakon is an ancient Greek word; it means both poison and remedy, at the same time. It is the philosophy of something being dual in nature. The idea that something which could harm you, could also help you. But the distinction that is important to me is that the project is about duality, not juxtaposition, it is not about two things that are on opposite sides of the same spectrum, it is about two things that are opposite being the same thing.
There are many themes that fall under that umbrella. If you break [Pharmakon] down to it’s core, it is human connection. It’s not some cold power electronics project. It’s hot and sticky. It is the moisture in your groin. What is it? You can’t help it; it’s just there. I didn’t mean to put it there. I know it’s offensive, but the human race is disgusting. If they think I am acceptable, then I am doing something wrong, frankly.
You’ve had several releases in the past but they are extremely difficult to get your hands on. Very limited editions. Is that intentional or is that just the only means that you had to release your recordings?
It is a little of both.  I’ve had many offers from various labels, small, medium and large offering to put stuff out, but I feel that a release as a finished project is something that is so specific, especially in noise/industrial/PE that it is something that has to be whole and complete. Part of that is the music, the lyrics, the artwork and the label that it is on. It does say something about the context of the record.
(Laughs) Well, there is an entire record that I have recorded TWICE. The material was written in 2009 and it still hasn’t come out. I have entire full lengths that I have recorded and have an inclination to release but… I am true to myself. And my art. And if it isn’t what it is supposed to be, I am not going to release it. I am not going to jam for two hours and think that someone is going to care. If I am not completely at peace and passionate about a release, I could not expect
anybody else to give two shits about it. And if they did like it, I would be extremely upset at them. I would rather have someone hate me for the wrong reasons than like me for the wrong reasons.
The accidental part is that I mostly focus on live performance. Pharmakon is a live project, essentially. I am, right now, moving more towards recording but it has also been really important to me to play live because of the experience that it is.
Margaret gives me a preview of her set for Saturday’s show with Bone Awl.
Do you think it is more important for people to see you live than to listen to a recording? What is going on before, during and after a Pharmakon live show and how do you want people to feel when they see you perform live?
I think it is important to see my project live. I think if you are casually watching videos on youtube, or you are hearing one release or a collaboration that I have done with someone else you have absolutely no scope of what the project actually is. Live performance is incredibly important to me because live performance deals with the intangible and the impalpable. It deals with the “x-factor”, the other thing that is in music that cannot possibly come across in recording. Performance deals with a personal connection to other people through the music. Obviously, this is experienced through recording, but live, it is a completely different thing.
Connection to the audience is something that is incredibly important to me. It is a weird, parasitic, symbiotic relationship that I have. I feed off the audiences energy. But they throw back what I am feeding to them. You can play a show to three fucking people, and it is in some weird basement that smells like shit and can play through a PA that sounds like somebody farting underwater and you can have the best fucking show. Those three people can know you and understand your music and feel it and give you that energy that you need to kill it. Other shows, you can be there, and there can be a bunch of people but…
There are many different ways to connect to an audience, too. Over the years I have experimented with many different ways. People who go to a live performance have a need to connect with other human beings. Currently, in the 21st century, when we have all this technology that makes [connection] easy… It is cheapened, a lot. People don’t know how to physically and viscerally connect anymore. It is tragic…
The person who is performing has to have a need to connect. It is perverse. And I’m a fucking pervert; I need to connect with the audience in a way that is uncomfortable. Maybe it is something as simple as looking into people’s eyes.
Even that makes a lot of people uncomfortable.
 It does. And it is funny, too. Some people try to laugh, like it’s not big deal. I look into their eyes the longest; because they laugh out of nervous laughter. I am saying what I need to say, and I am looking them in the eyes and they are laughing. They are uncomfortable and I keep looking. Eventually, they start to get more comfortable. They stop laughing. It’s not funny anymore.
But my favorites are people that I am not reaching. My favorites are when I am looking into the audience, and I am telling them something and they have a disconnect and they think that they can look at me and not have a connection with me. No. I am getting inside of you. Right now. No matter how they decide to react, I have made them react. That is my control.
So we are talking about levels of connection. There is something as simple as looking someone in the eye and then it goes to more aggressive behaviors, which are appropriate sometimes. A long-standing tradition in power electronics.
You’re chipped tooth looks really good, by the way.
Thanks! That aggressive approach is sometimes appropriate or needed but is not always. It is typically what I am the least interested in, but it is somehow what people seem to perceive my contact to be. What I am really more interested in is something that I have been experimenting more with recently, which is what happens… At the Tesco USA show, or something.
There are a lot of people at the show. I am up on the stage, kind of separate. I was interested in breaking that boundary and come into the audience. It wasn’t an aggressive thing, where I have some sort of ego or bravado to say I am this ONE person in a couple hundred and I can fucking intimidate you. It is not about intimidation. It was me wanting to be touching a specific person in the audience: I am touching you; I am saying this to you. It might make you feel extremely uncomfortable, but do you think that it is more comfortable to be on stage with all these people having access only to you? No.
You know that everyone in the room is looking at you. If not they are looking at their phone or something, but guess what? I am going to fucking make you look at me. That is a problem with live performance. A lot of people in the audience are more interested in seeing the other people at the live performance as opposed to the performer.
They want to be seen. Fuck that. If you are coming here and you have any idea what this genre of music is about, you should be able to handle me caressing you and coming up behind you.
Warning. I am going to look you in the eye. Guess what? That is the most basic form of human interaction. I swear to fucking god, 75% of the population cannot handle it…we live in an age when you don’t have to look people in the eye. How many fucking parties have you gone to, where half the fucking people there are looking at their fucking Iphones, talking to people who are not at the party. About the party. They are taking to someone on the phone because I don’t actually want to be present. Live performance is about presence.
Live performance is also sonic. The sonic presence of live performance is something that you cannot get from recording… The presence of the sound mixed with the psychological and emotional and artists’ presence of the performer and the energy of the room… Which is what I am talking about when I talk about ‘x-factor’, that. All this stuff I do with connection is digging at people trying to get at that thing, that ‘x-factor’. That thing that you can not explain after going to see a live performance, this thing. It is not that it sounded great; it wasn’t that the performer was flailing around on stage or something like that, it is just the energy in the room, collectively, and that requires other people.
It is so interesting to watch the connections that you make with people, sometimes. For, example, Tesco fest. I also get my rocks off watching you perform and watching other people’s reactions to you performing live. Watching people squirm. But I felt like people were scared of you. A lot of people only know a little bit about you, or have heard something about you and don’t know what to expect. When you went into the audience, it was like you could feel collective discomfort in the room because people didn’t know what was going to happen next.
It is a powerful thing because people think that aggression is the way to influence people or to get under their skin. But when I went out into the audience, the moshing stopped, and that was what I wanted. It was a tender thing… I am not going out into the audience and pushing people… I am a five-foot tall girl. I look like white bread, whatever. Aggression is not the tradition of power electronics that I am grasping from. I think it is much more powerful and much more threatened by human interaction than the bravado of ‘I’m tougher than you’. That is really important. When I am performing, and I touch someone on the shoulder, everyone in the audience is wondering who is next. They are scared of that, and why? Right?
That is why live performance is important to me. This is a solo project. It’s just me. I am responsible for all the material, content, concepts, words, electronics, vocals, recording, and performance… I play by myself. But live, there is another layer. It is not as though the audience are collaborators, but there is something for me to suck up.
Do you have any experiences with people who just don’t get it, that stick out in your mind at all? How do you deal with people who just don’t fucking get it?
This is the thing; people will not come up to you after a show and say, to your face that they don’t get it. If they don’t get it, they go on the computer and talk shit about you. They don’t talk shit to you. If someone has a problem with what I do, I fucking DARE them to come up to me and tell me what they think about it. And I will talk to them. I will be fucking psyched. But guess what? Not a single person has ever done that.
People don’t ever ask you questions about what you just did after a performance? Thoughtfully? Or even unthoughfully? Drunkenly?
Questions, no. People have given me ‘statements’…I get a lot of comments… ‘YOU GO GIRL! That is empowering! It is great what you are doing as a girl!’ …. Do [they] think that gender was the major factor in play? Do [they] think that performance was about gender? Fuck off. It is really trivializing. I wish they didn’t like me. I would rather have someone hate me for the wrong reasons than like me for the wrong reasons. Can I piss during this interview?
Can I record it?
YEAH! [Margaret records a steady stream]
So what is the climate in noise right now? A lot of people that used to do harsh noise have gravitated towards doing more industrial stuff, or techno or dance. I know that you are a fan of some of these artists, but what is it like being a power electronics artist right now?
 I do feel fairly lonely. Especially regionally. From what I have observed in the meager five or six years that I have been involved with this there are so many waves. Shit comes in and out of fashion and frankly I don’t really care. I guess when you are making noise or industrial or power electronics you don’t get much feedback as it is. I feel as though I create in a vacuum all of the time. So weather or not there is an appreciation, or a space, or a community that appreciates what I do specially, I am going to keep doing what I do.
In 2006, I felt like there was more of a community for p.e. and noise, harsh shit. And now it’s not so much. But, I also have this privilege of being a part of a group of friends that are insanely critical and supportive. I am extremely lucky to have people around me that hold me accountable for what I do, regardless of the genre. I feel that the art that I make is outside of genre. It doesn’t matter weather of not power electronics or noise are popular at the moment, because that is what this project is and I will make it regardless of weather people like it or not.
We’ve had a hard time booking shows at our house recently, because there are simply not that many good projects around anymore. So we’ll have tours coming through, and we wondering who we will book on the show and it’s crickets. There are not that many good bands.
Even in New York City.
Even in fucking New York City! We are in a bit of a lull point, but I don’t really care. It picks up, is farts out, it picks up it farts out. … To me, Pharmakon is a painful project. And it will always be painful. But never more or less depending on the climate.
Speaking of community, you live at a venue in Far Rockaway. Far the fuck out.
There is a reason why “far” is part of the name.
It is kind of lawless over here. It is like Wild West by the sea. It is a little bit scary. As far as location, it is isolated, but you have an inspiring group of friends that you live with. What is the Redlight District to you and how do you feel after Nick (Diaphragm, former room mate at RLD), Jesse Allen and Jackie (Very close confidants to all the room mates at the RLD) all moving away at the same time.
It’s funny. This is actually an extremely simple answer to a very complicated question. Redlight District is a group of friends. There may be 13 or 15 bands that come out of our group, but it’s really just a couple dudes connected on a very important level who make art together. And so the fact that Jackie, Jesse and Nick moved away doesn’t make them any less close to us. This is our family. What we have as a group of people is love for each other.
I don’t use the word love lightly. Love to me is something very rare. Very exotic, foreign. Hard to understand. And yet, I am so fucking lucky because I exist within a group of people who love each other. Who can fucking say that?
These are friends that transcend periods of time and space. Literally, the Redlight District is something that exists nowhere. We live in this house. It doesn’t fucking matter. Here is a set of people who have found that every single person feels [love] for every person in a group of people. This is something that does not occur, typically.
A lot of the Redlight District went to college together for sound. All of them say that what they learned had nothing to do with their schooling, but through the people that they met through that experience, and that is the group of friends that we have right now. It is something that I can’t explain and frankly I do not have the right to explain it. None of us individually have the words to do that. Gebo, the rune, the one that looks like an x, that the Nazi’s misused… The idea that the sum is greater than it’s parts. That is what the Redlight District is. Individually, we wouldn’t have what we have together and space and time cannot fuck with that. People can live wherever the fuck they want, we still have that.
But they try to insert themselves into it. People try to ride your collective dick a lot.
You can always spot a phony,
So, obviously there is inspiration is the Redlight District but where else do you find inspiration?
People are always like ‘what are your influences’, but you are asking what inspires me… Inspiration is life. Inspiration is not just the people that I am surrounded by or the music that I listen to, literature that I read. What inspires you to think? Why are you a human and not an ape? That is inspiration.
I understand that you are preparing a new set for a show with Bone Awl. What can we expect? What are you working on? What is changing?
This set is a weird combination/transitional composition between new ideas I had while writing the new Lp, mixed with some shit that I had been putting on the backburner a little bit. Stuff I didn’t want to deal with yet, emotionally. So this is a purge forward, grasping at grandiose ideas for the next phase of Pharmakon. A lurch forward towards what will happen next.

