The best NYC drug scenes
Thu Jan 22 2009
From the Bowery of broken dreams to chic Upper West Side coke dens, the city has provided the backdrop for a number of memorable (and often monstrous) drug scenes. In honor of Film Forum’s one-week revival of The Panic in Needle Park, we revisit a few sequences that bring to mind the words just say no.
The Connection (1962) After bleating about “trying to make an honest human document” about junkies, an insufferable vrit director crosses over to the other side and tries heroin. Shirley Clarke’s depiction of the needle and the damage done was so shocking that the New York State film censors banned it.
Trash (1970) Factory stalwart Paul Morrissey had made an early short for Andy Warhol that recorded two addicts casually shooting up. With the second “Little Joe” film, the director upped the shock ante: When junkie Joe Dallesandro injects his fix at a rich couple’s uptown pad, it’s done in a graphic close-up.
Liquid Sky (1982) There’s plenty of smack and coke being consumed in Slava Tsukerman’s cult classic, but if you’re a visiting extraterrestrial, the heavy stuff is an endorphin secreted by the brain during orgasms. A great time capsule of the ’80s new-wave scene, the movie portrays the LES as a (shooting) gallery of freaks.
Jungle Fever (1991) Spike Lee’s drama on the taboos of interracial romances cuts the deepest when it focuses on the hero’s brother, Gator—a shuffling crackhead played by Samuel L. Jackson. Lee also gives us a horrific look at an NYC crackhouse (called the Taj Mahal) that resembles a 3-D Bosch painting.
Requiem for a Dream (2000) The climax of Darren Aronofsky’s baroque antidrug parable toggles between a number of very, very bad trips. Jennifer Connelly’s rock-bottom descent at a decadent Manhattanite sex party, however, is truly the film’s hellish pice de rsistance. The good news: Heaven looks a lot like Coney Island.