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Images courtesy of Magnolia Pictures
Nicholas Winding Refn, 2009
Fri, Jan 8, 2010
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"It will knock you for a loop. Brilliant. Electrifying. Amazing stuff."—Rolling Stone

"A Clockwork Orange for the 21st century."—Zoo

In 1974, a misguided 19-year-old named Michael Peterson decided he wanted to make a name for himself and so, with a homemade sawn-off shotgun and a head full of dreams he attempted to rob a post office. Swiftly apprehended and originally sentenced to 7 years in jail, Peterson has subsequently been behind bars for 34 years, 30 of which have been spent in solitary confinement. Bronson follows the metamorphosis of Mickey Peterson into Britain’s most dangerous prisoner, Charles Bronson (a name borrowed from the action film star). But although this intelligent, provocative, and darkly comedic film is based on a true story, it's hardly a straightforward portrait of an imprisoned criminal.

Instead, filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn (a "Danish daredevil auteur," according to Time Out New York, known for his Pusher trilogy) takes a cheeky and stylized approach. In some scenes Bronson appears dressed in tux and make-up as if ready to perform in a music hall. Other equally bizarre vignettes show the strange rituals of his prison life or monologues dressed to the audience. Throughout the film, Bronson's pursuit of notoriety is bolstered by an astonishingly eclectic soundtrack that veers from Puccini to New Order to the Walker Brothers.

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