Friday, August 14, 2015

Mock Squid Soup: Trainspotting


MOCK! and The Armchair Squid are proud to present 

Mock Squid Soup: A Film Society!

How could your old pal, Cherdo, possibly pass up any
opportunity to frolic with Mock & Squid? I can't!

You can jump in the cauldron, too -- Sign up at the bottom of this post.



Starring
Ewan McGregor (Mark Renton)
Ewen Bremner ("Daniel "Spud" Murphy)
Jonny Lee Miller (Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson)
Robert Carlyle (Francis "Franco" Begbie)
Kelly Macdonald (Diane)
Kevin McKidd (Tommy McKenzie)

Director Danny Boyle made one of the biggest cult films to come out of the 90s. Based on a book by Irvin Welsh, Trainspotting (1996, R) is one of those films that you love or hate. Personally, I've always loved this energetic cautionary tale of five rebellious lads from Edinburgh, even as it goes to all the dark, depressing parts of addiction. The lies, manipulations, false starts and perilous falls are all here and it's not pretty but the gang is tied together by the pursuit of the next high. Early on, you have to ask yourself if anyone is going to get out alive and "choose life."



The film opens with a security guard in hot pursuit of Renton and friends as they are running through the streets of Edinburgh after partaking of a few five-finger-discounts. With Ewan/Renton narrating in the background, the circle of friends are introduced. Spud is the good hearted pal; simple minded but faithful friend to Renton. Sick Boy is amoral and Sean-Connery-obsessed; his impression of the Scottish spy icon is perfect. There's clean cut, athletic Tommy and last but not least, Begbie, always looking for an opportunity to lash out, be offended, or just start a violent altercation for no reason at all. He lives for that!

Renton decides to give up heroin and obtains opium suppositories (not his first choice) to cushion withdrawal. One of the gag-inducing scenes in the movie is when a bout with diarrhea causes Renton to lose the suppository in "The Worst Toilet in Scotland." In a surreal break from reality, he dives in the commode and goes after it. Desperate times call for desperate measures...real desperate.

Holed up in his room, Renton suffers through withdrawal, eventually pulling himself together enough for a night on the town with his friends. He meets Diane and goes home with her, only to find out in the morning that she is just fifteen. That little surprise becomes fuel for blackmail; Diane wants to make sure Renton is wrapped around her finger. 

Tommy is the only one who seems to have his act together and involved in a relationship. Renton causes their breakup when he takes one of their homemade movies and Tommy is never the same. Soon, Renton, Spud, Sick Boy and Tommy are all back on heroin. After crashing at the local drug house, Renton awakes to the screaming of their friend, Allison. Her baby, tucked away in a filthy adjacent room, is dead from neglect. There's an uncharacteristic show of despair and remorse from Sick Boy and they all realize he was probably the baby's father. That particular scene is so powerful, it always shakes me up a bit. 

Spud and Renton find themselves before a judge for their misdeeds. Renton gets off with his proud proclamation that he is determined to beat his addiction, while the hapless Spud ends up in jail. 

Craving one more high, Renton nearly overdoses and his parents decide to take matters into their own hands and make him go "cold turkey" at home. It's a hallucination-driven scene meant to give anyone the willys and I don't want to ruin it, future viewers!

Renton decides to get away and build a sober life in London; he saves his money and rents a room. We see him writing to Diane, his jailbait friend. The calm ends when unwelcome guests, Begbie and Sick Boy, follow him.


While in London, Tommy dies and the three return to Edinburgh for his funeral. Spud, now out of jail, joins them and once more the toxic mix of friends take a downward turn. Sick Boys suggests that they take part in a lucrative drug deal with Renton providing the start up money; the deal goes through and they get a wad of cash. With their new found fortune they celebrate at the pub and Begbie does what he does best: attacks a patron, causes a violent scene, and ruins the outing. 

Renton is finally over it. With only Spud as a witness, he takes the money and leaves while the guys sleep.

Once again, Renton vows to stick to the straight and narrow and "choose life." The closing scene is iconic! See it by clicking here...language warning.
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Final thoughts...

Why do I like this movie? I've asked myself that a million times. Drugs, crime, death, and the same mistakes made over and over. Roger Ebert had a great quote about this film and the drug lifestyle portrayed: "But what else does it do? Does it lead anywhere? Say anything? Not really. That's the whole point. Drug use is not linear but circular. You never get anywhere unless you keep returning to the starting point. But you make fierce friends along the way. Too bad if they die."

