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  • Beings that this was Leonardo's first leading role, he was very impressive as Jim Carroll. The movie also stars Lorraine Bracco, Marc Wahlberg, James Madio and Patrick McGaw as his mother and sidekicks respectfully. As an ex-addict myself, I could relate to his story and everything he went through. The movie was so real it brought up a lot of old memories that I thought I had forgotten. I wish every young person was made to see this movie as it takes the fun and games out of even recreational drug use. Not even the strong survive. I give it two thumbs way up and my sincere thanks to Jim Carroll for fighting off his demons to write "The Baasketball Diaries".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Trust me the basketball diaries is the one of the most underrated films I've ever seen, but on rare occasions that's what makes a film brilliant - this is one of those rare occasions.

    The acting is absolutely superb especially Dicaprio who people only seemed to acknowledge after playing a preety boy character 'Jack' in the Titanic. After watching this film I really appreciate what a marvelous actor he is. He's so convincing as Jim Carroll a basketball player, poet,drug addict and lost youth shedding his innocence in the seedy city of New York.

    Most powerful scene in the movie is when he is begging his 'Ma'for some money for a fix, which is absolutely heartbreaking to watch. Leo's acting really shines when he does a cold turkey scene which is one Oscar nomination well over due! It was so convincing, hairs on the back of your neck will stand up!

    Mark Wahlberg plays a disturbed tough guy/school pal very well, Lorraine Bracco is great as Jim's despairing mother and Jim Carroll himself (the author)makes a great cameo. If you haven't read the book the film will prompt you because it's a great read too. The commentary with extracts from Jim's poetry are very fitting and a very beautiful back-drop for Jim and his pals getting up to no good.

    One of my favourite films (could you tell?) Well worth a look I hope my review helps. CBR
  • This is a very good depressing movie. But, you can't make a good anti-drug movie without making it depressing. DiCaprio is brilliant. Arnie from What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Richard from The Beach, and Jim Carroll from the Basketball Diaries are about Leo's deepest characters. He is an excellent actor. The scenes that get you the most are the withdrawal scenes, and everytime he confronts his mother in the movie. This movie deserves a 10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I can't believe that Requiem For A Dream is on the top 250 list but this isn't. I never thought this movie would be so incredibly underrated! This was the only movie that made me completely swear off drugs. The characters are so young and vulnerable and you get to see them slowly fall into this world of drugs and violence and be completely swept away.

    In Requiem For A Dream, the characters start out doing some harder drugs and you barely get to see where everything goes wrong, it just seemed to be like that all of a sudden. The characters aren't as likable and I thought it ended a bit abruptly leaving us no knowledge of what is to become of the characters. I have to give it props though for some brilliant scenes like when they all go into the fetal position at the end.

    Basketball Diaries on the other hand gets you involved and attached to the characters. You get to watch them throw away their basketball careers and their lives. The part where Lewis is going through withdrawal is so real and horrible. And after he goes through all that pain, he throws it away and goes straight back to the drugs. This movie is so incredible, I really wish more people would see it and think the same.

    Shay
  • I think 'The basketball diaries' is a realistic and very important movie. It shows the road that one walks to being addicted to drugs. From taking dope once a week to taking dope every day, every hour. Leonardo DiCaprio playes a basketballplayer, a schoolkid(Jim Carrol) who walks this path. He experiments with drugs 'till there is no way back. He gets himself in all kinds of stupid situations. He starts robbing stores, ripping off money from old ladies just to get some cash for dope. His life is beginning to look like a living hell. His basketballcoach wants to have sex with him, and when he passes out on the basketballfield due to taking a wrong kind of 'pep-pil', he gets kicked out of the basketball team and from school. From this moment on everything goes in a downward spiral for DiCaprio.

    An excellent scenario you would say, and it is. The acting from DiCaprio is great. We saw it earlier on in his career when he got oscar-nominated for 'What's eating gilbert grape'. A gripping drama in which he playes a disabled kid. But in 'The basketball diaries' he playes an equally difficult part. Not a lot actors would have put down this kid who's life is wrecked, and who is constantly thinking about dope as well as DiCaprio did.

    The statement the movie delivers is a powerfull one. Being addicted to drugs is horrible. Usually people learn about this aspect trough seminars or televisonshows such as Oprah Winfrey. But it never really gets the kind of attention and understanding from the audience as 'The Basketball diaries' delivers.

