Wednesday, September 29, 2010
dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
It's been a disheartening cinematic week for me. I regrettably kicked things off the other morning by having my nose rubbed in someone else's poop by Michael Haneke's The Seventh Continent (1989), a film I've seen 3 times now. Directed by a guy who I might kind of hate but have an unreasonable amount of artistic respect for, I'm still having difficulty getting behind that one. Peep it yourself and I'm sure you'll understand the basis for my disavowal. Just make sure you're in a fairly positive emotional place. One that you don't mind being rudely commanded to leave by a manipulative Austrian asshole cinematic scientist. And then just yesterday I had a big French fart laid directly in my face by Alain Resnais's obnoxiously quirky and pointlessly confounding Wild Grass (2009). There wasn't a single frame throughout that entire film where I almost forgot that I was watching A FRENCH FILM directed by A FRENCH DUDE who was "masterfully playing with the art form." For the record, fuck "playing." Especially when it's just one old dude in a sandbox pissing all over his own plastic shovels and laughing to himself while everybody else just stands around and scratches their heads like whhhaaaaaaa. So thank fuck for Nicolas Winding Refn, an unstoppable Danish juggernaut of a director, who single-handedly saved my week with this balls-out portrait of one mid-level drug dealer and fulltime fuck-up in a perpetually dreary Copenhagen. Refn is a bit of a beast, as should be obvious to anyone whose seen this year's borderline-surrealist biopic Bronson or gloriously violent parable Valhalla Rising. The Pusher trilogy, and this first entry in particular, are how the dude initially made a name for himself. Refn made this film on a baby budget just after being denied entry into Danish film school, using only handheld cameras and an odd mix of professional actors, amateur friends and genuine street people. The result is an extremely naturalistic portrait of one man's struggle with his own steamrolling incompetence, a surprising feat of sympathetic character study that has you feeling genuinely bad for this guy despite the fact that he's kind of a piece of shit, not unlike Kim Ki-duk's mad underrated Bad Guy (2002), but with less blatant misogyny and much more thinly-veiled homoeroticism. This is no-holds-barred filmmaking in the most blunt and thus cliched sense of the phrase, but there is the undeniable presence throughout the proceedings of a young and passionate creative mind that is in complete control of the chaos that we witness unfolding. And the dude uses music in his films with the exact amount of aesthetic precision and ostensibly random genius that you hope you would use it in your films, if you made films. Nothing washes the mental palette clean of joyless scolding or pretentious poppycock quite like a well-done and undeniably unique gangster flick. Peep this one, then peep the sequels.
In other news, my final semester of school meanders on and the weather is gradually shifting into some chilly-ass bullshit. So hook yourself up with some Salem on your ipod and maybe that new reissue of the Chromatics' "Night Drive," spread some shrooms on a peanut butter sandwich and prepare yourself for a 3 month rainstorm.... of the mind.