Video and DVD
Many thanks to my friends on the Undernet
for helping me compile this excellent list of movies
about mental illness on videotape or DVD.
Some, like Mr. Jones,
are true representations of mental illness.
Others are Hollywood sensationalism of mental illness at its worst,
that once served to reinforce the mythos and perpetuate the stigma.
And some are just great movies.
I hope you enjoy our picks.
Dark Glasses and Kaleidoscopes:
Living With Manic-Depression
This film is a comprehensive educational program about manic depression.
The program will show the impact of getting the right treatment
and how medication works in conjunction with lifestyle considerations
and on-going support to manage this illness and live a productive life.
The film is approximately 33 minutes in length.
It conveys a message of hope and how family members can help,
how to keep a mood chart and how important it is to be compliant with the doctor(s).
The host is Tony Dow who played Wally Cleaver on Leave It to Beaver
which has come to be appreciated as one of the strongest presentation
of solid family values ever on television, even though it ceased production in the 1960s.
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Dir: Norman Jewison. Starring: Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly (1985)
This Broadway hit gets a solid film treatment by director Norman Jewison,
but that can't make up for the weaknesses of the script
(which were as true onstage as they are here).
Jane Fonda plays a chain-smoking shrink sent to a convent
to do a psychological evaluation of a novice (Meg Tilly)
who gave birth to a baby and then killed it in her little room.
Was it a virgin birth? A miracle?
And what of the bloody stigmata that seem to spontaneously appear on her hands?
Fonda also finds herself clashing with the Mother Superior (Anne Bancroft)
over the line between faith and science.
But writer John Pielmeier can't flesh this out beyond an idea;
in the end, the solution is a disappointingly earthbound one
that even the strong acting in this film can't elevate.
-- Marshall Fine
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Dir: Milos Forman. Starring: Tom Hulce, F. Murray Abraham (1984)
The satirical sensibilities of writer Peter Shaffer and director Milos Forman
(One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest)
were ideally matched in this Oscar-winning movie adaptation of Shaffer's
hit play about the rivalry between two composers in the court of Austrian Emperor Joseph II--
official royal composer Antonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham),
and the younger but superior prodigy Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce).
The conceit is absolutely delicious: Salieri secretly loathes
Mozart's crude and bratty personality, but is astounded by the beauty of his music.
That's the heart of Salieri's torment--
although he's in a unique position to recognize and cultivate both Mozart's talent and career,
he's also consumed with envy and insecurity in the face of such genius.
That such magnificent music should come from such a vulgar little creature
strikes Salieri as one of God's cruelest jokes, and it drives him insane.
Amadeus creates peculiar and delightful contrasts between
the impeccably re-created details of its lavish period setting and the jarring
(but humorously refreshing and unstuffy) modern tone of its dialogue and performances--
all of which serve to remind us that these were people before they became
enshrined in historical and artistic legend.
Jeffrey Jones, best-known as Ferris Bueller's principal,
is particularly wonderful as the bumbling emperor
(with the voice of a modern midlevel businessman).
The film's eight Oscars include statuettes for Best Director Forman,
Best Actor Abraham (Hulce was also nominated), Best Screenplay, and Best Picture.
-- Jim Emerson
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Starring: Robert DeNiro, Billy Crystal (1999)
Dir: Penny Marshall. Starring: Robin Williams, Robert DeNiro (1990)
Based on the acclaimed book by neurologist Oliver Sacks,
director Penny Marshall's hit 1990 drama stars Robin Williams as Dr. Malcolm Sayer.
Sayer is a neurologist who discovers that the drug L-Dopa
can be used to "unlock" patients in a mental hospital from
the mysterious sleeping sickness that has left them utterly immobilized.
Leonard (Robert De Niro) is one such patient who awakens after being in a comatose state for 30 years,
leaving Sayer to guide Leonard in adjusting to the world around him.
Penelope Ann Miller costars as the daughter of another patient,
with whom Leonard falls tenuously in love.
Earning Oscar nominations for best picture, actor, and screenplay,
this moving fact-based drama was a hit with critics and audiences alike.
-- Jeff Shannon
- VHS, DVD.