Collaged flyer designed by Margaret.
How is recording going for the upcoming LP?
All of the electronics are recorded and are in the process of being bounced. Ryan (Yellow Tears, DYsgeniX, etc) is helping me record on an 8-track, which gives it a full sound. The vocals are next, so I guess I can tell you after that. That is always the most harrowing, difficult part of the process I think. It is all I have been focusing on lately. When you say ‘how is it going’, I don’t know how to respond to that. How is my life going? I’ve been obsessed.
You go to school for visual art, and you are a visual artist as well, so what are the differences for you between visual art and noise? What do you get out of visual art that you do not get out of noise? Pharmakon does not satisfy all of your creative urges… you still feel the desire to make visual art.
All of the art that I make starts first and foremost with a concept, an idea. Then I scramble and claw at a way to produce this concept, to express this concept. I believe that different ideas and concepts need to be produced in different ways. Not every concept can be funneled into the same process. The same way as Pharmakon is an extension of myself, the same goes for my visual art. It’s just different ways that it is expressed.
Margaret posing with her mummifying severed duck head, which will be used in a visual piece at a later time.
The last question is a little bleak. You’ve been doing Pharmakon for a long time. Will it ever be over? How will you know that it’s over?
When I die.

Nicolas Winding Refn - Only God Forgives (2013)

Kamera, osvjetljenje, ritam, zvukovi, muzika... premda sve izgleda kao studentska varijacija začudnih efekata Davida Lyncha, film je strašno dobar.
Još samo da nepodnošljivi Gosling nije bio glavni glumac (iako, srećom, jedva da uopće glumi, a i izgovara samo nekoliko rečenica).
Film je dobio i užasno loše kritike.

