by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: ***** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ***** (out of 5 stars)
Ewan McGregor as MARK RENTON
Ewen Bremner as SPUD MURPHY
Johnny Lee Miller as SICK BOY
Kevin McKidd as TOMMY MCKENZIE
Robert Carlyle as FRANCO BEGBIE
Kelly Macdonald as DIANE
Directed by: Danny Boyle
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“Trainspotting” is one of this era’s powerful, definitive drug movies. But like all drug movies like “Scarface,” “Blow,” and even comedies like “Dude, Where’s My Car?” the message is clear - drugs are bad. They’re not just bad. They’ll ruin your life.
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If you ever want a film to show your kids why they shouldn’t do drugs, “Trainspotting” is the flick to see. And any viewing should be accompanied with a sizeable lecture on Hollywood’s attitude towards drugs. After all, Hollywood is one of the most liberal, open-minded, free-spirited, progressive communities around. They are replete with drug users and addicts. Some in their circles, like Robert Downey Jr., are in chronic need of help. Others, like John Belushi and Chris Farley, end up dead before they get the help they need.
But even with Hollywood’s overt support of the drug culture, they can’t make a positive drug movie. Now, I’ve never taken drugs. No coke. No ludes. No PCP. Not even pot. The closest I’ve ever gotten to drug use - aside from knocking back a couple pints of Guinness on the weekend - is when I was given a shot of morphine while I was passing a kidney stone. And the morphine just knocked me out - not quite worth its street value for recreational use in my humble opinion.
But after watching “Trainspotting,” I don’t think I’d touch a heroin needle if you had a gun to my head. In the film’s commentary, director Danny Boyle makes a point to say they showed the positive aspects of heroin use. As the character of Renton (Ewan McGregor) says, “Take the best orgasm you ever had, multiply it by 1,000, and you’re still not even close.” I’m sure that heroin gives one heck of a rush. After all, there’s a reason that people start taking it, right? But it is the next 90 minutes of the film that can convince even the most curious potential user to not touch the stuff.
In the wake of Danny Boyle’s success with his zombie flick “28 Days Later,” Miramax has released the Collectors Series of “Trainspotting” on DVD. Billed as “The Definitive Edition,” it’s a winner all the way. The movie itself is an excellent piece of cinema. It’s gritty, realistic, and it moves like a freight train. Plus, it is kind of fun to see Ewan McGregor, now famous as the young Obi-Wan Kenobi, strung out on a heroin binge.
“Trainspotting” follows a group of Scottish heroin addicts as they wallow in their own misery. The story is told through the eyes of Renton (Ewan McGregor), who at times tries to straighten himself out. Of course, he has his relapses that cause him to do some nasty things, like steal from friends, betray those he loves and dive into a vile stopped-up toilet for a lost dose of opium suppositories. Without the aid of the now overused digital technology, Boyle manages to provide realistic drug trips. His use of surrealism is excellent, showing how heroin can engulf a user and detach them from reality.
The DVD itself comes with a wide selection of special features that make it a great item. First, “Trainspotting” comes with two discs. The first contains the movie and commentary with Ewan McGregor, director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew MacDonald and screenwriter John Hodge. The commentary is several years old, recorded for the laserdisc release in the mid 1990s, but the insight to the film is just as worthwhile.
Other special features found on the second disc include a “Making of Trainspotting” documentary, a “Trainspotting” retrospective, a multi-angle demonstration of a needle-in-the-arm special effect, video clips from the Cannes film festival where the film first took off with audiences, deleted scenes with optional commentary, original trailers for the film and a production art gallery.
One of the nice things about DVD technology is that you can turn on the English subtitles when you can’t hear the movie well. If you have kids, you understand this intimately so you can understand the dialogue of a film while the kids are playing dinosaurs in the background. With “Trainspotting,” it’s especially nice to have the subtitle feature because it’s nearly impossible to understand half the dialogue with their thick Scottish accents.
Specifications: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DTS 5.1 Surround Sound. Widescreen (1.85:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 televisions. French language track; English language subtitles for the hearing impaired and those who can’t understand Scottish accents.