Benny & Joon
Starring: Johnny Depp (1993)
An oddball love story about a fey loner named Sam (Johnny Depp),
who falls in love with the mentally unbalanced Joon (Mary Stuart Masterson),
who lives in the care of her protective brother Benny (Aidan Quinn).
This 1993 story is hard to swallow, with its message that love can conquer a
brand of mental illness that manifests itself in pyromania:
Joon has a bad habit of going a bit around the bend and setting fires,
but Sam's tender care apparently has the cure for what ails her.
Still, if you want proof that Depp has significant chops as a physical comedian,
give this film a try: He does note-perfect renditions of slapstick routines
made famous by Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. --Marshall Fine
Dir: Tony Richardson. Starring: Jessica Lange, Tommy Lee Jones (1994)
Lange won an Oscar for her portrayal of a manic depressive woman
who is a military wife in Cold War America.
The moodswings are only briefly discussed.
We are to derive from the character's behavior that something is not quite balanced,
although the diagnosis is unclear.
The Children's Hour
Dir: William Wyler. Starring: Audrey Hepburn (1962)
Dir: Ron Shelton. Starring: Tommy Lee Jones (1994)
Story of Ty Cobb, one of the greats in baseball,
who was also very likely manic-depressive.
Cobb was on lithium the last years of his life;
the story is about the writing of his biography by sportswriter Al Stump.
Dir: Jon Amiel. Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Holly Hunter (1995)
Taking its lead from Jonathan Demme's Oscar-winning pulse-raiser
The Silence Of the Lambs, Copycat strives for intelligence over gristle and carnage.
It's a terse, involving thriller that swings away from
the usual cinematic notion of violence as a means to an end by forgoing brawn for brains.
Young San Francisco police inspector Ruben Goetz (Dermot Mulroney)
is teamed with brilliant force vet, M.J. Monahan (Holly Hunter),
a diplomatic, no-nonsense cop who must buck the system in order to find a killer
who is copycatting the crimes of history's most notorious serial killers.
Ruben would rather shoot to kill than merely wound a suspect;
Monahan labors to help him think more diplomatically.
Everything changes when crank calls arrive at the station from serial-killer
pin-up girl psychiatrist Helen Hudson (Sigourney Weaver).
She's been housebound for 13 months, ever since murderer Daryll Lee Cullum
(Harry Connick Jr.) nearly made her his next victim because she testified against him in court.
Though he's in prison, he's still mentor and muse to every loose cannon walking the streets--
one of whom is killing people with a vengeance and hoping to finish the job Cullum began.
Cop and doc team up to solve the case in this stylish, plot-driven movie.
Though Copycat loses steam in the end, it still makes a point.
And it serves as a cautionary tale for people everywhere,
tossing in street smart warnings against victimization.
The teaming of Hunter and Weaver works well,
the short and the tall forging a terrific and frictioned relationship
that leads to grudging respect.
Establishing an ominous atmosphere reminiscent of his classic British TV miniseries
The Singing Detective, director Jon Amiel has an eye for the dark and the unusual
and it gives this film an edge that eludes most other mainstream filmmakers.
-- Paula Nechak.
- VHS, DVD.
Dead Man Out
Dir: Richard Pearce. Starring: Danny Glover, Ruben Blades (1989)
A psychiatrist faces a frustrating dilemma when he is assigned to treat a patient on death row.
Since an insane man cannot be executed, the psychiatrist must cure him.
But if he succeeds, the prisoner will be executed, if he fails, he'll rot in jail.
This realization sets off a shocking chain of events.
Starring: Jane Fonda (1973)
Dir: Tim Burton. Starring: Johnny Depp, Martin Landau (1994)
Edward D. Wood Jr. was an actor writer-director-producer, occasionally in drag
who combined meager bursts of talent with an undying optimism
to create some of the most bizarrely memorable "B" movies to ever come out of Tinseltown.
Though Wood died in obscurity as an alcoholic in 1978,
his films have been considered cult classics for years.
He is consistently voted the worst director who ever lived.
You would think this an odd subject, but director Tim Burton harnesses
the undying hopefulness that made Wood such a character.