    The amazing performance by DiCaprio, the fact that this movie is actually based on a true story and the reality the movie is set in, 'The basketball diaries' deserves a 9 out of 10.
  • An uncompromising script and a solid performance from Leonardo Di Caprio help make THE BASKETBALL DIARIES a powerful and memorable film experience. Leo plays Jim Carroll, a high school student with a love of basketball and a flare for writing whose life goes right down the toilet when he becomes a heroine addict. Yes, perhaps Leo gets hooked a little too quickly but everything that happens to him after he gets hooked is totally real. Along with CLEAN AND SOBER, this movie so clearly and honestly demonstrates where drug addiction can take you...how nothing else becomes important but how and where that next high is coming from. There is one harrowing scene after another here. We see Jim returning to his mother (Lorraine Bracco) after being kicked out of the house and we see Jim turn from begging child to threatening thug in a matter of seconds, a scene brilliantly performed by DiCaprio. We see Jim and his friends beat up an old lady for her purse and we even see Jim prostitute himself with a man in order to get money. It's a frightening and realistic spiral downward that Jim takes and he does make it back, but it is important to remember when watching this film that a lot don't. DiCaprio gets solid support from future star Mark Wahlberg, Bruno Kirby, Jr., Juliette Lewis, and Michael Imperioli. A harrowing film experience that will not be forgotten once the credits roll.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw the movie first, and was inspired to read the book. In the middle of my reading I saw the movie again. Even though the movie is nowhere close when it comes to being faithful to Jim Carroll's fantastic novel, I still regard it as one of the most important movies I've ever seen (and Carroll's novel my favourite book).

    Even though the movie made up 80% (if not 90%) of Carroll's life, its anti-drugs message is still strongly and powerfully delivered. Unlike "Traffic", the most recent anti-drug movie, "Diaries" is carefully-paced, interesting and most importantly, it speaks directly to the audience. DiCaprio's Carroll (or the film version) is someone who has to sacrifice his dream -- which is to become a basketball player -- to feed his seemingly never-ending hunger to get high. "Diaries" is not only a movie for non-junkies; it is also a movie for drug addicts. DiCaprio's astounding withdrawal scene is the one you're likely to remember out of the whole thing, and I think it provides a mirror for drug abusers to look into, to see how crap they really look.

    (mild spoiler) Anyone who's seen this movie should know that drug addiction would pretty much screw up a person's life. Although Carroll -- both the film version and the real-life figure -- came out of it a stronger person, not everyone has it in them to completely kick their habit. Example: Mickey (Mark Wahlberg) has to use his life to pay for a drastic and irreversible action that happened on a whim of fury, when he got cheated by a drug-seller, and Pedro is still on heroin even after reform camp. (end spoiler) "Diaries" is both touching and sad, but more importantly, it's powerful.

    Leonardo DiCaprio was perfect as Jim Carroll, if not a little scrawny for a basketball player. I regard Leonardo, along with Joaquin Phoenix, as the finest actor of his generation, and it's not hard to know why. I read a comment here that said he overacted during the scene outside his mom's apartment. Well, I beg to differ. How else was he supposed to act under such extreme desperation? DiCaprio's wailings and whinings were spot-on, 'cause that is exactly how *I* sound when I cry (and I mean, REALLY cry). That scene was the most memorable one for me, followed by his withdrawal scene, which I felt was worth the price of the DVD alone. DiCaprio looked disgusting with drool all over his face which was bloodied earlier on, and it was completely effective. Mark Wahlberg, Patrick McGaw and James Madio all gave strong support, but the star here is really DiCaprio.

    To reiterate: "The Basketball Diaries" is one of the most important movies I've seen, and the book is one of the best and also important I've read. Teenagers should see this one. (I'm 15.)
  • When you've watched plenty of movies based on some drug-addict life story you can't help compare them... I mean, the story is always the same: a guy begins having drugs for fun, or because he's boring, or just because he's young and wants to try new experiences, then he gets hooked, starts to rob or to prostitute himself, and eventually ends up in prison. That's what we see in Christiane F., El Pico, Trainspotting, Drugstore Cowboy... There may be differences in the form, and in the characters, but the content is always the same.

    The dinstictive feature of Basketball Diaries is that the main character actually exists: Jim Carroll, a writer-singer-performer born in NYC in the 50's. And this is supposed to be his autobiography (or the cinema adaptation of some diaries he wrote when he was a teenager, heroin-addicted). Because of that, Basketball D. is more poetic than the rest of the movies I named before, the voice over of DiCaprio's character is present all along the film, telling us about his thoughts (rather nihilistic's) , with a style near to Burroughs or Jack Kerouac, urban poetry, tough and without ornament. Maybe that's the strong point of Basketball Diaries, because movies such as Christiane F. or El Pico recreates much better what it means to be a drug-addict, they're much more explicit, more dirty, much harder...

