The Basketball Diaries
This powerful 1995 film starring Leonardo DiCaprio chronicles the early years of New York poet/musician Jim Carroll, and his descent from Catholic high school basketball star to drug-addicted homeless thief. DiCaprio may be best known for the billion-dollar film with the big boat, but he demonstrates much greater acting skill here, with a thoroughly convincing, gut-wrenching performance that belies his pretty-boy looks. Mark Wahlberg co-stars as Carroll's drop-out pal Mickey, and it's not hard to see why Paul Thomas Anderson cast him in his porn-epic Boogie Nights on the basis of his performance here even though the brutish Mickey is very different from the boyishly innocent Dirk Diggler. Aside from the obligatory locked-in-a-room, puking-your-guts-out scenes that border on cliché in all junkie movies nowadays, Carroll's story has an original, loosely plotted feel that captivates the viewer, and DiCaprio proves himself able to rise above whatever flaws the script may have. Carroll and director Scott Kalvert may have wanted viewers to leave with a deeper sense of Carroll's life and the cost of drug use, but what sticks in the mind is DiCaprio's harrowing performance. Also starring Bruno Kirby, Lorraine Bracco, Juliette Lewis, and Ernie Hudson. Good transfer, DD 5.1, interview footage with the cast and crew, trailers.