Shot in black and white, just like Wood's creations, this stylized,
witty production captures the poetic absurdity of Wood's films and his unconventional life.
Burton's recreation of Wood's wonderfully awful Plan 9 from Outer Space
looks much better than the original low-budget quickie.
Burton tackled an extremely strange subject matter for a biopic,
but Wood is presented as naive almost to the point of delusion, so the story works.
The pace sags in the middle, as the weirdness starts to wear thin,
but Depp proves himself an adroit actor, even while wearing angora and a blonde wig.
Wood's unconventional repertoire company is faithfully reproduced,
including an Academy Award-winning Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi.
Landau is pathetic, droll, and charismatic as the elderly junkie
who made his last screen appearances in Wood's films.
-- Rochelle O'Gorman
Dir: Sidney Lumet. Starring: Richard Burton (1977)
In a fit of rage, a disturbed boy blinds a stable of horses.
The court assigns a psychiatrist to probe the young man's mind
in order to understand why he committed such a violent act.
But the doctor, battling demons of his own, wonders if he can save the boy--
and whether or not saving him at all is the right thing to do.
Dir: Adrian Lyne. Starring: Glenn Close, Michael Douglas (1987)
The date movie of the late 1980s, this had everyone arguing in the aisles.
Does Michael Douglas deserve the unwanted attention he and his family
are receiving at the hands of loony stalker Glenn Close?
After a weekend extramarital affair with colleague Close,
he returns home to wife Anne Archer, and Close becomes progressively angrier.
You might even say she is boiling bunny mad.
Directed by Adrian Lyne, this is not your average thriller,
as it garnered six Academy Award nominations.
The plot is too obvious, but the dialogue rings true
and the intense performances hold the story together.
Anne Archer deserves kudos for side-stepping cliché as the strong but frightened wife,
and Close is a scream as she chews up the scenery.
The film's original ending, which was reshot after poor preview screenings,
has been added to the video release.
-- Rochelle O'Gorman
A Fine Madness
Dir: Irvin Kershner. Starring: Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward (1966)
A rowdy and rebellious poet with a chip on his shoulder also has an eye for the ladies.
His creative block, hyperactive libido and belligerent binges threaten
to bring about his undoing when a cadre of know-it-all psychiatrists prescribes a lobotomy.
Based on a book by Elliot Baker.
The Fisher King
Dir: Terry Gilliam. Starring: Robin Williams, Jeff Bridges, Amanda Plummer, Mercedes Ruehl (1991)
Arthurian mythology and modern day decay seem perfect complements
to each other in this Terry Gilliam drama/comedy/fantasy.
Shock jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) makes an off-handed radio remark
that causes a man to go on a killing spree, leaving Lucas unhinged with guilt.
Lucas's later, chance meeting with Parry (Robin Williams),
a homeless man suffering from dementia, gets him involved in the unlikely quest for the Holy Grail.
The rickety, and patently unrealistic stand that insanity is just a wonderful place to be,
and that the homeless are all errant knights, wears awfully thin,
but there are numerous moments of sad grace and violent beauty in this film.
The screenplay by Richard LaGravenese launched his successful career
and his smart wordplay helped garner Mercedes Ruehl an Oscar as Lucas's girlfriend.
- VHS, DVD.
Dir: Jonathan Sanger, Graeme Clifford. Starring: Jessica Lang, Kim Stanley, Sam Shepard (1982)
Frances tells the life story of independent, strong-willed actress Frances Farmer,
whose beauty, talent, and intelligence lead to a successful stage
and film career in the 1930s and 1940s.
Tragically, her mental health soon began to deteriorate due to substance abuse,
poor psychiatric care, a controlling stage mother,
and her own radical and unyielding beliefs.
- VHS, DVD.
Dir: George Cukor. Starring: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman (1944)
A man tries to drive his wife insane by intimidation and abuse,
in order to take control of the wealth she inherited.
An excellent psychological study of the mechanisms
which often lead to social phobia and agoraphobia.
Glen or Glenda?
Dir: Ed Wood. Starring: Ed Wood, Bela Lugosi (1953)
Glen or Glenda, also released theatrically as I Led 2 Lives,
is one of those films that has to be seen to be believed.
