Monday, February 10, 2014

The Basketball Diaries (1995)

Basketball Movie #4

Hmm...this would have been perfect for my salute to Addiction movies in 2011.

Synopsis: It’s like that very special episode of Welcome Back Kotter when Vinnie, Epstein, Washington and Horshack snort heroin, prostitute themselves, steal a car, beat up and rob an old lady, throw a drug dealer off the roof of a building, and resist sexual advances from the basketball coach.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “Provocative and gripping. The Basketball Diaries is based on a raw, from-the-gut autobiography  that chronicles Jim Carroll’s (Leonardo DiCaprio) adolescent years as a Catholic high school basketball star. His stark and exhilarating experiences with drugs, crime, sex and violence offer a vividly authentic account of a rebellious teenager growing up in New York.”

What Did I Learn?: If all of your drugs are mixed together in a single Ziploc bag and you can’t tell the uppers from the downers, it might be a good idea to start over with a fresh supply.

You Might Like This Movie If: You'll watch anything that involves a diary.

Really?: 1) I didn’t know that teenagers could just up-and-quit high school. Wouldn’t their parents have something to say about that? 2) So wait – the creepy guy in the bus station pays Jim for the privilege of allowing him to provide Jim with a blowjob? 3) I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t jump into a river that’s basically used as an open sewer, but maybe I’m just not that adventurous. 4) I’m not too sure why Jim is so desperate to spend the night at his mother’s place near the end – couldn’t he have gone back to Reggie’s?

Rating: The Basketball Diaries is an edgy, and highly disturbing look at the downward spiral of heroin addiction. The film features a number of good performances, including Lorraine Bracco and Mark Wahlberg, but DiCaprio does a superb job of portraying Jim, a troubled addict who can transform from innocent little boy to scary street thug on a dime. The Basketball Diaries is a very good film, but it becomes increasingly difficult to sympathize with Jim by the end. 8.5/10 stars.

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