Friday, September 21, 2012

Top 10 Movies About Addiction


I’m fascinated by the affliction of addiction. I’m enamored with the struggle, the pain, and, if it exists, the resurrection in overcoming.

Not-so-coincidentally, many of my favorite films focus on the varying types of addiction. In fact, since 2000, I believe only four films have been released that justify being labeled as a masterpiece. Among them, three focus on addiction. 

Dozens of films (and TV shows) are released every year that concern themselves with the tumultuous areas of addiction. Most get it wrong. Some get it right. Here are the 10 best I’ve seen.

The Lost Weekend (1945)
Dir. by Billy Wilder
The Lost Weekend is arguably the most daring film on this list. That is, if you take into account when it was released. Movies like The Lost Weekend weren’t made in 1945. The film, which documents the four-day binge of Don, a hopeless alcoholic played to Oscar perfection by Ray Milland, was so far ahead of its time, I frankly have no idea how Wilder had enough clout to move it passed censors. But he did, and nearly 70 years later, we all continue to reap the benefits.

As Don, Milland is the personification of a man who has tiptoed the edge, and passively jumped off it. Every single thing he does – every spoken word, every penny saved, every slow step – is done in order to achieve that next drink. Based on a novel by Charles Brackett, who co-wrote the script with Wilder, The Lost Weekend is a moving poem of self-destruction. Watch it once, and it will haunt you forever. In the best possible way.

Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
Dir. by Blake Edwards
When we first meet Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon, delivering his finest screen performance) he is an avid social drinker, who slowly introduces his new girlfriend, Kirsten (Lee Remick) to the wonders of a two-martini lunch. But as the film progresses, Joe becomes heartbreakingly dependent on the sauce, and, perhaps more devastatingly, drags his now wife down with him.

And that’s the beauty (for lack of a better word) of this film: it starts with two people deep in the throes of love, and chronicles them through their absolute worst. There’s nothing safe and cushy going on here – Days of Wine and Roses depicts alcoholism for what it is, sugarcoated sentimentality be damned. It should also be noted that this one of (if not the) first films to depict the inside of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. And depict it truthfully.

The Fire Within (1963)
Dir. by Louis Malle
Alain Leroy wants to die. A recovering alcoholic who has sobered up in a treatment facility in Versailles, Alain now suffers from debilitating depression, and wants to spend his final day visiting what few friends he has left, before he takes his own life.

Mind you, none of this is plainly spelled out – Malle always preferred to have his characters live in subtext – but at the heart of this broken man is, well, just that… a broken spirit. Alcohol ruined any sense of composure he had in himself, and any confidence he had as a writer. He moves slow and thinks deliberately, quietly pacing himself to his bitter end. The Fire Within is a haunting hour and 50 minute exercise in human desolation.

Raging Bull (1980)
Dir. by Martin Scorsese
I’ve never considered Raging Bull a sports movie, let alone a movie about boxing. Rather, Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece is a film about the addiction of rage. And while no one diagnoses Jake LaMotta as a rageaholic, that is precisely what he is. His sole intention in life is to inflict pain, and to have it inflicted upon him.

When he’s in the ring, his enemy is obvious. He is there to destroy his opponent, or, depending on his mood, have his opponent destroy him. Kill or be killed. And make no mistake, Jake LaMotta was a killer. Whether he knocked an opponent out in the first round, or played possum by being a human punching back for 14 rounds, LaMotta could give and take as well as any person who has ever stepped into a ring.

In the street, LaMotta’s life was more complicated. With no real opponent, he focused his rage on his wife, his family, and really anyone within right hook’s reach. That is, of course, until he had no one left to fight. Most of the films on this list contain at least one scene of the addict in question at their absolute worst, and few are more effective then watching Robert De Niro mercilessly pound the concrete wall of a prison cell, begging to know “why.” Why what? Exactly.

Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Dir. by Gus Van Sant
I’m not an addict, so please don’t take what I’m about to say as the analysis from someone who has “been there.” But, basically, drugs are fun, right? Drinking, popping, coking, smoking – it’s all fun and games… until it’s not. And that’s the best way I can describe Drugstore Cowboy: a fun a frenzied satire that glamorizes the ecstasy of substances, until it swiftly shows the true horror drugs can bring.