Part of it is the action and energy of the film. The music is fantastic! The actors all give absolutely great performances; I don't think there's a slacker in the bunch. This was the film that first introduced me to Ewan McGregor and made me want to see more of his work. It's pre-Star Wars, peeps! And in the end, Renton is hopeful.

All I can say is "check it out!" If you can get past the toilet dive, it will pull you in. Watch it and come back to give your verdict in comments.

Join us!


38 comments:

  1. DOC CHERDO ~
    I never saw this movie. Mainly because after 'TERMS OF ENDEARMENT' won the Oscar for 'Best Picture', I swore off Hollyweird forever.

    And then of course there's Roger "Thumb Down" Eggbert, whom "all the king's horses and all the king's men..."

    Oh, well. I DID see Gabby Hayes in 'Bedlam of Beards', and I gave that two thumbs up and a good trim.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Well, there you go...

      If this were a film that said, "Do drugs! Great things will follow!" I would never watch it again and tell everyone who would listen that it was verboten.

      The reason I read, watch flicks or videos is because I like fiction that is well written. Transport me to a situation and tell the story from the inside out. It doesn't matter if the situation is the exact opposite of my life; in fact, I very much prefer that. Take me away for a minute and write well enough that it's believable. Books like Great Expectations that; Bless the Beast and the Children, Chariots of Fire, Up From Slavery, The Jungle...classics, contemporary, big seller or unheard of...if the story is well written, I'm in. If I read/see something and say "Whew! That was intense!" at the end - score.

      One thing this film NEVER does is give the impression or try to give the impression that anything they do is desirable.

      Delete
  2. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    Clean cut, athletic Tommy here - the good hearted pal; simple minded but faithful friend. :)

    I cheated and watched the gross, toilet diving scene on YouTube. It was beautifully choreographed - part Esther Williams, part mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs. I laughed. I cried. I hurled.

    The Roger Ebert quote you provided sums it up perfectly. Clearly,Trainspotting is a great film and one that is hard to watch. Many people will avoid it. They are the same people who look the other way when they pass a drug addicted soul in the gutter. To look, to risk eye contact with the fallen one, would make the passerby feel uncomfortable. To get involved or try to help would be unthinkable. Sometimes we need to get out of the comfort zone and get involved.

    Thank you for a great movie review, dear friend Cherdo. I wish you a safe and happy weekend!

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    1. Clean cut Tommy, you haven't turned away from the computer screen today? What gluttons for punishment we be (insert pirate "arrrrgggh").

      If only watching this film helped ANYONE. Nope; it doesn't. But it might open a person's eyes to the idiocy of throwing your life away bit by bit with drugs. Clearly, the only time this flick has an upbeat moment is at the end when Renton turns towards other goals and you can see the hope and anticipation on his face.

      I love the line: "So why did I do it? I could offer a million answers - all false. The truth is that I'm a bad person. But, that's gonna change - I'm going to change. This is the last of that sort of thing. Now I'm cleaning up and I'm moving on, going straight and choosing life. I'm looking forward to it already.

      In all the drug seeking, you never see that look on his face.

      Have a good day, Shade tree!

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  3. So good. Trainspotting came out while I was living in Japan. I remember the posters well. There was an enormous one of Ewan McGregor soaking wet from the toilet that loomed over the streets of Tokyo. That's the image that comes to me when I think of the film. I saw the movie with a Scottish woman, interestingly. Fortunately, she was not a heroin addict.

    I read the book first and as I mentioned last week, it's even better than the film.

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    1. I need to get the book; everyone says the book is better and the Broadway show is a little bit worse.

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  4. I'm married to the Great Scot, of course I've seen the film... many times! Spud's awakening was the best, and worst, scene I've witnessed, lol.

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    1. Of course, all Scots are required to see this one! Ha ha.

      When Spud finds money in the locker - that is a feel-good moment.

      Delete
  5. This is one of those films that I can appreciate and even understand why others like it, but continue to have mixed feeling about. I don't enjoy watching this movie, which is probably why I've only seen it all the way through once. It's not one I would turn others away from, but not sure I'd openly recommend either; it would depend on the person. Still, it's one of those movies that sticks with you and makes you think. Good choice...I thought that's what you picked. I can remember who guessed it.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. The Armchair Squid, of course! That dude has an encyclopedic knowledge of film. I think I'd have to choose something that came out yesterday to stump him.

