Thursday, November 10, 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies about Addiction

I'm back. And I have no excuse. I just don't care much about Halloween or horror movies. The month of October hangs on the gauntlet my beloved Tennessee Vols run through. That's scary enough for me. (We lost three-in-a-row by the way.)

Anyway, too many beers on football Saturdays is perhaps my addiction, something I really shouldn't even joke about. But as the child of an addict, I think sometimes keeping it light helps. It's all Meth and Oxycontin where I live. Devil drugs. Killers. Of families. Of lives.

As for the criteria today..I'm going dark and I'm going alcohol/drugs because that's what I know about addiction. I want movies that are truly "about" addiction.

So, it's Thursday as part of Wandering through the Shelves Thursday Movie Picks. Movies about Addiction...

I will start with acknowledging the All-Time Winner of this category, Mike Figgis' 1995 drama Leaving Las Vegas. No movie about addiction is more powerful or more true to its bleakest side. I've used it before, so it is now retired.

Here are my picks:

Requiem for a Dream
dir. Darren Aronofsky, 2000

This movie will most likely be all over the place today. Rightly so. It is one of the best horrors ever put to screen. The horror being addiction (in several forms). This is a movie where you feel ill at the end. I did. Brilliant look. Brilliant score.

Candy
dir. Neil Armfield, 2006

I have to be totally honest. Back in 2006, I was watching movie trailers online and stumbled upon this one. It featured the Rodriguez song "Sugar Man." I was drawn to it. I thought, well, it's based on a novel. I read it. Solid. Dark. Real. I caught the movie. Sort of typical to the subject matter elevated by the greatness of Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, and Geoffrey Rush.

Flight
dir. Robert Zemeckis, 2012

Was anyone else absolutely blindsided by this flick in 2012? I had literally no idea I was walking into a movie about addiction. I was fully wrecked by it. Denzel Washington as his absolute best as an airline pilot of immense skill, who, after avoiding a near tragedy, saving the lives of many, falls into the tragedy of his own life, one of severe alcoholism and cocaine addiction, one where he fails to be a hero even to his own son (a sentiment that touches so close to home).

Bonus

Winter's Bone
dir. Debra Granik, 2010

I add Winter's Bone here because it is the truest depiction of where I live ever to come near Hollywood. This film could've been shot a mile from my house. In fact, I can take my iPhone right now, drive for 5 minutes and show you this, exactly this. Poor teenage girls, angry girls, hopeless girls, dirty, caring for their younger siblings, mothers strung out on Meth or pills, out of work, drug-peddling fathers nowhere to be round. I teach these girls. I know them. It weighs heavy on my heart.

Please help. Donate to ASAP (Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention) of Anderson County, Tennessee, where I'm from. Or donate to a similar charity close to you. Our government doesn't (andp probably can't) do enough.


20 comments:

  1. I love that you went with Candy, I wish I would've thought of that myself. Beautifully tragic movie. Requiem I almost used, that film is so hard to watch.

    I feel like the only person that didn't love Winter's Bone. It felt so slow and I could barely understand anything Jennifer Lawrence was saying, she mumbled so damn much. I feel like I probably owe it a watch again though.

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    1. Thanks. Both tough watches.

      I think Lawrence is amazing in Winter's Bone. Like perfect. Thatmovie is a perfect depiction of the rural South. It's amazing actually.

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  2. I haven't seen any of these, although I've heard of all of them except Candy. They all look really good.

    I've wanted to watch Requiem for a Dream, but I know it would be so emotional & heart-wrenching.

    I forgot about Flight… I need to watch that film.

    I own Winter's Bone… but I haven't watched it yet. I hope to watch it soon.

    My only pick for this week is Trainspotting. It's one of those films (for me) that you can't watch more than once.

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    1. But also, I'm sorry to hear about your family suffering with addiction. It's sad that there isn't enough help for addiction in this country. It's a real shame.

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    2. Thanks, buddy.

      And Trainspotting is a fine pick. One of the essential addiction movies.

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  3. Great call with Flight! The script was a bit uneven but Washington's performance was spectacular

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    1. Thanks! I sort of dug the unexpected shiftiness of the script myself. It really made it work for me, especially since I went expecting one thing and getting so many others, so much more.

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  4. Glad to see you back in the Thursday game!

    Good picks for a downbeat theme, wish we were doing comfort movies this week considering the huge blow we received on Tuesday. Wish I could say I loved any of these but they're too grim for that.

    So let's talk performances since all these films, despairing though they may be, each contain brilliant pieces of work. I hated Requiem utterly but was still blown away by Ellen Burstyn's master class in acting. I'm not a Denzel fan and I found the middle of Flight a slog but he was brilliant in the aerial sequences. Winter's Bone is by far the best that I've ever seen Jennifer Lawrence be. I remember walking out of the theatre knowing I'd seen a new and important talent, since it she's been good to excellent but she's never blown me away in the same manner yet. Candy is the only one that doesn't contain a showpiece performance for me, they were all very strong, though I don't get the Abbie Cornish fandom, but I struggled through the movie and was relieved when the credits rolled.

