6 Oct 2013: Pusher II: With Blood on My Hands (DVD, 2004, Nicolas Winding Refn)
More technically proficient than the first in the series (or at least more technologically advanced – crisper image quality, etc.), this sequel follows most of the original’s visual motifs of color (lots of rich red) and camera movement (relatively steady handheld swivel pans within continuous shots to follow the action) and amps up its disdain for and humiliation of every one of its characters. Tonny, the lug that carries the story, played ably by Mads Mikkelsen, is an unlucky idiot without skill or wisdom or even the love or sympathy of his father, who bumbles and stumbles through situations in which he underperforms, fails outright, or encounters some great betrayal, disappointment or tragedy. Like the later films Police, Adjective and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, this one drives at showing how what is normally glamorized and endlessly stimulating in the movies is really something very different, but unlike those two, which emphasize the mundane, the confusing and the futile, Pusher II is more of a negative image of Hollywood crime dramas, where there’s just as much action and dynamism but toward a completely opposite end, the execration rather than the exaltation of its inept and degraded players. Many films have already done this, however, albeit to varying degrees, from Goodfellas to Trainspotting to Snatch to Killing Zoe, and just because this film represents one of the highest degrees, that doesn’t really give it much more to say than any of the others.