So, sure, there are far more heavy-handed addiction dramas to be listed, but there’s something about Drugstore Cowboy that I am completely taken with. I suppose my affection could be rooted in the film’s unique, absurdist tone, but no matter how you shake it, this is a pioneering documentation of addiction.

Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
Dir. by Mike Figgis
Leaving Las Vegas is the best, most accurate portrayal of alcoholism I have ever seen. And, to push it further, I have yet to see an actor dive into the destruction of alcohol better than Nicolas Cage does here. The man embodies the pitifulness that so often plagues addicts. To call his Ben Sanderson hopeless would be to denote that, at one time, he was a man equipped with hope, which I simply do not think is the case.

Ben leaves L.A. with the sole intention of drinking himself to death in Vegas. He packs booze, a separate shirt for everyday, and just enough money for rent and limitless sauce. Meeting Sera (a typical hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold character portrayed flawlessly by Elisabeth Shue), only adds to the dreadful tone of the picture. Sera should be able to save him – that’s what American movies have taught us. She helps him, he helps her, and they drive off into the sunset. Figgis had a slightly different version of the American dream in mind. It’s impossible for this film to not lurk in your brain once you’ve seen it.

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Dir. by Darren Aronofsky
Requiem is a kind of companion piece to Drugstore Cowboy, while, at the same time, being the perfect antithesis of it. The film so convincingly displays the benefits of being embedded with drugs. You get richer, skinnier, more popular – you name it. Stick with it though, and it all goes to shit. And then some.

You could take the final 10 minutes of this film as reason enough to include it on this list. Those minutes, in which Aronofsky ingeniously, horrifically, maddeningly cross cuts four separate character arcs at the peak of their worst, represent a level of repulsion that is rare outside of real life. It’s as if Aronofsky said, “Yeah, you’ve seen addiction before, but now you’re going to fucking see addiction.”

He went all in and blew it wide open. And goddamn if he didn’t leave exactly the impact he was hoping for.

Traffic (2000)
Dir. by Steven Soderbergh
To be fair, Traffic as a whole is a film about drugs; drug addiction is only one part of it. But as we watch poor Caroline Wakefield (Erica Christensen) quickly spiral out of control, it’s impossible to not appreciate the weight of her struggle.

When crudely summarizing humanity into categories, there are really two types of people who use drugs: the people who freebase a hit and say, Yeah, cool, rock ‘n’ roll, then carry on with their day, and the people who hit from the same stash and say, Yeah, cool, more, now. Caroline falls heavily into the latter category. That’s all it takes for her: one hit, and she is completely hooked. Her addiction moves her from her cushy life in the Ohio suburbs to the worst crack bedrooms of America.

The first time I saw Traffic, Caroline and I were nearly the same age. Her struggle spoke to me on a number of levels, mainly as a lesson on what to avoid. Now that I’m a decade older than her, I want so desperately to stop her from falling. But, in the end, I think she’s right. I think she’ll make it through today.

There Will Be Blood (2007)
Dir. by Paul Thomas Anderson
There Will Be Blood is as much about oil as Raging Bull is about boxing, which is to say, not really. I’ve long since considered this film an exploration into the addiction of wealth. Greed, personified.

Soon after meeting Daniel Plainview, he has a horrendous fall down a silver mine shaft and breaks his leg. After he climbs out of the hole, the camera pans up to a vast desert, then ingeniously jump cuts to Plainview sprawled out on the floor of a trade office, waiting for his earnings. How in the hell did he manage to get to that office? He was alone, badly injured, and not within earshot of anything. I’ll tell you how: greed. From the onset, Anderson makes clear that Plainview’s single objective is to get filthy rich by any means necessary.

Most of Plainview’s tricks don’t fully reveal themselves until the film is concluded, but when you take everything into context, you see that the majority of his life was a lie. A lie perpetuated solely to gain financial wealth. And, in the end, alone and eating steak off the floor like a dog, I ask: Why, Mr. Daniel? Why indeed.

Shame (2011)
Dir. by Steven McQueen
By this point, I hope I’ve made it clear that I’m fascinated in seeing addiction depicted on screen. Now, couple that notion with the fact that I am fully aware that I first saw Shame only 10 short months ago. What I’m getting at is that I understand the weight of what I’m about to say, for Shame, to speak bluntly, is the best film I have ever seen about addiction. Period.

