Cinema Stoner: Trainspotting 2 & Liberty Haze


THE CANNABIS: Liberty Haze, half gram joint

I smoked before leaving the house. Walking to the Prospect Park Q stop, the snowy hellscape of Brooklyn became slightly more tolerable with the pleasant effects of Liberty Haze, a warm brain hum shielding the cold’s extremities.

I kept my sunglasses on in the subway, eyes bleary from the pungent effects of this sativa-dominant hybrid. I hunkered into a window crook and listened to Knxwledge’s HUD Dreems, keying in especially to the rhythm track at 9:07 of “Side D”. Twenty-five minutes into the high, I had trouble not eating the watermelon sours in my pocket.

By the time I reached my destination, I had reasoned that I would eat less of the watermelon sours if I bought more candy. One’s logic system while high on this smooth-smoking flower remains intact, if circuitous.

So I went to a drugstore and snagged a can of Coke and two large boxes of Dots and Mike & Ike’s. (This weed is unsparing on one’s appetite for gelatinous sweets.) Coat suspiciously packed, I entered the multiplex.

THE CINEMA: T2 Trainspotting

Enjoyment of Danny Boyle’s T2 Trainspotting largely depends on your association with the first. Still a huge fan of Trainspotting like myself? This will be a good two hours well spent—especially when lit.

The movie is also a feverish homage to middle age, an often mesmerizing travelogue of lost humans hurtling through years without learning the lessons they need to become adults. Renton (Ewan MacGregor) returns from hiding out for twenty years to make amends with Simon (“Sick Boy,” Jonny Lee Miller) and Spud (Ewan Bremmer). Haunted by his own thieving of his two former best friends, Renton attempts to resurrect the relationships that characterized his heroin-fueled youth.

Indeed, T2 is a hagiography of itself, glorifying in lavishly-detailed flashbacks the early days of our aging heroes – Boyle’s take on Renton and Sick Boy’s first shooting-up of heroin is one of cinema’s most loving portrayals of addiction. But the film bookends this nostalgia with a brutal, messy, perfectly-shot fistfight between present-day Renton and Simon. They quickly make up, and soon sweep Spud into a plot to open brothels across Edinburgh, with an escaped-from-jail Begbie (Robert Carlyle) hot on their tail.

T2 uses its maze-like locations better than the previous film, staging the action in every cranny of Scotland’s castle-like city. For large sequences, I became lost in the sheer kinetic force of the visuals, especially in a masterful scene where a coked-up Renton and Simon steal ATM cards from a gathering of Scottish sectarianists, only to find themselves center stage improvising an anti-Catholic song for the entire crowd.

The lone fault in T2 Trainspotting is that it occasionally feels like a 45 RPM record played at 33. (And those who haven’t seen the first will be totally lost.) MacGregor’s retread of the “Choose Life” monologue – updated to include digs on social media and the alienation of identity politics – doesn’t have the propulsive force of Trainspotting’s morphine-shot opening, an iconic series of images and words forever emblazoned in the minds of Generation X’s hipster culture.

But maybe Boyle recognizes his audience is getting older as well – the more leisurely design of T2 mimicking the weary pace of middle life. At my showing, the packed house of mostly over-35-year-olds was filled with knowing “hmms” and laughter of recognition at T2’s kinetic remixing of its own mythology. Halfway through the film, Simon wearily leans over to Renton, intoning: “Nostalgia. That’s why you’re here. You’re a tourist in your own youth.” I felt like he was talking to us too.

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