Director Edward D. Wood Jr. concocted a pastiche of horror melodrama,
pseudo-documentary and badly acted psychodrama that has become one of the camp classics of all time.
Although portions of it are (unintentionally) hysterically funny,
the film does communicate a heavy-handed plea for tolerance.
Wood was undoubtedly keenly affected by the issues of gender
and identity with which he concerned himself here.
So much so, that Wood himself played the "lead" role of Glen,
under the pseudonym of Daniel Davis.
Priceless moment: When fiancee Barbara decides she will try to understand Glen's desires,
and takes off her angora sweater to give to him
(Glen seemed to lust after it more than after her).
Dr. Nathan Bailey is listed as the film's medical advisor.
The Good Son
Dir: Joseph Ruben. Starring: Macaulay Culkin (1993)
Dir: Franco Zeffirelli. Starring: Mel Gibson, Glenn Close (1990)
There have been several movie versions of Hamlet,
and though I went into the theater thinking Mel "Mad Max" Gibson
couldn't do it justice,
it turned out to be an excellent, though streamlined,
version of this wonderful Shakespearian tragedy.
Although the illness is never named,
Hamlet's decline will seem very familiar to bipolars.
Manic depression has been around for most of written history,
so it's not surprising that an Elizabethan poet and playwright
would base a tragic character on the disease.
Dir: Henry Koster. Starring: James Stewart (1950)
It's always a small surprise to revisit this movie
and realize what a subtly dark performance James Stewart
gives as an alcoholic who claims he keeps company with a six-foot-tall,
As Elwood P. Dowd, the actor emits a faint whiff of decay and spirits,
yet Stewart also embraces Dowd's romanticism and grace with splendid ease.
Based on a hit play and directed by Henry Koster, the film is terribly funny at times,
especially whenever Elwood decides it's only polite to introduce Harvey to complete strangers.
The supporting cast can't be beat.
-- Tom Keogh
Heart of Darkness
Dir: Nicolas Roeg. Starring: John Malkovich (1994)
Dir: Bill Forsyth. Starring: Christine Lahti, Sarah Walker, Andrea Burchil (1987)
Aunt Sylvie, an eccentric free-spirit who keeps crackers in her coat
for imaginary children and takes a midday nap on the town square bench,
returns to her hometown to care for her two orphaned nieces.
When the townspeople decide Sylvie must clean up her act,
it seems her fantasy world must end - but does it?
Dir: Bernard Rose. Starring: Gary Oldman (1994)
This sumptuous and moving 1994 film written and directed by Bernard Rose (Candyman)
investigates the artistic and romantic passions of one of the greatest composers of all time.
Featuring a superb performance by Gary Oldman (Sid and Nancy) as Ludwig van Beethoven,
Immortal Beloved is full of uncommonly vivid, rich imagery
as it charts the tumultuous life of the deaf child prodigy
and his rise to the height of musical achievement.
Along the way, he attempts to play mentor to his nephew,
attend to his many passionate romances--
the most stable one was with a countess (Isabella Rossellini)--
and fight bouts of depression and madness that ruled his life and his art.
The film is framed around a "Rosebud"-type letter found after the composer's death
that makes up the crux of the story. Jeroen Krabbé (The Fugitive),
playing Beethoven's lifelong friend, attempts to discover who Beethoven's muse really was,
becoming as driven as his friend in discovering the unlikely identity of
the composer's "immortal beloved."
Through this we gain an insight into the nature of obsession, romance,
and the heights and sacrifices of artistic achievement.
The film exhibits some extraordinary sound design,
and the finale features a magical encapsulation of Beethoven's
life and loves set to his "Ode to Joy."
As an exciting and passionate journey, Immortal Beloved is its own masterpiece.
-- Robert Lane
In the Mouth of Madness
Dir: John Carpenter. Starring: Sam Neill (1995)
Dir: Robert Rossen. Starring: Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg, Peter Fonda, Gene Hackman (1964)
Vincent Bruce is an idealistic young man who has just begun working as a therapist
in a mental institution. His first patient is the sex-obsessed Lilith,
who quickly becomes smitten with him.
