It’s the rare crime film that balances the vicarious thrill of rampant illegality with the real-world desperation of broken souls who are nearly always one wrong move away from a wretched end. Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Pusher trilogy — showing this weekend at the American Cinematheque over two days — are such movies, character-overlapping slash-and-burners about underworld types who discover the pitfalls of vulnerability in their profession when it’s least advantageous. [Read more…]
The beggar on the New York subway has a body truncated at the waist and he rolls on a cart, chanting “I have no legs!” in a singsong as he passes. Just for a moment, he attracts the notice of Telly (Leo Fitzpatrick) and Casper (Justin Pierce), who look young and healthy but are actually much more damaged than this legless man.
As Larry Clark’s Kids (1995) so harrowingly demonstrates, these two are part of a spiritually dead teen-age culture built on aimlessness, casual cruelty and empty pleasure. Mr. Clark’s vision of these characters is so bleak and legitimately shocking that it makes almost any other portrait of American adolescence look like the picture of Dorian Gray.