It seems incredible that an oxymoron such as heroin chic ever entered our lexicon. But the film Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street should kill all appeal for that skinny, skanky look. It may even make people glad that cocaine remains the drug of choice in South Florida. The truly destructive power of smack, which these days in California usually is black tar heroin smuggled up from Mexico, is impossible to dismiss after watching Jake, Jessica, Tracey, Oreo, and Alice shoot up and lose on the streets of San Francisco. This ain't your grandfather's opium: Heroin today is almost 40 percent more pure than it was just two decades ago. Seeing these often lonely, confused young people try to break from its potent grasp is heartbreaking. But while the film is dark, it's also amazingly gripping. Steven Okazaki, who previously has documented diverse subjects, including the survivors of Hiroshima and struggling native Hawaiians, tracked these five addicts over a couple of years, when time is marked only by the passage of yet another Christmas.
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