Note to critics: Nicolas Winding Refn is your better. If he waves an obstacle at you, do the fucking work and clap. Feedback about his latest contours meek between gossipy foreplay bitching for the sequel to Drive and flat bitching. Only God Forgives is a film static below its need, a dream blood interlude in the loose arena of Refn’s Fear X – the anticlimactic Herbert Selby Jr.-penned pause through cinematographic reds that got his money spanked because America is nothing. Nothing you want to happen will. Fuck your want. Instead, you’re going to loom behind granite and end up on the floor, pissing clay. This movie gnaws you a better head slow enough to care. No payoff tattles itself forced. It goes extinct halfway up its mother – where heroes belong. Moments earn the nut to birth you out again into your same rigidity. The stroll and lack found a stop-motion castration to paint silences, a stoic wampum extreme with wanting spanked. The filler comes between your eyes. Chips a space there at which doctors will shrug. Scenes edit together fat end first. No victory except air. It’s more than floating. I have beheld Gosling, long since proven far above his prettiness, (see him pictured beside our lord and savior Gaspar Noe, whose colors ride here, whose real corpses prop here) dragging someone nowhere by the roof of their mouth. Behold a McCarthy-level police monster improvise someone’s ligaments apart. Jodorowsky wallpapers stiff between militant karaoke, his zodiac trailing us smeared gifts. Continuity don’t mean shit. The incremental no-way parse will be our bread. Aren’t we begging to lose a fight every time art is made? Every time some cocky little shit pops up to weigh in about what makes sense. Every time you form a thought (or refuse to) the punishment for it is already handy. Go into this movie wincing for anemia. Go in ready to lose and return fuller. There’s no shortage of other films now showing that’ll press your stuffing for you into a healthy understanding. We can philanthropically suck ourselves accomplished or go worship the shattered. Oops, if I’m making a point, cut off my fucking neck. I like this person’s art so much I want to use his dick to blow my brains out. - Sean Kilpatrick

I’m wearing the same expression as Ryan Gosling there: I just saw Only God Forgives, director Nicolas Winding Refn’s followup to Drive. (If you’re in Chicago, it’s playing through Thursday, 1 August at the Music Box; the film is also apparently streaming online.) Actually, I was so impressed I went and saw it twice.
Anyone out there want to chat about it? I’ll post some initial thoughts after the jump. (Beware of serious spoilers, though: these points cover the entire film, and give away key plot points.)
[My capsule review for those who don't want to read the rest: Of the five new films I've seen so far this year, Only God Forgives is easily the most compelling and my favorite. In second place is probably Iron Man 3, which I mostly enjoyed, but found nowhere near as interesting as this. Securely in last place is Star Trek Into Darkness.]

  1. A lot of people will despise this film because they’ll go in expecting Drive 2: Driven. And while both films share certain aesthetic concerns, Only God Forgives is not another sweet, fun, periodically violent movie like Drive. It is instead consistently and brutally violent, nightmarish, and challengingly abstract. In that regard, it’s more like the “black metal Viking film” that Refn made before Drive, Valhalla Rising. (I wasn’t surprised to learn that Refn wrote OGF before he made Drive.)
  2. I’ll reiterate that Only God Forgives is very violent movie. Refn refers to both Gaspar Noé and Alejandro Jodorowsky in the credits, which is apt; he’s making a companion piece to their films. David Lynch’s influence is also palpable, especially Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, and Lost Highway. (Just like Drive, OGF is heavily allusive.)
  3. But I don’t think that the extremely unnerving violence is why so many people have disliked this one. Many movies are violent. What makes Only God Forgives so consternating is threefold.
  4. First, unlike with Drive, Only God Forgives is often spatially and temporally disorienting, which will no doubt annoy many people to no end. But Refn (who shot the film in scene order) has very deliberately built this disorientation into the film, and it is precisely these experiments with time and space that provide much of the film’s pleasure.
  5. The disorientation begins with the all-Thai opening credits, which reminded me of Tarantino’s nod to the Shaw Bros. at the opening of Kill Bill, as well as Jean-Luc Godard’s dedicating Breathless to Monogram Pictures.
  6. Actually, I was reminded of Breathless repeatedly throughout the movie. Refn, like Godard (and like Seijun Suzuki), is using a familiar gangster story as the basis for exploring various formal issues. As I’ve said elsewhere, if you want to make something radical, it can be a good idea to start with something familiar and deform that. (This is pure Russian Formalism—Refn gets it!)
  7. Some, however, will think the movie plotless, and its dialogue bad. That would be wrong. Refn has erected the bare minimum of plot and dialogue needed to motivate the movie and keep it going. For instance, the scene where Julian (Ryan Gosling) and Mai (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam) meet Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) for dinner, is simple to the point of being comical. But there is no need to make it more plausible. It very elegantly does precisely what it needs to in this film.
  8. I’ve read an earlier draft of the script (you can find it if you’re willing to stick your arm into the darker corners of the internet), which featured much more expository dialogue—explanations as to who or what the police office Chang is, and further details regarding Julian’s family’s business. And I can’t tell you how happy I am that Refn cut all of that out. In translating the film from script to screen, he removed a lot that was extraneous—not unlike how Rick Rubin helped Kanye West subtract elements from Yeezus.
  9. This reduction left Refn free to explore other issues, such as cinematic conventions for constructing time and space—not to mention more room for gorgeous shots of people walking slowly from one place to another, their footsteps echoing impossibly loudly. (Point Blank is another clear influence here.)
  10. Drive was occasionally dreamlike and fantastical, but it remained rooted in a plausible time and place. Only God Forgives lets go and, like Valhalla Rising, functions more as a dream (or a nightmare). The cinematographer, Larry Smith, also shot Eyes Wide Shut, which featured a delightfully fake-looking New York City. Only God Forgives brings the same lack of interest in verisimilitude to Bangkok.
  11. This delivers us to the second reason why I suspect people haven’t liked the film: the film’s interest in performance, and of being the subject of focused attention. Like Eyes Wide Shut, it features numerous scenes in which a character stands on display in front of an inscrutable crowd. The test of the character is how he or she responds to that attention—how he or she performs.
  12. For instance, watch the first time we meet Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm). He walks down the alley, then turns to stride toward the hotel where Billy has raped and murdered the prostitute. He is first on display for us, walking toward us. Then, as he approaches the building, he becomes the object of the attention of other characters, who are silently sitting and standing there, bathed by blue and red police lights. But Chang’s stride never falters—he walks steadily, at his own pace, on display but without any reaction to so much attention. And this of course follows a scene where people are gathered to watch a Muay Thai boxing match. As well as several scenes where Billy observes and is observed by prostitutes.
  13. I remember thinking the first time I saw these scenes: “This whole movie is going to be variations on the strip club scene in Drive, where Gosling’s character threatened the thug with the bullet and the hammer, all while the motionless strippers impassively observed.” And I wasn’t wrong!
  14. For instance, in what is probably the most harrowing scene in the film, Chang tortures an ex-pat goon in front of his entertainers and others. The film even comments on this concept, as one of the police officers instructs all present: “Remember, girls, whatever happens, keep your eyes closed. And you men…take a good look.” The film well understands what the viewer is feeling: I want to watch, but I don’t want to watch, but I want to watch. (We even get a nod toward one of cinema’s earliest shock moments: Buñuel and Dalí’s Un chien andalou.)
  15. These scenes of concentrated performance are more often than not the scenes where Refn most distorts time and space. For instance, pay attention to the second sex scene between Julian and Mai, when Julian gets up and reaches through the beaded curtain to touch her. Refn in facts cuts between two different times: in one of them, Julian remains seated on the couch, wearing a black t-shirt; in another, he gets up and touches Mai while wearing a white t-shirt. Two different scenes are being conflated (which might suggest that one—the one where Julian actually does something!—is not really happening). Complicating things further is that Refn then introduces another space: he crosscuts Julian and Mai with shots of Crystal, who is seated on a couch and leering. The montage implies that she’s watching Julian and Mai—but Refn then reveals that Crystal is watching a different sexual performance, featuring muscular young men in thongs.
  16. Ever since Lev Kuleshov—hell, ever since Edwin S. Porter—cinema’s artists have been exploring the ways that they can construct time and space through montage. In other words, much of the content of Only God Forgives is cinema itself—surely a worthy enough subject for a film?
  17. Many won’t think so, and as a result, they will think the movie empty, or valueless. J.R. Jones, for instance, writing in the Chicago Reader, complains in his review that the film’s “fascination with extreme gore never amounts to more than a fetish, and there’s none of the deft characterization that made [Refn's] revered Pusher trilogy and British biopic Bronson so engaging.” How to respond to such a shallow reading?
  18. For starters, the fetishism that Jones so quickly dismisses comprises the very heart of Only God Forgives, which is fascinated with fetishes (surely another worthy subject for the cinema?). Understanding and accepting this proves crucial to grasping the deft characterization so thoroughly on display, but that Jones has not eyes to see. The film’s central narrative is Julian’s growing fascination with Chang, and the power that that supernatural force of a man embodies—literally embodies, in his all-powerful right sword arm. Julian initially thinks himself powerful, the owner of a boxing arena and school, but the film steadily dispels him of that illusion. Note, for instance, the film’s contrasting of Julian with the Muay Thai statue, very early on. Julian’s attempt to form fists proves feeble. Later, during Julian’s fight with Chang, Refn match cuts between Chang and the Muay Thai statue, demonstrating who really possesses that power.
  19. Once you see this aspect of the film, you see that it’s stuffed with the “deft characterization” that Jones desires. The first sex scene between Julian and Mai, for instance, provides numerous clues to Julian’s psychology. Mai ties to him to a chair and proceeds to masturbate as he observes. Julian then senses the presence of Chang and gets up (he has magically become untied) to explore blood-red corridors until he arrives before a door as ominously black as any door in a David Lynch film. (Actually, an older precedent can be found in the hallway scene in the cosmetics factory in Marc Robson and Val Lewton’s The Seventh Victim, as well as in the mirror that leads between worlds in Jean Cocteau’s Orphée.) Julian tentatively reaches his right arm into the void, only to have it get lopped off by Chang just as Mai reaches orgasm. (There’s a free term paper on vagina dentata waiting to be written there.)
  20. Julian craves power, and sexual satisfaction, but he fears humiliation—but he also craves humiliation. These issues are inextricably intertwined for him; note how his mother’s humiliations of him are always sexual. Above all else, Julian (who is impotent?) craves potence, and the film details his discovery and exploration of a power greater than his own.
  21. This gets to the third reason why this film will probably displease many viewers: Gosling is playing the exact opposite of the strong silent type he portrayed in Drive. Julian is instead a weak silent man—a coward and a momma’s boy who’s only reward is betrayal and abuse—and who nonetheless keeps coming back for more! (Did Guy Maddin direct this?)
  22. Note how, after Julian dons the three-piece suit for his dinner date with his mother, he keeps it on for the rest of the film. (Mai, of course, gets out right away, and later abandons Julian, after he’s been thoroughly beaten by Chang.) Note also how Julian’s various black and white outfits are variations on Chang’s unchanging black-and-white suit, while everyone else wears reds and blues and yellows.
  23. Most importantly, note how Julian ultimately realizes and accepts that the only thing that will satisfy him is humiliation and, eventually, castration at the hands of a foreigner. In other words, Julian finds the fulfillment he’s looking for. The film’s ending is actually a happy one!
  24. There’s your engaging and deft characterization, J.R. Jones—though I doubt you’ll enjoy it.
  25. (Has anyone out there read Paul Bowles’s “A Distant Episode“?)