      Thanks, Toi!

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  6. I LOVED this movie!! I really liked the music. The only hard part was they talk fast and with their accent, I missed a few lines here and there. So I would rewind a few times. Sadly, a dear friend of mine has a son that is struggling with addiction. Its taking a toll on the whole family. Good news is that the kid wants to get clean but bad news, the rehab costs a fortune. Weirdly, this movie has been playing in my head this week while watching my friend deal with this. Great review!! Its definitely not for everyone but the acting is SPOT on!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Iggy Pop made this flick, ha ha.

      My Hubzam cannot understand anything spoken with an accent. This film might as well been in Greek; once he misses so much of it he is mentally out and will switch it off.

      I, on the other hand, have absolutely NO problem with any accent and it may be the reason I have a lot of friends who are not native to the good ole' USA. One friend of mine (he may be reading this) had such a heavy accent that a teacher used to asked me to translate. Good thing she didn't understand him because he would get so irritated - he could understand her perfectly and she hadn't a clue as to what he said.

      When I worked for a certain government program, I was shocked at how many times some people tried rehab and maxed out their lifetime benefit. But it CAN be done.

      Have a good weekend, Holli!

      Delete
  7. Ebert was spot on with is quote on that one. Round and round it goes. Have yet to see this one, have to give it a go.

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    1. Yeah, it was insightful.

      Thanks, Pat!

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  8. Cherdo, you do get into these films! I have not seen this one, but will put it on my list. Have a fabulous weekend, my friend.

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    1. I was a library nut when I was a kid and a film junky later on...now I'm both. You have to have hobbies, right, Linda? Ha ha ha.

      Have a great weekend! How's the patio coming? Can't wait to see it.

      Delete
  9. I've heard of this movie but never got around to seeing it. You've made me think the time has come to seek it out. Thanks.

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    1. Let me know what you think! It's on Netflix now. Thanks, Stephen.

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  10. This is a frantic movie and I love the energy and craziness.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I disagree with your name. You may just be guywatchingmovies.

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  11. I thought Trainspotting was going to be about... trainspotting!
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railfan

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    1. See? And every other movie is so spot on the title...

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  12. I have heard lots about the movie and seem bits and pieces not sure I am in it for the long run though.
    As always outstanding review.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Thank you, parsnip! Hugs to thehamish and Watson, those gud dogs.

      Delete
  13. I haven't heard of that one yet. Interesting.

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  14. Haven't seen this one. Of course, my movie-watching has been sadly lacking in the last decade or so... ergo, not surprising.

    I do like Kevin McKidd...:)

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    1. I like KM, too. He was a cutie pie...still is.

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  15. I only saw this once when it first came out, and that scene with the baby still haunts me!

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    1. Amen! That was horrific. I definitely dreamed about that part. {{{SHIVERS}}}

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  16. Sorry-was on a bit of a break with my guy:) I saw this film in the theatre and it has great music, great acting and the ugliest toilet I have ever seen...well almost but that's another story. I also remember laughing when Spud is staying, I believe, at his girlfriend's home with her parents and something else disgusting happens. It is sick in so many ways but has a hopeful ending and was my introduction to Ewan McGregor

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    1. You're allowed to be on a bit of a break with your guy. :-)

      Some of the scenes are tough to explain, too, ha ha. The Spud-in-the-morning scene is one such scene.

      Delete
  17. I had a hard time getting into this movie and quit watching it, but glad you found it better

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    1. I'll read a book to the end that I'm not getting into, too. I like the full picture before I make a decision.

      Except for television...if a show hasn't got me hooked in 10 minutes, CLICK!

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  18. This was a great movie and very hard to watch at times. The dead baby was particularly horrific, I mean, can you imagine FORGETTING about your baby!!!

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    1. That is what was brilliant about the story: it pulled you in on so many levels, yet NEVER made any of it seems like something you wanted to be a part of. Trainwreck would have been a good name for this one, too.

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  19. Missed this one...perhaps it is a good thing....sometimes too gritty isn't my bag!

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    1. This would have been on that gritty list, Mock, for sure! ;-)

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo