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Requeim for a Dream
Just say no: Requiem for a Dream is a nightmarish movie about falling in love while being an addict

The most toxic drug-addled romances on-screen

Take a torturous junkie odyssey through these harrowing stories of doomed devotion

Opening today in New York and Los Angeles is Heaven Knows What, a junkie drama from indie auteurs Joshua Safdie and Ben Safdie (Lenny Cooke, Daddy Longlegs). The film boasts a unique origin story as one of the brothers met their subject turned star Arielle Holmes while researching another project in Manhattan’s diamond district. Overtime the brothers convinced her to write about her life with drugs and lost love, which became the make shift screenplay and a soon to be published memoir Mad Love in New York City. Stories of addiction are nothing new, but the cinematography, intimate authenticity, and a breakout performance from Holmes set this film apart from the pack of junkie films of late. Caleb Landry Jones stars as her love interest, sometimes partner in crime, and turbulent aggressor Ilya. Heaven Knows What is filled with raw emotion, style, and a view into what’s happening to the kids who have real world problems. While lots of things bring people together, drugs can quickly tear them apart. Here we revisit classic movies about love, and something stronger than those fuzzy wuzzy feelings: drugs.


Heaven Knows What immediately brings to mind The Panic in Needle Park, an early Pacino vehicle centering around heroin addiction in New York City. Movies that show a Pre-Giuliani New York are always a treat and Manhattan’s Upper West Side is cast as a gritty wasteland full of dirty finger nailed tweakers, pimps, and not the botoxed old money housewives and finance bros of today. Pacino stars as Bobby, a charismatic druggie whose deep brown eyes focus in on ingenue Helen, underplayed perfectly by Kitty Winn. She’s taken with him, then overcome by the pull of heroin as she goes from dabbling to turning tricks in no time. Kitty loves Bobby. Bobby loves drugs and debauchery. It's always so hard to get on the same page with these men out here. Am I right ladies?

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 7/10

Bobby and Helen’s bender takes them on a wild ride and the film's (spoiler!) open ending tells us that it may be far from over.


The role that a child actor takes when they want to graduate to cinema adulthood can be fraught with controversy. Party Monster was Macaulay Culkin’s first movie after starring in 1994’s cheesy kid flick Ri¢hie Ri¢h. He transitions seamlessly into the role of Michael Alig, based on the pouty notorious “King of the Club Kids” turned murderer. Co-directed by Fenton Bailey who went on to direct The Eyes of Tammy Faye, and produce Rupaul’s Drag Race, the film has nods to John Waters and early reality TV production. Seth Green has never been more likable as James St. James, Michael’s best frenemy and drug enabler. Supporting roles from Wilson Cruz (My So-Called Life), Chloë Sevigny, Wilmer Valderrama, and Marilyn Manson round out the film. Come for the costumes, stay for the campy one liners.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 6/10

Michael Alig is the friend that is going to give you the night of your life yet you know it will end in misery, or in this case as an accomplice to a murder.

GIA (1998)

HBO’s daring docudrama Gia introduced much of the world to Angelina Jolie and her ample, perfect, bosom. This was Jolie before Brad Pitt and her kibbutz of rainbow children, the girl who wore a locket of BIlly Bob Thornton's blood draped around her neck, and leather pants that left very little to the imagination. The made for TV movie tells the story of Gia Carangi, an around the way Philly girl turned high fashion model that is not quite ready for the limelight shone upon her. Gia had a hole in her heart than could only be filled with affection, drugs, and reckless behavior that ends with her fatal contraction of HIV. One famous scene involves her carving her name into a receptionist's desk with a pocket knife as a horrific assistant looks on. You can’t help but love this woman. Jolie’s performance elevates this Lifetime TV fare into a midnight movie classic.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 5/10

Gia’s self destructive behavior is dangerous mostly to herself, but God if you don’t go down too once you fall for her.


“I have complete control of myself!” Christiane F. says as she sniffs her first lines of heroin at the tender age of thirteen. She just wants to fit in, hang out with cute boys and listen to David Bowie but we all know nothing is ever that simple. The title character is so cool that it hurts. A 90s era Craig Mcdean editorial come to life, colour wrapped in confidence and a touch of delicacy. Hash leads to heroin and before you can say handjob she’s a prostitute addicted along with her rag tag crew and hustler boyfriend. Endure the terrible dubbing and silly dialogue, which you will get used to about thirty minutes in. Christiane F. also boasts a stylish lens and the perfect soundtrack: all Bowie, all the time.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 6/10

Christiane F.’s descendance into addiction is especially troubling since she’s so young. A friend’s untimely death gives everyone slight pause but will the party ever stop?

