Addiction Project: TV Junkie, Cracked Not Broken, A Revolving Door and Montana Meth
EmptyFriday-Sunday, 10 p.m.
As part of HBO's "Addiction Project" commitment to illustrating the horror of drug addiction and what it does to the lives of those in its throes, companion network HBO2 has turned over part of an entire weekend to premiering four unflinching and chillingly candid independent documentaries that showcase the breathtakingly unglamorous side of narcotics abuse.
Taken as a group, they represent a bleak and valuable reminder of just how completely drugs can claim control of the lives of those who suffer under its influence -- with friends and family often suffering equally in the periphery.
The first of the four is doubtlessly the most powerful: "TV Junkie" (Friday from 10-11:20 p.m.), a Sundance Festival award winner that tells the story of 48-year-old Rick Kirkham, a TV reporter and video obsessive who documents his own descent into crack cocaine addiction and, inevitably, madness. It's a fascinating and hugely unsettling slo-mo train wreck that shows Kirkham as having recorded virtually every aspect of his life: the births of his kids, coke binges, home visits by the cops. He loses everything -- including his career, his family and nearly his life -- before getting clean and becoming an anti-addiction spokesman. This is as raw and unfiltered an account of drug abuse as you'll ever see.
Arriving on Saturday is "Cracked Not Broken," an hour that casts an unblinking lens on Lisa, 37-year-old crack addict and estranged mother of one, who prostitutes herself to earn the money needed to fuel her habit. It's a massively disturbing account of the depths to which one can sink in pursuit of the next fix when under the hypnotic grip of narcotic addiction. She is vivacious and articulate, having grown up in an upper middle-class home. But somewhere along the line it all went terribly wrong, and this film underscores just how easily drugs can ensnare even those from the best of backgrounds.
On Sunday comes the final pair of films back to back. Up first is "A Revolving Door" (10-10:45 p.m.), which tells the almost unbearably sad story of Tommy Lennon, 33, who has been fighting against drug addiction and mental illness for his entire adult life. It traces his issues to a devastating head injury suffered in a surfing accident when he was 17. Now, he battles crystal meth addiction, homelessness, institutionalization and jail -- all of this despite his seemingly outgoing, fun-loving bent. The film quartet concludes with "Montana Meth," chronicles of the harrowing toll of crystal meth on Montana families and law enforcement alike. We meet teens turned inside-out, young mothers risking the lives of their kids for a fix and older adults who still battle addiction while living on Native American land.
Taken as a group, these wrenching films do much to drive home a timely point: There are few things that can transform a human being's personality and priorities as completely as narcotics. And if you abuse them, you can't help but pay an enormous price.