Tag Archive: drugs


UK Release Date: 15th November 2013

Stars: Ridley Scott (director), Michael Fassbender, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, John Leguizamo.

Plot: A lawyer finds himself in over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

Brad Pitt seems to really be getting back on the horse and making some really good films after a quiet few years of his career. With 12 Years a Slave (also starring Michael Fassbender) out at the height of Oscar season, this all star cast hits cinemas later this year.

As this serves only as a teaser trailer there is not a lot of the plot released within the minute that we see, but what we do see is very intriguing: what is the motorbike murder about? what exactly does Michael Fassbender do? where does Brad Pitt fit into all of this? And what is going on with Javier Bardem’s hair?

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Leonardo DiCaprio recently announced that he is to take a break from acting after he has been busy making three films in the last two years. While The Great Gatsby and The Wolf on Wall Street are yet to be released, Django Unchained is in cinemas now.

Since getting his break in the film world back in 1993 playing a mentally challenged teenager in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Leonardo DiCaprio has gone on to become one of the most consistent, most versatile and most sought after actors. DiCaprio is one of my favourite actors so I have compiled a list of his top five most iconic performances. And it was incredibly hard, there are some big performances and big films that miss out, but feel free to tell me what you think in the comments. Here goes…

 

5. Jack Dawson – Titanic

As much as I don’t like Titanic and I don’t buy into the whole audience love for it that comes with the film there is no doubting that Titanic was the film that made DiCaprio ‘king of the world’ and really launched him into the limelight. Playing the young and poor Jack Dawson made DiCaprio an international heart throb and opened so many doors for him, allowing him to take his career in any direction he liked. The success that Titanic became has made sure that nobody could ever forget DiCaprio.

4. Calvin Candie – Django Unchained

Django Unchained marks the first time that DiCaprio plays the villain, and what a fine villain he makes. Calvin Candie is one of the most unlikeable character’s in film; he has so many moral issues and just because of the time period of the film he’s a despicable human being. But DiCaprio plays him with such menace and intensity that you just want to see more and more of him. It’s one of DiCaprio’s most enthralling and guiltily enjoyable performances.

3. Jim Carroll – The Basketball Diaries

Believe it or not, DiCaprio did have a career before Titanic. In 1995, a film was made of Jim Carroll’s juvenile diaries chronicling his kaleidoscopic free-fall into the harrowing world of drug addiction. While there may be a few problems with the film (it’s not one of DiCaprio’s best) DiCaprio puts in a fantastic performance as the drug addicted teen and it is one that highlighted his acting talent very early on and it was plain to see he was made for stardom.

2. Howard Hughes – The Aviator

The Aviator is another biopic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and this one actually got him an Oscar nomination. DiCaprio shows Hughes’ rise to success in the field of aviation and film production and even more convincingly, brings us down with Hughes’ decline of mental health. It’s a wonderful film directed by Martin Scorsese and quite rightly got nominations over the board for the film as a whole and DiCaprio’s mesmerising performance.

1. Danny Archer – Blood Diamond

Another role that got DiCaprio nominated for an Oscar. This is one of his best performances and Blood Diamond is one of my favourite films that he has done. DiCaprio got critical acclaim for mastering the difficult South African accent and really puts in a flawless performance that shows his character develop from selfish smuggler to a hero. It’s a wonderful performance which is truly moving by the end of it, DiCaprio puts on a wonderful show.

So that’s my top greatest roles taken on by Leonardo DiCaprio. As you can see there are some brilliant movies that miss out: Gangs of New York, Catch Me If You Can, The Departed, Shutter Island and Inception. For me, all this does is make clear that DiCaprio is one of the greatest actors of his generation with a filmography to match!

Recently Trainspotting was voted top in a poll of best British films to be released under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

I think that this is a little bit of an injustice. Trainspotting is possibly the greatest British film released under any reign. Scratch that. Trainspotting is one of the greatest films EVER made in any language, any country, any genre. Trainspotting is as close to perfect as I have ever seen a film reach.

