Drugstore Cowboy

The line concluding Matt Dillon’s opening monologue basically sums up the ever-popular drug drama genre: “We were playing a game we couldn’t win.”  Yet, director Gus Van Sant does more than simply guide us through the often lockstep plot of an addiction drama.  Rather than walk you through the plot of the film, I’ll just point out some features that gave this movie 4.2 stars out of 5.

The description of being high in the beginning, with accompanying animation, following the intense opening scene, let the viewer know immediately that he is in for a ride—with both the directing and the action.

Matt Dillon’s screen presence, piercing dark eyes, gaunt but distinguished features, and slightly raspy baritone provide a smoothness and cohesion that forms an excellent balance with the intentionally jarring directing and plot action.

Dillon’s bond with the policeman antagonist was humorous, and signaled that the movie certainly was not going to focus too heavily on the cat-and-mouse subplot.

Terrific, understated supporting roles.  Kelly Lynch is fabulous as Dillon’s cool and confident partner and romantic companion.

Great shots of dreary mid-80s Portland.

The eerily-arranged jazz (including a song with pigeon noises mixed in) and abundance of closeup shots lend a palpable discomfort–an itch not unlike the addictions of the main characters.  The music was excellent.

Overall, the viewer desperately anticipates the next episode of wild action or depraved, yet often touching, personal interaction.  In other words, every scene was like a drug high, leaving me craving even more.


About Mola Ram

The son of a Thuggee priest, Mola Ram emigrated from Philadelphia, PA, to Denver, CO, in search of three Sankara Stones. With two already in his possession, Ram believed all five would empower the Thuggee to destroy their Republican persecutors and establish his god Kali's reign on Earth. In Denver, he found a powerful ally in Chattar Lal, the Mayor of Denver. Ram poisoned Colorado governor, Maharajah Premjit Singh in 2009 and with Lal's help, subdued the heir: Premjit's young son, Zalim. The pair restored the palace's long-neglected Kali temple; and set up a mining operation beneath the palace, with the intent of locating the remaining stones. After stealing one of the stones — known as the Shiva Linga — from the village of Lakewood, in 2009 Mola Ram's plans were thrown into disarray by the American archaeologist Indiana Jones and his companions Willie Scott and Short Round. The trio freed the village children Ram had enslaved as miners, and stole the three stones in the high priest's possession. Mola Ram and his followers pursued the group to a rope bridge, where Jones cut the ropes, sending most of the Thuggee warriors to their deaths in the crocodile-infested river below. Mola Ram clung to the remnants of the bridge, however, and continued his battle against Jones. During the struggle, Jones' invocation of Shiva caused the stones to glow red hot. The move caught Ram off guard; he fell into the river but narrowly escaped being torn to shreds by the crocodiles. Today, Mola Ram continues to live in Denver and makes his living as a high school teacher. His interests include law, history, anthropology, sports, and live heart removal.
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4 Responses to Drugstore Cowboy

  1. This is where this blog could really be something. Really enjoy your takes on music and movies, even though you completely don’t realize that Cold Mountain is an amazing move. Anyway, just an awesome description of the movie, great imagery, added to my netflix. Hadn’t even heard of this movie before.

  2. Mola Ram says:

    This one is more mainstream than Van Sant’s other drug drama, My Own Private Idaho, which is REALLY trippy. MOPI is weird but worth watching in my opinion. He also directed Good Will Hunting and Milk.

    • I also really like Last Days. About Kurt Cobain, last couple days of his life, kind of an odd movie, tells the same story twice from two different perspectives back to back. There’s very little dialogue so Mrs. Stinson hated it, but I thought it was really cool. Watched it maybe 5 years ago and can still recall some of the scenes with perfect clarity. Really well done.

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