Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 169: Trainspotting

Ranking on IMDb Top 250: #155
Year: 1996
Director: Danny Boyle
Starring: Ewan McGregor and Jonny Lee Miller

Even though I didn't take too much away from this film, it still rocked my worldview in a few ways. Notably, I've made it no secret my distaste for Darren Aronofsky's film Requiem for a Dream. More to the point, I found it so unpleasant to watch that I couldn't rightly judge it as a movie. It portrayed drug culture in a way that horrified me enough to never want to watch it again, and to never want to sympathize with the drug-related problems of drug users in my own life at all. Perhaps that wasn't the reaction Aronofsky hoped to get, but it was the one he got. Fast forward to two nights ago when I watched Danny Boyle's Trainspotting for the first time. It portrayed a bunch of heroin addicts getting in fights and going through withdrawals, but somehow it seemed so fun. I then realized that I felt pretty much the same way about Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. So it's not that I hate drug culture; it's that I hate degenerate drug addicts. People who are generally fun or funny on drugs, I have no problem with. Or at least, my taste in movies would dictate that. I've not yet fully come to terms with that, but at any rate, I found Trainspotting to be an enjoyable movie that, despite portraying withdrawal and relapse in a very negative light, never once made me truly uncomfortable.

The cast for the film is the first thing that has to be mentioned when reasoning out why it's so good. Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle play a group of four heroin-addicted mates in 1990s Edinburgh brilliantly, and it's easy to believe that they really all spent time together on the set cracking jokes and shooting smack. Their chemistry is impeccable and scarcely bested by any ensemble casts that I'm familiar with. Kudos, gents. The editing, soundtrack and the script also go a long way toward the fun vibe of the film. Boyle uses quick cuts to make things feel edgy and hip, the Tarantino-esque use of popular songs in lieu of an orchestral score during big moments does the same, and the screenplay has just the right mix of impenetrable Scottish slang and cool '90s swagger to be perfectly effective. Danny Boyle would go on to make so many films that have nothing to do with this that it's odd it even exists, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

As to being Top 250-worthy...nah, dude. As I become increasingly disillusioned with IMDb voters (I saw Stagecoach this weekend as well, and it's not in the Top 250, which boggles the mind and then some), I'm pretty aware of the hipness of Trainspotting blinding a bunch of people into giving it a perfect rating and upping it into the list. It doesn't deserve it. It's fun to watch, but it's not that great. I'm not trying to act like I'm immune to cool or anything, but there's gotta be more to it than that. For the same reason that I'm not blown away by Pulp Fiction, I'm not blown away by Trainspotting. Sorry, I liked it, but nah.

The Good: How much more fun it makes heroin look than it should.

The Bad: The cult of cool that surrounds it.

The Skinny: I'd not have it on the list, but I liked watching it.

1 comment:

  1. Is it top250 worthy? IMO, it is top100 worthy. It is extremely funny, with great and memorable conversations and thoughts from the guys (mostly the lead), and in the end it makes more sense and tells more about the nature of humans then most of the "serious" movies.
    You seem to be pissed about Stagecoach not being on the list. Well I haven't seen it, but I have seen Ford's Searchers, which is pretty much known as one of the best westerns of all time. It was decent, but maybe I don't get the full beauty of it because, honestly, I would watch Trainspotting over Searchers any day of the week, and it leaves me with more thoughts then many other movies.