    DiCaprio's performance deserves a new paragraph, 'cause it's simply astonishing. His best performance EVER, plenty of different shades. As he did in Gilbert Grape or This Boy's Life, he shows us how versatile he can be. If only he'd choose better the films he works in.

    My rate: 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I like the casting. DiCaprio is brilliant, and Mark Wahlberg as well. Juliette Lewis is perfect, as well as Ernie Hudson. Bruno Kirby is terrific as the sexually deviant (child molester) basketball coach.

    On the downside, the screenplay is far from what Jim Carroll wrote. As a reformed hard core opiate addict myself, I truly know exactly what Carroll felt. For me, the best scene is when Jim (DiCaprio) is dope-sick outside his mother's door; what he immediately realizes is his former home. The worst? The first time he shoots heroin. Except for the "warm feeling" (an oral description), it so much more than what is shown on the screen.

    For me, especially very strong pharmaceutical opiates (and heroin), were like a warm blanket settling all over me. Plus having sex, shooting a machine gun, and screaming through all the gears to red line in a Ferrari; the mid-engine roaring right behind your head: all at the same time! That is what it feels like; the first few times. Eventually it gets worse; worse than anyone can possibly imagine; who has not lived (or died) through withdrawals, as I have.

    Jim Carroll, who wrote the autobiography this film is based upon, got clean and became very famous as a writer (for a while); he is cast in the film, too. Andy Warhol took him under his wing, which is what helped his career; enormously. Unfortunately, Carroll died at age 60. All things considered, not bad. I am almost 65, and should have died over 35 years ago. I am grateful.
  • If the U.S. government wanted to win the "war on drugs", all they had to do was show this film in every high school in America ... a lot cheaper than running the D.E.A., I reckon. There are other films which could fit into this group; "Midnight Express" comes to mind. During the short time that I spent living in Toronto, I saw a shocking number of people whose lives were destroyed by drugs. I believe that the real root of the drug pandemic lies in the fact that young people don't understand the nature of hard drugs like cocaine and heroin. I take my hat off to Leo. He is a much better actor than people give him credit for being.
  • This film is an unapologetic look at the plunge into the nightmare world of drugs and teen angst. Though based on a true story (however lightly) it has tremendous merit by itself. It abandons the preachy politically correct pathway and takes you down the road without any warning. It leaves the viewer free to form their own opinion. I love it!
  • This movie was Leonardo's first leading role, and he does great work as Jim Carroll. The movie cheats him from time to time, but he gives a consistent and believable performance. He is helped by an excellent supporting cast, especially Mark Wahlberg and Lorraine Bracco. Kids who think drugs are fun and games should see this movie, which gets extra credit for not glamorizing drugs.
  • The scene with his mother is very real because I experienced the same thing with my son. The actors where playing their role very well. When I try to make someone understand what it was like to be the mother to a boy on drugs, I tell them to watch that movie.
  • jotix10026 June 2004
    There is a type of disease associated with St. Vitus and this film qualifies in the comparison because it's quirky, fast, and it never stops moving. Director Scott Kalvert gives the movie a 'look' that makes the Manhattan of the period when it supposedly takes place, believable.

    Leonardo DiCaprio was at his best in the film. His performance is very nuanced and in your face, at the same time. Mr. DiCaprio makes you feel the pain Jim is going through; he is a lost soul. Not being a fan of Mark Wahlberg, I must confess that in this film, be it because of the direction, or whatever, he shines, as Mickey.

    As Jim's mother, Lorraine Bracco has never been better in anything she has been in recent memory. Bruno Kirby is perfectly creepy as the coach of St. Vitus High School.

