THE 21 BEST FILMS TO WATCH

SPARKED BY THE RE­TURN OF TRAINSPOT­TING – THE DARKLY COMIC TALE THAT FURTHER INJECTED COOL BRI­TAN­NIA INTO THE CON­SCIOUS­NESS.

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE -

Ahead of the se­quel to Trainspot­ting, we re­flect on the film that cap­tured mid-’90s Cool Bri­tan­nia, and chart the other sem­i­nal movies you need to re-watch.

STAN SMITHS, GAZELLES, BUCKET HATS, ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, RAVES, OA­SIS, BLUR, PULP, TONY BLAIR, DAMIEN HIRST, KATE MOSS, NAOMI CAMPBELL, ECSTACY – AND TRAINSPOT­TING. NOW, TWO DECADES ON FROM THE MOVIE THAT DEFINED THE HELL-RAISING ‘WE-DON’T-GIVE-A-FUCK’ SPIRIT OF MID-NINETIES BRI­TAIN, JONNY LEE MILLER TALKS ABOUT ITS LEGACY, AS GQ WONDERS WHETHER THE SE­QUEL, OUT NEXT MONTH, CAN POS­SI­BLY CAP­TURE THE ORIG­I­NAL’S PO­TENT SPIRIT.

“If a film is good it will stand the test of time, what­ever it’s about. You know, whether it’s The God­fa­ther, or Star Wars, or, well, Trainspot­ting.” Jonny Lee Miller’s right. Though he’s also quick to check his words. “I know that sounded like I’ve got re­ally grand, lump­ing it in with legendary movies like that, but it’s true. If a movie’s good, it’ll stand up.” Stand it does – the orig­i­nal Danny Boyle piece as erect as the dis­pos­able nee­dle that pierced not only the veins of the mor­dant Scot­tish junkies it trailed, but the cul­ture of the time. It asked ques­tions. It prompted thought. It ex­plored re­bel­lion. It stuck. It stuck hard. And it still does. Trainspot­ting grabs au­di­ences from the getgo. With Ewan Mc­gre­gor’s Ren­ton as nar­ra­tor, the over-quoted open­ing so­lil­o­quy ca­reens into the au­di­ence much like the de­but in­tro­duc­tion to Ren­ton and Spud ( Ewan Brem­ner), stum­bling as they do along Ed­in­burgh’s Princes Street to Iggy Pop’s thrust­ing ‘Lust For Life’. “Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a ca­reer. Choose a fam­ily. Choose a fuck­ing big tele­vi­sion. Choose wash­ing ma­chines, cars, com­pact disc play­ers and elec­tri­cal tin can open­ers. Choose good health, low choles­terol and den­tal i urance. Choose fixed-in­ter­est mortga men hoose a starter home. hoo you friends. Choose leisurewear matchi ug­gage. Choose a three-pi suite on hir ur­chase in a range of fu g fab­rics. oose DIY and wonde e fuc u are on a Sun­day morn­ing. Choose sit­ting on that couch watch­ing mind-numb­ing, spirit-crush­ing game shows, stuff­ing fuck­ing junk food into your mouth,” rants Ren­ton. “But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life – I chose some­thing else.” That choice is heroin, the film an acer­bic and tragic play to the life of these Scot­tish

