With the current wave of popularity of decent Danish drama on our TV screens, here's a trio of Danish films that started out fifteen years ago.
Imagine downtown L.A, or New York's sleaziest side streets and you're only halfway to Nicolas Winding Refn's inky black slant on dope dealers and their petty lives down Copenhagen's dark alleys.
We get to know their sweary, calloused lives as the camera sits next to them in stolen BMWs and Volvos and follows them round like a bad smell. Because this seems semi documentary, we almost get to like them but as they mess up, they mess up good.
Each film concentrates on a particular character whilst the core remains roughly the same, so there's continuity, yet freshness. The Dogme style shooting (all "natural" - not much is actual daylight, though) is one up from those grainy, shaky cams that makes one seasick. The camera darts and weaves but is fluid and restful when it needs to be, allowing us to literally stand there in the basement, nightclub, crack-den, brothel, whatever it might be.
You find yourself telling the character on screen what an idiot he's being - you don't necessarily like him but somehow you feel 'involved', almost responsible for his irresponsible life. They're never glamourised but the story always seems real, very possible, yet still, as with anyone stuffing themselves with their own product, it's unpredictable - and yes, at times, downright bloody funny.
I originally saw the first two on Film 4 years ago and so now, with this trilogy have caught up the final one, as well as refreshed myself with the others.
I was a bit surprised that Pusher 2 & 3 shared a disc whilst the original had one to itself. That second disc runs to over three hours but it's neatly menued so you can easily play one or the other. Quality doesn't seem to suffer either.
Yes, it's subtitled but following them and the often frenzied action gets the brain buzzing and you get sort of high as the films throws you about like a rag doll. A quick word of warning - those of a sensitive, or narrow-minded nature should keep well away; all three films have very angry teeth, with graphic violence, drug taking, liberal swearing and no holds barred sex and nudity, the scenes of which, by the way, due to the overall grottiness of the environments, are far from erotic.