Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands
(Nicolas Winding Refn, Denmark, 98 mins.)
I wasn't a big fan of Pusher, which I caught at SIFF '98, but nor was I a detractor.
I dig Refn's highly-saturated style (those glowing reds!), which is bolstered by
jolts of loud techno-metal. It reminds me of Gaspar Noe or David Lynch, circa
Lost Highway, but the Denmark he depicts is so reprehensible, I can't fully
embrace this trilogy (especially the stomach-churning final film).
I don't care that the main characters are thugs and addicts. They're also racist, misogynist, and every other "ist" you'd care to name. In Pusher II, Tonny (Mads Mikkelsen, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself) and Kurt the Cunt-who lives up to his
name-refer to those of Middle Eastern descent as "sand niggers." Worse yet,
the women in their world are nagging harridans. They whine, they hoover up the cocaine, they whine some more. Then again, that also describes the men!
So, I didn't go in with the highest of expectations, but I'll be damned if Refn
didn't win me over. Yet again. Granted, Pusher II takes awhile to get cooking,
but everything comes together at the end, and Mikkelsen manages to make
his loser just likable enough that I was willing to go wherever he took me. I
knew it was going to be a pretty dark place, and that it was.
Like the Oscar-winning Tsotsi, which also concerns a hood and a baby, the
character-let alone the movie-just wouldn't work as well with another actor. Incidentally, the film is dedicated to Hubert Selby, Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn),
but there's a lot of Dickens in there, too-although it took me awhile to see
that what with the dizzying degree of coke-snorting on display.
Pacific Place: 5/26 at 9:15pm and 5/29 at 1:30pm.
Note: Mikkelsen stars in the upcoming Bond, Casino Royale. In Pusher II,
he's a tattooed cue ball, but in real-life...well, there's a reason he's considered
one of Denmark's best looking men-those cheekbones could cut glass!