For the adventurous and the broken, sometimes reality just isn’t enough. Over the years, bohemian filmmakers and others enamored vicariously with the lifestyle of raffish and desperate drifters have committed stories of the highs and lows of illicit drug use. Often, drugs serve as a backdrop to a character, perhaps to inform the audience that this person is aberrant, or simply weak willed. Other times, drugs help to give a character mystique or some sense of mystical power.
Drug movies run the gamut of perspective from stories of the devastating powers of addiction and helplessness, like Trainspotting, or Requiem for a Dream, to absurdity and horror, or just plain hilarity. Reefer Madness, an anti-marijuana propaganda film from the 1950s is ironically celebrated by “stoner audiences” as a cult classic. Terry Gilliam’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, the story of alternative cultural icon, Hunter S. Thompson covering drag races in Nevada for Sports Illustrated, uses drug use as a narrative excuse to create surrealist imagery and vaguely satirical commentary on society and its norms. Of course more often than not, drug use facilitates comic relief and ridiculous escapades such as in Pineapple Express, or Half Baked.
These are some of the most noteworthy drug films in no particular order
An actor as polarizing as many of his characters, Leonardo DiCaprio’s name is sure to arouse as many groans as adorations. While many of his performances are rightfully lauded, many others are dismissed as “pretty boy” pandering. Whether or not it’s fair to hold an actor to task for his very first performances is a question that will have to wait for another article, but the fact remains that while DiCaprio has delivered performances adored by fans and critics alike, he has yet to receive an Oscar Award for Best Actor.
DiCaprio’s career began in television, but his second film, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, proved quickly that he was a serious actor with serious capabilities. Within four years, DiCaprio blossomed into a heartthrob and an A-list celebrity with roles in Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet, and James Cameron’s mega block buster, Titanic. In the years between Titanic and his first collaboration with Martin Scorsese, Gangs of New York, Leo began to develop his darker side, taking on roles like Richard in Danny Boyle’s, The Beach, and the titular role in The Man in The Iron Mask. These roles prepared him for some of the highlights of his career, many of which came at the direction of Martin Scorsese.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s career has moved steadily in a direction toward darker and more complex characters well suited for such an intense and classic actor. He is a classic leading man, clean cut with a pretty smile and a steely gaze, and if he keeps delivering performances like The Wolf of Wall Street’s Jordan Belfort, he will continue to be.