The Basketball Diaries (1995)

Visions of the Other Side

Unless you are just filling space until you die, you’re going to want something out of experiences like this. The idea is supposed to be that someone can guide us to alternative worlds and report back with something useful or at least interesting. It is not enough to merely watch a loser devolve. “Mean Streets” gave us something about energy and honesty. “Requiem for a Dream” was an essay on vision. “Trainspotting” was a matter of comic irony as survival. Each of these had a reason for being.

What here?

One idea is that basketball somehow provides a framework for living. We see a lot of ball, but it is mere scenery. We see a lot of religion too. Sports and religion are cut from the same skin. But no real traction here: just something to rebel against.

Another idea is that we have the reporting “from the scene” as it really happened from someone who was there. A journalism of the soul by a transcendent talent. But nothing we see or hear gives any inkling of any talent; in fact the writings seem to be just like the visual inserts we get from time to time — incoherent and shallow.

Yes, Leonardo can be intense. But why? His energy in the role is like the kid he portrays, a waste. (We hear at the very end that he escaped drugs, but nothing of THAT journey.)

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.


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