Film Picks: Drug Movies

Hello ALL!
I get asked sometimes for movie recommendations. This prospect makes me incredibly excited yet also horribly flustered. There are so many great films out there - trying to narrow down a couple is almost impossible. So I'm picking themes now. 

Film Picks: Drug Movies
Drugs. For something so destructive I can't help but be attracted to the idea of them (don't do drugs, kids).  As modernized human beings we sometimes forget to be introspective - at least, more introspective than we have to be to get by. That's why I have a nice collection of drug films, because they let the viewer dig into the human psyche without having to experience it themselves. Highs/lows, uppers/downers, withdrawals- it's nuts. So without further ado, here are my top drug movies at the moment. 

Christiane F. (1981)
This German film is a true story about a young Berlin girl who frequents the '70s disco club scene. She meets a boy, Detlev, who she tries to get closer to by getting deeper into the drug culture. This film is graphic - a nice mix of heroin, barf, and prostitution. That and David Bowie pretty much did the whole soundtrack AND guest starred in the movie. It'll make you sober. 
(P.S. Here is a Crystal Castles album on Youtube with footage from the film, amazing.)

Enter the Void (2009)
This  film is literally a trip. If you have Epilepsy you best steer clear of this one. The movie tells the story from a first person POV of a drug dealer who gets shot during a bust. During the rest of the movie we see his perspective of limbo - or the void. The camera hovers over the city, seeing all of the chain reactions of his death. Paz de la Huerta plays his sister (AMAZING) and Olly Alexander (from my Skins post)  plays one of his best friends. This movie is super graphic as well, but worth it. Harmony Korine raves about Gaspar Noé (the director), so if you're looking for some new inspiration, check out his other stuff too.

Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Darren Aronofsky's best work in my opinion. The story shows the intertwined lives of 3 people and how they fell deeper in the drug world. A old granny thinks she is fat and buys diet pills from a sketchy doctor* which gets her addicted to uppers and essentially turns her crazy. Her story made my view the world differently. It's disturbing. My So Called Life fans see Jared Leto play a weed smoking drug dealer who shoots up heroin into a black and blue infected arm, too. Beautiful movie, awesome soundtrack, definitely worth a watch.

Trainspotting (1996)
One of those classic cult movies. Stars Ewan McGregor (young and cute) as well as Johnny Lee Miller. This movie, although it has it's gritty parts, is definitely more of a black comedy than anything. It's sort of a good time until it isn't. It will make you laugh and then cry. My favorite scene is when Ewan literally falls into the carpet after shooting up heroin (nice FX work!).

Across the Universe (2007)
One of my favorite movies of all time. It's a musical romantic drama set in the late '60s. I don't even like musicals and this movie MOVED ME. Julie Taymor (director) got the rights to a boatload of Beatles music and beautifully told a coherent story through each song. A young African American boy sings Let it Be during the 1967 Detroit Riots while later a reluctant Vietnam soldier sings I Want You (She's So Heavy) while carrying Lady Liberty through a Vietnam swamp/jungle. Fuck, BONO IS IN THIS MOVIE. There's some pot smokin, LSD drinking (don't drink the punch), and possibly some shroom action taking place in this movie, but I included it mostly because of the pure creativity of Taymor. You see scenes of proper '60s school dances transition to bonked out collage style circus acts. You have to check it out. 

Go (1999)
I've done a Film Muse on Go before, so I'll leave that post HERE. This movie is sort of like Run Lola Run where it loops over multiple times and shows different perspectives. It's a story about a drug deal for a rave gone bad. This movie stars our very own Katie Holmes as well. Cool soundtrack, cool people, cool cinematography, and definitely underrated. 

Prozac Nation (2001)
I admit, I get sort of territorial over this film. It's a rare gem, truly. It isn't a trip like Enter the Void, in fact, I think the only street drugs used in this film are ecstasy and weed, but this film is more about the pharmaceuticals: Prozac. It's a trigger movie, so watch out. It's true story of a young Harvard bound college journalism student (Christina Ricci) with a history of mental illness. She drives herself to become manic, pushing away everyone she loves (mother- Jessica Lange, friend - Michelle Williams). Prozac is seen as a method of breathing space in the end of film (not a substitute), and I wanted to include that because I don't think we have enough films about that type of situation. I cry every time I see this movie. Jessica and Christina's acting is heart wrenching.

