DID YOU READ

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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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.