Blow

Director: Ted Demme
Written by: Bruce Porter (book), David McKenna (screenplay), Nick Cassavetes (screenplay)
Cast: Johnny Depp, Penélope Cruz, Franka Potente, Rachel Griffiths

Year / Country: 2001, USA
Running Time: 118 mins.

Biopic about George Jung, perhaps the biggest American cocaine smuggler of all time. The movie begins with George’s youth in Massachusetts, where he sees his dad working his ass off and ending up poor anyway. He decides he wants to become rich. George moves to California in the late sixties where he becomes a huge marijuana dealer and importer.

After the death of his girlfriend and a prison sentence he picks up a new trade; importing cocaine. After not too long, he is dealing directly with Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel. 85 percent of all cocaine used in the United States in that time – the disco eighties – now comes from Jung. Then he meets a new love interest: the Colombian Mirtha (Cruz). This means trouble mildly put. In addition to that, a conflict ensues with his business partner and Jung is headed for the end. His empire was built too swiftly; the foundations were not strong enough.

Within the rise and fall crime biopic genre, Blow is a successful addition. It leans a bit heavy on GoodFellas with the voice-over, the soundtrack, the editing and casting (Ray Liotta plays Jung’s dad), but after a while you notice that Blow is not just another rip-off gangster movie. It is about a man and the choices he makes. In displaying that, the movie succeeds because ultimately it touches you where it matters; in the heart.

Rating:

Biography: Ted Demme (1963, New York – 2002, Santa Monica) was an American film director and producer. His career had modest beginnings – starting as a production assistant at MTV, he later created the cable network’s seminal hip-hop show Yo! MTV Raps. Later, he directed several movies, TV episodes and documentaries. He frequently worked with Denis Leary and was the nephew of movie director Jonathan Demme. In 2002, one year after directing the successful Blow, he died from an accidental cocaine induced thrombotic heart attack. He was only 38 years old.

Filmography: Yo! MTV Raps (1988, TV series) / No Cure for Cancer (1992, TV doc) / The Bet (1992, short) / Who’s the Man? (1993) / The Ref (1994) / Beautiful Girls (1996) / Homicide: Life on the Street (1994-96, TV episodes) / Gun (1997, TV episode) / SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground (1997, TV segment) / Denis Leary: Lock ‘N Load (1997, TV) / Snitch (1998) / Life (1999) / Action (1999, TV episode) / Blow (2001) /
A Decade Under the Influence (2003, doc)

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