Mental Health Awareness Month Review: “Somewhere”

Let me tell you why I love Sofia Coppola so much: she’s interesting. She is unbothered by box office returns; she is loyal to her vision. Here is a woman who has had a keen understanding of Hollywood since her earliest memories–she plays the baby in “The Godfather”, for crying out loud! She is a keen observer of life, of human nature, and–as a consequence, I suppose, of growing up around the glitz and glam of Hollywood–the repercussions of copious amounts of glitz and glam. 

In keeping with this month’s theme of Mental Health, I thought it’d be appropriate to write about a woman’s depiction of a man’s mental state in La La Land. “Somewhere”, which won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival, offers very little in terms of plot and intrigue. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month Review: “Somewhere”

Mental Health Awareness Month: Suicide in Comedy

Suicide is not funny. It devastates family and friends and is a thief which robs us of our loved ones. But film is not real life. It is a tool through which we tell stories, a way for filmmakers to examine issues and situations, and a way for audiences to experience any number of things in (physical) safety.

Laughter can aid in the healing and processing of painful events. But clearly, the way suicide is shown and discussed can hurt as much as it can heal.  And, although filmmakers are under no obligation to show suicide in a certain way, the potential impact of their films means that they carry responsibility. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month: Suicide in Comedy

“I, Tonya” and the Preponderance of Trauma

When you watch the trailer for “I, Tonya” (2017), you get the tonal sense of the film.  It is a dark comedy about infamous skating figure Tonya Harding (Margot Robbie).  I can yammer on all day about I am still not over Robbie losing the Oscar; her performance is magnetic.  She was captivating from start to finish.  It was a career-defining performance, one that demonstrated her innate talent…but I am seriously digressing.  Robbie is incredible in the film, which is why I think the abuse and trauma we see in the film makes it all the more difficult to watch.

I have my Master’s degree in Professional Counseling.  One of the courses I took was on trauma-informed therapy.  Trauma is everyone.  Trauma is, in essence, completely defined by a person. Continue reading “I, Tonya” and the Preponderance of Trauma

Exclusive Interview with Jared Douglas, Christian Gnecco Quintero, and Stefanie Rons Regarding “The Sound of the Wind”

By Bianca Garner With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, it seems like the apporitate time for people to seek out Jared Douglas‘ film, “The Sound of the Wind”. This is a well-crafted, and emotional charged film, which tells the story of  Lucio, a young man whose paranoia has him torn between the pain of abandoning his daughter and the safety of his own life. … Continue reading Exclusive Interview with Jared Douglas, Christian Gnecco Quintero, and Stefanie Rons Regarding “The Sound of the Wind”

A Beautiful Mind: Hollywood’s Depiction of Love and Mental Illness

Hollywood loves an underdog. The story of the comeback over adversity, even better if that second chance is inspired by love, is known in certain neighborhoods of New York as “schmaltz,”- meaning, sentimentality. Mental illness is commonly reduced to the simplistic terms of sentimentality in the movies, but there are stories which manage to rise above. Extraordinary people can inspire but sometimes their loved ones who do not get the star treatment deserve it as much, if not more.

 John Nash was so visionary in his mathematical ability his doctorate dissertation at Princeton was awarded a Nobel Prize forty-five years later. It took the rest of the world that long to catch up with what Nash was saying about “game theory” and how it could impact economics, among other applications. Continue reading A Beautiful Mind: Hollywood’s Depiction of Love and Mental Illness

Mental Health Awareness Month Review: “Smashed”

Getting sober is difficult.  Especially when you’re doing it alone.  That is what Kate (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) goes through in 2012’s “Smashed.”  Kate and her husband, Charlie (Aaron Paul) are alcoholics. We learn that very early in the film.

But after Kate, extremely hungover, gets sick in front of her kindergarten students, she starts to rethink her relationship with alcohol.  Her students assume she’s pregnant – one noting their mom got sick when expecting a younger sibling – and she goes with it.  But it is not until a night of drunkenly doing crack, another – of many nights – of urinating in the bed, and in all sorts of intoxication stealing a bottle of booze from a liquor store that she decides it is time to stop. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month Review: “Smashed”

Social Isolation Review: “Room”

Personally, I am now in a whole bunch of student loan debt thanks to my Master’s degree.  My degree in professional counselling has really changed how I watch a lot of film and television.  For instance, I cannot watch films that use mental illness as to why someone is a villain when we know that people with severe mental health disorders tend to be victims rather than perpetrators of violence.  (I’m looking at you M. Night Shyamalan).  I also judge therapy sessions and therapist offices on screen.  I say all of this to tell you that there are very few films that authentically handle mental health quite like Lenny Abrahamson’s “Room” (2015).

The film starts with Jack (the incredible Jacob Tremblay) celebrating his fifth birthday in Room.  He sees this as his whole world.  It is literally his whole world, as he has lived there his whole life after his mother was kidnapped and held captive.  His Ma (the phenomenal Brie Larson) attempts to keep Room a safe place, until one day, it isn’t.  She has to hatch a plan to escape.  And they do.  You know the escape happens, but it does not make it any less stressful to watch a five-year-old child have to articulate very grown-up things to help save his parent. Continue reading Social Isolation Review: “Room”

Mental Health Awareness Month: Inland Empire and The Mental Health of Women in Hollywood

“Inland Empire” is Lynch’s commentary on how Hollywood treats women. It also says a great deal about how this takes a toll on a woman’s mental health and motivates her to do things that would get in the way of her own personal happiness. According to Hollywood, women have short shelf lives because their looks and youth play a huge role in the jobs they get. It’s also sort of an acknowledgement of us, the audience members–the people who consume films and the sum total of our life experiences with us when we see a movie.  Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month: Inland Empire and The Mental Health of Women in Hollywood

Mental Health Awareness Month Review: “Christine”

I remember watching “Christine” (2016) the first time.  I went into the film knowing nothing about Christine Chubbuck or her life.  I knew minimal about broadcast journalism in the 1970s.  But watching the film was an eye-opening and haunting experience.

The real life Christine Chubbuck is not a household name. She was a television reporter in the Sarasota, Florida area, and worked on human stories; finding interest in the seemingly mundane about people. But in the 1970s, the world was shifting from feel-good news pieces to the mentality of “If it bleeds, it leads.” The 1970s is when we saw the rise of the Vietnam War, and serial killers dominated headlines. There was a paradigm shift and Chubbuck was not ready.  Sure, she was interested in politics and asking tough questions, but she was intrigued with others, how they operated and what made them tick. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month Review: “Christine”

Mental Health Awareness Month: “Garden State” Review

“Garden State” (2004) is a mixed bag for a number of reasons. But some aspects of its depiction of mental health are very well portrayed, especially for its time.

Andrew (Zach Braff) returns to his home town to attend his mother’s funeral. He’s depressed with a lot of baggage, and is now dealing with grief as best he can in his highly medicated state. While there he meets Sam (Natalie Portman) who encourages him to see life differently. Over the course of a few days, Andrew works on closing a painful chapter in his life and reopening a new and more hopeful one. Continue reading Mental Health Awareness Month: “Garden State” Review