At first, Vincent maintains a strictly professional relationship,
but eventually he falls for and seduces Lilith.
Their union, however, begins to take a heavy emotional toll on Vincent.
He even finds himself helping another patient-- who's also in love with Lilith-- commit suicide.
Can Vincent regain his fading sanity before it's too late?
Dir: Fritz Lang. Starring: Peter Lorre (1931)
Peter Lorre made film history with his startling performance as a psychotic murderer of children.
Too elusive for the Berlin police, the killer is sought
and marked by underworld criminals who are feeling the official fallout for his crimes.
This riveting, 1931 German drama by Fritz Lang-- an early talkie--
unfolds against a breathtakingly expressionistic backdrop of shadows and clutter,
an atmosphere of predestination that seems to be closing in on Lorre's terrified villain.
M is an important piece of cinema's past along with a number of Lang's early German works,
including Metropolis and Spies.
(Lang eventually brought his influence directly to the American cinema
in such films as Fury, They Clash by Night, and The Big Heat.)
M shouldn't be missed.
This original 111-minute version is a little different from what most people have seen in theaters.
-- Tom Keogh
- English Subtitles
Dir: Rob Reiner. Starring: Kathy Bates (1990)
Based on the chilling bestseller by Stephen King, Misery
was brought to the screen by director Rob Reiner as one of the most
effective thrillers of the 1990s.
From a brilliant adaptation by screenwriter William Goldman,
Reiner turned King's cautionary tale of fame and idolatry into a
mainstream masterpiece of escalating suspense, translating King's own
experience with obsessive fans into a frightening tale of entrapment and
Kathy Bates deservedly won an Academy Award for her performance as Annie Wilkes,
an unbalanced devotee of romance novels written by Paul Sheldon (James Caan),
whose books provide Annie with a much-needed escape from her pathetic life
and her secret, violent past.
After Annie rescues the injured Sheldon from a car accident,
she seizes the opportunity to nurse her favorite writer back to health,
but her tender loving care soon turns to terrorism as she demands
that Sheldon write his latest novel according to her wish-fulfillment fantasies.
From this point forward, Misery percolates to a boil as equal parts mystery,
thriller, and cleverly dark comedy, with the helpless author pitched
in deadly warfare against his number one fan.
While Bates carefully modulates her role from doting kindness
to sympathetic loneliness and finally to horrifying ferocity,
Caan is equally superb as the celebrated author who must literally write for his life.
It's essentially a two-actor film, but Richard Farnsworth and Lauren Bacall
are excellent in supporting roles as they investigate the writer's
Frightening, funny, and totally irresistible, Misery
was such a hit that some of Bates's dialogue entered the popular lexicon
(particularly her nagging reference to Caan as "Mister Man"),
and its nail-biting thrills remain timelessly intense. --Jeff Shannon
Dir: Mike Figgis. Starring: Richard Gere (1993)
Richard Gere is pretty convincing as a severe manic-depressive whose
episodes of euphoria sometimes find him dancing on a two-by-four far above
the street or climbing onstage during a symphony performance to "conduct"
the orchestra. When the pendulum swings the other way, he is practically
catatonic. As a character study, this film by Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas)
has its truly compelling moments, but Mr. Jones isn't just a character study.
Inexplicably, Figgis ushers in a preposterous romance between this poor fellow
and his psychiatrist (Lena Olin), a relationship that is supposed to raise
interesting ethical and dramatic issues. All it does is make one wonder what
the devil the doctor is thinking of, and why Figgis felt it necessary to go down
this lose-lose path. With Delroy Lindo in a nice part as a sympathetic
construction worker who tries to help Gere's character. --Tom Keogh
Dir: Marton Ritt. Starring: Barbra Streisand (1987)
An adaptation of Tom Topor's stage play about Claudia Draper,
an upper-middle class woman-turned-prostitute who faces trial for the murder of one of her johns.
Her respectable, well-to-do parents want to bypass the trial altogether
by having her committed to a mental institution.
But Claudia, realizing that she'll lose her freedom forever
if she's institutionalized on grounds of insanity, fights desperately,
with the aid of a conscientious public defender, for the right to stand trial.
