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Cinema: the perfect drug

Spring break is over. This might be the first time you’ve seen daylight in more than a week. You might not even remember what you did. If your rent money is gone, your underwear is missing and you have a headache, take heart: You are far from alone. Not only are students all over the country sharing this experience, innumerable movies deal with the irresponsible behavior and illegal substances that are often so attractive to the college crowd. Here are a few to see.

Drugstore Cowboy

For Bob (Matt Dillon), Dianne (Kelly Lynch), Rick (James Legros) and Nadine (Heather Graham), life is a series of pharmaceutical robberies and injections. After one of the squad dies of an overdose, Bob has to take the body out of a motel room under dangerous circumstances. He then decides it’s time to sober up. However, after a lifetime of drug use and crime, he finds it difficult to do. Upon his attempt to enter more legitimate forms of society, Bob finds he has none of the characteristics associated with a law-abiding citizen. All of his friends are involved in drugs, and he doesn’t even have identification, forcing him to leave everything he knows behind.

Enlightening for those who were never involved in such things and identifiable for those who were, Drugstore Cowboy is a movie that provides clear insight into the mind of someone hopelessly addicted. It is an important movie that brings to light many misunderstood and often falsely represented facts regarding the conspicuous consumption of sensation-producing substances, as well as the real reasons people may have for changing their ways.

The Big Lebowski

If following the lives of pharmaceutical drug users doesn’t provoke interest, there are movies that have become classics in vastly different cultures. The Big Lebowski, revered by many, is perhaps the funniest movie of all time.

Jeffrey Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) is an often-stoned, White Russian-drinking deadbeat who seems to have never worked for a living. When thugs come into his house, peeing on his rug and looking for money owed to them by another man’s wife, the plot begins to unfold. It turns out there are two men named Lebowski. It is the wife of the Lebowski played by David Huddleston who actually owes the money. The plot becomes more complicated as a group of nihilistic Germans, a feminist artist and a pornographer join both Lebowskis in attempting to get their hands on the money. All the while, indomitable Vietnam veteran Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) is whispering into Jeffrey Lebowski’s ear, telling him of his plans and ill-conceived strategies about how to handle the situation. The bottom line: If you haven’t seen it, you need to go to more parties.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Then there are those who will try simply anything. They have no particular vice but seem to be more addicted to vice itself. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas covers the spectrum. From prostitution to theft, vandalism, fraud and the rampant consumption of nearly every drug known to man, Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benicio Del Toro) do it all without any hesitation. They are partners in an insane spree of drugs and sex that extends from Beverly Hills to Las Vegas and back again. They pay no attention to consequences and, armed with a heavy supply of substances, do anything their whims dictate. The movie is an adaptation of the novel by cultural icon and author Hunter S. Thompson, who Johnny Depp’s character is based on. There is no real plot to speak of, and much of the movie is left to the viewer’s interpretation. It’s a worthwhile movie and will easily provide humility, since no one’s behavior can possibly be as irresponsible as these two.

Requiem for a Dream

But, of course, fun and irresponsibility can have consequences. Requiem for a Dream focuses on the downward spiral of two couples whose drug use turns into abuse, vastly affecting their lives for the worse. In the end, drugs consume them. Their drug use, which in the beginning is comparable to that seen in the previous movies listed, leads to hospitalization and death as it escalates. The portrayals are deeply affecting. The loving sexual relationships each pair shares turn into a perverse and pornographic excuse for drug money by the film’s end.

All of life can’t be, and shouldn’t be, spring break. Welcome back to consciousness.