    As far as the connection with the Columbine School massacre, since the sequence where Jim is involved is a dream, it's easy to understand how the twisted minds of the ones responsible for the killings would have taken this scene as a model for their terrible crime.
  • The birth of o real good actor. According to that story de Caprio plays frightening excellent. He face off the downward spiral of a drug carreer absolutly credible. Without any physically 'hold backs' in his acting, he is playing some explicit embarrassing szenes how demanded by story. De Caprio completes his role perfectly, when he shows the fragile nature of the character turning inside and writing down the diary. The entire cast of character is even credible. Every member of his gang offers a well structured stereotyp. The movie tells stations, reasons and the social consequenses of an drug addict with a huge realistc impact -but without any advices. Plotpoints, Szenes and sequences seem unavoidable and without any alternative. Viewers probably getting enlighten by theire self. According to story, the Movielook and the atmosphere is real New York 'below 8th street', equivalent with KIDS.
  • xxLauraJayne4 January 2011
    A powerful and realistic story about teenager Jim Carol (Leonardo DiCaprio) who personally takes you through his free fall into a world of drug abuse. The fact that its based on a true story and the impressive performance from DiCaprio only involves you more and more into the story until you feel as if you know each and every character. Watching the characters change throughout the film is remarkable, it really does put across the anti-drugs message, without doing it in a high-school documentary style. This is quite easily the best drugs film I have ever seen, and as soon as possible i'm going out to get the book! Seriously, if you haven't seen it, give it a watch, its well worth it.
  • This film isn't for everyone, you either hate it or love it. It sometimes lacks that constant up-beat easy to watch feel that certain types of audiences need to enjoy a film and is replaced with brutal honesty.The performances from all of the actors were outstanding, with Leonardo DiCaprio performing some of the best acting I have ever seen. His portrayal of Jim was so real and raw that he gave so much of himself to the role that it began to look effortless. So many scenes in this movie were beautifully done. A few stand out moments to name: The basketball scene in the rain, every confrontation between Jim and his mother, and the Withdrawal scene where once again Leo gives a spine tingling performance. If you want to enjoy The Basketball diaries you must go into it with an open mind and take the film for what it is. It isn't a fancy, modern, stylized, glamorized film about drugs but rather an honest, raw, bold and touching movie about the self-destruction of a boy who falls head first into the harrowing world of drug addiction. This movie for me is an overlooked, underrated piece of art. Which is why I love it. I wouldn't change one thing about it.
  • Leonardo Di Caprio puts in the best performance of his career in this sickening true story of boys growing up in a man's world. Him and his friends(including boogie night's Mark Wahlberg) start a life threatening race of drugs and murder.

    Ernie Hudson puts in a small appearance as Reggie, the do gooder who tries to put Leo on the right tracks. Juliette Lewis is smartly placed as the local prostitute, and Bruno Kirby plays the gay basketball coach to perfection.

    The most disturbing scene for me was when Reggie tries to get Jimmy(leo) off of drugs by locking him in a room for a long time. Both actors do well with Leo in a polished performance. The Basketball Diaries is disturbing, but at the same time, it tells the truth in a way that keeps the images in your mind. If it had one fault, it was under using Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imporliano(both appeared in Goodfellas and The Sopranos). Rating=3/5
  • Y2K Bug30 December 1998
    I found that this movie had a message to it. It shows how drugs can affect ones life, and how devastating they can be to a person's health & social life. I got the message!! Not everyone will like this movie. I thought it was well done. A good acting job on the actor's part.
  • It pisses me off when people say that 'Basketball Diaries' is a rip-off of 'Requiem for a Dream.' The stupidity of the uneducated. It was interesting though seeing the similarities to both films, but that is besides the point.

    I was one of those people who thought that Leonardo DeCaprio was just a washed up 'Teen Beat' cover boy. All of that because of 'Titanic.' I really hate to admit that now that I have seen the majority of his work. The first time I really began changing my mind was in 2002 when he starred in both 'Gangs of New York' and 'Catch Me if You Can.' What got me thinking is that both Scorsese and Spielberg aren't the type of directors to hire an actor just because they have a teenage fanbase and also, DeCaprio's performances in both were excellent.

    But, it wasn't until recently that I changed my mind completely and realized just how much of an under-appreciated actor he is. He has done films like 'The Beach,' 'Basketball Diaries,' and more, all of which received high acclaim, but because of 'Titanic,' people won't give him a seconds glance. And he was great in 'Titanic.'

    Honestly, I doubt that there is any other actor out there who could've done a better job as Jim Carrol. Hell, even Mark Whalberg did a great job. He is another under-appreciated actor.

    If you are one of the many people who say that they won't see 'Basketball Diaries' because of Leo, don't be so judgmental. He made the movie so wonderful. It is an excellent film and he is an excellent actor.

    9/10
  • May I say, that I was impressed with this movie. It shows the truth of drugs and what they can do to you. After I saw this movie, I went out and found the book and read it. It's more sad then the movie, but still seeing Leonardo's performance is very effective.

    Jim Carrol is a high school basketball player who once in a while gets stoned with his friends. But eventually he becomes brutally addicted to the drugs and looses everything he has worked for.

    To Leonardo, you did good.