A lengthy closed courtroom sanity hearing sheds a new light on Claudia's "mental condition,"
as painful secrets about her childhood are revealed
and her parents' apparent respectability is called into question.
Dir: Pier Paolo Pasolini Dir. Silvana Mangano (1967)
Pasolini's dreamlike rendering of Sophocles' ageless tragedy
about a man who unknowingly kills his father and marries his mother.
Shifting between stark Moroccan desertscapes and contemporary Bolognian settings,
Pasolini incorporates eclectic strains of both Western and Eastern culture
into this unique and startling version of a classic tale.
- English subtitles
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Dir: Milos Forman. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise
A free-spirited convict scams his way into a mental ward where he battles
a manipulative nurse and inspires her browbeaten patients.
A heroic struggle of personality against an institution of mindless conformity,
this powerful film is based on Ken Kesey's classic novel.
Academy Award Nominations: 9, including Best Supporting Actor-- Brad Dourif.
Academy Awards: 5, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor-- Jack Nicholson,
Best Actress-- Louise Fletcher, Best (Adapted) Screenplay.
- VHS, DVD.
Director: Robert Redford Starring: Mary Tyler Moore, et al.
A wealthy Chicago couple struggles to come to grips with their son Buck's accidental drowning
and his brother Conrad's attempted suicide.
When Conrad tries to share his grief with his parents,
he finds his mother cold and distant, and his father ineffectual.
To escape his feelings of loneliness and alienation,
he turns to two girls -- one a friend from the school choir
and the other from the mental hospital where he spent several months.
In the end, another tragedy leads Conrad to a breakthrough with his psychiatrist
that helps him recover from his guilt over his brother's death.
Dir: Gregory Hoblit. Starring: Richard Gere, Edward Norton (1996)
Newcomer Edward Norton ...
plays a young man named Aaron Stampler whose personality seems to be divided in two:
one tough and cynical, the other shy and fearful.
Richard Gere plays Martin Vail, the slick Chicago attorney
who defends Aaron on charges of brutally murdering an archbishop
who may have sexually molested Aaron and other boys in his parish.
The courtroom suspense is nail-biting as the jaded hotshot Vail
comes to care about the case and the defendant.
This is one of the better legal dramas of recent years,
with plenty of juicy twists and turns.
Frances McDormand (who was soon to win an Oscar for Fargo)
plays a psychiatrist.
-- Jim Emerson
- VHS, DVD.
Dir: Alfred Hitchcock. Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh (1960)
For all the slasher pictures that have ripped off Psycho
(and particularly its classic set piece, the "shower scene"),
nothing has ever matched the impact of the real thing.
More than just a first-rate shocker full of thrills and suspense,
Psycho is also an engrossing character study in which
director Alfred Hitchcock skillfully seduces you into
identifying with the main characters-- then pulls the rug (or the bathmat)
out from under you. Anthony Perkins is unforgettable as Norman Bates,
the mama's boy proprietor of the Bates Motel;
and so is Janet Leigh as Marion Crane,
who makes an impulsive decision and becomes a fugitive from the law,
hiding out at Norman's roadside inn for one fateful night.
-- Jim Emerson
- VHS, DVD.
Dir: Barry Levinson. Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise (1988)
Rain Man is the kind of touching drama that Oscars are made for--
and, sure enough, the film took Academy honors for best picture, director,
screenplay, and actor (Dustin Hoffman) in 1988.
Hoffman plays Raymond, an autistic savant whose late father has left him
$3 million in a trust. This gets the attention of his materialistic younger brother,
a hot-shot LA car dealer named Charlie (Tom Cruise)
who wasn't even aware of Raymond's existence until he read his estranged father's will.
Charlie picks up Raymond and takes him on a cross-country journey
that becomes a voyage of discovery for Charlie, and, perhaps, for Raymond, too.
Rain Man will either captivate you or irritate you
(Raymond's sputtering of repetitious phrases is enough to drive anyone crazy),
but it is obviously a labor of love for those involved.
