Drugs

The United States vs. Billie Holiday

Hollywood loves a good downward spiral tragedy, especially when it involves a celebrity, real or imagined. The beautiful and talented disintegrate in full public view, from drugs, alcohol, or self-destructive behavior. We can’t look away. These stories are also Oscar-bait (look at all the nominations for A Star Is Born incarnations, or Renee Zellweger walking …

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Rocketman

This film chronicles a flamboyant, iconic singer from his meteoric rise to superstardom in the 1970s, to hitting rock bottom from sex and drugs and rock and roll, to his triumphant comeback in the mid-1980s. Wait, is this Bohemian Rhapsody? No, this time instead Queen’s Freddie Mercury, it’s a musical biopic of pop star Elton John, …

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T2 Trainspotting

Set 20 years after the original, and reuniting all of the original players, the film centers on prodigal son Renton (Ewan McGregor), who returns to Edinburgh two decades after ditching his mates and running off with their money. Partially repentant, partially lonely, partially curious about what’s become of his old friends and partially eager to …

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Dope

Virtual unknown Shameik Moore (who’s had a handful of guest-starring spots on TV shows) makes his big-screen leading-role debut as Malcolm, a super-smart, straight-A inner-city-L.A. high schooler with dreams of attending Harvard. He and his best pals, Jib (The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons), are ‘90s hip-hop aficionados, who dress in …

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Amy (2015)

I remember exactly when I heard that Amy Winehouse died, and I was pissed. No, it was not because Amy had met with what can really only be deemed an unsurprising early death (joining the “27 Club” of dead singers). It was because the death of this young woman who, by all media accounts, was …

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I Smile Back

Sarah Silverman makes her dramatic-lead debut – and does a decent but not outstanding job – in this paint-by-numbers story of a wife and mother trying to hide her drug and alcohol addiction from her family. Unfortunately, Silverman never really seems connected to the character or the material, and much of her character’s behavior in …

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Cake

Jennifer Aniston stars as Claire, a woman who’s lived through just such a trauma and who, as a result, has chosen “alcohol and opiods” as her coping mechanism of choice. Angry, sad, depressed, resentful, hurt… Claire’s not really a pleasure to be around, and has cloaked herself in a protective armor of insults, cutting remarks …

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