A Private War
Crazy Rich Asians
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All Critics (3)
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| DVD (1)
This is a stilted, dreary film -- and pretty derivative.
A bleak, poignant and comical slice-of-life drama about working stiffs who can't relate to women, are immature and stuck in deadend jobs.
Bleeder is a tense, riveting drama with a great story, memorable cast and is an engrossing film from start to finish. Refn is a great filmmaker, and he proved that with Pusher, which was his debut feature, and he follows that up with this picture, which I would personally describe as a decent into madness. Brilliantly shot, Refn has a strong sense of style that makes his films unique, and with Bleeder, he delivers a picture that has a simple, yet effective storyline as less is more, and Refn, uses that approach to filmmaking quite well in order to make truly standout films. Some may find his work polarizing, and with good reason, but for fans of Pusher, this is a brilliant second feature that solidifies his talents as a filmmaker, and with a great cast at his disposal, he delivers an astounding picture that breaks new ground in terms of filmmaking. I thoroughly enjoy filmmakers that tend to use simple ideas, concept to tell a good story through their camera lens, and Nicolas Winding Refn is a filmmaker that uses that to an extent that makes his films truly standout. Bleeder, like I stated before is a fine follow up to Pusher, and he uses the bare miniu8m to tell a great story. What ends up on-screen is a highly captivating drama that is bold, atmospheric, tense, and exceptionally well acted and directed. Bleeder is a terrific film, a film that is thoroughly engaging, and it's a work of a director who can craft a stunning, compelling and ultimately memorable drama. Bleeder is not a perfect film, and it's Nicolas Winding Refn finest film either, but it definitely is a skillfully crafted picture from a wonderful filmmaker who can tell truly engaging and entertaining stories.
It's time for Nicolas Winding Refn to make his big return to Cocainehagen, only this time, there's no cocaine, you know, because if "Pusher" wasn't boring enough, the exciting world of hard drugs are out of the picture, you know, after Winding Refn thought to make another one of these meditative art dramas about hardly anything. Meanwhile, in another seedy part of Copenhagen! Sorry, Bill Woodson, but this film about "friends", or rather, frenemies, is far from super, even though it is a fair bit better than "Pusher", yet if you're going to watch "Pusher" and this film back-to-back, then you just have to exclaim during the transition, because this film is too much like Winding Refn's first "thriller", only decent. Let me tell you, the cast comprising of many of the same performers from "Pusher" doesn't help, even if "Pusher" was so forgettable that the people in it slip my mind (With the exception of Mads Mikkelson, seeing as how he's awesome and whatnot), and you know what, this film's title even makes the separation more difficult. First it was "Pusher", and for his follow-up, Winding Refn presented "Bleeder", so don't tell me that Winding Refn's early art films weren't so meditative because they weren't creative enough to come up with material to follow, because not even his titles were all that creative. I mean, "Pusher" was actually about drug pushers, and the folks in this film certainly bleed and whatnot, but I don't know, I don't get what's gripping about this film's title, although I don't get what's gripping about "Pusher". This film, however, does a better job of holding my investment, and yet, with that said, it's got its share of problems.