Released in 1996 to rave reviews from all angles Trainspotting tells the story of Renton, a guy deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene who tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends. After working together on Shallow Grave Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor teamed up to make an absolute classic based on Irvine Welsh’s novel.

Superstar director – Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle is one of Britain’s greatest directors and is one of my favourite directors working today. Christopher Nolan, the Coen brothers, Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino get the majority of attention and are perhaps the most famous of directors but Danny Boyle always has been and remains one of the best. Since Trainspotting he has churned out hit after hit including 28 Days Later, The Beach, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours and while all are very impressively filmed and are gorgeous to look at nothing quite touches all the senses in the same way that Trainspotting does.

Trainspotting introduced Ewan McGregor to the masses and he has gone on to have a very long and prestigious career in film. I am a fan of the Scot and his performance here as Renton is flawless. He gives possibly the best narration to a film ever (along with Ed Norton’s narration in Fight Club) but his presence on screen is fantastic; he really submerges himself deeply in the character’s life and his performance is both harrowing and hilarious at the same time. If McGregor is to be remembered for any film role, it should be this one.

One of the greatest friendships ever caught on film.

McGregor laid down the gauntlet for his fellow cast members to compete with and they picked it up and ran with it. Ewen Bremmer as the dimwitted and closest friend of Renton, Spud, gives a humorous turn while keeping in tune with the dark subject matter. Johnny Lee Miller has gone on to star in American television series’ such as Dexter but he will always be known as Sick Boy and Kevin McKidd manages to put in a great performance as Tommy to the extent that you feel sorry for him but you don’t really care about him. It’s strange. But Robert Carlyle as Begbie, a short tempered frustrated possible homosexual, is amazing; Carlyle always gives a safe performance but he offers up a lot of laughs in an otherwise serious film.

The friendship between Renton, Sick Boy, Tommy, Spud and Begbie is completely believable and authentic. All the relationships are recognisable and take away the drug use (or include it) and you probably know people just like this group of friends in Trainspotting. To me, one of the most important parts of a film is character interaction, development and relationships and each and every one is spot on. The friendship between Renton and Spud is probably my favourite because even though Renton lets Spud go to jail whilst he remains free and later on Renton does them over, you can tell that the only one of that group that Renton really cares about is Spud and I think that is touching really.

The realism captured on film of the drug addiction, Scottish life, friendship, death and sexuality is incredible. Trainspotting could well be real, it is filmed that well, it could well be a documentary with Ewan McGregor’s voice over warning everyone about drugs and the addictiveness of them so it is hard to believe that this is a work of fiction. Some of the scenes become incredibly hard to watch because of the haunting events unravelling but you can’t peel your eyes away from the screen; the dark images will stay with you for as long as you live.

Luckily though, Trainspotting, while dealing with a lot of serious and dark themes does manage to pack in the laughs as well. There is a lot of humour for viewers to find there and the ‘worst toilet in Scotland’ scene manages to be both horrible and hilarious at the same time, absolutely cringeworthy as well as Spud’s ‘dinner table accident’ scene later on.

I can’t express in words how good Trainspotting is. It’s probably not a film for the faint hearted but it’s nothing like any other film ever made.

Combine the greatness of Danny Boyle and the quality of actors like McGregor and Carlyle to name just a couple and you are in for something fantastic right from the word go.

Trainspotting IS one of the best films ever made. No question.

***WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS***

Winter’s Bone, an American independent drama, was released back in 2010. It launched Jennifer Lawrence’s career and achieved critical acclaim at the same time, being nominated for four Oscars.

Ree Dolly is a seventeen year old girl living in the Ozarks. Here she takes care of her catatonic mother as well as her brother and sister. Ree’s father is out on bail and skips his jury date, going missing which means that Ree and her family will lose their home, which was put up as a bond for her father, unless Ree can find him.

Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely brilliant as the unflinching main character and carries the film superbly well. Maybe I am a little biased due to my love for Jennifer Lawrence but her performance in Winter’s Bone saw her become the second youngest actress to be nominated for Best Actress at the Oscars so she can’t have been that bad! The acting in this film is actually breathtaking. A lot of the cast had never acted before appearing in this low budget drama but you could never tell that. Each and every cast member gives a fantastic performance, right from Jennifer Lawrence and John Hawkes all the way down to the two children that play Ree’s younger brother and sister.

The story blends together themes of family, patriarchy, self-sufficiency and poverty and in doing so, Winter’s Bone managers to grasp a great sense of realism. Much of the story is told through pictures and visuals rather than dialogue as for most of the film there is very little talking going on. It means that great attention is needed to fully understand the development of the story and you will need to work hard to pick up on certain plot points. This doesn’t make the film any worse though and Debra Granik should be praised for her great directorial work.

Unfortunately, Winter’s Bone is incredibly slow paced and whilst this is probably done to give a more realist layer to the film it can leave the audience, at times, just waiting for the next big thing to happen and it might not happen for a long time. The first half of the film especially is very slow and we take a longer time than needed, perhaps, to get to know the ins and outs of Ree’s family. Slow pacing meant that this hour and a half long film feel a lot longer than it is.

Winter’s Bone takes itself very seriously, at times too seriously. But as well as this, the whole mystery of where her father is or who has killed him is built up as if we are in for a shock ending, something big. However, the ending is very anti-climatic and leaves a hole inside the audience, leaving them feel like they have missed out on something.

Despite this though, Winter’s Bone did get 4 Oscar nominations and will probably split audiences. As many people like this, there will be just as many people who don’t and I can see why people would or would not like this drama, but I did like it.

My Rating: 7/10.

***WARNING: WILL CONTAIN SPOILERS***

Pineapple Express is one of my favourite films ever! I’m not a big fan of Seth Rogen, I’m not a big fan of Danny McBride but this film is hilarious. It’s not the best film ever made, but it is one that I could watch over and over again and never get bored of.

Written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, Pineapple Express is about a process server named Dale Denton (Rogen) and his marijuana dealer Saul (James Franco). The two of them end up on the run after Dale witnesses a murder by Saul’s dealer when trying to serve papers on him. Dale and Saul then get caught up in a turf war between two rival drug dealers all because of a rare form of marijuana called Pineapple Express.

Seth Rogen is, obviously, playing the same kind of character he always does but for some reason, in this film, he isn’t as annoying as usual which is a good thing. Danny McBride, for some reason, annoys me an awful lot and I can’t see past that for the sake of this film either. Amber Heard, as Dale’s high school girlfriend, isn’t featured too much but when called upon she does her job. But the main reason making Pineapple Express worth watching is James Franco; he is absolutely brilliant. Franco’s line delivery and all round performance as Saul is hilarious and well worthy of the Golden Globe he was nominated for.

The growing friendship and relationship between Dale and Saul throughout the film is great to watch as the two drug addicted characters become great friends. Their interactions, in particular in the forest whilst on the run, are fantastic. Rogen and Franco have been friends for years in their personal lives and it shows in their chemistry on screen.

The action scenes are hilarious, especially the one that takes place in Red’s house. The final shootout at the end isn’t the best action sequence in the world but the film was shot on a small budget and it just adds to the comedy aspect of Pineapple Express; some of the deaths are unforgettable, you look past how daft they may be and appreciate the quality of the comedy portrayed.

Pineapple Express manages to spoof the great action films of the eighties and nineties with their ending without making it look corny. When Dale carries an injured Saul out of a barn close to explosion it is clear, from the way the scene is shot, this is a reference to old school action movies. An analogy further emphasised when Red manages to crawl out of said barn after being shot ‘like seven times’ and remain alive and well, an obvious reference to action movie heroes being shot at constantly and going through hell to achieve their goals yet at the end of the film they are unscathed.

It’s not the best film in the world, far from it in fact. Pineapple Express, at times, is absolutely ridiculous but it is in the best possible way. It is one of the funniest films I have ever seen and something I could never tire of watching. The comedy quality here is top notch and I would recommend this film to anyone!

My Rating: 8/10