Year: 1999 Runtime: 127 minutes Director: James Mangold Writers: Susanna Kaysen (book), James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan (screenplay) Actors: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Elisabeth Moss, Jared Leto, Jeffrey Tambor, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg By Joan Amenn In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month and in light of Angelina Jolie returning to the screen in the upcoming “The Eternals”, this … Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month Retrospective: Girl, Interrupted
“Now Voyager” was ahead of its time in depicting those with mental health struggles as not deserving to be shoved away in an attic room and never spoken about in polite society. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month Retrospective: Now, Voyager
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” has been on my list for a while; it is one of only three films to have won the Big Five at the Oscars. For you non-Oscar fanatics out there, the Big Five is the coined term for a film that has won all of the five major awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay (original or adapted). “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is based on Ken Kesey’s famous novel from 1962 of the same name, of which I purchased at a used bookstore for $2 and still have yet to read. I’ll get around to that one day, too. All of this being said, there were super high expectations going into this first viewing. Continue reading One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Order and Chaos in Society
A two-fold coming-of-age narrative ‘Mary and Max’ (2009) charters the progression of Mary’s, a young, ‘chubby’ and socially anxious Australian into a woman, friendship with Max, a middle-aged Atheistic Jew in America. Pen pals, a support system, their friendship grows as Mary seeks an escape from her abusive, sherry-soaked mother Vera, all marvellous narrated by Australian treasure Barry Humphries. At random, fascinated by the states, Mary picks an address from a U.S phonebook and hopes to receive a reply to her letter. Gradually, as life moves on the pair grow distant, and after taking a degree in psychology, Mary uses her experiences with Max, who suffers from anxiety and lives in isolation due to his Asperger’s syndrome, as a case study for a book. Continue reading Mental Health Awarenss Month, Retrospective Review: Mary and Max
You wouldn’t imagine a film titled “The Virgin Suicides” (1999) would be beautifully atmospheric and dreamlike. Or maybe you would if you knew it was written and directed by Sofia Coppola who is known for brilliantly capturing an atmosphere with her films whether it’s the 1990s in Los Angeles with “The Bling Ring” (2013) or our collective memory of a lavish queen with “Marie Antoinette” (2006). Coppola’s directorial debut is a tale about five young girls who commit suicide and perhaps more poignantly, the neighborhood boys who are obsessed with them. For as much as it’s a film about mental health and girlhood, it’s also about collective memory and the impact that a few people can have on a community. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month, Retrospective Review: The Virgin Suicides
When reflecting upon the cinema that we consumed as children, we often remember most fondly the tales that excited us, humoured us, or maybe even frightened us. For many, regardless of generation, Disney has been a big contributor to such memories. But the best children’s tales contain valuable messages, or even truths, in their stories. Although I was a teenager in his last year of high school when Disney’s “Frozen” (2013) was released, it is a film that I believe will allow children and adults alike to recognise and understand lessons in mental health for generations to come. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month: How “Frozen” Thaws Fearful Hearts
Terry Gilliam created a nightmarish vision of the future in 1985 with possibly his best-known film “Brazil.” That proved to be just a warm-up for the mind-bending, chilling dystopia of “12 Monkeys’ (1995) which has only become even more prophetic in the current worldwide pandemic of COVID-19. The husband and wife team of David and Janet Peoples wrote a screenplay that is surprisingly poignant in its subtext of compassion and kindness being vital to treating mental illness.
As much as protagonist James Cole struggles with the anguish of his post-traumatic stress, we now face our own troubling and harrowing present. It is a harsh reminder that while our reality is not as fatally bleak as Cole’s, it is a strain on the mental health of us all. Continue reading 12 Monkeys (1995): Trauma and The Prescience of Gilliam’s Vision
“Benny and Joon” (1993) is an odd little concoction of a film. On one hand, it has its cuteness and quirk, and on the other- is a very serious example of one’s struggle with mental illness. Neither can be overlooked, nor appreciated without the other, throughout the course of the film. The melding of these makes it a charismatic picture.
Joon Pearl (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Benny Pearl (Aidan Quinn) are brother and sister. She’s an artist, he’s a mechanic, and he looks after her as her mental illness keeps her from living on her own. They have their own rhythm, and there is safety and harmony in their shared life, but it’s obvious both want more. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month: Benny and Joon
The tagline for Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” sums up the plot nicely: Four women dressed in white in a mansion painted red…haunted by whispers and cries. The film’s runtime is just over an hour and a half, taking place in one location with four key players. By the end of the film, we see each woman for who they truly are: a product of their patriarchal society. Repressed, depressed, manic and dying. One can finally cry out and express their pain and torment. Another remains devoted and empathetic. The other two can only whisper as they struggle to contain their emotions and become consumed by them. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month, Retrospective Review: Cries and Whispers
In the case of this review; the film in question is the 2010 drama “Ocean Heaven”. The film is best known for being the first non-martial arts role for lead actor Jet Li. Primarily known for his action hero persona, Li is also known for his humanitarian views; in charge of various charities via The One Foundation he established. Considering the content of the story which involves mental health awareness, the role sounds like it would be the perfect segue for him. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month, Retrospective Review: Ocean Heaven