The film really isn't all that conventional, and may even be a little more refreshing than "Pusher", - whose experimental structure was supposed to be more offbeat - yet there is still that occasional lapse into familiarity, which naturally calls your attention to the likely outcomes of the sizable array of story layers, as well as to the natural limitations to this subject matter. In spite of juggling a multitude of subplots and layers, the scope to this film is kind of minimalist, and the subject matter certainly has only so much meat on its dramatic bones, carrying a considerable sense of consequence, but only so much bite when you take out of account an even more attribute to the story concept: the experimental plot structuring. Now, the film's meditative, naturalist storytelling is not as intense as that of "Pusher", and that may very well be what saves the film, which is brought to the brink of mediocrity largely on the back of the intentionally meandering plotting, which soaks up too much filler as it makes an attempt to reinforce a sense of realism that just ends up distancing more than anything. The film gets to be unfocused, just like it wants to, and yet, even on its own questionable level, the pacing of this film gets to be a bit too limp at times, with way too much excess filler, and even a good deal of excess material, both of which further thin out what focus there is, often into repetition, maybe even monotony. The film drags itself a lot on paper, and in execution, the problems continue, because even though Nicolas Winding Refn, as director, is less reliant on the intense atmosphere that didn't have enough material to soak up in the non-thrilling thriller that was the generally near-tedious "Pusher", and is more thoughtful with his interpretation of a slice-of-life story concept, it's only a matter of time before all of the meditativeness loses its grip, resulting in dryness that really does dull things down. Dullness has ruined some of Winding Refn's more notable films, and it almost ruins this effort, for although there's enough inspiration to the final product to get it by, much of the same unfocused and unevenly paced storytelling that drove "Pusher" into mediocrity poses a serious threat to this follow-up's decency. Still, make no mistake, the decency that was lost on "Pusher" is, in fact, recovered with this film, which is also a mess, but one that remains controlled enough to hold your attention, or at least catch your eye.
It's difficult to get information regarding this film's budget, but I doubt the effort cost all that much, and that's reflected within the improvability of the camera quality, made all the more aggravating by some overly shaky moments to the realist shooting style, which, on the whole, is effective enough to compensate for many cinematographic shortcomings by drawing you into this environment, often with stylish camera tricks that augment the aesthetic engagement value of the final product, not unlike the score. While the film has many a quiet moment, its being more reliant on music actually plays a relatively sizable role in raising the final product well above the quiet and cold "Pusher", for although Peter Peter's score, backed by some tonally complimentary other soundtrack bits, gets to be kind of sentimental, its heart and atmosphere helps liven up a style that is more inviting than the harsher style of "Pusher", or at least seems to, seeing as how it's really sold by a decidedly more inviting directorial performance by Nicolas Winding Refn. Winding Refn has not abandoned meditative storytelling, which ruined "Pusher" and even threatens this film, with distancing dullness, but on the whole, there's more inspiration to the deliberate telling of this tale, which soaks up moments of tension, bridged by a dramatic heart that endears, and shines some light on the potential to this story concept. While this film's story concept is too minimalist for its own good, and is all too often interpreted in an unfocused manner, the layers are perhaps more organic than those of "Pusher", and the characters certainly feel more grounded in this exploration of a Danish working class environment which juggles elements of crime, evolving rocky relationships, budding relationships, and so on and so forth. The film is perhaps not as layered as I make it sound, but it does have more to say than your usual naturalist meditation, and Winding Refn sells much of the material, even as writer, offering clever dialogue, and even some sharp comic relief, all while providing well-rounded characterization that brings life to the characters who drive this drama, who are done more justice by their portrayals. Acting material is limited in this slice-of-life drama that is about as interested in people doing nothing as it is interested in intense challenges for its talented cast, but most everyone is charismatic, and bonded with his or her peers through sharp chemistry, until heavier material comes into play and allows the cast to stretch out dramatic layers that truly compel at times. There's not really a whole lot to praise here, and enough to complain about for the final product to fall to the brink of mediocrity, but that dreaded low is never reached, for there is ultimately enough inspiration on and off of the screen for the drama to keep you going, even if it can't consistently sustain your investment.
Once all of the blood has run dry, the final product is solidified at the brink of mediocrity, to which it is carried by some conventionalism and minimalism to its story concept, and a considerable deal of unevenness to pacing, made all the more glaring by atmospheric dry spells whose dullness really challenges your investment, but not enough to where decent cinematography and score work, highlights in the telling of an intriguing and layered story, and strong performances weren't enough to make Nicolas Winding Refn's "Bleeder" an endearing meditative drama, in spite of a good deal of shortcomings.
2.5/5 - Fair
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