Well, I’ll no doubt have more to say about the movie later, but for now…what are your own thoughts? - AD Jameson

CANNES – Refn, whose criminal drama “Drive” won him the Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director) at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, followed up this year with his second film with Gosling, a visionary thriller shot in Bangkok and titled “Only God Forgives.” The film, perhaps the biggest disappointment of the festival so far, dramatically divided the critics into two camps. Some argue that Refn’s new production is merely a replay of “Drive,” only this time the plot has been diluted by beautiful photography (an opinion BLOUIN ARTINFO shares). Others retort though that unlike most of the competition titles that seem popularist, Refn’s film convincingly embodies the very concept of auteurism.
In the production, two American brothers run a boxing club in downtown Bangkok as a cover for drug-smuggling. The older sibling, Billy (Tom Burke), has been murdered at a local brothel for raping and killing a 16-year old prostitute. The brothers’ menacing mother (Kristin Scott Thomas cast against type but simply excellent in the role of a sinister matriarch) flies in to town and demands that the younger brother, the fierce and uptight Julian (Ryan Gosling), avenge the killing. One of the key characters of this excessively violent story is an enigmatic Thai police officer named Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), who seems to materialize out of thin air right at the scene of crime – he is the one to decide who is gong to live and who is going to die, enacting some Karmic justice with the help of a samurai sword that he carries tucked under the back of his shirt.
It is Chang — an evil fatum (“fate”) of an ancient tragedy incarnated – who never fails to mete out the punishment that Julian’s mother and Julian himself have to confront. To expand on the ancient Greek metaphor, Chang is also the choir of an ancient tragedy: the most violent scenes of “Only God Forgives” are cut in such a way as to be juxtaposed with Chang’s karaoke interludes in front of an entire police unit, set against the background of fake plastic flowers.
Although the film has received mixed reviews as to its relative merits, it seems nearly impossible to take a well-argued categorical stand here. Refn speaks the cinematic idiom flawlessly, but he employs it to articulate his own idiosyncratic concerns and anxieties: “Only God Forgives” looks as if the director was methodically transferring to the screen his most intimate nightmares and dreams. It is a sequence of confident fantasies, that occasionally congeal into tableaux vivants or burst into gushes of blood: every shot is meticulously thought through and executed: nothing is left to chance.
A directors’ interview shown in which he confessed to having been obsessed with this dream-project of a movie long before “Drive” came along, came as no surprise: Refn says that despite an avalanche of interesting job offers after the release of “Drive,” he could not resist the script. With an oriental backdrop, persistent allusions to ancient mythology and obvious passion towards the genre (as well as a deeply personal element) converge on the screen to become a picture so enthralled with itself, that it overwhelms and tramples down the viewer.
Refn’s latest production may be quite boring for most viewers, where “Drive” was infinitely more watchable and enjoyable for showing genuine concern for the audience, “Only God Forgives” serve as an unabashed playground for the director’s ambitions. Perhaps from the point of view of the proverbial Karmic justice, it is hard to deny that Refn deserves the right to play out his directorial ambitions the way he sees fit. - Nailya Golman