If you have some drug movie recommendations for me, let me know in the comments! Hopefully I can take this series onto Youtube. I'm thinking about doing a post on '90s cult movies next. 

Keep it cool, 
Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion 


TV Muse: Skins "Pure"

Oh, Skins. It's truly  a love/hate relationship. I jumped on the Skins bandwagon when I was about 16 years old. I was genuinely interested in the concept: a teen drama set in the U.K. with awesome music and cinematography. Oh, and the fact that the U.K. has much less censorship compared to our American shows (which I still appreciate, thank you E4!). But with most things, the Skins fandom got out of control via Tumblr. Cassie in particular became part of an aesthetic in the eating disorder community, even though her character was a bit more multifaceted than perceived, at least towards the end of the series.  In my last year of high school, I could tell who had and who hadn't seen Skins, because those who had were trying to replicate their lives like they were starring in the show themselves. "Oh, wow" actually started popping up in conversations. Barfaroni, right? 

 Skins had become cult-ish, but it seemed like people only skimmed over the series' intent. 

What I liked about Skins as a series is that it focused on the complex issues that some teens go through. Seeing Effy transition from season to season was probably one of the best bridges built by television as a whole. Yes, the characters are romanticized and flawed, but they made the show what it is. We saw the destruction of the characters and we felt their pain. But with the glamorization by the fandom, I was worried about the three follow up episodes Jamie Brittain planned on releasing after the finale of the show. 

Today, I'm talking about Skins "Pure" (Cassie's episode). Let me be clear, I am not a Cassie fan. I never latched on to her character, in fact, I thought the writers really watered her down (cue in the Manic Pixie Dream Girl discussion). In the first season, she was the ditsy comedic relief, making sexual innuendos and exuding her "airiness" that everyone loved. She later turned out to be manipulative, selfish, and just plain mean. But that was when I started to respect the writers more, because they gave her depth and highlighted what eating disorders and mental illnesses can do to people. What I really disliked was the glamorization of Cassie in general. 

Skins "Pure" is soft. We see Cassie without her ditziness. We hardly even see her smile. She is grown and hardened. With the passing of her mother, we see her step up and put her alcoholic father in place. We see her as a nurturing figure to her brother, instead of a destructive and manipulative friend who flee's to New York.

What I liked most about "Pure" wasn't actually Cassie per say, it was Olly Alexander's performance who plays Jakob. In him, we see a mirror image of the former Cassie. He, like she was, is manic and living in his own world. Most people were ranting about how creepy it was that he was stalking her, and ranting even more about how she befriended him after finding out.  If you are viewing them as relatively normal people, then yes, that is freaky. But this episode was about voyeurism and mania, at least in my eyes.  Cassie and Jakob shared a manic love that ended (like most do) horribly. Cassie for the first time sees the destruction that someone else has caused instead of her.

"Don't spoil it Jakob, we have to remember the good times" 

Jakob is the manic (pixie) dream boy that we all fall in love with, as much as we shouldn't. He is shy, introverted, a bit off, but also controlling. He is Tate Langdon from American Horror Story. He is Billy from Buffalo '66.  He loves her so much that he doesn't even realize the pain he is causing  (Cassie and Sid relationship, remember?). If anything, this episode was about Cassie's struggle of facing her past illnesses and demons, while still trying to get by in a world that wants so much of her. 

I surprisingly really identify with these issues.  Being a film lover, voyeurism and manic behavior goes hand in hand - or at least is more digestible to us. If I hadn't been so conditioned to it, I probably would have dismissed this episode like so many others. But I think the writers did such a great job of revisiting a character, and not dismissing her past like they did in Effy's "Fire" episode. Overall, I'd recommend it to those who love Cassie as well as those who hate her, you might find something worthwhile in it.

Keep it Cool, 
Lauren Rose 

Curbside Fashion


Film Muse: Spring Breakers

So this has pretty much turned into a film blog recently. I'm okay with this, but I will get some fashion posts in here just to spice it up soon enough.