My limitless affection for this film relies on numerous factors, chief among them is how it so uniquely chronicles something very few people understand. Everytime I have seen sex addiction depicted in films or TV, it has always been used as a punch line. It’s the whole How can something so right really be so wrong argument. Well, in watching Shame, it’s clear that an addiction to sex can be as crippling as heroin, alcohol, or anything, really.

As the lost, beyond-broken Brandon Sullivan, Michael Fassbender is the incarnation of an invisible disease. On the surface, it appears that this Madison Avenue heavy hitter has everything going for him, but inside, nothing is what it seems. He’s as displaced as a junkie begging for change on a street corner. If only the people around him knew.

I’ve dedicated a good chunk of blog space to this film, and not once have I felt that my writing has done justice to what this film provides me. I mentioned earlier that most all of these films contain at least one scene of the addict losing to their disease. Shame has that, and it is one of the most gut wrenching, effective sequences ever put on film. You want to know what addiction looks like? Watch Brandon Sullivan’s skeletal face bathed in harsh orange light in the moment he achieves something most guys would kill for. That’s pain.

67 comments:

  1. Amazing list. So glad to see The Lost Weekend and The Fire Within here. Cruelly underappreciated films. I spent a while trying to think of suggestions for films you missed out on, but you really did get all the best ones. Brilliant, brilliant list.

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    1. Thanks man! I thought you'd appreciate my inclusion of The Fire Within. No one talks about that film enough.

      On another note, I understand why you're taking a break from blogging, and I hope you are resting up dutifully, but man, I miss your film voice. Hope you come back soon!

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  2. I'm glad you posted this list -- as you know, it's a subject in which we share an interest. That said, I'm embarrassed to admit I haven't seen most of the movies on the list. When I saw Earrings, I remember thinking, "Yeah ... he *gets* it!" The fact that I gleaned that from a short film with little dialogue indicates the visual storytelling there was brilliant. And I guess I'm a tough customer when it comes to portrayals of addiction in movies, because most of them seem cliched to me.

    The Lost Weekend is at the top of my queue since you recently reminded me I wanted to see it. I agree that a serious portrayal of this subject -- and I've heard nothing but good things about that film -- was courageous in 1945. Alcoholism, like homosexuality, didn't officially exist yet. (*rolling eyes*) BTW, Leaving Las Vegas has been on my list for ages, even though I don't like Nicolas Cage, and I want to re-watch Shame, which I have a hunch will benefit tremendously from a second viewing.

    I didn't like Requiem for a Dream as much as most people seem to. I found parts of it really over the top, and that made it hard for me to stay connected to the characters and story. I would've picked Trainspotting over Requiem (though it got over the top, too.) OTOH, there are parts of Requiem that seemed to capture things beautifully.

    Sorry about the long comment. :-P Dangerous to get me on *two* of my favorite subjects.

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    1. Yet another insightful comment from you... thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here. NO comment you leave is ever too long!

      Thanks for the compliments about Earrings, I was really trying to convey the isolation that often accompanies substance abuse. So thanks.

      You will really really like both The Lost Weekend and Leaving Las Vegas. "Like" may not be the right word... appreciate them, you will definitely appreciate them. Lacerating shit there.

      Requiem is a fine example of appreciation over liking. That isn't a film I'm going to watch on a Friday night (or Sunday afternoon), but it is something I'll watch when I'm in the mood for something different. Like it or not, there's no denying that they went for a unique tone. But yeah, I completely understand why people don't dig it.

      I like Trainspotting as much as anyone else. It was definitely on the shortlist here!

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    2. Agree about the unique tone. The frenetic stuff, like the fridge coming out and closing in on the one character*, didn't work for me. But there was some good stuff there.

      My daughter spent time prepping me for Trainspotting, because she knew my sappy mommy heart would have a rough time with the incident with the baby. She was right, but it was possibly one of the most powerful scenes I've ever watched. Hated the animatronic baby on the ceiling, though. Overkill. Worse than the fridge in Requiem. :-)

      "Lacerating shit" is a fine turn of phrase. It ought to be used more often. I think it would work well as a tagline on a movie poster.

      Completely "got it" about the isolation. I am not an addict (there but for the grace of God ...) but I've been around substance abuse, in one way or another, most of my life and have suffered severe depression (which also runs in my family). May be TMI, but I wanted you to know it resonated with me.

