Absence and Addiction

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Yeah, I haven’t written a blog at all this month. Let’s change that.

First issue to address, I haven’t blogged because I’ve been writing. Sometimes I find that I’ll spend way too much time on facebook or twitter of wordpress trying to the whole social networking thing, connecting with people, setting up nodes and shifting paradigms and all that sort of stuff. I often find that I spend too much time doing that and not enough time doing what I really want to be doing, and that’s writing. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve still been checking in with facebook and twitter a lot, but I’ve been trying to force myself into at least writing something in between doing things. Over the past couple of weeks I wrote a 17,000 word story in mostly short bursts. And I’m really happy with that. And now that I’m done, maybe I can get back to doing a few more frequent blogs, read some more, try to get a few more reviews up on here, on goodreads, and on amazon.

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’d like to talk about a couple of movies I’ve watched recently: Requiem for a Dream, and Trainspotting. Two films, both about people struggling with drug addiction, one American, one British. Both are fantastic films that I really probably should have watched years ago.

I’ll start with Trainspotting, because it’s a nicer film. It’s not so… soul destroying as Requiem.

It’s a constant struggle, Renton keeps on coming back to the same shit, promising he’ll be clean after one more hit, one more hit, one more hit. It’s rough, but those scottish guys are tough bastards. And while they’re pushed to the limits, their friendship tested, their world turned upside down, there’s always some faint glimpse of hope. Just like there’s two sides to their addiction, the highs and the lows, there’s the chance for redemption. It’s a really well made film, and the characters are relatable, they’re easy to sympathise with. It’s easy to hate on drug addicts in films, so it’s good to see something that humanises them and gives them a name and a face and a character and draws you into their world. On the other side, it’s not like they’re condoning this sort of lifestyle either. It’s ugly, it’s violent, it’s cruel. One thing I really enjoyed about this film was that when the main characters got royally fucked over by life, they got up again, and got up again, and got up again. And in the end, you believe there is hope for some of them, and that, while Renton has gone back to using drugs a number of times throughout the film, he just might have kicked the habit for good this time around.

Requiem for a Dream is a real descent into madness. It reminds me of stuff like A Clockwork Orange and American Psycho, with the portrayal of sex, drugs, and violence. And the camerawork and editing reminds me of Fight Club and the films of Edgar Wright in terms of the use of rapid cut editing, that shaky camera effect and shit. The film is beautifully put together, and the chaotic montages really add to the paranoia and terror of the film. It starts with stealing a tv to get some cash, and then it gets to dealing drugs to keep up the addiction. They plan on doing things with their lives but they get stuck in a loop and they get sucked deeper and they become increasingly more desparate. Unlike Trainspotting, Requiem is all on the downhill. Only more addiction.  Harry’s mother becomes addicted to diet pills. In this film, there are no winners. You spend an hour and a half hoping something good happens to the main protagonists, but it just gets worse. Darren Aronofsky spares no sympathy for these characters. It’s not a pretty film. There’s no upside to the addiction, only the characters’ delusions that more will bring them happiness. Their delusion clouds their judgements. They cheat their friends and family and make promises to each other and themselves that fall through. This is pretty much a “worst case scenario” sort of thing. And the ending of this film just doesn’t hold anything back.

I’m not really preachy one way or another about drugs, but I really enjoyed these films, both about heroin addiction. Probably because the characters were fascinating and the plot was solid. That, and great camerawork and music meant they were really well made films no matter what they were about. The fact that they weren’t letting preachiness or aesthetics get in the way of a good story just made me love them more. I love films that aren’t afraid to spiral out of control or show the ugly/fucked up side of life. And tonight I’m going to watch the Beach for the first time in a long time. Nothing like a bit of paradise gone to the shithouse.

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