Michael C from Serious Film here to report on one of my most anticipated titles of 2013 while Nathaniel is away.
Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives arrives in theaters preceded by a noxious death cloud of bad buzz. Critics weren’t merely panning it. It didn’t just get booed at Cannes. This movie sent audiences stumbling from their seats clawing at their eyes and pounding their fists against the ground in futile rage. Reviews were the print equivalent of rotten fruit hurled at Refn’s head.
So at this point any write up of the film needs to address two questions. Not only, “Is Only God Forgives really that bad?” but also “What is it about this particular films that has sent so many reviewers around the bend?” [more...]
The short answers are, “Yes. It is god awful.” and “Because a breathtaking amount of skill has been applied in making this piece of cinematic excrement.”  There is something about such supreme talent used in service of this reprehensible material that snaps something in the critical mind and turns thoughtful, mild-mannered critics into a version of Gosling from Drive’s elevator scene, insanity in their eyes, stomping away long after their target is dead.
Lest you think Only God Forgives is being unfairly persecuted by a bunch of hothouse flowers who swoon at the sight of blood. I have liked or loved every film Refn has put out so far, going so far as to declare Drive the best film of 2011. I am loathed to join in a critical dog pile and would have enjoyed nothing more than to report back that the conventional wisdom is wrong, and that the film is a masterwork being unfairly maligned by small-minded reactionaries.
But, oh, such hopes do not survive long into the viewing of Only God Forgives. This film is garbage. Exquisitely mounted, gracefully assembled garbage. It is often argued that any art that provokes a strong reaction is doing something right, but I wouldn’t even grant this film that much credit. There is no value to be found in this film, not even in hating it.
I will at least say this for Only God Forgives: It has made me appreciate Drive all the more. Remember the scene in Drive where Bryan Cranston is killed? How even in that moment of shocking violence there was humanity in the way Albert Brooks eased his friend into death as gently as possible? For all its bloodshed that was a film stocked with human beings.
There are no human beings to be found in Only God Forgives. Only meat bags, useful as far as they can be posed in bullshit macho scenarios and then eviscerated. The film opens with child prostitution, rape, bludgeoning, and mutilation and that is only warm up for the various stabbings, beatings, scaldings, and eye gougings that follow. I should point out that any of these things I’ve listed can be redeemed in the execution. Context matters. Here they are thrown out haphazardly, in the hopes that the potency of the violence will obscure the fact that the film has not a thought in its head, nor any viewpoint on the material beyond “Isn’t this cool?”
And it’s all so very boring. After you register how nicely everything is lit that’s pretty much it for entertainment. Not even the novelty of its own awfulness keeps things interesting. The story involves Ryan Gosling as the leader of an America crime family set up in Bangkok. Gosling declines to take revenge when vigilantes kill his brother as punishment for murdering a child prostitute. This prompts the arrival of Gosling’s vile crime boss mother, played by Kristen Scott Thomas, who shows up in order to exact the vengeance her son will not.
If you think this sounds like the building blocks of a potentially interesting story don’t be fooled. Any semblance of intrigue is buried under a slag heap of artsy neon “atmosphere” and student film level stabs at David Lynch surrealism. At least a third of the film can be categorized as dead air.
One might be tempted to watch for the potential fun of seeing Kristin Scott Thomas play her toxic gargoyle of a character like she’s trying to out-camp Bette Davis’s performance in Baby Jane, but nope, you would be wrong there too. She has no impact at all, spouting one-note awfulness in scene after scene, devoid of context or character. As for Gosling, to say he crosses the line into self-parody is a generous understatement. He makes his character in Drive seem downright chatty by comparison, spending the bulk of this film staring at the world in mute blankness. Out of utter boredom I began counting the number of words Gosling actually speaks in the film, and topped out at 108, which I believe puts him neck and neck with Karloff in Bride of Frankenstein.

I cannot begin to explain what went wrong here. Both Refn and Gosling have proven themselves valuable artists in the past but after this they need to do some serious soul-searching to figure out how they were capable of leading each other hand in hand into such a cesspool. I am tempted to bump the film up to a D- in deference to Larry Smith’s gorgeous cinematography and Cliff Martinez’s terrific score, but nothing can detract from the repugnance on display. When someone serves you shit on a silver platter, you don’t compliment the shiny tray. Only God Forgives is without question one of the worst movies I have ever seen. thefilmexperience.net/

Nicolas Winding Refn says he made Only God Forgives 'like a pornographer'

Drive director confesses to a fetish for violence, and star Kristin Scott Thomas says film became 'more and more despicable'
The Guardian,

Kristin Scott Thomas and Nicolas Winding Refn
Acting of violence ... Kristin Scott Thomas and Nicolas Winding Refn talk about Only God Forgives at the Cannes film festival. Photograph: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
Two sounds provided the keynote of the first screening of Nicolas Winding Refn's follow-up to Drive: the screams of characters being subjected to grotesque acts of dismemberment and torture, and the slap of seats springing upright as members of the press walked out of the grandest cinema at the Cannes film festival. One American woman exclaimed loudly as she exited: "This is shit."
Even its British co-star, Kristin Scott Thomas, said: "Films where this kind of violence happens I don't enjoy watching at all" and joked that as the film was made "it got more and more despicable". But its director, Nicolas Winding Refn, said that he approached filmmaking "like a pornographer: it's about what arouses me. Certain things turn me on more than other stuff and I can't suppress that." He added: "I have surely a fetish for violent emotions and images."
Only God Forgives, which reunites Winding Refn with Drive star Ryan Gosling, is the first great schismatic movie at Cannes, with critics either panning its violence or dazzled by its stylised brilliance – or else wildly vacillating between the two positions.
Challenged on the film's violence, Winding Refn said: "Well, art is an act of violence. It is about penetration, about speaking to our subconscious and our moods at different levels."
He added: "I don't consider myself a very violent man … but I have surely a fetish for violent emotions and images and I just can't explain where it comes from. But I do believe it's a way to exorcise various things. Let's not forget that humans were created very violent: our body parts are created for violence, it is our instinctual need to survive. But over the years we no longer need violence but we still have an urge from when we are born – which itself can be an act of violence."
Set in a Thai underground world of fight clubs, prostitutes and seedy American crooks, it is a visual feast, with little dialogue and the Wagner-influenced score taking a prominent role – more in harmony with the director's earlier, more recherché work than the commercial hit that was Drive.
It stars Ryan Gosling as owner of a Bangkok boxing club, and Scott Thomas as his mother. She is a peroxided Clytemnestra of a character – trashy, American and emphatically nothing like the cut-glass-accented aristocrats she is most famous for playing. She had given such roles a "kick in the teeth" with this part, she said.
At one point she is required to say a deeply offensive and misogynist phrase that Gosling told Winding Refn was "the worst thing you can say to a woman in America". She struggled with the line ("cum dumpster"). "It took me about eight takes to pronounce the words", she said. Asked by Winding Refn if she would repeat it there and then, she said, "No."
According to Winding Refn, Scott Thomas "had no problem turning on the bitch witch". She added: "It wasn't like I need to find a part that means I can break the terrible shell I have been trapped in: it wasn't like that at all. It was more organic than that. Every day we would get braver.
"When I first read the script I was excited about playing someone far away from the upper-class thing that English people seem to love seeing me in. As we got nearer it got more and more despicable."

