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#073 Danny Boyle: Trainspotting vs. A Life Less Ordinary



Download MP3 In today's episode Nate and Austin compare Danny Boyle's best and worst rated films, Trainspotting (1996) and A Life Less Ordinary (1997), respectively. Nate thinks all UK directors are the same, Austin gets hooked on drugs, and they both have another talk about Mrs. Diaz. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), his best and worst rated films.
Also check out this interview with the filmmakers of Trainspotting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYhmdaLq_N8

A Life Less Ordinary Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Ewan McGregor stars as a cleaning man in Los Angeles, who takes his boss' daughter hostage after being fired and replaced by a robot. Two "angels", who are in charge of human relationships on Earth, offer some unsolicited help to bring this unlikely couple together.
  • Ratings: IMDb 6.4 | RT 39% C / 59% A
  • Released: 1997
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Writer(s): John Hodge (written by)
  • Cinematographer: Brian Tufano (Billy Elliot, Shallow Grave)
  • Notable actors: Holly Hunter, Delroy Lindo, Dan Hedaya, Cameron Diaz, Ian McNeice, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, K.K. Dodds, Tony Shalhoub, Ian Holm
  • Budget: $12 million
  • Box office: $4.3 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • The scene where Robert (Ewan McGregor) almost hits O'Reilly (Holly Hunter), who is laying in the road, was shot backwards and then reversed in post-production.
    • Ewan McGregor sings "Round Are Way" by Oasis. He was a big fan of the band at the time.
    • Although Brad Pitt met with Director Danny Boyle and Producer Andrew Macdonald, the lead part was written with Ewan McGregor specifically in mind.
    • In Gabriel's (Dan Hedaya's) final lines, he declares "Amaratus pathum laborium", which translates as: "Love is a path of labors".
    • Shot over a period of fifty days.
    • The author of the romantic novel read by Celine (Cameron Diaz) and O'Reilly (Holly Hunter) is Jennifer Hodge. This is the name of the wife of Screenwriter John Hodge.
    • The overhead shot, when Robert is pulling the bag of money along the road with rope, was computer generated.
 

Trainspotting Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: Renton, deeply immersed in the Edinburgh drug scene, tries to clean up and get out, despite the allure of the drugs and influence of friends.
  • Ratings: IMDb 8.2 | RT 90% C / 93% A
  • Released: 1996
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Writer(s): John Hodge (screenplay), Irvine Welsh (novel)
  • Cinematographer: Brian Tufano (Billy Elliot, Shallow Grave)
  • Notable actors: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner
  • Budget: 1.5 million Euros
  • Box office: 48 million Euros
  • Fun Facts:
    • Danny Boyle used creative methods while directing, necessitated by the film's low budget. For example, in the scene where Renton shoots a dog with a BB gun and it then goes crazy and attacks its owner, Boyle got the dog to freak out simply by positioning himself just outside of camera range and screaming at it.
    • Ewan McGregor read books about crack and heroin to prepare for the role. He also went to Glasgow and met people from the Calton Athletic Recovery Group, an organisation of recovering heroin addicts. He was taught how to cook up heroin with a spoon using glucose powder. McGregor considered injecting heroin to better understand the character, but eventually decided against it.
    • Kelly Macdonald got the part when the production crew were handing out flyers across Glasgow, for anyone eager to audition. When Danny Boyle first laid eyes on her, in a corridor with a plain hairdo surrounded by many glamorous girls, he knew she was the one. He wanted someone unknown, so no-one would guess a 19-year-old is playing a schoolgirl. Macdonald still has the promotional flyer at home.
    • For the close-up shots of Ewan McGregor injecting himself with heroin, a prosthetic arm was constructed by the make-up department, complete with pulsing veins, smack tracks and small pockets of blood that would appear when the skin was punctured by a hypodermic needle.
    • Although it looks thoroughly off putting, the feces in the Worst Toilet in Scotland scene was actually made from chocolate and smelled quite pleasant.
    • The whole film was shot in just seven and a half weeks.
    • In 2009, Robert Carlyle, who played Begbie, told a BAFTA interviewer that he played Begbie as a closeted gay man whose outbursts of violence were due to his "fear of being outed". Irvine Welsh, who wrote the movie's source novel, confirmed that he wrote the Begbie of the book to have an ambiguous sexuality, and agreed with Carlyle's interpretation of the film's version of the character.
    • To play the skinny heroin-addicted Renton, Ewan McGregor lost 26 pounds. It only took him two months to reach Renton's desired size. He achieved this by grilling everything and by drinking wine and gin instead of beer.
    • Due to the skimpy budget, most scenes had to be shot in just one take.
    • Danny Boyle used twins to play the part of baby Dawn, which meant neither of the babies were forced to be in front of the camera for too long. All of the cast used to play with the two babies in between takes so they could break the tension of the often difficult scenes they were about to shoot.

Intro music by Eric Lynch
 

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