Hoffman had been attached to the film for many years,
as various directors and writers came and went,
but his persistence eventually paid off--
kind of like Raymond in Las Vegas.
Look for director Barry Levinson in a cameo as a psychiatrist near the end of the film.
Dir: Stanley Kubrick. Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall (1980)
A mesmerizing horror epic about a family who moves into a vast hotel
to take care of the premises during a long, deep winter
as the writer's-blocked dad slowly goes mad.
Features an early use of the Steadicam to ilustrate the "consciousness" of the "Overlook Hotel."
Adapted from the bestseller by Stephen King.
- VHS, DVD.
The Silence of the Lambs
Dir: Jonathan Demme. Starring: Jodie Foster (1991)
Dir: George Roy Hill. Starring: Michael Sacks (1975)
An acclaimed screen adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's famous novel.
Suburban Everyman Billy Pilgrim comes "unstuck in time"
and is hurled back and forth through his own past and future--
from the horrors of the Dresden firebombing to a human "zoo" on the planet Trafalmadore.
- VHS, DVD.
The Three Faces of Eve
Dir: Nunnally Johnson. Starring: Joanne Woodward (1957)
An emotionally disturbed woman seeks the help of a psychiatrist,
who discovers she has three distinct personalities.
Starring: Mel Gibson (1979)
What About Bob?
Dir: Frank Oz. Starring: Bill Murray (1991)
Bob, a ridiculously neurotic patient, follows his psychiatrist on vacation.
The psychiatrist's family finds Bob to be quite endearing.
What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Dir: Robert Aldrich. Starring: Bette Davis, Joan Crawford (1962)
- VHS, DVD.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape?
Dir: Lasse Hallstrom. Starring: Johnny Depp (1993)
This is the movie that Leonardo DiCaprio received an Oscar nomination for,
five years before Titanic.
And, in fact, this is the movie that should have made him a star, he's so good in it.
Based on the novel by Peter Hedges (who adapted his own book) and directed by Lasse Hallström
(My Life as a Dog), this is the funny, moody tale of a young man named Gilbert Grape
(Johnny Depp) who lives at home in a small town with his 500-pound Momma
(beautifully played by nonpro Darlene Cates), his mentally retarded younger brother Arnie
(DiCaprio, utterly convincing), and his sisters. Not a lot happens--
Arnie keeps climbing a water tower and getting stuck;
Gilbert is involved with a married woman (Mary Steenburgen),
then meets a nice new girl in town who's closer to his age (Juliette Lewis).
And that's exactly what makes this movie so much more than your run-of-the-mill Hollywood product:
it's not about some mechanical, formulaic plot; it's about these characters
and it allows you to spend some time with them and get to know them.
Depp may have started out as a TV teen idol on 21 Jump Street,
but his feature film choices since then--
in such wonderfully offbeat and diverse movies as Cry-Baby,
Edward Scissorhands, Benny & Joon, Donnie Brasco--
have made him one of the most interesting, unpredictable,
and risk-taking young actors in American movies.
-- Jim Emerson
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Starring: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton (1966)
A word of advice: If George (Richard Burton) and Martha (Elizabeth Taylor)
ever ask you over for late-night cocktails-- pass.
On the other hand, if you have the opportunity to see Mike Nichols's scorching film version
of Edward Albee's sensational play, don't miss it!
Elegantly photographed in crisp black and white by the great Haskell Wexler,
the play has been "opened up" for the screen by director Nichols
(The Graduate, Primary Colors) and producer/writer Ernest Lehman
(North by Northwest) without diluting its concentrated, claustrophobic power.
Taylor has never been better or brasher as Martha, letting loose with all the fury of a drunken,
frustrated academic's wife on one crazy Walpurgisnacht bender.
Burton plays her husband, George, the ineffectual history prof married
to the college president's daughter.
And George Segal and Sandy Dennis are young, callow Nick and Honey,
who have no idea what sort of mind-warping psychological games they're being drawn into.
Among the most successful theatrical adaptations
(artistically and popularly) ever brought to the screen.
The entire principal cast was nominated for Oscars-- and Taylor, Dennis, and cinematographer Wexler won.
- VHS DVD.
Modified November 18, 2005