PUSHER by NICOLAS WINDING REFN
LONG: 2213 Wds
Been hearing good things about this Danish auteur for quite a while, time to bite. He did the acclaimed American movie “Drive” of course, but I wanna wait on that one. Plus I like Denmark/Danes/ the language. Maybe them being so close to Germany is how they get that real guttural “r” sound that sounds more like a “w”, like in the director’s last name. “Wefn”. Plus they like putting letters like f and n together which “should not” be put next to each other. Intradasting.
Wasn’t sure what to expect out of Refn. There was a VERY GOOD documentary in the bonus of this Pusher disc called “GAMBLER”, (outstanding, arguably better than the actual movie!) which showed a review describing him as “The Danish Scorsese” which seems pretty accurate from view Pusher. It wasn’t too artsy, but it was just artsy enough. He really captured the tone well and added just enough humor. Gritty scumbag drug dealers is all it is. Nothing Fancy, but very fun, very entertaining. Not a high-minded premise, but fleshed out very nicely, very honestly. He knows exactly what he wants to do, and he succeeds in doing it. Dunno if I was expecting von Trieryness just because they’re both Danish, but Refn was way less artsy, way more…Scorseseish. Apparently Refn and LVT do not get along with each other.
The view connects readily with all of the characters, the acting is top-notch, especially from the main character Frank. Really a good job there. Not a slow or boring moment. Refn clearly has a Gift For Storytelling. One of the most memorable movies I’ve seen in months, as far as establishing an Auteur and his Style in my mind. I’d been on a serious Aki Kaurismaki kick, but I think I need something more Danish and less Finnish now, hahahaha. I tried to get into Fassbender but he hasn’t stuck in the same way Refn seems to be sticking. I need ADD entertainment, and Refn delivers this in an Intelligent Film Buff way, without being too artsy or Pointy-Headed. I’m gonna come right out and give Pusher an “A”, even though “A-” might be more appropriate over the long-term. I did front-load my queue with a bunch of Refnz. Except for “Drive,” hahaha.
And about the doc “Gambler”: It was not made BY Refn, although it seemed to be his style; it was 100% ABOUT him and gave a very intimate view of his life, that was not all phony and fake like a reality tv show. You really got to know and like and understand the subject. Refn, or “Jang” as his friends call him, not sure what that means. But it’s a serious look at Refn’s Rise, Fall, and Rise Again, and gives an interesting look at Making Movies in Denmark. Apparently the State doesn’t give you Million$ to make big-budget filmz willy-nilly; there is a signif amount of personal risk, and this is embodied by Refn “The Gambler”, who went BANKRUPT making his Tryhard Movie “Fear X” after initial success with Pusher. Success and Failure. Plus he’s got a new baby at home. And a Wife. See the young Family dealing with Real Financial Problemz. Working with Banksterz, Attorneyz, and Accountants to get out of bankruptcy and pay back the 5 million danish kroner he owes to…I’m not sure to whom he owes it.
I was unaware of any of this, and did not know Pusher 1 was in 1996 and Pusher 2 was in 2005ish and Pusher 3 was a scant 4 MONTHS or so after p2. See, Pusher2 and 3 were part of his Plan to get out of bankruptcy. So there’s the internal conflict of, he doesn’t want to touch what made him famous just to Make Money, because he has Actual Auterish Integrity, but he HAS to make money, so he’s very concerned about making a GOOD sequel. A Main Motif/”joke” is, he’s popping alka-seltzers ALL THE TIME because he’s so stressed. I have no idea how you can Be Creative and Write a GOOD Movie when you’re under this much pressure. He’s worried, but he Pulls Through, he doesn’t fall apart, his True Believerhood in The Power Of Movies gets him through.
I’m not sure it would work this way in Hollywitz, where he wouldn’t bounce back from his initial commercial failure, and just get gobbled up by Bloodsuckerz, and become another Failed Filmmaker.
It was a decent length, at least an hour, when I was expecting a 20-30 minute “making of,” but no, this was a full-blown documentary, and a very-surprisingly good one at that. Made me even more interested in / sympathetic to Refn. Do NOT skip it.