junkies (Lee Miller’s Sick Boy and Robert Car­lyle’s Beg­bie the ad­di­tional keys) and the ca­ma­raderie and even­tual be­trayal that cloaks their tightly held ranks. It’s an ode to the mis­un­der­stood out­sider – those mis­cre­ants who steal and lie their way to a hit. Or in Beg­bie’s case, a drink. Still – are they not liv­ing? Are they not em­brac­ing a sense of re­bel­lion, how­ever neatly pack­aged? Are they not seek­ing more than those run­ning on a pro­fes­sional mouse wheel? Such ques­tion­ing was quickly answered. De­spite some silly back­lash about the skag – seriously, how does this film glam­or­ise drug use? – there was a stam­pede of sup­port, with crit­ics and the pub­lic ea­gerly adopt­ing its mes­sage. Bri­tons, al­ready gorg­ing on a heady cultural pe­riod that was the mid1990s, cheered loud­est. It was 1996. It was pre-in­ter­net (as least as we know it to­day) and the UK was bask­ing in a global spot­light il­lu­mi­nat­ing it as the world’s creative hub. It was the end of Thatcherism and the rise of the cen­tre-left and New Labour; it was Stan Smiths, Gazelles, bucket hats and a dom­i­nant rave cul­ture; it was the main­stream repo­si­tion­ing of MDMA and ec­stasy. It was also about those walk­ing the mu­si­cal path laid by 808 State, the Stone Roses, In­spi­ral Car­pets, the Happy Mon­days and Mad­ch­ester. It was about Brit­pop and the Gallagher brothers, Blur, Jus­tine Frischmann, Jarvis Cocker and Bobby Gille­spie. And it was about what all this in­cred­i­ble so­cial en­ergy would next bring. “I def­i­nitely re­mem­ber it be­ing a pretty ex­cit­ing time,” Lee Miller tells GQ. “And I think there was a real ex­pec­ta­tion for Trainspot­ting to come. There was rave cul­ture, there were all these great bands such as Oa­sis and Blur. The mu­sic was fuck­ing ex­plod­ing – it was amaz­ing, it was bril­liant. And it re­ally was this thing about re­bel­lion and, you know, ‘Fuck this, we’re go­ing to do our own thing and have a good time do­ing it.’ And I think the movie com­mented on all that and it hit at the right time.” Speak to Mc­gre­gor, and he’ll ad­mit to feel­ing that, as an ac­tor, he was part of “the new wave of some­thing”. He’ll also state that of all he’s done the past 21 years, Trainspot­ting re­mains the film most want to talk about. And let’s not for­get that he held a light saber in Star Wars. For­get­table as that was. “Truth­fully, I don’t think that any­one could have pre­dicted just how suc­cess­ful Trainspot­ting would be to­day,” Mc­gre­gor’s said of the film that launched the pro­tag­o­nists’ ca­reers. “I mean, it’s still the main thing peo­ple ask about when they come up to me in the street. I re­ally get a sense that it’s pos­si­bly the big­gest film I’ve done, or def­i­nitely the most suc­cess­ful in terms of be­ing in the hu­man con­scious­ness.” Irvine Welsh – his book al­ready a hit – read­ily sharp­ened his re­sponse to the film ahead of its re­lease. “To me, if you get a film made of your book, it’s a com­plete win-win sit­u­a­tion,” he said. “If the film’s shit, you just dis­as­so­ci­ate your­self from it and say, ‘They fucked up.’ I talk to some writ­ers who view it as their book be­ing des­e­crated, and it’s not that at all – your book’s not be­ing touched. No­body is rip­ping out pages or chang­ing words. All they’re do­ing is trans­fer­ring your sto­ry­telling into a dif­fer­ent medium. I was asked if I wanted to be in­volved [as a writer], but I think the most im­por­tant thing for me was not to fuck with the en­ergy that these two guys [Danny Boyle and pro­ducer An­drew Mac­don­ald] had. I looked at John Hodge’s screen­play for Shal­low Grave [the trio’s first ma­jor big-screen ef­fort] and thought, ‘There’s noth­ing I can teach this guy about screen­writ­ing. I needed to keep my dis­tance and let peo­ple get on with it.” He did. And then he packed a pri­vate Soho screen­ing with mu­sic mates – ea­ger to gauge their opin­ion be­fore the film’s de­but. “I brought along peo­ple who re­ally loved the book and would be very crit­i­cal of the film if it wasn’t any good. I brought along Bobby Gille­spie and An­drew Innes from Pri­mal Scream, Jeff Barrett from Heav­enly Records, peo­ple who were friends and were re­ally into the story, ba­si­cally. Peo­ple who would say it was shit if it didn’t cap­ture the spirit of the book. I was watch­ing them more than I was the screen, to be honest, and there were a few com­ments like, ‘Is that meant to be Beg­bie? Is that meant to be Sick Boy?’ And then it stopped. Once the characters were em­bed­ded in their heads, it took over and they were trans­fixed. They were all stunned speech­less at the end of the movie. When they did find their voice in the bar af­ter­wards, it was fuck­ing amaz­ing – they were blown away and thought it was fuck­ing bril­liant. I knew then that it was go­ing to be ab­so­lutely mas­sive.” Cut to now – to 2017, 21 years since the masses first got their hit of the orig­i­nal. An­tic­i­pa­tion is again pal­pa­ble – though that feel­ing of de­sire is largely fu­eled by a want for the re­peat out­ing, T2: Trainspot­ting, to not fuck with the legacy of what went be­fore. “It’s go­ing to be in­cred­i­ble. It’s a very beau­ti­ful, bril­liant script – and it needed to be,” said Mc­gre­gor. “I don’t think any of us would have wanted to be in­volved in some­thing that wasn’t go­ing to live up to the first film. That’s the dan­ger with any se­quel, but es­pe­cially this one and af­ter such a long pe­riod of time.”

For Lee Miller, it’s about again find­ing what he la­bels “re­lata­bil­ity”. It’s what he sees as the core strength of the orig­i­nal in its abil­ity to cut through. Sure, it may have been about a bunch of junkies and repro­bates, but their moves were built on want­ing some­thing more, about try­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent and a de­sire to es­cape the mun­dane. It was ac­ces­si­ble. It was uni­ver­sal. It was why, ul­ti­mately, the film trav­elled so well. “Even though it’s re­ally out there and the characters were tak­ing heroin and were pretty ex­treme in their be­hav­iour, it was still relatable – to the way the characters in­ter­acted with each other, its com­ments on so­ci­ety, the characters’ view of their cir­cum­stances and [spoiler alert for the three peo­ple reading this who haven’t seen Trainspot­ting] Ren­ton screw­ing ev­ery­body over at the end. And I think there are some sim­i­lar­i­ties in this new movie, but it’s relatable for a whole new set of rea­sons such as, ‘What have you got left? What have you done with your life? Who are you? And what’s im­por­tant to you and who are your mates?’ So I’m hop­ing it will work in that re­spect.” Based on Welsh’s trick­ier 2002 novel, Porno, T2 calls for re­flec­tion as the key group – and all actors in­volved in the orig­i­nal are on board – come to­gether 20 years on. “You’ll see all the guys are in very dif­fer­ent places,” says Lee Miller. “Rather than be­ing the group unit they were be­fore, they’ve all gone their very dif­fer­ent ways, so it’s dif­fer­ent in that re­spect. And you’re re­vis­it­ing these characters 20 years later – it’s about how much bite do they have left in them and how re­bel­lious are they, what have they done with their life and what are the con­se­quences of that. I don’t think it’s go­ing to be a rev­e­la­tion to the youth of to­day like the first movie was, but that’s not the in­ten­tion – none of us are look­ing to do that, be­cause that’s try­ing to recre­ate some­thing you’ve al­ready done and that’s not the point. Be­cause, as I say, we did that, and it was bril­liant.” T2: Trainspot­ting is in cin­e­mas Fe­bru­ary 23

“IT WAS OUT THERE AND MOST OF THE CHARACTERS WERE TAK­ING HEROIN, YET IT WAS STILL RELATABLE TO VIEWERS.”

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