      *I'm talking about the actress who was also in The Exorcist, The Spitfire Grill, and Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore. Curse my MAMMS (middle aged memory mom syndrome).

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    3. Ellen Burstyn! Ah, I love her.

      A lot of the things you have in your family, I have in mine too, so it makes sense that our tastes are often so aligned.

      From this point forward, I'm making it my goal in life to have "Lacerating shit..." attributed to me on a movie poster.

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    4. Yes, Ellen Burstyn. The name came to me as soon as I'd left your site. :-P

      I am very excited about your life goal. Someday I'll look at that poster and brag that I knew you back in the day.

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  3. I thought one of the saddest parts of Shame was when Brandon tried to make love with a woman he actually seemed to like and it didn't work for him. Then you see him with someone else -- I think she might have been a hooker -- showing as much passion as if he were throwing out the trash, along with a lot of barely suppressed sadness and rage. That scene has stuck with me like nobody's business.

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    1. That is arguably the most sorrowful scene of that movie. When there is potential love involved, he simply can't perform. But a blonde hooker is cake. The use of editing in that movie says everything: love the jump cut, BAM, to the hooker up against the window. Whoa.

      Christ, I just love it.

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    2. Yes, I remember that jump cut. I'm definitely going to give that movie a second viewing and see if I love it the second time around. If the isolation in Earrings resonated with me so much, this movie should be perfect for me, right? :-)

      Was there a scene in Shame that stuck out, for you, as the most poignant?

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    3. Gotta be the downfall sequence, and to pick on scene in particular, the three way. Just everything about it works. The lack of sound (only music), the dipping focus, the up-closeness of the shots, the starkness of the sexuality. And then there's Fassbender, just completely going for it, apexing on a face of such turmoil and dread and horror. THAT is addiction.

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    4. The three way was horrifying, but for me the scariest part was when he was seducing that chick in the bar and then throwing it in her boyfriend's face - he was practically suicidal in that moment, completly empty shell of a man.

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    5. Yeah, that whole sequence in general is a guy looking to fuck or die. Or both. Horrifying indeed.

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    6. Yes, the 3-way and the "fuck or die" scenes were harrowing. He reminded me a bit of Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, sliding down a steep slope into greater depravity. Yet Brandon remained very human.

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  4. Man, you always make such great lists. I like the way you see Raging Bull and There Will Be Blood, I share that vision. I've only seen Jack Lemmon in The Apartment, it's hard to picture him in such a role. You know, it's been months and I still can't write about Shame, I'm still mesmerised, and honestly, in shock - the good kind.

    Requiem is one of those films I just cannot rewatch, I feel like I'm suffocating when his mother starts taking the drugs, it's too disturbing. It's hum... that rhythm, the repetitions, and those odd, psychedelic shots, it's unbearable.

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    1. Thanks Sofia! The best part about Lemmon's Days of Wine and Roses performance is that it begins like most of his other characters (including his Apartment character): kind, congenial, etc. But he slowly turns into a monster. It's mesmerizing.

      Shame. Ah, I completely understand what you're talking about. Shock in the best possible way.

      Unbearable is a great word to describe Requiem. That's exactly what it is, and precisely why I appreciate it haha.

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  5. The Lost Weekend got me more interested in classic film (and was my introduction to Billy Wilder). Days of Wine and Roses piqued my interest in Jack Lemmon. (Only the second film I saw him in!) Raging Bull, Leaving Las Vegas, Requiem for a Dream and Shame has some of the best performances I've ever seen.

    To sum things up neatly, films about the ugly side of addiction may be viewed as award bait by some but in my eyes, it takes real balls to make a film that's as truly fascinating and morbid as any of the films on this list.

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    1. Yep, couldn't agree more with you. I think it is clear which performances of those kinds are simply going for awards (because they usually suck) and which are going for realism. Either way, if pulled off well, there's no better work an actor can do.

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  6. That's a great list. Especially the picks for There Will Be Blood and Raging Bull. I would've expected Trainspotting but that's too obvious.

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    1. Thanks dude! I love Trainspotting, it was really close to making the cut here.

      I thought I was going to get crap for listing Raging Bull and TWBB. Glad people get where I'm coming from.

