I became a huge fan of Nicolas Winding Refn a little over a decade ago. For about two years I went to film school at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, and one of the excellent classes I took while there was a basic Film 1000 course. What we did was, on Monday there would be a film viewing in the auditorium with our professor, Dr. Jim Leach; he’d setup the film with an introduction, themes and the like, then we’d watch it through. Wednesday there was another class, about an hour and fifteen minutes, where the professor would do a whole lecture on the themes of the film we watched, following which there’d be discussion and he would pick out specific scenes, shots, et cetera, in order to illustrate whatever he happened to be lecturing on that week. Then on Friday we’d have seminars with about 10-11 people and a T.A using the textbook mostly as reference for our smaller discussion there (the professor wrote one of the books we used along with another author; Understanding Movies by Jim Leach & Louis Giannetti, now in its 5th or 6th edition at this point).
Long story short, in one of my seminars, the T.A I had – a very nice woman for whom I wrote my first actually SOLID essay, on Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs and the philosophy you can draw out of the screenplay (I know – such a first year film student thing to do, pick Tarantino…) – she introduced me to the film Pusher from Nicolas Winding Refn. Knowing I was starting to enjoy foreign films, mostly due in part to the fact our professor played many subtitled films in our class, she recommended I watch Refn’s gritty little crime movie about the underbelly of Copenhagen; after doing a nice job on my Tarantino essay, she figured I ought to see some crime movies from other countries.
Vastly different in style and tone, Refn’s film – and following films – have given me a rush, as well as hope in terms of becoming a filmmaker/screenwriter (something I’ll be moving forward on in the spring of 2017 when a director friend will be shooting a screenplay of mine called New Woman).
The low budget feel and look of the Pusher trilogy are incredible, plus they involve the audience in the world of Denmark drug pushers, gangsters, and general lowlifes. It’s a wonderful, immersive experience watching these films, and what I love is that the tone and atmosphere of each film is the same, however, each of the three films is focused specifically on a different character of the Copenhagen underworld. Very cool. Needless to say, I went on to love everything Refn has done; honestly each film is great, to me. Others have their feelings, which is fine. To me, Refn feels like one of those few filmmakers around today still working with old school artistic sensibilities, willing to lay it all out, guts on the table, everything on the line in order to see THEIR VISION realized onscreen. He is most certainly an auteur, whether or not you personally enjoy him is another story.
Just click on each of the pictures (listed in order as Pusher, Pusher II: With Blood On My Hands, Pusher III: I Am the Angel of Death) and you’ll find a review for each of the films. Enjoy, and if you’ve got sensible/reasonable comments to discuss with me, drop them into the comments on either of the reviews! As long as you can discuss or debate in a civil manner, I’d love to hear whatever your views are on Refn and his films. If you just want to be rude and say he’s a bad director without offering any insight, or insult my reviews, how about just fuck off? Thank you, kindly.
Update: I’ve now included other films by Refn that I get reviewed. Check back for more.