Pusher (1996)

Directed By: Nicolas Winding Refn

Screenplay By: Jens Dahl & Nicolas Winding Refn

Cinematography By: Morten Søborg

Starring: Kim Bodnia & Mads Mikkelsen

Runtime: 110 minutes

Refn’s first feature film is no disappointment. This movie is intense, really really intense. You know shit has to go sour and then it does and boy is it rough. It’s like being in a nightmare you can’t wake up from.

Refn keeps amazing me. This isn’t like his later films, he’s clearly got more money to play with now but in Pusher he understands his limitations and uses them to his advantage. It’s an extremely impressive film. It also proves Refn has always been obsessed with the mob and mob mentality. And Refn’s mob isn’t Scorsese’s New York mafia, but low level grimy mobs, hidden mobs. The LA mob in Drive, The Bangkok mob in Only God Forgives, but it all started in Pusher with the grungy Copenhagen mob of Denmark.

Watch this movie cause it’s really fucking good. Also it’s cool to see a young Mads Mikkelsen who is exceptional as Tonny.

God Bless America

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Rosewater (2014)

Directed By – Jon Stewart

Screenplay By – Jon Stewart

Based on the Book by – Maziar Bahari & Aimee Molloy

Cinematography By – Bobby Bukowski

Starring Gael García Bernal, Kim Bodnia & Shohreh Aghdashloo

103 min.

Given how insightful Jon Stewart is on The Daily Show, I was expecting something more than the usual American made Middle-East movie from the first time director.  However, my optimism appears to have been misplaced as even someone as smart as Stewart clearly had a hard time in his directorial debut.

Rosewater isn’t as much of a poor showing of directing as it is a poor choice in story. The true story of the solitary confinement of reporter Maziar Bahari is interesting in terms of it’s relation to Stewart and The Daily Show, but the movie comes off as Stewart’s one-note apology to Bahari for getting him into the situation through Bahari’s cooperation during a Daily Show interview. Rosewater isn’t even that long of a movie but comes in forty minutes too long. It’s not a bad movie per se, but it doesn’t add anything to the conversation of the Middle East, it merely reinforces our notions of the corruption that plagues Middle East governments.

Rosewater is interesting for two reasons. One, how a man gets taken prisoner for being interviewed by The Daily Show. Two, because the man who runs The Daily Show decided to turn that story into a movie. Otherwise we have seen this take on the Middle East countless of times.

Stewart shows promise and I think he is a brilliant man who deserves to make movies if he wants, but hopefully next time he chooses a more interesting story with more things to say.

God Bless America