Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Sacha Baron Cohen Reportedly Returning To Write, Produce, Star In & Direct The Freddie Mercury Biopic Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Watch: James Bond Is Back In First Trailer For 'Spectre' Starring Daniel Craig, Lea Seydoux, Dave Bautista, & More Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Terrence Malick's Next Film With Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara & Michael Fassbender Reportedly Gets Titled Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' Watch: Jake Gyllenhaal Gets Bloody And Bruised In First Trailer For Boxing Drama 'Southpaw' New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books New Infographic Lays Out Canonical 'Star Wars' Timeline With Films, TV And Books First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' First Official Image: Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor In 'Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice' Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Watch: First Trailer For Arnold Schwarzenegger's Zombie Pic 'Maggie' With Abigail Breslin Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Idris Elba Replaces Jamie Foxx In Harmony Korine's 'The Trap,' Al Pacino, Robert Pattinson, James Franco Also Join Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut Watch: Explore The Loneliness Of Sofia Coppola's Films With This Supercut 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors 10 Terrible Films Starring Great Actors Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Tom Hanks Acts Out His Filmography In 7-Minutes On 'The Late Late Show' Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending Watch: Trailer For 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' Unrated Blu-Ray Edition, Will Also Feature An Alternate Ending New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' New Directors/New Films Review: Jia Zhang-ke Produced 'K' Is A New Take On Franz Kafka's 'The Castle' The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

Drink Up: 5 Movies About Alcoholism

The Playlist By Simon Abrams | The Playlist November 1, 2012 at 11:00AM

“Flight” is as strong as it is because it never pulls punches when it comes to portraying the dark side of protagonist Whip Whitaker’s (Denzel Washington) alcoholism. Whip’s character arc is as moving as it is because he’s surrounded by people that don’t know how to help him and people that want to hide him away so he can’t further embarrass them. Addiction is presented as an individual’s choice, albeit one that is incredibly hard to stop making, and “Flight” is just the latest in a line of humane and unsentimental dramas about alcoholics. From the horrors of finding one more drink in “The Lost Weekend” to the bitterly funny skid row life depicted in both “Barfly” and “Factotum,” this list is dedicated to films that neither baby their audience nor judge their protagonists too harshly. So before you see “Flight,” check out these five superior alcoholism dramas.
8
Flight, feature, header

Flight” is as strong as it is because it never pulls punches when it comes to portraying the dark side of protagonist Whip Whitaker’s (Denzel Washington) alcoholism. Whip’s character arc is as moving as it is because he’s surrounded by people that don’t know how to help him and people that want to hide him away so he can’t further embarrass them. Addiction is presented as an individual’s choice, albeit one that is incredibly hard to stop making, and “Flight” is just the latest in a line of humane and unsentimental dramas about alcoholics. From the horrors of finding one more drink in “The Lost Weekend” to the bitterly funny skid row life depicted in both “Barfly” and “Factotum,” this list is dedicated to films that neither baby their audience nor judge their protagonists too harshly. So before you see “Flight,” check out these five superior alcoholism dramas.

Barfly

Barfly
Scripted by Charles Bukowski, slice-of-slum-life drama “Barfly” stars Mickey Rourke as regular Bukowski stand-in Henry Chinaski. Unlike Matt Dillon’s version of Chinaski in “Factotum” (see below), Rourke’s Chinaski likes being unmoored and unnoticed by anyone outside of the bars he frequents. His relationship with Faye Dunaway’s Wanda Wilcox is symbiotic in that they both enjoy each other’s company but Chinaski isn’t really dependent on her to get by. That nonchalance defines Bukowski’s fly-on-the-wall style of drama. Chinaski looks down on anyone that makes a big to-do about how they’re feeling, so no surprise when he harasses a couple necking in a car stopped at a red traffic light. Bukowski and “Barfly” director Barbet Schroeder prefer an anecdotal narrative where supporting characters come and go. Chinaski’s lifestyle as a drunk, who also happens to be a talented writer, is subsequently defined by his experiences rather than by contrivance. That matter-of-fact tone allows narrative episodes and bit characters, like Frank Stallone’s belligerent bartending antagonist, room to grow without the added pressure of meaning anything beyond their immediate importance to Chinaski. To be free from the pressures of living a mundane life, Chinaski embraces the instability of his life as a given, making "Barfly" an atypically nuanced character study.

Days of Wine And Roses

Days of Wine and Roses
A simple but devastating concept guides “Days of Wine and Roses,” Blake Edwards’ bittersweet romance: you don’t need alcohol to have an addictive personality. In fact, alcohol doesn’t immediately have a devastating effect on the lives of its two lead protagonists, PR man Joe Clay (Jack Lemmon) and secretary Kristen Armesen (Lee Remick). The two meet, he innocuously introduces her to alcohol with a few Brandy Alexanders, and they soon marry. But in time, it becomes apparent that the problem with both Joe and Kristen isn’t that they drink, it’s that they’re predisposed to drink to excess. Joe’s AA sponsor (Jack Klugman) explains this to him later in the film, pointing to Kristen’s habit of snacking on chocolate as a warning of her potential to become an alcholic. And even after Joe gets sober, he doesn’t say that he used to be an alcoholic, but rather that he still is an alcoholic. That self-diagnosis tempers even the film’s most sensational scenes, like the one where Joe stumbles around, bawling and shrieking in vain while looking for a drink. As Klugman’s character says, the alocholic lives in a separate world from society: they just usually don’t know it until they hit rock bottom.

Factotum

Factotum
In adapting Charles Bukowski's semi-autobiographical novel “Factotum,” co-writer/director Bent Hamer assigned himself the unenviable task of encapsulating Bukowski's I-hate-everyone-especially-me worldview without making it seem either too self-serving or self-pitying. Hank Chinaski (Matt Dillon) is, after all, defined by a queasy feigned indifference towards everyone around him and a trenchant kind of misanthropy. Thankfully, Hamer succeeds in finding the right mix of bitterly funny humor and bleak drama to characterize Chinaski thanks in no small part to Dillon's versatile performance. As an alcoholic and an intellectual that's simultaneously too proud and disinterested to hold down menial work, Chinaski craves recognition for his writing. He even suggests to his fair-weather girlfriend Jan (the never-not excellent Lili Taylor) that people only think they need love because affection is one way people show each other that they value each other. And that's in a weird way what makes “Factotum” so bitterly funny. To get anywhere, Chinaski knows that he'll have to suck up to people he considers to be his inferiors, people who are presumably lying to themselves when they refuse to empathize with Chinaski. Chinaski's arrogant, and perpetually self-destructive, but he's also not wrong.

This article is related to: Flight, Denzel Washington, Features


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates