I got to watch an early screening of the indie dramedy Smashed, which hits theaters this weekend. The movie stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead like you’ve never seen her before. She plays a first-grade schoolteacher who loves to drink. Once her habit turns into a bad romance, she decides to sober up. But not before doing a whole bunch of scary and humiliating things that drunk people do.
Then I got to thinking about alcohol and movies. There’s movies like The Hangover, Old School and Project X, where drinking is suppose to be funny. We all laugh at the drunk guy saying bonehead things. But then there are movies like The Lost Weekend and Leaving Las Vegas that show the true horrors of alcoholism. Here are a few movies that have made me hate (almost swear off) alcohol in the past.
Charlize Theron may have been unrecognizable in Monster, but in Young Adult she transformed into a mean old drunken mess. It’s so sad to see her character drown all of her problems with a bottle of booze. She’s suppose to be this big, successful writer, but instead she’s hanging around bars drinking by herself.
Leaving Las Vegas
Nicolas Cage’s Ben Sanderson loses everything to his ambition of drinking. His wife abandons him, he loses his job, and when he realizes he can’t buy alcohol around the clock, he sells everything he owns and moves to Las Vegas, a place that never stops selling liquor. I guess, you gotta admire his commitment.
Henry Chinaski is a talented writer who likes to drink and pick fights. Barfly is a semi-autobiography of Charles Bukowski, also a writer who liked to drink and fight. It’s hard to feel sorry for Chinaski though because he’s living the life he wants. He thinks being drunk takes special talent. He’s blinded by his addiction and in the end chooses to keep drinking.
Although Alessandro Nivola’s Ethan Brand cleans up by the end of Janie Jones, he starts off as a beat-down band singer who drinks before. in-between and after sets. There are some heartbreaking moments when he’s onstage completely wasted. He’s a terrible father figure for his daughter, and his life is just a series of tragic events.
There’s not a lot of movies about female drunks. It’s usually men who have the drinking problem. But in Smashed, Winstead’s Kate loves to get trashed. Her morning routine is waking up from her hangover, getting in the shower and downing a beer to keep her buzz going. Sadly, her relationship with booze affects her life in several ways – blackouts, puke, piss. It’s disgusting.
Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is a hard movie to endure. Mostly because George and Martha put up with each other for so long. I’d hate to be a guest at their house.
The Lost Weekend
I don’t think there’s another movie that’s grasped the concept of alcohol abuse the way The Lost Weekend did. There’s a moment when Don Birnam is sitting at the bar and he tells the bartender, “Let me keep my little vicious circle.” It’s a chilling moment that shows just how totally lost this man is. Ray Milland’s top notch performance depicts a life that is much too common and real.