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The 30 Greatest Drug Scenes of All Time

The 30 Greatest Drug Scenes of All Time (photo)

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There are plenty of movies that depict drug use, but often it’s just a prop, a shortcut — a character does drugs on screen because he or she is bad, or out of control, or doomed, or simply not to be trusted. The effects are exaggerated, the consequences over the top or unrealistic. And so we felt driven to make this list, to sort through countless films to find drug scenes, some famous, some not, that have a ring of authenticity to them. The 30 scenes we picked are funny, sad, outrageous and sometimes awful, and they’re certainly not all depictions of drug use as fun, but we feel pretty certain of their legit greatness. In other words? No “Reefer Madness” here.

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30. Creedence Car Crash
“The Big Lebowski” (1998)
Directed by Joel Coen

White Russians may be the Dude’s poison, but it is a simple joint that nearly proves to be his undoing when he finally recovers his crapped out ’73 Ford Torino and the beloved Creedence Clearwater Revival tape that he left inside when it was stolen. Paranoid that he’s being followed by a mysterious VW beetle while listening to “Looking Out My Back Door,” the Dude finds himself in the nightmare scenario for anyone who’s ever smoked in their car when his attempt to flick the remnants of his doobie out the window lead to it bouncing back into his lap. He furiously fumbles for it out of concern it’ll set his crotch ablaze, yelping and trying to douse things with the beer he’s been drinking. What’s amazing about the scene is how what begins as a simple sight gag turns into a microcosm of the Dude’s entire odyssey, ending with the revelation of who destroyed his car (via a term paper on the Louisiana Purchase in the crevice of the cracked vinyl interior) when all he really wanted was to find his joint. And as with any trip, revelations occur in the most unexpected places, sometimes leaving a crashed car to show for it. —SS


29. Drey Discovers Dan in the Bathroom
“Half Nelson” (2006)
Directed by Ryan Fleck

One of the most empathetic and original portraits of drug addiction in recent memory is that offered by “Half Nelson,” the 2006 debut of writing and directing partners Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden. The film follows a Brooklyn junior high school teacher and basketball coach named Dan Dunne (played by Ryan Gosling) who also happens to be a crack addict. The pivotal scene is one in which Dunne seems about to cross the line between being a high-functioning addict and one who is officially out of control. Following a basketball practice he steals into the emptied girls’ locker room, shutting himself into a stall to smoke some crack. Tension builds around Dan’s need for release and competing need, perhaps, to be caught; the scene is shot as a sort of mosaic of impressions and fragmented angles. After taking his first hit a young student (Shareeka Epps) enters the next stall, and upon leaving discovers her teacher and coach in the throes of obliterative high. Her response is what makes the scene and sets the movie on its course. Fearful and yet contained, she doesn’t run and doesn’t yell, she just stays by his side until he’s able to figure out what he has to do. —MO


28. Elliott Joins Beverly in Drug Addiction
“Dead Ringers” (1988)
Directed by David Cronenberg

Whether they involve drugs or not, nearly all of David Cronenberg’s movies touch on the ecstatic euphoria and physical decay of addiction. In “Dead Ringers,” the schizophrenic life of a high-functioning addict is doubly made flesh in the persons of twin gynecologists of Beverly and Elliot Mantle, both played by Jeremy Irons. As Beverly descends into addiction, aided by drug-seeking actress Genviève Bujold, Elliot keeps up appearances, seamlessly substituting for his brother in high-pressure situations. But the façade inevitably cracks, and Elliot follows his brother down the rabbit hole. The final sequence, in which one eviscerates the other, serves as a chilling encapsulation of addiction’s endgame. In the end, all they have is their need, which consumes them both. —SA


27. Dinner Party Disaster
“The Boost” (1988)
Directed by Harold Becker

The afternoon before his big dinner with prospective investors, Lenny Brown (James Woods) does everything right, tipping the maître d’ to book his favorite table at an upper crust restaurant and refusing the Quaaludes offered by his neighbor to calm his nerves as ’80s smooth jazz swells in the background. But on the verge of landing the real estate deal of his career, Lenny can’t keep up the act, sneaking two lines of coke in the bathroom after his reservation gets screwed up, thus screwing over himself by returning to the table and launching into a tirade after his integrity is questioned. “My idea’s going to be on the cover of Fortune. You know what these guys are going to be doing? Carrying around some Arab’s dick,” he barks at his helpless wife (Sean Young). The anti-Middle Eastern sentiment may be the influence of “The Boost”‘s author, noted conservative and “Ferris Bueller” star Ben Stein, but the live wire act is all Woods, who probably unleashed a similar invective backstage at that year’s Spirit Awards where he was nominated, but did not win, for his electric performance. —SS


26. Church Hallucination/Confession
“Bad Lieutenant” (1992)
Directed by Abel Ferrara

If drugs can provide ecstatic highs, they can also result in the deepest of lows, magnifying pain and suffering in ways that border on the cruel. It’s this latter effect that marks the torturous church sequence in Abel Ferrara’s notorious “Bad Lieutenant,” in which Harvey Keitel’s dissolute cop confronts his moral and spiritual crisis through a narcotized encounter with Jesus. Wailing in agony, Keitel is visited by a vision of Christ, whom he first berates for being silent in the face of his own suffering, and then to whom he confesses his sins (“I’ve done bad things!”). It’s a portrait of accusatory rage, grief and self-castigation that encapsulates the character’s torment — and, via a final shot in which Keitel kisses Jesus’ feet and then looks up to see that he’s actually accosting a stunned parishioner, the film’s black sense of humor. Repudiating the notion that they’re merely a gateway to escape, Ferrara argues that, though drugs may offer momentary reprieve from personal misery, they ultimately amplify, and thus reveal, the true self. —NS


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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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