He has Cannibal Holocaust and Texas Chainsaw Massacre posters in his Nice Danish Apartment, but he is not so much of a Myopic Horror Nut where Horror is his Main Thing. Indeed, Scorsese and Cassavetes seem to be even bigger influences. Capturing Really Real Reality, but not in a Reality TV way, or not in an Artsy way, or not in a Documentary way, but in his own way, and convincing the audience that This Is Reality. I have been Convinced Refn is the Real Deal, and worthy of the hype.
I hope his wife does not Take Him To The Cleaners now that he’s successful again and making money. But According to Wiki they have had a second child. I really liked the Home Life aspect of “Gambler”, that he was a “normal” guy with a wife and child (the child is much more important than the wife, OBVIOUSLY!) and not some virgin neckbeard human lampshade sociopath. Not that it takes anything above AVERAGE Social Skillz to Pull’N’Pound Pvssy, but some Film Types have Way-Below-Average Social Skills and couldn’t Pull Pvssy if their LIVES depended on it, and make up the Lowest Divisions of the Omega Hierarchy, like Comic Book Nerds and Computer Game Nerds and Otaku Nerdz. Not that I have anything particularly good to say about Refn’s WIFE, other than she hasn’t scammed’n’left him yet. But he is Really Cool right now. So Hot. But maybe he has a private reason to Trust Her, and for his sake, I hope he’s right about that. I certainly have no reason to trust her!
PUSHER 2: WITH BLOOD ON MY HANDS by NICOLAS WINDING REFN
I liked it. Good sequel. Didn’t live in the shadow of the first. A-, maybe even A for consistency, in which case, #3 def gets an A, because that one is no worse than 2 or 1. This is not how Hollywitz makes sequels. Refn is exactly what Hollywitz needs. A guy with integrity, a True Believer in the Power of Film, who Goes His Own Way and makes Good, Solid Movies. Even when he’s trying to “milk a cash cow”, in this case, making more Pusher movies because he was desperate and bankrupt, he ended up making two great movies and rising like a phoenix such that right now he’s at the peak of his career.
P2 follows Tonny from Pusher 1. Didn’t know how this was gonna play out. IMHO it worked great. Each Pusher film follows one of the “side” characters from Pusher 1 rather than trying to make a “full-blown sequel” of events tacked onto P1. ALTHOUGH Frank from p1 was great and could have carried another Pusher film, although there’s talk of a Pusher 4, and given the trajectory, I wouldn’t mind it one bit!
If LVT and Kubrick are “Story” guys, then Refn is DEF a “CHARACTER” guy (although LVT has been a Character guy at some points, ie Dancer, Breaking, Dogville, ok a lot of the time haha.) ALL THREE of the main chars in p1 are very strong, thus when Tonny and Milo break off into their own movies, we get two more strong movies.
PUSHER 3: I’M THE ANGEL OF DEATH by NICOLAS WINDING REFN
But I think I may have liked P3 a LITTLE better than P2 because: it was a bit darker, especially over the second half; AND I identify more with Slavs, even Southern/Balkan Slavs, than with Danes, even Trashy Gangster Danes. Just slightly. Reading KMac’s Preface to Culture of Critique avail on Cesar’s Appendix to Downfall of Western World where KMac argues that White Europeans have more individualism and less ingroup/outgroup distinction than more collectivist asian and middle eastern (You Know Who!) races. Meaning Whites are more race-blind, more accomodating, nicer, more trusting, etc. And Refn’s Denmark is a VERY “Multicultural” one. Another thing I liked. The subtext is that Immigrants Bring Crime and Drugs and Divide and Conquer Danes, and the Trashier Danes get involved with the Criminal Underworld, which is what Refn portrays exclusively in the Pusher Trilogy. Kinda “funny” to see White Vikings acting like Jersey Shore Douchebags, violent, stupid, sweatpants and stupid tattoos, years in prison, drug abuse, in P2 there is Welfare Mamas and Babies suckling off the teat of the generous Scandinavian Welfare State, and we ultimately see a society that doesn’t seem “Scandinavian” at all. Lots of Mixing with Balkans, Turks, Arabs, Albanians even! Albanians! This was in P3 and I quite liked that, because I’m obsessed with Albanians.
The guy who plays Milo, Zlatko Buric, is I THINK orig from Croatia; but his character Milo might have been intended to be Serbian or Macedonian. Not sure how different the Serbian and Croatian languages are, I thought they were pretty close. Pusher 3 has really very little spoken Danish in it, except, Ironically, when the Criminal Immigrants are trying often unsuccessfully to communicate with one another. The Serb Milo presumably speaks the best Danish (hard for me to tell, hahaha, in fact, I imagine The Average American Idiot wouldn’t even be able to TELL they’re constantly switching languages, haha), the “Pretty Boy” Albanian doesn’t, has to have the somewhat less pretty albanian translate; Milo speaks Serb or Croatian with his huge family and they are always kissing each other 3 times on the cheek; There’s even a POLISH guy in there trying to sell a young Polish woman to a maybe-Danish female pimp, all brought together by the Albanian scumbags.
Milo gets sucked into serving the Albanian Scumbags out of sense of honor to protecting his family, but ironically has to miss an important family event to be the Albanians’ B!tch, serving them in Milo’s own Serbian Crime Club. (Maybe he is Croatian because I thought Serbs and Albanians hated each other so much re the Kosovo thing, you can’t even have an Albanian and a Serb in the same room together without trying to kill each other.)
Milo has a musical, deep, booming voice which is a pleasure to listen to; and where he was more “villainous” in P1 in that he was the Ethnic Scumbag lording over the Danish Ne’er-Do-Well, at times being the Supernice Friend, but he had a Dark Side and was more than willing to electrocute Frank’s Nipples with Milo’s Co-Ethnic Brute Radovan – who also reappears in P3 in a great side role. Anyway, in P3, Milo is now the Good Guy who’s just trying to do the Right thing (despite being a huge heroin dealer), but he keeps getting screwed. He is 17 years older and looks it, a middle-aged Single Father trying to provide for his Daughter, who is a Huge Spoiled B!tch by the way. He’s still that Friendly Warm guy capable of godawful torture and violence, only now he’s older and more worried, very worried, and you see more of his own drug-using habit. Really fleshed out the Milo Character in a great way.
Indeed, it’s Milo’s sense of Honor (MRA’s might call it Foolish Chivalry and White-Knighting, even) that pushes him over the point of no return, and then the movie takes on its ultra-dark tone.
And Refn looks like a typical Lily-White Scandinavian, but has a nice Boyish Charm that makes him look younger than he is. Watch the extras. Yet he is not afraid to paint a picture of Multiculturalism that is not all Roses. Although I doubt he is even a Race Realist, hahaha. He’s just a “Naturalistic” filmmaker, hahaha. And he’s made a series of 3 films here that Are What Sequels Should Be, no going through the motions, every one fresh, good, unique, memorable, yet enough common ground to tie them in together: the characters, the stylized opening sequences with that catchy fun song and the shadowy faces, the Crime Underworld in Copenhagen, the Multicultis, etc.
I prob shoulda talked more about P2, but I just watched P3 last night hahaha. But P2 was nothing to sneeze at, no chopped liver, it was a fun and good movie too. But Zlatko’s performance in P3 really bowled me over. Refn has a Gift for making Great, Complex Characters, and finding the perfect actors to play them.
Watch any one of the Pushers, it’s better than what your Wimminz will pick for Movie Night. Use “Drive” if you have to with that pvssy f4gg0t b!tch Ryan Gosling who All Wimminz want to TIUTA from, and say it’s from the guy who made “Drive” before he sold out, hahaha.
I look forward to watching “Fear X” (at home right now!) and “Valhalla Rising.” And that other one about the british criminal with tom hardy (“Bronson”) ? Refn keeps busy!