The Basketball Diaries (1995)

“I was just gonna sniff a bag but one guy says if you’re gonna sniff you might as well pop it and another guy says if you gonna pop it you might as well mainline.” Based on Jim Carroll’s 1978 autobiographical novel of the same name, The Basketball Diaries stars Leonardo DiCaprio as a star high school basketball player in New York City who rapidly descends into the nightmarish world of heroin addiction. Directed by Scott Kalvert, the film features an excellent supporting cast includes Lorraine Bracco, James Madio, Bruno Kirby, Juliette Lewis and Mark Wahlberg. One of my favorite scenes is the disastrous basketball game when Carroll and a couple of his teammates take the court totally wasted with The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm” playing in the background. The film’s soundtrack also features “I’ve Been Down” by Flea, “Blind Dogs” by Soundgarden, “Catholic Boy” by Carroll (with Pearl Jam) and “Star” by The Cult. The film’s legacy has been shrouded by controversy because of a fantasy scene where Carroll shoots up the school that eerily recalls the Columbine tragedy. According to the tagline, The Basketball Diaries is “The true story of the death of innocence and the birth of an artist.” Carroll, who died of a heart attack in 2009 at the age of 60, makes a cameo in the film as a drug addict named “Frankie Pinewater.”

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