Ever wonder what happened to Renton, Sick Boy and the other miscreants from the movie Trainspotting (1996) directed by Danny Boyle? Twenty years later we get to find out as the sequel T2 Trainspotting releases this week. I can’t wait! This was one of my favorite movies of the 90s. I loved it for its in-your-face visual style, insane characters and memorable performances, which introduced us to Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle and Kelly MacDonald.
This movie made such an impact on me that every film class I teach I show the infamous “toilet scene.” It is one of the great examples of how metaphor is used filmically. Renton played by Ewan McGregor loves his drugs so much that he’s willing to “dive” into the “worst toilet in Scotland” to retrieve them. It’s a funny, brilliant and gag-inducing representation of a junkie’s priorities. You been warned. Enjoy!
There’s a theory that the musical tastes we develop during our formative years, say the mid to late teens, stick with us as we get older. This certainly explains my soft spot for punk, which always comes as a shock to those I’ve met later in life. As a teen, the Ramones were one of my musical first loves. I first heard the band when they were interviewed by Rodney Bingenheimer—the longtime DJ and musical tastemaker—on his Sunday night KROQ show. The band was promoting the goofy Rock ‘n’ Roll High School, in which they wrote the title song and were featured in the movie. Something about their distorted power chords, visceral, driving rhythms and knucklehead lyrics had me running out to buy their LPs Rocket to Russia and Road to Ruin the next day.
To the dismay of my parents, I played those records endlessly and as loud as I could get away with. Soon after I experienced the Ramones live, followed by seeing so many other punk and punk-adjacent bands, like X, the Dead Kennedys, The Clash, that it’s a wonder why I don’t have permanent hearing loss.
Zippy the pinhead
So I was excited to take a trip down punk memory lane at the Ramones and the Birth of Punk exhibit at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live. On display until February, it has lots of quirky memorabilia like Joey Ramone’s report card, their signature leather motorcycle jackets, and quickly dashed off visa applications full of personal info. It’s a fun exhibit and homage to the four punkers from Queens.
Joey clearly had other things on his mind
God Save the Queen
While the music I listen to now is nowhere near as raucous and raw as punk, if it has robust and jangly guitar chords, or is rhythmically charged, it will likely be part of my playlist. Gabba gabba hey!
It’s the end of the year! Which means good news for movie lovers. The superhero franchises and blockbusters are mostly on hold until next spring and summer, and the studios are now trotting out their “serious” fare for award consideration. Don’t get me wrong I love a great actioneer but lately, well … I’ll save those thoughts for another time. I want to talk about two movies that will harsh the holiday high right out of you. And I mean this in the best possible way.
Manchester by the Sea
Written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, the story is about painful, harrowing loss. Casey Affleck brilliantly plays a Boston janitor who must return to his hometown because of a death in the family. This movie is a slow burn as it builds on the backstory and journey of Affleck’s character. There’s not a false note in this movie as it offers a slice-of-life of experience that combines pathos and levity and makes us reflect on what we hold dear in own lives.
Written and directed by Tom Ford, Nocturnal Animals takes on more complex storytelling than his debut film A Single Man. But like the latter and lucky for us, his fastidious attention detail continues to reign supreme. Starring Amy Adams as a depressed art dealer named Susan, she reads her ex-husband’s (Jake Gyllenhaal) novel, which then enfolds as a story-within-a story, and haunts her throughout the movie. While Susan’s storyline is a campy, grotesque send-up of the art world, shades of Pedro’s Almodovar’s sensibility, and a meditation on life choices, the depiction of the novel is a suspenseful, disturbing thriller fraught with pain. Yes, more pain! I know, not exactly a sunny rec, but this is a challenging film that delves into the dark parts of the soul. Which in my opinion, is always worth exploring.
If you’re up for countering some of the holiday cheer, these are the movies for you.