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  7. Great list. Leaving Las Vegas and Requiem for a Dream are two of my favorites here. I've still been meaning to chekc out The Lost Weekend and Days of Wine and Roses.

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    1. Thanks man. Definitely scope out The Lost Weekend and Days when you get a chance. Make a great double feature.

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  8. Wonderful list. Still need to see The Fire Within and Drugstore Cowboy though.

    Rewatched The Deer Hunter last night, and I loved it. It's definitely going in my top 25 at least when I update my top 100 list. So many great scenes, and excellent performances from the ensemble cast. Wow. I might even give it another look soon.

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    1. Thanks buddy.

      The Deer Hunter. Fuck. That movie knocks the wind out of me everytime. By far the most disturbing film I've ever seen. I was devastated for months (...months) the first time I saw that. Maybe age 11 was a little too young....?

      Nah.

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    2. Well, if you were mature enough to handle "the Gimp" scene at 10 ... :-)

      Yes, The Deer Hunter was ... what's that phrase I liked so much?? ... lacerating shit. My husband introduced it to me when I was in college, and it makes me feel a bit sick to think about metamorphosis the characters went through in that film. For me it kind of captures the zeitgeist of the early 70's, with the sorrow and anger over the war in Vietnam. One of many reasons it's a classic.

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    3. Yes, exactly!

      Ha, LOVE how you used that phrase!

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  9. This is an excellent listing. There Will Be Blood surprised me, but the whole theme of one's addiction to greed was prominent throughout. However, I've only seen one film on this list - all of these movies are fantastic, I'm sure.

    "In fact, since 2000, I believe only four films have been released that justify being labeled as a masterpiece. Among them, three focus on addiction."

    What was the fourth one?

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting, Alex! Glad you dug the list.

      Masterpieces since 2000, in chronological order: Traffic, 25th Hour, There Will Be Blood, Shame.

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  10. Great list. Its shameful to admit it, but I've not seen any of these! I have some work to do.

    The Basketball Diaries is one film that did come to mind with this theme. I saw it in my teens and it really shocked me. Great performance from a young DiCaprio.

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    1. Thanks! The Basketball Diaries was definitely close to making this list. That is a fine film with a very fine lead performance.

      I highly recommend all of the flicks on this list, check em out when you can!

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  11. I'm so glad Drugstore Cowboy is in this list, it's one of my favourites (among a few others on here, too) but in regards to addiction-related films, it never really gets spoken of that much which is always a surprise to me.

    Excellent list, either way!

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    1. Thanks so much! I thought that may be a "bold" choice, because yeah, no one really ever taks about it. But damn if it doesn't document the turmoils of dependency.

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  12. Have you seen a film titled Chasing the Dime? I haven't seen it yet, but a good friend once told me he connected deeply with it when he was in early recovery from alcoholism.

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    1. Hmm I've never even heard of that. Looked it up on IMDb, can't find it. Do you mean the book by Michael Connelly? Either way, this sounds like something I would be interested in.

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    2. That is the title of a book by Michael Connelly, isn't it? Darn. I must have gotten the title wrong. This is a movie about an alcoholic "drying out."

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    3. Hmmm, well we gotta figure this out, because that is something I wanna see!

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  13. Great list! I'll definitely have to add a view of these to my watch-list. I love seeing Shame and TWBB on here, two complete masterpieces. Also I'm not sure if you've seen it yet but Joaquin Phoenix's portrayal of alcoholism (mixed with insanity, of course) in The Master was damn flawless. A performance I'd place in the ranks of Day-Lewis in TWBB and Fassbender in Shame.

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    1. Thanks man! Seeing The Master tonight, cannot fuckin' wait. You just made me far more excited about it!

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  14. Great list, the only ones I would add are Panic in Needle Park, and another film perhaps not about addictions, but enabled by them, Coffee and Cigarettes.

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    1. Ohhh two great choices, and for such different reasons. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  15. Awesome list, seriously one of my favorite articles you ever posted here! I adore films about addiction - not only they provide amazing insight into the mental state of those unfortunate souls but also give the actors such an opportunity to deliver outstanding work. I'd call Shame the best movie about addiction too, but I'm glad you included Leaving Las Vegas here - it's absolutely heartbreaking and truly shows that now even love can win at all times. I'd also include Young Adult as Mavis has to drink to function and when she is sober she is walking around like a ghost.