RUSH (1991)

Two Texas cops go undercover, find heroin, and take things under the covers. Rush is a fantastic character driven drama starring Jason Patric, his mullet, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. He’s no newbie to vice and warns the cherub faced Cates (Leigh) of the dangers of going deep. It's a bit cliche but she’s intrigued by doing something bad, and boy do things go wrong very quickly. Rule number one in drug movies is that the dealers don’t let you score without sampling the product in front of them first. Then snap! You’re addicted, pasty, and desperately crawling on the floor looking for drug crumbs. The music is provided by Eric Clapton so you know it's as chill as can be, but interjected with searing guitars when the drama is kicking in.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 6/10

This is the kind of job that requires too much of one’s self with little payoff. I’d suggest taking desk duty instead.


The pinnacle movie about how falling in love while being an addict is an absolute nightmare. If you ever find yourself wanting to get really bummed out, give this guy a re-watch. Requiem pretty much takes a shit on anything positive you might have felt about humanity and (spoiler!) no one has a happy ending. An edited version of this should be shown in High Schools to deter kids of the freewheeling lifestyle that TV, movies, and music, usually romanticise. Addiction is hell. Though shot for shot Requiem is cinematically beautiful, the performances give it a cinema verite feeling that makes you worry if Jared Leto really had that dead black arm or if Ellen Burstyn really is this crazy in real life. The “ass to ass” scene remains one of the most horrific moments in mainstream cinema.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 10/10

Everything about this movie is a big “No” and there are very few parts that are chill. Just Say No.


Before Whitney and Bobby, Amy Winehouse and Blake, and Eminem and Kim, there was Sid and Nancy. Toxic is an understatement for their relationship that notoriously ended in tragedy in New York’s Chelsea Hotel. Sid and Nancy is the big screen version of this volatile pairing and Gary Oldman has never been better inhabiting the role so well that at times you forget that you’re not looking at Sid Vicious himself. It's a junkie love story with an amazing engine revving soundtrack.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 8/10

Love can kill you. The End.


Can love survive the streets of New York? Dope Sick Love poses this question in a documentary that is hard to watch, yet hard to turn away from. It's not romantic, it's real. Two drug-addicted couples lurk around the city, running small scale scams with each turning to desperate measures to score the next temporary fix or by some miracle a frappacino. Their “love” for eachother is as symbiotic as their addiction, and reads more as co-dependency than affection. Michelle is the most engrossing character with a thick 'New Yawk' accent that pours out of her slacked jaw as she impersonates a cop to rob John’s throughout the movie. Her general charm adds a bit of lightness to this dark movie. Give this woman a TV show (and some rehab).

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 9/10

The depths of depravity scene here including digging through garbage, and fighting on the street with McDonald’s food kind of takes the romance out of things.


After making his cult classic Kids, Larry Clark was still fascinated by junkie subculture but wanted to take his subjects on a road trip. This results are tonally uneven, and shows signs of Clark honing in on his signature style but the lead performances from James Woods, Melanie Griffith, and a lanky baby faced Vincent Kartheiser add depth to what could be seen as an empty caper movie. The placement of the two couples, side by side, acting as an old and young mirrored versions of themselves is also very unique.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 7/10

When no fucks are given, things are bound to end badly for these four.


Leaving Las Vegas is the kind of movie that really makes you understand the chaos and charm of Nicolas Cage. This is a serious role for him, yet his squirrely acting style, buggy eyes, and antics cannot be contained. Since he’s playing a heartbroken alcoholic drifting through Vegas it works pretty well. Cage’s Ben finds a companion in fellow lonely person Sera, the ever present hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold cinema trope that somehow, here, doesn’t feel forced. We’re in the front seat for their unravelling, through scenes of mistakes, blackouts, and uncontrollable shakes. Leaving Las Vegas is a role tailor made for Cage, and even won him an Oscar in 1995.

On a scale from sharing a pot brownie with your crush to involuntarily entering rehab together: 7/10

Misery loves company, and these two can’t get enough of it. Shame only one makes it out alive...