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Lewis Lewis Denby is a freelance videogames journalist and critic. As well as HonestGamers, he has written for PC Gamer, Eurogamer, The Escapist, Gamasutra and BeefJack.

Title: A bit of blow.
Posted: March 19, 2009 (04:35 AM)
As a quick aside, this week's Zero Punctuation over at Escapist is probably the funniest one he's done in a long time. Czech it out.

So: films.

It's funny. I never talk about film on here. I probably have more authority to do so than games, what with me studying film and all, but it's something I tend to keep very academic. I really should voice my views a bit more. After all, prolific film philosopher Aaron Meskin praised my ideas about the notion of movie authorship during a workshop yesterday, which made me feel all fuzzy. How pathetic am I?

Anyway. A few years late to the fold, perhaps, but on the recommendation of my girlfriend I watched Blow last night. We're both deeply interested in film. When we watch one - a good one, in particular - there tends to follow a period of about ten minutes where we don't say anything about it. Then we have some sort of mammoth discussion about is qualities and themes.

Last night, we just talked about cocaine. Not the film, really - Collette loves it (the film, not coke), but I'm genuinely not sure what to think. So this is some sort of vague attempt to get my thoughts in order.

Most notable was my reaction while watching it. I found it particularly uncomfortable vieweing, but I can't quite discern why. The general subject matter might be the most obvious reason. With me operating quite a lot in the music scene, there's a lot of coke about. Particularly last year. There's a line (ha!) in the film when Johnny Depp says "Everyone was doing blow." That's kind of how it is, occasionally, in certain circles I'm on the periphery of. In my group of friends, I'd go as far as to say there are very few people who haven't at least tried it. There are people I know who take a lot of it. Which is why watching something like Blow hits home a little harder than I'm comfortable with.

I watched a documentary by Blur's Alex James last year, in which he travelled to Colombia to do some inside reporting about the industry. A former addict himself, he was deeply disturbed by how coldly violent the cocaine vocation is. Blow does an excellent job of capturing that. If I didn't know the truth of the matter, I'd have probably thought the film seemed sensationalist, but it's not. It's surprisingly accurate. And that makes for scarier viewing than any horror film.

It's also strange how "drug-films" make me feel. They have a tendency of activating some sort of my brain that responds to the drug in question. Whenever I watch Zach Braff's excellent Garden State, the party scene makes me feel like I'm on ecstasy. That's a more obvious one - his character has taken a pill, and it's viewed "through his eyes". Blow is different - more removed and objective - but I still spend the majority of the film feeling on-edge and hyped up. I don't know whether that was an intentional ploy, or just a result of my being weird.

So the whole thing felt very awkward. I didn't really enjoy watching it. And I'm not sure what I'm supposed to take from it - it didn't open my eyes to anything, as it's stuff I already knew, and I'm aware that the filmmakers took a lot of artistic liberty to alter what is supposedly a "true story". George Jung is a really terrible, awful man. That the film nicens him a little (conveniently glossing over the fact that, having served his sentence and supposedly regretting everything, he immediately went back out there and attempted to move 2,000,000 of cannabis, getting locked back up in the process) didn't sit nicely with me.

This experiment didn't work. I've still no idea what I think of the film. Anyone else seen it?
[reply]

bloomerUser: bloomer
Title:
Posted: March 19, 2009 (05:06 AM)
I haven't seen Blow, but I know by now that drug subject matter films easily tip off moral/behavioural considerations in me that often get in the way of the film's content. This can amount to wandering attention, distaste or just plain old thinking about the issues of drug taking, addiction, junkies, etc. rather than watching the film in the more typical way where I'm just 'there', with whatever story and atmosphere are going on. Stuff from users' perspective in particular can make me judgmental or bored. So I can't say such films are ever high on my to see list. Still, the last 'users' film I saw was Candy, and I still think it's an excellent film, even if I did experience some of my wanderings during it. Probably it was good enough to kind of at least puncture my usual thought patterns on the subject, which are unlikely to be suppressed by an averagely made film.
[reply]

LewisUser: Lewis
Title:
Posted: March 19, 2009 (05:15 AM)
I thought Candy was really, really good, incidentally.

It depends how the film treats its subject matter. Something like Fear and Loathing (yes, an artile come book come film, but it's still a film ultimately) is about the drugs themselves, essentially. So that's fine - there's nothing to wander to. Something like Candy isn't really about the drugs, so the wandering is equally fine, 'cause that's kind of the point.
[reply]

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