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.


Richard Bourbon said...

You've convinced me. I'm going to rent it this weekend.

Great review, Jay. You so have a future in writing.

Amanda said...

You've convinced me, too. I'll rent that one and Polar Express this weekend (what a juxtaposition).

Jay said...

Thanks guys. :D One small-time dream of mine has always been to be a film critic, even though I really haven't seen that many movies in my life. But Requiem is amazing. I should warn you that it's also a really artsy film, and therefore rather weird. Just be prepared to be a shaken.

kurt_t said...

Half way through your post, I realized I'd seen some of that movie before. It must have been on Bravo. I loved Ellen Burstyn's performance in that one. I've always liked her. She recently wrote her memoirs.

Another movie of hers that I really like is "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore."

Jay said...

I've been meaning to see that, actually. She is quite amazing. She was nominated for an Oscar for Requiem, and I feel she got shafted when Julia Roberts won it for Erin Brokovich instead.

Amanda said...

Artsy movies are great. Have you seen I <3 Huckabees?

Jay said...

Heard about it. Lily Tomlin's in it, right? I heard it was pretty trippy ;)

grace said...


will you just please remember me as one of the "little people" one day when you are whatever it is you are destined to be???

;) I love you Jay! No matter WHAT!
Always remember that!
pam for the movie review...i want to see it and yet i'm a bit scared to see it...just don't want to see it alone...ya know?

Jay said...

Oh please, you people give me too much credit. ;) There are tons--TONS--of other people who can write like me, and many who are even better. Stop with the compliments--my head's big enough already :-D

Thanks for the love, Pam. Right back at ya, sweetheart. And definitely don't watch it alone. Then again, I'm a big baby. I've probably overhyped the whole thing.

All the best,

tilts_at_windmills said...

Requiem for a Dream is a great movie, but I don't think I could bring myself to watch it again if you paid me. It was almost too intense--more horrifying than any horror movie I've ever seen. You've definitely not overhyped it.

If you liked it, you'd probably like that director's first movie, Pi. It's even more "artsy" and weird, but it's less emotionally exhausting.

jerubaal said...

LOL you guys! I was on one of the drugs in the movie when I watched the movie!

Turning into her was much less fun after I saw her.