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Ghosts, Pornographic Cock Talk, Bitch Switches & Art & Violence As Penetration: Highlights From The ‘Only God Forgives’ Cannes Press Conference

Photo of Rodrigo Perez By Rodrigo Perez | The Playlist May 22, 2013 at 11:10AM

“Only God Forgives,” Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest collaboration with Ryan Gosling just let out in Cannes this morning and the conversations on Twitter are heated and polarizing. There’s either love or loathing in the air and not a lot in between. Many are remarking that it’s similar in tone to Refn and Gosling’s last team-up in “Drive.” This stands to reason as Gosling himself told us earlier in the year, “It's very extreme. It's part of the same dream as ‘Drive,’ but it's more of a nightmare than a dream... So that's what happens when you let Nicolas loose in Thailand. There's no one around to put the reins on and he's completely unleashed.”
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Only God Forgives, Refn, KST
The worst thing you can call a woman? A “cum dumpster.”
Like Kristen Scott Thomas said, the cast and director’s confidence soared so they became trying to push the envelope where ever they could. “Every day was like, ‘what can we say?’ ‘What’s worse?’ I remember asking Ryan, ‘what’s the worst thing you can call a woman in America?’” Refn recalled. “And he goes, ‘Oh, call her a cum dumpster.’ OK, alright, cum dumpster.”

“I couldn’t say that word, it took me about eight takes to say it,” Thomas said and when asked by Refn if she could say it on the spot she demurred instead. 


"What’s the worst thing you can call a woman in America? ‘Oh, call her a cunt dumpster.’"

And there’s talk about the men’s cocks too.
Bromance bros Refn and Gosling shared an apartment in Bangkok during production and would discuss and pour over the dialogue before they shot. “Dialogue can actually hurt the poetry of a film because [this film is] supposed to be all about interpretation whereas dialogue is very logical,” Refn said. “Images and sound are very emotional, so it’s finding the balance of that language.”

“So we would sit around and go, ‘what would be interesting for a mother to humiliate her son?’ and we started talking about our cocks. And when two guys start talking about their cocks it becomes extremely masculine. But when you have your mother talking about it becomes extremely unmasculine. So were were like, “Ok, that’s going to work. KST, listen to this.’ ”

Violent movies are not Kristin Scott-Thomas’ favorite types of movies at all, but she loved Refn’s “Bronson”
“This kind of film is really not my thing,” she stressed. “Films where this kind of violence happens, I don’t enjoy watching them at all. What appealed to me was working with Nicolas. When I saw ‘Bronson’ before I met him and I thought it was just the most beautiful thing. And it was an incredibly moving film about some very violent acts, but there was something deeply emotional and troubling in it which appealed to me enormously. So when I read the screenplay, I was excited about playing someone different.”

Only God Forgives, Refn, KST

Asked whether she thought she was joining a man’s world, she said she didn’t think of it that way at all. “When you’re asked to do a film like this, you forget about how something’s hyper violent and disturbing, I really thought about how interesting it was going to work with him and to play this wild savage person, so I didn’t really think it was a boy’s thing or not. “

Justifying your violence
As you might have expected about a movie about revenge, dead brothers, an angel of death ex-policeman and a mother that wants you to smite all opponents, “Only God Forgives,” like “Drive” is violent and also contains moments of stylized violence. One of the reporters asked Refn why the movie was so violent and asked him to justify its existence in the movie.

“Oh god, sounds like my mother,” Refn half joked, half groaned. “Art is an act of violence, art is about penetration, it’s about speaking to our subconscious and our needs at different levels. It’s a hard question to answer because I don’t really think about what I do very much, I approach things very much like a pornographer: it’s about what arouses me. Certain things turn me on more than other stuff and I can’t suppress that need and that’s how it usually ends up like that.”

Only God Forgives Ryan Gosling Nicolas Winding Refn

“I don’t consider myself a very violent man, I would die if someone even looked at me [with] evil,” he further explained, “But I surely have a fetish for violent emotions and violent images and I just can’t explain where it comes from, but I do believe that through art, its a way to exorcise certain things in you and from a viewer, it’s the reverse. We must not forget that human beings when they were created were very violent... mostly based on our instinctual needs to survive, but over the years our physicality no longer needs violence, but we still have the urge when we’re born -- because that’s a violent act -- so we still have more of a mental and spiritual need for it that we exorcise when we watch [these images.]”

“This is probably the best way to answer this question my mother is going to ask me in a half an hour,” he quipped.

Refn loooves TV
Also, further evidence that Refn doesn’t need a therapist since he gets out all his obsessive yah yahs in press conferences it seems. Asked if he would ever consider moving to television -- the interviewer not aware he’s already doing so with a “Barbarella” show -- Refn was effusive in his love for the medium. "I'm a TV junkie," he said, "And I was a junkie ever since I was little. I love the size of them, I love to watch them. I love to touch them, I love the remote control, I love the power of the remote control,” he said.

Like Soderbergh said in Cannes and many other filmmakers have recently noted, Refn said TV is quickly eclipsing movies creatively and with its power to tell, long and deep stories. "Sometimes [TV] is much more satisfying than anything around you, “he said. “There are shows that I can obsessively watch for hours.

“Because of the way things are moving and the financing of films, television has become where a lot of [filmmakers] seek creativity in terms of challenges because it’s open up a whole new arena. The structure and storytelling of TV has evolved that you can now make 13 hour movies now a days. Episodic television is almost now part of the past.”

Refn also noted that Gaumont, the European financiers of “Only God Forgives,” approached him to remake “Barbarella” as a feature length film, but he was the one suggested doing it as a TV show. “That will be my first foray into television.”

The divisive “Only God Forgives” is the talk of Cannes at the moment and it comes out via Radius Films on July 19 in North America.

This article is related to: Only God Forgives, Nicolas Winding Refn, Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Cannes Film Festival

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