For Your Consideration
Junk, skag, horse, smack, H, brown sugar, white lotus, yam yam, the Chinaman's night cap... After the chemical adventures of Fuckhead and co. in Jesus' Son, your choices for what we'll be screening on Tuesday 27 March are out of three films that also carry monkeys on their backs... Up for the vote are:
Drugstore Cowboy (Gus Van Sant, USA, 1989)
"The film takes us so deeply into this shabby, transient world that we feel its texture -- both its scary thrills and its bleak, fatalistic uncertainty." New York Times
Bob Hughes (Matt Dillon) is the leader of a "family" of drug addicts consisting of him, his wife, Dianne (Kelly Lynch), his best friend, Rick (James LeGros), and Rick's girlfriend Nadine (Heather Graham). They travel across the U.S. Pacific Northwest in 1971, supporting their drug habits by robbing pharmacies and hospitals and pushing their luck until it well and truly runs out. Based on the autobiographical novel by James Fogle, and featuring a fascinating cameo by William Burroughs as a junky priest, Drugstore Cowboy was Gus Van Sant's second feature and is brilliant example of 80s American indie filmmaking while carrying the authentic whiff of 70s New Hollywood.
The Man With The Golden Arm (Otto Preminger, USA, 1956)
"A gripping, fascinating film, expertly produced and directed and performed with marked conviction by Frank Sinatra as the drug slave." Variety
Frankie Machine (Frank Sinatra) is a skilled card dealer and one-time heroin addict serving time for his trangressions. When he returns home from jail he struggles to find a new livelihood and to avoid slipping back into addiction. Based on Nelson Algen's novel of the same name, The Man With The Golden Arm was the first Hollywood film to take a frank and sympthatetic look at the plight of the drug addict and initially struggled find a certificate. It went on to be nominated for 3 Oscars and is now considered a classic - if a little dated - example of the genre.
Panic In Needle Park (Jerry Schatzberg, USA, 1971)
"A brilliantly performed, remarkably un-exploitative (and occasionally funny) portrayal of the ravages of drug addiction, shot with searing documentary-style realism from Schatzberg." Film 4
Bobby (Al Pacino) is a young heroin addict and small-time hustler who hangs out in "Needle Park" (then-nickname for Sherman Square on Manhattan's Upper West Side near 72nd Street and Broadway) where he meets and falls in love with Helen (Kitty Winn). After introducing Helen to heroin their relationship develops complications... Shot entirely on location, with a screenplay co-written by Joan Diddion and featuring a young Al Pacino in his first staring role (attracting the attention of Francis Ford Coppola in the process), Panic in Needle Park is as raw and gritty a piece of 70s filmmaking as you'd expect.