Only God Forgives

Bangkok Dangerous: Nicolas Winding Refn on Only God Forgives


A superviolent and supremely strange Bangkok nocturne,Only God Forgives is Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to his Cannes award-winning pop culture sensation Drive. This film, sure to be nowhere near as popular, is a distinctly less accessible affair. One senses that the filmmaker, a born contrarian, takes a certain pleasure in this.
In both Thai and English, it meditates on a white man who trains child fighters and runs a family-operated drug ring with his brother. When said brother is dispatched via some brutal south Asian justice involving really sharp swords (after he is found to have rapped and killed a teenage prostitute), our Western family is torn between those that want to seek revenge and those that don’t. Featuring another taciturn performance from Ryan Gosling, a career-altering, Lady MacBethian turn by Kristin Scott Thomas and one of the more affecting (and effective) no name newcomer discoveries of recent memory in the form of Vithaya Pansringarm, who plays the local constable bent on foiling Thomas and Gosling’s mother-son revenge plot, the film is a candy-colored kaleidoscope, a mythic piece of near camp, a brutal new entry in Refn’s undeniably fascinating filmography.
The 42-year-old Refn, who was raised between Copenhagen and New York City, cut his teeth making low-budget crime thrillers in his native Denmark. For over a decade, he was most notable for his Pusher trilogy, the first of which was recently remade in English. He gained increased international notoriety with his 2008 biopic Bronson and 2009 medieval Norse action flickValhalla Rising, but it wasn’t until the international success of 2011′s Drive that he was vaulted into the top tier of international auteurs. Only God Forgives bowed at this year’s Cannes to great derision and controversy. It opens Stateside via RADiUS-TWC today.
Nicolas Winding Refn
Nicolas Winding Refn
Filmmaker: Despite the rape and murder and general sense of violent excess that one finds throughout this picture, I actually found it quite funny, almost campy. Did you think it was important for the film to have some levity?
Refn: I think the film needed comedic moments. I wanted moments of humor because that would only underscore all the other fetish qualities the film would have. If Drive was like cocaine, I wanted this film to be like acid. Good taste is the enemy of great art.
Filmmaker: When you talk about being a fetish filmmaker, what exactly is one supposed to find in this film that links it to the others and your own predilections and predispositions?
Refn: It’s not like I have a list I want to check off of want I want to do or not do. I approach it like a fetish because if I don’t, I would spend too much time thinking about whether something was the right thing to do or not. I saw the whole thing like a pin-up magazine. Every frame has its specific function. It’s only when you have flipped through the whole movie, or the whole magazine, that all pieces will add up. I have to ask myself, what would arouse me? It’s almost like taking off your clothes in front of an audience and indulging in your deepest desires despite the consequences. It’s a great creative outlet. To me, filmmaking is not about the result, it’s about the process. Finding ways to make that process purely an act of expression and not a consequential thought process and a series of reactions.
Filmmaker: What drew you to Bangkok initially?
Refn: Thailand is a very popular spot to vacation for Scandinavians. The first time we went to Thailand it was my wife and I. We went to Bangkok and really liked the city. We went back with our children. We experienced the whole beach world of Thailand. It was fantastic. We started coming regularly, every year, and we always made a point to stay over in Bangkok for two different reasons. My wife had one reason and I had another reason. I began to become interested in what it would be like to make a movie there. So I think the initial spark was what would it be like making a film in Bangkok.
Filmmaker: Fairy tales and myths have always been an important source of inspiration for you. Were they this time around?
Refn: It’s a combination of many things. It has a very different language than Drive. Part of it was to make a crime drama in this very different part of the world that was a bit of a haven, and yet Westerners are living in exile. They’ll never be part of Thailand for real and yet they cannot leave Thailand. The idea of strangers in a strange land is very dramatic. Surroundings are foreign to you and yet you live within it. So the idea of a crime family and the head of the crime family being a woman. I think especially as Americans this is sort of a taboo or an unusual idea.
Then I had this idea of including a fight gym in this. One night in Scotland I was bored and I started looking at my clinched fist. I thought, “God this is a classic image from a fight movie.” All it is really is just the consequential symbol of male masculinity and male sexuality. When I opened my fist, my palm, it was like the ultimate submission. I thought that was an interesting trick. Then this idea of a mythological figure within Bangkok, a classic sheriff, almost as if I was making a Western, where there are people causing trouble in the city and the sheriff has to restore order. I really wanted him to come out of Thai mythology, however. I was going to shoot the entire movie by night, and by night Bangkok becomes this very mysterious, mystical landscape. It was pure Thai in its aesthetic and its mindset. The spiritual world and the world of reality coexist. It’s very intoxicating. So it’s the combination of all of those elements, that was the movie becoming what it was.
Filmmaker: When we chatted about Drive a few years back, you spoke about going to L.A. and wanting to have a classic Hollywood director’s experience. So you got a house in the Hollywood Hills, you took meetings and gave notes in offices on studio lots, you actively sought to live a myth of what L.A. filmmaking is all about. Was there a way in which the experience of going and making a film in Thailand offered a similar emersion in a exotic kind of working style being a European director?
Refn: I think the idea of doing Drive as a pure, romanticized L.A. thing — coming to Los Angeles, living in the Hollywood Hills, working on movies, being a foreigner, making the kinds of films you make within the dream factory — it’s a fairy tale itself. In Bangkok, the idea of making a supernatural movie from an Asian point of view was intoxicating. I felt like a stranger in a strange land making the film. I had to remove all of my Westernized logic and sense of law to understand and experience a completely different mindset.
In the end, when we came to Bangkok, my daughter, youngest of four, can see ghosts. We knew ever since she was born. We came to Bangkok when she was two. Once you realize your children have this ability to see ghosts, it’s really something. In Bangkok, we were living in a haunted apartment. She’d wake me up four or five times every night pointing at the walls screaming, “No!” Something was trying to communicate with her. It was very annoying, very tiring. In the end, I had to call the production manager and be like, “There’s a ghost in the apartment. What can we do?” And she, accepting that experience, coming over with a shaman, quenching the apartment, realizing that their were spirits here, it wasn’t a dangerous spirit but it was very annoying to my daughter because it kept trying to communicate with her. It had latched onto us since we’d gotten to Bangkok. For us, it was truly a contest. At the same time, realizing the acceptance within that culture of the spiritual realm right alongside the acceptance of the iPhone and the Internet, both at equal levels was what the movie had to become.
I wanted to create a tableau of a mother-and-son relationship. The need to confront his mother manifests itself through a third person who is one part supernatural force and one part real. A bit like my own experience with my daughter’s abilities. Accepting that there are two levels of reality.
Filmmaker: What about Ryan Gosling’s silent visage are you particularly drawn to? You get these remarkably evocative performance out of him that are nearly wordless.
Refn: He has this incredible ability to say a thousand words without dialogue. That’s such a good canvas to work with. For this film, the whole design of a man being chained to the rule of his mother, it’s almost as if his mother has put a spell on him, so he’s like a sleepwalker. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, that sort of thing, the mythology of the sleepwalker, caught between worlds, the desire for his mother and the repulsive attitude toward his mother. He hates her, he loves her, he wants to have sex with her, he’s repulsed by her. It’s a very primal attitude between all men and their mothers, whether we like it or not.
Filmmaker: Kristin Scott Thomas had never done anything remotely like this. What gave you the impression that she could do it?
Refn: Because of my budget, I had to clear any celebrity casting. I had no one originally in mind. We were looking for anyone who had all the aspects the character needed. In the end the casting director suggested we try KST. I was like, “Yeah, might as well,” so I sent the script to her and she responded by wanting to read it and talk about it and then we met in Paris. I had a certain perception of her, of what kind of actress she is going in which is still there. Yet in the course of out dinner I realized that she’d have no problem going where I needed her to go. So after dinner we sort of agreed that we should go on this journey together. She made a big point to suggest that if she were going to do this, she would want to transform herself into something completely different.
What’s great about an actress like KST is she has the ability and the craftsmanship to go anywhere at any given time so we spent a lot of time in prep making the character organic and designing her. Once we started, she was like in complete Crystal mode. A lot of that for an actress involves this physical transformation and that’s why it was so important for her to completely transform every part of her body for this character whether it was the tanning of her skin, to her nails, to her hair, to her makeup, her wardrobe, that’s how they really transform. The dragon had revealed itself. - filmmakermagazine.com/