If you aren't a regular follower of my Youtube channel, Lauren Rose, I just posted two new videos:


Alright. Today we are going to be doing a Film Muse on Spring Breakers (2012) dir. Harmony Korine. I've been meaning to do this post for a long time because so many people disliked this film. I saw this movie in theaters when it first came out and honestly wasn't quite sure how to feel about it. I thought the Skrillex music placement was a bit past it's time, the acting was a bit uneasy, and it looked like a really expensive film for a indie director like Korine. But after watching it again, I can no longer deny that I LOVE THIS FILM. 


One of the biggest reasons why I love this film is because of the cinematic genius of Korine and Benoît Debie (cinematographer) combined. The shots are so beautiful that I took over 100 screen shots of this film when preparing for this post. If that doesn't convince you enough to watch it, I do not know what will. Each frame is treated with this amazing artistic respect when it comes to lighting, gels, and placement. Like Korine said in one of his interviews, he wanted it to look like a bag of Skittles exploded. Congrats dude- you made it happen.

When I heard that Korine was directing another movie, I was beyond psyched. He always has a way of making the audience feel moved, yet also very uncomfortable (Gummo, Trash Humpers). What terrified me so much was the cast - Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars), Selena Gomez (Disney), and Vanessa Hudgens (Disney). Now that's not a dig at child actors under big corporations, in fact, I think they are some of the smartest actresses out there because they are making BANK. What I was worried about was the outside attention it would bring to the film. Parents would throw their arms up in revolt and Hollywood would pretend to be concerned. It sort of ruins how even YOU see the movie - you expect it to be insanely provocative (which it pretty much was), and you begin to critique every Disney girl's line. If this was shot on a more independent scale with no name actresses, it would have had a totally different response. More on the actors' and actresses' performances later. 

If you haven't seen the film, you might want to skip this paragraph.
I really loved the opening scenes, a sleepy college, dodgy house party, and empty dorms. These few images set up the plot for the girls' robbery in such a seamless way. It just felt so still there. The robbery scene was again - PURE CINEMATIC GENIUS. We initially see a left to right tracking shot of the robbery from inside the getaway car. Later we get a peek of the actual event through flashbacks of Ashley and Vanessa's characters.  The placement of Nicki Minaj's "Moment For Life" song plus the illuminated neon signs made me SUPER invested for some reason. This scene was insane. 

As a feminist, I'm sure many of you are wondering how I can enjoy this film. I don't think I even saw any of the girls wear a T-shirt during the whole film. I agree that Korine's take of "the college girl" is perverted -  just like the industry that we as a society have created (Girls Gone Wild, Spring Break as a holiday, etc). I do acknowledge this "male gaze" of the film, yet I still enjoy it nonetheless. Most people seem to be upset because most of the girls have no back story, no emotional involvement (except Faith). But since when did it become necessary for directors to go so complex into the psyche of all of the characters? Korine chose to give us Faith (Gomez) as reference point of their morality - which I think is enough to understand the rest of the girls. Korine even stated that there was a ranking when it came to morality of his characters: Faith, Cotty (sort of a mother figure to Faith), and then Brit and Candy who were supposed to be on the psychotic and unpredictable spectrum. I think once you understand Korine's glimpse into the characters, their relationships and situations seem a lot more understandable. 

Performance Breakdown:
Faith (Gomez): I thought Selena did a great job in this film. She plays a cute southern and slightly sheltered girl who gets more than she bargains for. It's sort of a shame that her presence on set overshadowed everyone else though. Her character is only in 1/3 of the movie. I think she really took a chance with Korine and successfully shed her Disney quality. She also picked the right character to play, you never really see her in sexual situations. 

Cotty (Rachel Korine): AMAZING. Again, Rachel (married to Korine) was overshadowed by her fellow actresses' star value. She was the only one of the girls (except Hudgens) who did nude scenes as well. I felt like her acting was impeccable with some exceptions of some awkward voice over loops. She really protected Selena not only as her character but in real life as well. She wedges herself between Selena and real life horny party dudes to help her feel comfortable. Did anyone else notice this?

