5 February 2017

Trainspotting Is My Favourite Film.. Now for T2.

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Trainspotting is without a doubt my favourite film of all time and so the last thing I needed was a shite sequel to it. As I saw something that I held so close to me thrown all over the cinema screen like Spud's post-piss up shit flung from his bed covers, I can only imagine the disappointment I'd feel. I can imagine the new film starting and as its crapness dawned on me, getting that sinking feeling in my stomach that dragged me down through the cinema floor as Lou Reed played softly through my mind. I might not have been the appropriate age to have seen the first movie during its original decade-defining release, but for about the last twelve years, there's only been one film that I turn to in times of need. Whether shit is going well or shit is going wrong, I don't just sit at home on the couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows. When depressed about my own failure to choose a family, a career, a starter home.. when I lie there wondering who the fuck I am on a Sunday morning, then I know it's time to watch the film. I choose Renton's destructive connection to his friends, Begbie's impotent rage, Sickboys unsuccessful schemes, and contrary to Vin Diesel's appearance as a giant human potato, I choose cinemas most iconic Spud.

T2: Trainspotting is the suicidal, strap-on wearing, psychopathic, ex-smack head younger brother to TV's Whatever Happened To The Likely Lads? Two decades after stealing £16,000 from his mates, Renton returns home to catch up with his past and for the first half hour I wasn't sure what to think. The first film burst out of the gate like a jockey chased by a race horse with both a bone-on and a lust for life. T2 however is a lot slower paced by comparison with the characters all ambling aimlessly through existence like the newly buggered Jockey's limp to the rubber ring shop. I suppose I really enjoyed the first half hour regardless simply because it was nice to see where all of the characters were up to. However it was at the thirty minute mark that the film began to settle in my brain as I realised its new sense of pace was shockingly enough a result of it being.. a different film. Trainspotting was about youthful nihilism, a bunch of wankers engaged in an existential rebellion against the meaninglessness of life. T2: Trainspotting however is about what happens when you lose that fight and find yourself with fuck all as a result, stuck between the melancholia of middle-age and the misery of it. It's a film about decisions from the past resulting in the fuck ups of today with only the pointlessness of tomorrow to look forward to. Trainspotting is about thinking everything is going to be shite whereas T2 is about finding out that you were right.

Lately there's been an increasing addiction within cinema to a concept known as 'intertextuality' which is essentially an acknowledgement of a relationship between two separate texts which will hopefully illicit an inbuilt emotional response from the audience. For example in The Force Awakens, the reveal of R2D2 is presented to us as a 'gasp moment' because we all know who the character is from previous films and therefore have an attachment to him. However in terms of the story and the other characters in the scene, the reveal of R2 is about as emotional as watching a dog do a piss up against a neighbour's bin. Essentially Hollywood has worked out that it can wheel out nostalgia as its latest whore and the public will pay through the nose to snort warm feelings and old memories from the arse cheeks of cinema. The problem for T2: Trainspotting is that if it strays too far from the original there's a chance it won't feel like a sequel, which is especially true considering how iconic every frame of the original has become. However if it sticks too close to what came before then it'll join the increasing rank of films that have been criticised for being too referential or trapped within their own legacy. It's like when my Granddad was dying and I'd visit him and he'd either tell the same old story again for literally no reason or he'd start waffling on about something new and I'd wonder what the fuck he was talking about. I guess that's morphine for you.

The genius of T2: Trainspotting is that by being its own film about the misery of middle-age, it has to deal with the legacy of the first film due to the characters defining themselves and their relationships by their memory of the past. So in Star Wars the reveal of R2 is only significant to the audience, however in this film, any sense of intertextuality works for both us and the characters. As Spud spots the steps in which he was chased by the police twenty years ago in the first film's opening scene, both he and us reflect on two decades worth of bullshit. That stretch of road is iconic to us because it opened one of the most important films of the 90's, whereas it's even more important to him because that run resulted in him going to prison and helped to fuck up his life. If you were to make this film without having made the first then it would still require the flashbacks to tell the story... which is to say that everything you see here is completely self-contained as opposed to a simple epilogue to what came before.. the brilliance of the movie is that we are as invested in the characters' past and memories as they are. Their reflection on time is a reflection of our own relationship with it, and whether you're a smackhead or not, twenty years is rarely kind to anybody. Twenty years ago I dreamt that one day I'd be allowed to stay up late to eat cookies and watch a kung-fu movie whilst dressed as Spider-Man. The other day I realised that's exactly what I was doing. I'm 28 years old.. for fuck's sake!

None of this is to say of course that the film is all doom and gloom, with this sequel matching the original in terms of its grim-to-funny ratio. Previously we had dead babies in the same film as a woman freaking out that her boyfriend had accidentally returned their home-made porno to the fucking video shop. Now we have attempted suicides in the same film as a couple of chancers attempting to improvise a song to a pub full of racists, with Jonny Lee Miller's delivery of the word, “mm-no!” making me laugh more than anything ever has ever. Does this film capture the zeitgeist of the moment in the same way that the original did? Obviously it fucking doesn't. Being able to make Trainspotting even once is a miracle equal to the fact that Spud is still fucking alive. The miracle of T2: Trainspotting is that not only is it a great sequel, but it's a brilliant film in its own right. In fact, ignoring any knowledge of it being sequel at all, it was simply nice to have one more film from the holy trinity of British cinema with Danny Boyle, John Hodge, and Ewan McGregor back together again.. and I say that as somebody who also loved their previous A Life Less Ordinary. I know I'm in the minority on that one but there was only a few people that used to believe the world was round and so fuck you all.

I said at the start of this that I can only imagine how disappointed I would be if the film was crap which is a feeling that does now thankfully require the use of imagination. It was about ninety minutes into the movie that I let out a sigh of relief and realised that I'd loved everything up until now and so even if they fucked up the end I could still say that I at least liked the film. Then the final twenty minutes played out, they didn't fuck it up, and I ended up loving the film even more. Having learned more about the characters histories, there's now even a chance that I'll end up seeing my favourite film with slightly fresh eyes and loving it even more. Will this sequel please everybody? Of course not. At a large enough circle jerk, even one of those Indian Gods with a bunch of arms and a trunk would fail to satisfy everybody. However for those that find themselves touched by it, I can promise something special... from the film I mean. Previously we were played out by Born Slippy which is now the closest thing you can get to a time machine with one note of it transporting you back to the 90's without the need of a shit car going 88 miles per hour. This time however we get Wolf Alice's Silk.. and, for me personally, I can't think of a better way to end T2: Trainspotting than hearing that I'm “looking for protector, God never reached out in time, There's love, there is a saviour, but that ain't no love of mine”. Why spend forever dwelling on the past? Choose your future, choose life, choose to love T2: Trainspotting, and choose to end this blog in the most obvious way. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.