    8/10
  • The Basketball Diaries is the true life story of Jim Carrol. Although please don't be fooled by the above as the film only charts a mere fraction of his adolescent youth, all of which is crammed into 97 minutes. But this is effective stuff. The acting is solid and at times superb(in particular is Bruno Kirby's perverse turn as Basketball coach 'Swifty')even good old Ernie (Ghostbusters) Hudson makes his presence known with very subtle delivery, especially as the film spirals deep into its very lucid heroine addiction centre. Stand out performances would have to go to Lorraine Bracco who plays Jim's tortured mother, Mark Wahlbergs 'fresh off the street rebel swagger' is fantastic to watch and we can't forget Leo's own characterisation of Jim Carrol. Clearly Leo is far more comfortable in these kind of roles.

    With stand out performances covered it must have made it easier for director Scott Kalvert to concentrate on the look of the film. Which is wonderfully dark, gritty and in places, quite beautiful. The directors only faults are his interpretation of the time period. The time of Jim Carrol's life that is being portrayed here is the 1970's, but when watching it you can't help but think it's more late 80's early 90's. Not too much wrong, though a bit longer would have been nice. This could even be considered a strong, honest 'don't do drugs lesson' for school children. and there's nothing wrong with that as this is a bold film with solid characterisation and fantastic imagery. Poetic you might say.

    Rory John Shelley.
  • Kalvert's portrayal of a catholic school basketball star, turned junkie is touching, but definitely flawed. DiCaprio is pretty good in the lead role of Jim Caroll, although he had some problems with the drug scenes (especially the first one) and the basketball scenes (he played like he sucked), other than that his performance was pretty good. The film had a great supporting cast, with Lorraine Bracco shining as his mother and Mark Wahlberg, Bruno Kirby and James Madio were all great in their roles, as well as Michael Rapaport, who stole his single scene from DiCaprio. The problem I had was that the film was not the most realistic, although a lot of the stuff it did portray I can either relate to or have seen go on in my high school (not exactly the most safe environment, California high schools or NY...). The direction was good keeping it interesting at most times, but i felt the screenplay was a bit weak and especially in the 3rd act it fell apart, although the ending was a bit clich√©, it still helped as it rescued the 3rd act which seemed to be going nowhere. The acting was good, direction was nice and music used was also well done, screenplay was lackluster however. 8/10 #207 on my list of all-time favorite films
  • tom199412 May 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    So I had heard good things about this movie. It certainly does a good job depicting how ugly life can be. It is very dark. Leonardo DiCaprio did a good job in this film, but does much better in other works (just about everything else he has ever been in). The scene where he asks his mother for money and cries outside of her door should have been more violent. Maybe his character didn't have any more strength to act more violently, but the movie had me suspend disbelief willingly up until that point. The movie doesn't glorify drugs or violence and I didn't find it at all unrealistic until that scene outside of his mother's door. I expected Jim to be considerably more violent and desperate, but instead he just kind of paws at the door and at his mother and then whimpers and cries on the steps outside her door (oh he half heartedly yells out a few times but where is that desperate strength, that animal rage that should have been there?). And then at the end - Jim is redeemed so quickly - how and why? What does he have to live for? Why does he cleanup in jail? What is his life about after the drugs? Telling and retelling his horrific "drughead" days? That's not redemption. I did not find this movie to be as good as I was lead to believe it was going to be.
  • For the past few years, "The Basketball Diaries" has been blamed for a rash of disconnected school massacres in the United States. The anti-media zealots who blame school violence on the fantasy sequence, where Jim Carroll(Leonardo DiCaprio) barges into his classroom to kill everyone in sight, starting with his teacher, ignore the facts, as usual.

    The reasons that Carroll fantasized about this killing spree were; 1)The teacher got a sick thrill from beating his pupils, and 2)Carroll was high on heroin. Of course, one does not need to become a drug addict, in order to desire revenge against power mad tyrants, who exploit people that they believe themselves to be morally superior to. As for the kids of Columbine High, and other pre-Columbine mass-murderers, most of them were either bullies, or victims of bullies. The fact that they were fans of this movie is irrelevant. If what I'm saying isn't true, then perhaps the opponents of free speech would like to tell me why there weren't a rash of school shootings following the 1968 movie "If..."

    Rent, or buy an original copy of this film for the following reasons; 1)The talent of Leonardo DiCaprio, 2)The explanation for that controversial fantasy sequence, and 3)The music video for the song "People Who Died,' by the REAL Jim Carroll, just in case you thought that when he made that song 20 years ago, he was only kidding.
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