Saturday, December 5, 2015
THE BASKETBALL DIARIES (1995)
Directed By: Scott Kalvert
Written By: Bryan Goluboff;
Based on The Book By: Jim Carroll
Cinematography By: David Phillips
Editor: Dana Congdon
Cast: Leonardo Dicaprio, Mark Wahlberg, Patrick McGaw, James Madio, Josh Mostel, Bruno Kirby, Lorraine Bracco, Juliette Lewis, Michael Rappaport, Ernie Hudson, Brittany Daniel, Cynthia Daniel, Toby Huss, Jim Carroll, Michael Imperioli, Vincent Pastore
Jim Carroll is a high school basketball player. His life centers around the basketball, and his dream is being a basketball star. Once in a while he gets stoned with his friends, and step by step, he falls into the dark world of crime and drugs. Once his mother expelled him out of the house, he goes into the streets of New York, and together with his friends they take drugs for which they steal, rob and even kill. As the time pass, Jim's situation becomes worse. It looks like he will never get out from his drug addiction.
This film was a big disappointment even though I had looked forward to seeing it I saw it in the theater and was greatly disappointed even then so it was shocking to me later when it hit DVD and over the years how many people like the film. It is because even though there is a wealth of material in the book somehow the filmmakers in the words of Robert DeNiro in the film “Copland” “You Blew it”
Even though i know this film has quite a few fans and more than a cult following. I just can't be apart of that crowd. I Went to see this in an empty theater when it came out in a times sqaure crumbling theater. That helped with the atmosphere of the film. I felt then that while the performances are good and tries to be daring. it constantly holds back and feels more practiced and on a set. Like they want the film to push buttons but were only willing to go so far. As they still wanted a teen audience. Even if you look at the poster it seems more a hard hitting heart-throb film. Then a character piece or story. Hell even representative of the book. Watching it a few times over the years. While it is a nostalgic look back at the actors early in their careers as well as seeing recognoizable Times Square of long ago. I still find the film disappointing.
A film based ion the diaries of poet Jim Carroll. who went from altar boy to junkie to rehab to writer.
This film shows what a great talent Leonardo Dicaprio has and would have in the future but he wasn’t quite there yet. in fact the only reason to watch this is his performance and the performance of Mark Wahlberg. The scene where he is going through Detox alone is a great piece of acting.
Popular misconception holds that River Phoenix was set to play the lead before tragically dying on the L.A. sidewalk. This is not entirely accurate. Phoenix was a big fan of the book, and as the film version entered various stages of readiness he was always the front runner. However, prior to his death, he had declined the role due to a combination of feeling he was too old to play a 15 year old, and trying to broaden his range with more adult roles.
Stephen Lang was offered the role of Jim's Basketball Coach named Swifty in the script. Lang declined citing the misrepresentation of the book in the script. The part was subsequently toned down as a result.
I’m thinking that the reason this movie got such a great cast involved in supporting roles and cameos was both a mixture of the heat Mr. Dicaprio was gaining at the time the fact that the book had been celebrated over the years and some were just his buddies. While the book is a interesting autobiography they gloss over the more seedier sides of the book. The script goes into the dark passages to make it a dirtier version then a afterschool special or TV-Movie but not quite enough to make a interesting feature. It’s nothing we haven’t seen before but it should appeal to teenagers because we haven’t seen a teenage character go through quite so much so fast due to they’re addiction
One of the biggest problems is the direction the book is set in the 70’s but the film seems set in the 90’s even though the film does seem to have scenes that seem to be throwbacks to the previous decade so it makes it a strange mixing and meeting. Even though the story is set in New York in the streets half the scenes seem to take place on sets because the backgrounds look fake and there is a surprising lack of people and extras in a lot of the scenes
The director even tries to set the screen on fire with iconic images that belong more in a music video then this film. Which is not surprising considering the director is a former music video director. Scenes like the guys playing basketball in the rain or the fantasy the lead character has of shotgunnning his teachers in a leather coat. Years later puritans tried to scapegoat the film and the scene for inspiring the columbine tragedy
I could gripe about a few scenes like we never really understand the relationship between Leo’s character and Ernie Hudson who seem to just know each other from the streets next thing he is almost his best friend forcing him to Detox and keep guard over him. I could also complain that near the end it seems like he is putting on a performance before he runs into a old friend but you can’t really tell waist a performance or was it a rehab meeting? The quick cutting is annoying and the writers could have chosen his better writings for scenes where we see him compose his writing and read it. The few pieces they do choose are not the best and don’t really give you the impression he is a future talented writer.
Mark Wahlberg later took the role originally offered to Leonardo DiCaprio in Boogie Nights, who turned it down so he could work on Titanic instead.
Mark Wahlberg makes an impression. Even if he looks too old to play the role of a teenager.
The film is more a coming of age film made for adults then teenagers, yet is marketed more towards the later. it's almost like a more adult after school special and while the film shows some of the joys of youth. Most of the time it is so morose, downtrodden and depressing that a dark cloud hangs over it. Even before he gets into the addiction and once he is in hardcore addiction it never shows the joys for him of taking the drugs. The film does contain a good performance by Leonardo DiCaprio who shows his talent as a actor who needs better to work with.
The film just never feels alive it is dreary and hopeless from the beginning, So that there never feels like hope or any good times. It never offers anything new or satisfying.
I Don’t think it’s good but you may like it so I would say wait for cable.