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The Times Standard reports.

Returning to my top ten movie category series, here are my drug movie choices.

1. Bird – the only movie I can think of except Ghost Dog where the underutilized brilliant Forest Whittaker plays the lead role. It was also Clint Eastwood’s debut as a director. The movie is about Charlie Parker and you know the story.

2. North Dallas Forty – about the use of painkillers in the NFL, “hard drugs” which would otherwise be illegal for not-strictly-medical purposes. Elaborates on an irony in that NFL players can be dismissed for use of marijuana and yet become addicted under officially sanctioned drug policies. The film predates the steroids controversy.

3. Up in Smoke – Cheech and Chong’s first and best movie. Amateurish, but that added to the hilarity. Unfortunately, like Rocky, the movies declined in quality with each release. Up in Smoke probably would not have made it just a few years after its release, and it raised quite a bit of ire as it was.

4. Reefer Madness – the unintentional cult classic has to be on anybody’s list.

5. The Trip – about as dumb as Reefer Madness in terms of any congruence with reality, and almost as great a self-satire of the “self-discovery” phase of the early seventies. Peter Fonda takes LSD and embarks on an adventure with a little help from his friends including Dennis Hopper in his wimpiest role.

6. Sid and Nancy – another depressing junkie movie, albeit very well done. I was a little disappointed on the focus of Syd Vicious’ self-destruction with almost no emphasis on the music or the inspiration therefor. But it grabs your attention and keeps it right down to the bitter end.

7. Traffic – should have won best picture instead of Gladiator, an epic about the futility of the drug war on every front.

8. Easy Rider – drug sales finance a symbolic, deep, and tragic journey.

9. More – the first of the junkie movies, and probably the most artistic even if it’s contrived. Probably the only French movie with a Pink Floyd soundtrack. I especially liked the part where the couple attempted to shake their heroin addiction with an acid trip.

10. Maria full of Grace – a compelling story told from a Columbian drug trafficker’s point of view.

What am I forgetting?


November 2008