Brit (Benson): One of my favorites as well. We've all seen her on Pretty Little Liars, so I didn't worry too much about her acting (she is great on the show). She has a really great face for acting and showing emotions. Even though her character was "psychotic", she brought a side of venerability which I really appreciated. 

Candy (Hudgens): Better than expected to be quite honest. I think Hudgens is really comfortable with her stage presence and sexuality. At times I felt that she was a bit too overpowering in terms of ad libbing with Benson. I wish she brought more depth to her character, because most of the time she just acted straight up crazy. If that's the way Korine wanted it - then she did an amazing job. 

Alien (James Franco): Very interesting character. I think Franco did a really cool character study for this film. He was a comedic relief, yet also made the audience feel an alliance with him instead of seeing him as a total creep. If it had been anyone else playing the role, I think I would have viewed his character differently. But when it comes down to he, he is by far the most QUOTABLE person in this film.

"I got my tannin' oil, for when I wanna tan out by the POOL" 

"This is my fuckin' dream y'all. I got shit! I got fuckin' shorts y'all! I got 'Scarface' on repeat y'all! I got Calvin Klein Escape!"

"Sprinng Breaaak Forevaaa" 

(ATL Twins- actually really cool people - check out their interview on Vice)

One thing that I HAVE to talk about is the criticism of Selena Gomez's performance in the scene below. I heard some rumors about how she actually broke down on set (which actually fit her character) because she felt overwhelmed by the setting. Someone close to me at the time complained how racist she was because she was surrounded by a bunch of black people and couldn't handle it. Now let me explain something - what you see on screen in Korine's films is sometimes 100% real. The drugs, the entourages, the town locals who are cast, everything. I'd even go as far to say that some if it is almost like a documentary (filming Gummo for example). Apparently Korine surprised Selena with this scene in order to get a maximum performance (genius by the way). So how would you feel as a straight edge teen, being PLOPPED into a scene surrounded by real drugs and real people (probably) whispering stuff to you while you're in a skimpy bathing suit? Especially when people only know you as a Disney girl? No, you wouldn't be peachy-fucking-keen - you'd feel terrified- no matter what race the people were. As you can probably tell, Selena was NOT prepared for this - but it brought the most heartbreaking and true performance from her. I thought she was brilliant. Moving on. 

Some people also mentioned how they thought the characters weren't "real" - like teens today. I've already talked about the Spring Break industry, but I have to disagree with the statement above. These girls, although simplified, show the intense desire for life, and the mundane aspects of repetition. It is reinforced into our brains through the voice over loops of the girls. Some people thought this was stupid (partly because the acting wasn't amazing during the voice overs), but it really just tries to show the desperation that the girls have. I've met people like this, I've even felt like this myself, when you're so desperate for change you don't even care about the consequences. There are people out there without filters. Some of the more "civilized" people won't understand this. 


Before I finish, I need to dedicate a paragraph to Rachel Korine and her amazing performance. When she got shot by Gucci's entourage (by the way, forgot to talk about Gucci- his performance was hilariously bad but endearing), she had the most heartbreaking scene after. I loved the gels that they used to tint the shower scenes. Seeing her naked slumped down in the shower and NOT in a sexual way was the most beautiful scene. You feel her pain, her regret, her realizations. It all comes crashing down at this point.

The ending was a bit interesting. It was abrupt, and a little absurd (guy falling into the fountain after being shot, Gucci, etc). It leaves you wondering - will this be the last of it? I notice that Brit looked the most conflicted and changed towards the end, while Hudgens still looked unfazed. I'm not sure if that was supposed to be that way or not, but I thought I'd mention it.

My final thoughts are this: I enjoyed the movie, but you have to "come in the right way" when you see it. You can't try to pick apart the Disney girls' performances, or you will just miss the characters' developments. I was actually talking to a manager at one of my favorite theatres about this movie, and he bashfully said that he loved it (he was probably in his late 30s). His perspective was different than mine because he had no idea who the Disney stars were, with an exception to Gomez. Can you image that? Watching a movie in an unbiased way? Yep. Anyways, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, it's a good time.

Keep it cool, 
Lauren Rose
Curbside Fashion