    Since this is such a heavy theme I cast about for something to start with that while it handled the theme allowed a certain enjoyment to creep in...in other words a trash wallow! And I found it with the added bonus that it starred one of my favorite actresses!! The other two are more in line with the more somber feeling however.

    A Rage to Live (1965)-Soap opera pure and simple based on a John O’Hara novel about a woman who in more enlightened times would have been viewed as a person with a crippling disorder, nymphomania, that would require treatment but for our purposes here is a wanton slut. The great Suzanne Pleshette’s character Grace Caldwell Tate is ruled by urges she cannot control and nothing she attempts, marriage, a child etc., can stop them. There are minor attempts at some insight into her problem but they are quickly tossed away in favor of sensationalism. Good supporting cast including Peter Graves and in a rare on screen role Brett Somers Klugman from Match Game. If you enjoy trashy cinema with quality actors enacting silly situations with earnest professionalism this is right up your alley.

    Drugstore Cowboy (1989)-A “family” of junkies consisting of two couples (Matt Dillon, Kelly Lynch, Heather Graham and James Le Gros) drift around the country subsisting and feeding their habit by robbing drug stores. They float along in a perpetual haze until a tragedy opens the eyes of the leader Bob (Dillon) and he determines to go straight. It’s a struggle and only gets more difficult when someone from his past shows up and tries to force him into scoring drugs. Gus Van Sant directed film is relentlessly downbeat with one of Dillon’s best performances.

    The Doors (1991)-The story of the rise and fall of the 60’s rock band and its infamous leader Jim Morrison whose freewheeling lifestyle and many addictions lead to much acrimony within the band as well as his early death in Paris. Val Kilmer is terrific as The Lizard King, Meg Ryan less so as his wild child wife.

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    1. Thanks, man! Busy times....

      I have seen Drugstore Cowboy, but it's been awhile. I remember really being impressed with the performances. The Doors is a really cool pick here. Never would've thought of it myself. Jim Morrison was totally a tragic figure, a dangerous addict, who obviously never found anything in his art that could save him.

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  5. GREAT picks this week, Kevin! I loved Flight even though it isn't GREAT. Denzel is magnificent and he was very close to my personal Best Actor pick that year (in a terrific year for that category). James Badge Dale is also great as a one scene wonder, as is John Goodman.

    Requiem for a Dream is too harrowing of an experience for me to ever watch again, but I think it's completely brilliant, with career-best work (or near it) from everyone involved. I will follow Aronofsky to the ends of the earth largely because of it.

    Winter's Bone really is incredible. I knew a few people who lived in similar situations in the more rural areas of CT and upstate NY, too, although not quite as bleak as that. I agree with Joel that it's far and away the best Jennifer Lawrence has ever been - but it's also by far the best role she's had. I keep waiting for her to another role this worthy of her talents.

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    1. Thanks! Denzel is great in Flight to be sure. And Goodman? Brilliant.

      Same for me on Requiem. I am one who finds the praise Jennifer Lawrence has received from her work with David O. Russell to be warranted. She is so alive in those characters. I love her...in everything. Sorry, but not sorry.

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    2. Oh don't get me wrong, I LOVE her work with David O. Russell. It's just that I think her role in Winter's Bone asked a lot more of her than those roles did, and her work in the film is far more natural than she's been in anything else. But she is pure scene-stealing entertainment in American Hustle, a force of nature in Silver Linings Playbook, and she holds together Joy through sheer force of will.

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  6. Haven't seen Candy. The others are all fantastic picks. I forget Winter's Bone deals with addiction, too. Great call, there.

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    1. Thanks, man. Winter's Bone is more the after effects of addiction but it is the reason for the story.

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  7. Great picks - but haven't seen Flight. That's really heartbreaking about Winters Bone. I'm yet to see the whole film but I've seen parts. It is heartbreaking that this is happening.

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    1. Thanks. Flight is well worth a watch for Denzel alone. Winter's Bone is so effective because it is so true. There are girls living lives like that very close to where I live. It is devastating.

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  8. So sorry to hear that you came from a family suffering from addictions. My hubby came from an abusive drunken father and it is hard to come to terms with. I have not seen Candy or Requiem but I have seen Flight which I thought was great and Denzel was stellar in it. I have also seen Winter's Bone and it is very sad yet it shows so much strength in the character Lawrence portrays.

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    1. Oh, yeah. It runs rampant in my family. I've managed to avoid it in my own life. Thanks so much.

      I recommend Candy and Requiem. Both tough watches though, especially Requiem.

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  9. Glad to see you back! And I'm sorry to hear about your family. I haven't seen any of these, but Candy sounds appealing. Great call on your bonus pick, Winter's Bone is really heartbreaking.

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    1. Thanks! No problem. I really appreciate it.

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