The director of Drive and Only God Forgives talks about making art on your own terms and the inspiring films of . . . Michael Bay?

“There were many cheers. There were many boos. It’s no difference to me,” Nicolas Winding Refn says while sitting next to his composer, Cliff Martinez, in a back booth at Midnight Cowboy in Austin. It’s a Friday afternoon, and the filmmaker is in town to promote Only God Forgives, his follow-up to the 2011 surprise hit Drive. The reason he’s in Austin to talk about the movie is because it’s been selected as part of the “Drafthouse Recommends” program that the Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse theater chain started this summer to generate positive word-of-mouth about movies that the chain’s management thinks deserve the extra attention--and Only God Forgives could certainly use some good word-of-mouth after its Cannes premiere made international headlines for being booed at its first screening.

So Refn is playing it cool, explaining that the boos meant nothing to him, that he wore them like a badge of honor, that he knew he wasn’t making another Drive, and anyone who expected he was is the one who’s confused here.
Although that film, which also starred Ryan Gosling as a taciturn, violent man who walks a thin line between dreamlike unreality and brutal hyperreality, didn’t necessarily win over all audiences either. While many rated Drive the best film of 2011, famously, one woman filed a lawsuitagainst the movie theater that sold her the ticket for “having very little driving in the motion picture.” All of which leads to an interesting question for Refn: If you’ve been sued by your audience and booed by your critics, and you’re still out there making movies, you’ve already experienced the worst case scenario for most filmmakers. And once you’ve lived through the worst, are you free to do whatever you want?
It’s an idea that seems to appeal to Refn. He talks about the creative freedom that comes with making art without a concern for pleasing his audience in rapturous terms. “I’ve lived on the border of financial destruction for the last 20 years, because the sheer joy of doing something your way is--you can’t define it,” he says. “It’s like heroin.”
Here are some of the creative lessons that Refn has learned as a result of his willingness to make divisive art.


Refn may appreciate the rush he gets from fully indulging in his creative freedom, but that doesn’t mean that the Danish director doesn’t have feelings. Even when he talks about the boos he received at Cannes, he’s quick to point out that there were others in the crowd--like, presumably,The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw, who gave the film a 5-star review immediately following the festival--who cheered at the end.
“Every time that you express something, you have to prepare yourself for critique,” Refn says. “It’s not like critique is a nice thing to get. We all don’t want to be yelled at for doing something wrong. But you begin to look athow people are critiquing, and it becomes interesting. So when people are violently reacting to an experience that you have given them at the same time that people are praising or loving it for the exact same thing--that’s when you know you have done something right.”
Most artists are sensitive by nature, and sensitive people are inclined to hear the voices of their critics much more clearly than the voices of the people who praise them. For Refn, the key is to hear both the people who love you and the people who hate you as a combined sound that signifies artistic validation. “It makes them think,” he says. “It makes them react. Art was not made to satisfy the masses in any way, and it never has.”


“When you make something that’s extremely successfully financially, or with an audience, there’s the expectation that now you’ve got to do that again,” Refn says. But as the type of artist who uses the term the masses to describe an audience, he’s not inclined to find that even remotely interesting. “That puts you in a prison, because you can’t do that again. You can do a version of it; you can imitate it; you can do similar things, which can be terrific and very satisfying in a way, but I just don’t respond to that.”
When Refn looks to controversial art for inspiration, there are a few names he keeps in mind--he refers to David Lynch as David--but he seems most proud when he talks about Lou Reed’s controversial album Metal Machine Music, which the Rolling Stone Record Guide described in 1979 as “a two-disc set consisting of nothing more than ear-wrecking electronic sludge, guaranteed to clear any room of humans in record time.”
“We talk a little bit about the Lou Reed album Transformer, and then his next album, Metal Machine Music,” Refn says. “I think every film I make is the Metal Machine, because every time I’ve made a film, people have always said, Why didn’t you do what you did the last time?”


A few minutes after explaining that art shouldn’t cater to the masses’ demands, Refn says, “I do believe art is for the masses, for sure.” He also talks about other heroes he has as a filmmaker--and when he’s pressed on whether David Lynch tops that list, he veers sharply in the other direction.
“I’m a huge Michael Bay fan,” Refn declares, perhaps in jest, perhaps not. “I think The Rock is a really well-conceived film. I think technically, it’s incredibly inspiring. Those Transformers movies are just incredible. I have a lot of respect for Michael Bay.”
It’s not exactly what you’d expect to hear from a guy whose latest film takes one of the most handsome actors in the world and puts his bruised, beaten, puffy face on its poster--but declaring your affection for a similarly critically reviled icon of the mainstream is also kind of a counterculture move. At the very least, part of following your own muse is being as willing to disappoint your high-art fans as you are those who came to see you at the multiplex. So how does Refn really feel about the big Hollywood blockbuster?
“I would love one day to make a Michael Bay movie,” he says. “That would be a lot of fun.”


Drive was a critical and financial hit. Refn’s previous film, Valhalla Rising,grossed just $30,000 in the United States, which made Drive’s $77 million something of a lightning-in-a-bottle moment. But Refn had no expectations for that film’s success, which allows him to keep those expectations in check for Only God Forgives. “Drive was never devised as anything but my next movie,” he says. “Things just become different from day to day. It frees yourself from the expectation of what you did, so now when you make a new film, it’s a blank slate.”
Ultimately, for Refn, the key to creative freedom is simply chasing his own interests and passions wherever they take him--and if that results in making a film that’s hated by as many critics as love it, that’s a trade-off he’s willing to make. “There is a great satisfaction in people cheering and booing at the same time,” he says finally. “Then you know that you are the Sex Pistols.”

