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Masterpiece Cinema - Trainspotting

 article about Trainspotting  movie
Trainspotting

Starring Ewan McGregor, Johnny Lee Miller, Ewen Bremner, Robert Carlyle.

Written by John Hodge (based on the book by Irvine Welsh).

Directed by Danny Boyle.

Genre: Drama / Comedy

Released: 1996

Running time: 94 mins.


Rated: R (American rating for for graphic heroin use and resulting
depravity, strong language, sex, nudity and some violence. Long list,
isnt it?)

IMDb link: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0117951/

Generally,
in this column, I try to find movies that not too many people have
heard of to talk about. A quick look at my list of previous articles
reveals that Im not very often successful in this attempt. Sure, I
discuss movies that either have a low profile or havent made much bank,
but generally, theyre movies people have heard of. Theres a reason for
this. More often than not, the movies people havent heard of suck at
least, this is the case with whats available in most mainstream video
stores.

A recent example of this would be my renting out of
the film Spun. Spun is the feature film debut of Jonas Akerlund, a
music video director whos worked with such acts as the Smashing
Pumpkins and Madonna. Id been looking forward to seeing Spun for years,
excited by the prospect of Ackerlunds distinctive visual style being
applied to a feature. Combine that with the fact that Im a hopeless fan
of the Smashing Pumpkins. Also, Pumpkins leadman Billy Corgan not only
wrote the majority of music for Spun, but also has a cameo in it. Im
well-and-truly sold. Too bad Spun sucked. I mean, yeah, it had its
moments, and it was interesting to watch, but it just plain sucked.

I
wont get into the problems that Spun has, other than to say this: Its
fairly certain that it was trying to follow in the footsteps of
Trainspottin. If thats the case, that's why it did so miserably.

Youve
seen Trainspotting, right? Youve at least heard of it, Im guessing. It
perplexes me why I like this movie so much, and why I regard it with as
much affection as I do. I mean, really, I probably shouldnt. Dont get
me wrong; its a good movie, but its not an easy movie to watch. Its by
no means a feel good film. It tells the ugly story of a bunch of ugly
heroin junkies living in ugly Edinburgh. So why does it have such a
hold over me? Why is it something I watch casually, as comfort viewing?
I have no idea. It could just be that good writing is good writing,
good acting is good acting, and a good film is a good film even if it
involves a scene that takes place in the worst toilet in Scotland, even
if it involves a family breakfast table getting sprayed with human
excrement.

Could it be the movie's hipness that keeps me
coming back to it? The use of music by Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Leftfield
and Elastica, amongst many others, insures its cool status, as does the
slick direction by Danny Boyle (whose latest film, 28 Days Later has
also been covered in this column). And hey, Ewan McGregor is about as
cool as a white guy can get, theres no argument to that. Hes Obi-Wan
Kenobi, for Gods sake!

Could it be how funny it is? Because it is funny, even if its a morbid, dark kind of funny in other words--my kind of funny.

Maybe
its the ring of hope where the film ends; no matter how far you fall,
no matter how terrible your life can get, theres always the possibility
that youll be able to turn it all around.

Theres talk of a
sequel to Trainspotting, based on Irvine Welshs follow-up to the
original book. Its no surprise that the studio would want to do this.
When it was released in 1996, Trainspotting was an instantaneous cult
hit one of those rare films that are almost immediately absorbed into
the pop culture lexicon. I guess people saw the same things in it that
I do.

I couldve gotten a little more obscure with this column.
I could have recommended Shallow Grave to you, the film that Danny
Boyle and Ewan McGregor worked on together before this. I could have
recommended Twin Town or The Acid House, both of which are Scottish
films, one of which is based on an Irvine Welsh book, and both of which
are so utterly bleak and disturbing that you cant bear to sit through
them. I could have recommended Spun to youbut you know how I feel about
that one.

No, I decided to recommend Trainspotting. Why?
because it does what all those films do, and it does it all better.
Though it may be the most well known out of those Scottish cult films
and thus less likely to qualify for a write-up in Masterpiece Cinema,
theres a reason its more well-known: Its because its a good movie--as
simple as that.

Next week: Something animated. I promise.



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