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    1. Aw thanks Sati! Young Adult is a really spirited choice. She's that different kind of addict - what's usually (wrongly) referred to as a "functioning" alcoholic. But however you look at her, she's a goddamn mess.

      Shame and Leaving Las Vegas are both just so damn perfect. Didn't know you appreciated LLV as much as you do. Glad to hear it!

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    2. Oh yeah, LLV is one of those movies that has scenes that literally burnt into my brain - like the one where he is freaking out in the casino because he just had some sort of flashback from the past, or the one where the landlady tells Sera to get out - those are so painful it's just crashing.

      This movie is a reason why while I am making fun of Cage frequently I will never call him a bad actor, because if someone can pull of a performance like his work in LLV he is obviously insanely talented.

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    3. Yes, I am completely with you: Cage makes some dogshit films and his performances are dogshit in them, but in my book, his LLV performance will always earn him a career pass. Period.

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  16. I can't really comment much because I haven't seen any of them except Shame. But in terms of describing how a sex addict live, Shame did an excellent job. That last scene where Brandon have sex, and the moment he looked at the camera like crying for help, that was very real to me. Perhaps one of the most surprising moving moment in a movie.

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    1. Couldn't agree more, that is a haunting, haunting scene. Do you think he followed that woman off the train at the end? I'm glad we don't know for certain, but damn. Just... damn.

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    2. I don't know. It seems that he would, but we never know! I think because the ending got so unsettling that I disliked it. I think after seeing all his pain, I'll be happier to know that he decide to unfollow the woman.

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  17. Never really thought of There Will Be Blood but now I see it. Greed is an addiction and money is a drug definitely. Good list

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    1. Thanks man. I've just never really seen that flick any other way. Dude is addicted to money. And for what purpose? THAT is the question.

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  18. Magnificent list,Alex,I have thought of making such a list,but couldn't get 10 items in it.The choices and perspective of Raging Bull and There Will be Blood is brilliant,thinking in this logic,I think Fincher's Zodiac is a nice fit for the topic.

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    1. Thanks David! Dude, Zodiac is an EXCELLENT choice. Jake Gyllenhaal's character becomes crazy obsessed with catching the killer. Totally applies.

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    1. Same. Close. Definitely check out the ones here you haven't seen.

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  20. This is great, man. I have always found addiction films to be fascinating, and there are a few here I still need to see (Days of Wine and Roses, The Fire Within, Leaving Las Vegas). Definitely plan on catching them soon.

    Another good one: Bad Lieutenant. Both of 'em.

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    1. Thanks dude! Oh both Bad Lt. were very close to making the final cut. Crazy shit, right?

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  21. I didn't read down through the many comments, so my apologies if I am repeating something.

    That's a good list. I haven't seen all those film, but I know the unseen ones by reputation. I do have to disagree on Shame as the best film about addiction. I would go with Requiem for a Dream, with The Lost Weekend second.

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    1. Both damn fine picks as the best. Rarely do I see something more horrifying than Jennifer Connelly going "ass-to-ass."

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  22. Excellent list, my friend! I liked how you didn't just include films about substance abuse addiction but addiction to greed as well. I thought that was fascinating. I especially loved your inclusion of Shame. I thought Michael Fassbender's performance was as invisible as the disease itself. In other words, his performance is so invisible that he becomes his character who suffered this harsh condition and you can't see the acting.

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    1. Thanks buddy! Love what you said about Shame, couldn't agree more. And yeah, I've studied addiction a lot, and once you've looked into it a bit, you realize that it's a disease that extends far past substances. Sex, money, food, power, anger - it's all part of the web.

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  23. JimTheFish 12 Jan 2012 11:45

    Sex addiction. Another modern phenomenon that doesn't actually exist. Just another way to legitimize (and pathologize) weak character, over-indulged ego and lack of personal integrity...

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  24. Reverse Shot.com Essay on "Shame" is the best read of this film so far. Enjoy!

    b

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    1. Ohh I do remember that one. A good read indeed.

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  25. Lost Weekend again today- Such an intensely sad and sincere film. I'm still genuinely astounded that it was released in the '40s

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    1. Oh, me too. It's amazing that it was even made back then.

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