Nicolas Winding Refn Talks ONLY GOD FORGIVES, Confirms Horror/Thriller I WALK WITH THE DEAD As His Next Film; Contemplating Tokyo Setting


We were all big, big fans of director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive here at Collider last year, so it’s with eager eyes that we’ve been watching Refn’s follow-up, Only God Forgives, unfold. The film stars Ryan Gosling as a man who’s been living in exile in Bangkok for the past ten years after killing a cop. He manages a Thai boxing club as a front for a drugs operation and finds himself in hot water after his brother is killed for murdering a prostitute. The boys’ mother arrives in Bangkok to collect her son’s body and instructs Gosling to take revenge and “raise hell.”
Refn recently spoke a bit about the making of the film and even touched on his next project, a horror movie/sex thriller called I Walk with the Dead starring Carey Mulligan. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.
ryan-gosling-only-god-forgivesSpeaking at length with the French outletLiberation (translated by the trusty The Playlist), Refn addressed the casting change that occurred when Luke Evans dropped out of the lead role and elaborated on the tone he’s set for the pic:
“From the beginning, I had the idea of a thriller produced as a western, all in the Far East, and with a modern cowboy hero. I was lucky, Ryan Gosling has accepted the role when Luke Evans withdrew. He preferred to star Peter Jackson‘s The Hobbit…Luke Evans’ agent has probably done him a great service.”
Refn also talked about his filming process, saying that he shoots largely in chronological order and prefers to shoot on the fly rather than rely on storyboards:
“I hate the idea that the film is over before we started shooting… I spent whole nights finding places in Bangkok. Especially in Chinatown, where most of the film unfolds. We saw dozens of nightclubs, each more kitsch than each other, the walls covered with carved paneling, thick velvet, with flowers in colored plastic gueulardes, erotic statues or classic gold…they give me ideas for scenes.”
Nicolas-Winding-Refn-Drive-movie-imageFinally, the director confirmed that I Walk with the Dead will be his next film, and he’s already secured financing. He describes it as a horror movie and says, “We’ll turn to Los Angeles or Tokyo.” Personally I’m hoping Refn takes on a Tokyo setting for his next flick; I love the idea of infusing Refn’s style into a new location for each film. Not much is known about the plot, but Refn previously said the project came about because he always wanted to “make a movie with lots of sex.” So, expect lots of horror-infused uglies bumpin’ I guess. He’ll reunite with his Drive cohort Carey Mulligan on the flick, but no production start date has been set.
Given that he’s still shooting Only God Forgives, it may be late this year or early 2013 before cameras start rolling. After that, hopefully he and Gosling will get moving on that Logan’s Runremake. If there’s something I want to see more than a Refn crime thriller in Bankok, it’s a Refn sci-fi movie.



Only God Forgives, as A.D. Jameson’s excellent 25-Point Post claims, is a great pleasure to watch and to think and talk about. And in this post (which owes much to A.D’s) I want to talk a bit about how the movie deals and centers in Xenophobia, Racism and, by far most interestingly and vitally, Sexism.
The movie’s extreme Xenophobia and Racism are quite obvious and need little explanation outside of how they reinforce the more interesting and varied Sexism that controls and overwhelms this great movie.
The extreme Sexism that the movie traffics in and wields about quite beautifully and, to some extent, flagrantly, is, indeed, something of a complicated beast. And looking at a large slice of the female side of the coin of this movie one might believe that women are its soul, its dream, its ghostly pleasure-force and feel reassured that such captivating and transfiguring elements are able to maintain a kind of independent and alternative sort of power.

But, this would be wrong, because in its decisive moments and passages, the female’s mysterious and seemingly impenetrable masturbatory pleasure and dream-stage-lushness is turned and co-opted, by the male-God force of the movie, into sheer, show-stopping violence. (and, in fact, some of the dreamy staged females are men. How many? Half? Who knows?)
The most obvious “fight” or “war” staged in Only God Forgives is that of the sexes personified through Chang, Godlike Thai local, and Crystal, Julian’s Godlike, avenging monstrous mother. And this “fight” creates some tension, for a while, shaping up into a decent sort of contest–but after the botched hit (on Chang) Crystal admits that she has lost and all that’s left for her to do, really, is stand up against the window glass and take it in the throat.
Only God Forgives Krystal
a decent foil
Crystal—a real monster, caricatured, nasty, smart, powerful, unlikable and disgusting—is a decent foil for Chang, Thai Godlike Hero, and makes a splashy impact on us, the audience, by humiliating her son (like the hotel reception “girl”), and creeping us out with the way she touches him—insinuating quite unnatural abominations. And Julian,  (the character one might expect to be the hero) is really just, as AD Jameson says, “a momma’s boy” who can’t measure up against the irresistible local God (Chang). He’s just in the movie I think to underscore a kind of Western weakness that submits, ultimately, to the Thai hero. (and of course he’s played by Ryan Gosling).
All the foreigners (Westerners) in this movie are bad/weak/evil. They are corrupting the local culture with their drugs, and abusing and sometimes killing the local women. And they need to be (and are) punished. When Julian surrenders to his destiny, the failed Westerner, it makes for a neat and inevitable ending. Like shoelaces being tied.
degenerates (from “Midnight Express”)
The less obvious but more interesting and crucial “fight” or “war” in this movie, though, involves what seems like solid female territory. Territory that the female seems to dominate, carving out and laying claim to a vital sort of rival energy, separate and inviolate, to the male violence. And this other fight that I’m talking about here takes place in the arena of “performance.” In fact the battle doesn’t just take place in the arena of “performance” it is a battle for “performance.” A battle for the shows of the movie.
The show of Mai masturbating, privately for Julian, and then, staged, in front of a live audience behind just a glow-beaded curtain; the lavish show and set in which the most savage and discomforting violence takes place (“the most harrowing scene in the film,” to use A.D. Jameson’s language), a dreamy, lush oasis: an alternate world in which the stars are the women. And the movie gains real tension and much of its power by way of these shows, these sorts of dreamy and trippy, masturbation-worlds which pretend and almost attain a kind of ghostly, ethereal and undefeated soul (of the movie) revolving around and centered in Mai, Julian’s paid love interest.
One might (and should) argue that these stages, these “sets,” are run and masterminded by men. But, then, again, one could retort that the soul of these stages, these sets, is still the women, the area between Mai’s legs, the look on Mai’s transfigured, blurred face (and more, in Mai, herself) and that this “soul” is able to float about vital and uncorrupted by the movie’s savage male forces.
only god forgives, mai, etc
completely male
And that would be nice. Yes, it would be nice to claim vagina dentata power for the female (per A.D. Jameson, again, here) but the blade is Chang’s and Mai just kind of fades out (they could have been more cruel about this, but that would have been a mistake) and the lush, incredible set where the harrowing torture scene takes place is filled with hidden knives that Chang can simply tiptoe among and pluck out quite whimsically, almost comically, and completely insidiously. The female landscapes and soul of the movie are, basically, just a harbor for male weaponry placed there and reclaimed as needed.
At the end of the day the performance and dream soul world of the movie doesn’t just get used by men it centers in and is constituted of and by men. The first time we see Chang singing on stage in front of his henchmen it’s kind of weird, creepy, discomfiting, but when this happens near the movie’s end it is a coronation and consummation, a post-coital sort of glow, stamp, seal and assertion (coitus here as the preceding ultra violence).
Our Godlike, Thai male, Chang, doesn’t just take over the female performance stages for his carefully choreographed shows of violence he also, in the aftermath, becomes a tender (and extremely creepy) singer performing to his rapt, transfixed henchmen. It is a total male victory. And it is extremely disturbing.
only god forvies time to meet the devil
the end