Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Finals And A Requiem

Well, I made it through my Algebra final on Monday...barely. To put it simply: the problems that I actually finished, I think I got right. I'll be getting the grades back on Friday, so we'll see how it turns out. I did good enough during the course that I don't think a poor showing on the final would cause me to fail, but I'd like to pass with more than a C if I can help it. Other than that, I've had a two-day break from exams, with one tomorrow and two Friday. Luckily, I'm not feeling too stressed out, though I am sad about having to leave this place for a whole month (yep, Christmas break is that long).

On another note, I didn't sleep too well last night. You know why? Because everyone on our floor got together to watch Requiem for a Dream, and I watched as well right before going to bed. Now, before I begin, let me just say that our floor is not easily fazed by scary or disturbing movies. We've watched Dawn of the Dead, the Saw trilogy, and a slew of other creepy films together. But Requiem easily takes the cake in my opinion, and judging by the tense atmosphere in the common room during the movie, I think it didn't sit well with too many other people either.

But maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. For those who haven't heard of Requiem (and I don't think I'm wrong in saying that it's somewhat of an obscure film--its NC-17 rating didn't help it much), it is a brilliant and gut-wrenchingly intense movie experience. Made in 2000, the film chronicles a little less than a year in the lives of four drug addicts--three young heroin users (Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, and Marlon Wayans), and one aging pill-popper (played marvelously by Ellen Burstyn). The movie is such an in-depth look into their sordid habits and unraveling lives that at points you just wish it would back off and give the viewer a chance to breathe.

But it doesn't. It is an eerily tense movie--ingeniously edited--that shows the firm grip that addiction has on its four protagonists' lives. And not just drug addiction either. Before getting hooked on diet pills, Burstyn's character is seemingly addicted to television--when she becomes enthralled by the TV, it is shown in the exact same close-up and fast-paced style that the other characters' heroin usage is. Requiem issues a statement that makes it much more than just the world's longest "Say No to Drugs" ad: when you let something else take control of your life, you're only setting yourself up for destruction. And that destruction--portrayed in the film's climax--is enough to send chills up and down your spine and haunt your dreams. I know it did mine.

I sound like I'm a professional critic. But what can I say? I really loved this movie (even though it's the kind of thing I only want to see once). I recommend that if you haven't seen Requiem--rent it and watch it. Yes, it's extremely offensive to even the most hardened sensibilities. It cuts no corners and isn't afraid to show you some of the worst that the human experience has to offer, but it will move you. Granted, it may move you towards feelings of sadness, pity, and a sense that you need a long, hot shower. But if you're like me, after seeing this ruthless portrayal of our cold and shattered world, you might realize just how grateful you are that there is a God out there that will one fine day make things right.

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