Category Archives: Mental Illness in movies

Checking In

BornyesterdayJust wanted to write a post and check in because I haven’t written anything for about a month now.  And it’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, I’ve just been busy with a personal project thats taken up much of my time.  But it’s worth it, and I think it’s going to turn into something really special.

In the meantime, I’ve been going to the movies and watching all sorts of films.  And to tell you the truth…I just haven’t been compelled to write about the movies I’ve seen this summer.  Most of them have been pretty disappointing, and I haven’t found that one film this summer to be extraordinary.  There definitely hasn’t been a LOOPER or a DREDD in the bunch, two late summer flicks that were extraordinary.  My last bastion of hope is with THE WORLDS END, which is due in theaters sometime next week.  I’m hoping Edgar Wright and his crew won’t let me down.  Among the films I’ve seen…there was ELYSIUM, which was blah.  It’s overblown message about class warfare and healthcare really just brings the film down.  I’m all for hard core science fiction, but this movie was just too serious for its own good.  And Jodie Foster…God…this is possibly the worst thing she’s ever done.  So bummed out.

On the classic movie front, I think I may have found a couple of films to go on my all time favorite movie list.  BORN YESTERDAY.  If anything, next to CLUELESS and ROMY AND MICHELLE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION, this may be my all time favorite dumb blonde movie.  Judy Holiday is hilarious as “Billie Dawn”, a young woman living with her wealthy and powerful boyfriend Harry Brock (Broderick Crawford) who has congressmen in the palm of his hand.  Then there’s William Holden’s Paul Varrel, a reporter hired by Brock to help make Billie appear smarter to people in public.  However, through the course of her”makeover”, Billie start’s to wisen up to her boyfriend, and she learns that Harry is in fact a corrupt crook.  Crawford is also hilarious and the uncouth Harry, who is loud and brash and completely full of himself.  There’s a great scene as well where Billie and Harry are playing Gin Rummy that seems to pretty much define their relationship.  If anything, the game is one thing that Billie is really good at, as she gets into it with intense focused concentration.

There were a few other classics I really fell in love with, such as WESTWORLD and THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE.  I wrote about both of these films over at This Is Infamous, the new website I’ve been writing for.  I have a couple of new article’s up, one about Brad Bird, and why did he leave the animation industry.  And What Happened To Classic Cartoon Villains? which was another article I had posted.  This is Infamous has been a great experience and an enjoyable site to write for.  I’ve had to spend time trying to come up with more articles and stories.  It’s been good practice for me as a writer, which I hope to carry with me as part of my creative arsenal.  Writing is not easy, and neither is making good storytelling.  But it’s a major part of my learning curve.

I’ve been thinking about how much has changed for me over the last year.  For those who don’t know, I have been a mental health patient.  One of the struggles I’ve had to deal with was being on some heavy medication, which all but took away my creative drawing ability. The one thing I found I had left that I could still do was write.  Even though I didn’t always know what I would write about, I kept doing it anyway as a way for me to push forward.  Things have changed for me now, and I am on a much better medication that gives me freedom to be open and creative.  My attitude about life has been different over the last few years as well, and this run I’ve been through feels like going through the fire.  And I’ve survived.

There’s going to be a lot of things happening with me in the next year or so, and some of it I can’t wait to share with you when the time is right.  Life changes are always interesting and never easy at the same time.  It’s like being reborn, in a sense, and you begin to enter a new field where your destiny awaits you.  What is that destiny?  It’s the new life you manifest for yourself.  The life that begins in the imagination and lives in your dreams.  What you put out the universe will bring back to you.  That really is the interesting part.  And somehow inside, even if were not always not consciously aware of it, we know inside the things we want most.  Sometimes the universe surprises us with an opportunity that leads us to where we really want to be.  It’s our choices in life and our openness to accepting new things that helps us shape and evolve ourselves.  For awhile I felt my life was on the verge of complete disaster.  But that changed over time.  We are at the beginning of a new age, and things are sure to get better, but only to those willing and ready to accept them.

In a little over a week, I will be attending Cinecon, Hollywood’s largest classic film festival at the Grahman’s Egyptian Theater.  It’s a great event, and I will be seeing some terrific films and writing about them as I did with my article from last year.  I hope you will be able to come, it’s from August 29th to September 2.  There are some great surprises.  I mentioned before that last years biggest surprise was getting to see a lost John Ford film called UPSTREAM, which premiered for the first time in over 80 years at Cinecon.  And it was a fantastic film too.  I highly recommend anyone to come and check it out.

That’s it for now.  I have some downtime in the next few weeks, which will mean more writing for me, so hopefully you will see more of what I have in store for you.  Take care.

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Moviecappa One Year Anniversary!!

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Hot damn!  Moviecappa is One year old!  I missed it by two days, it was actually on May 10th, 2012 that I first started this site.  I for one am very grateful that I have kept this site going for that long.  I started this site because I have always had running commentary in my head when I go to the movies as well as when I see what goes on in the industry.  It’s a place for me to talk about why I think the movies are important, and what we can do to see them get better.  It’s also been my vision that this could be a place for filmmakers to come and talk about movies, and discuss the thing we want most out of them:  good storytelling.  This site was created out of passion, and I hope to see more discussion and bigger things to come for this site in the future.  If you have been an ongoing reader of the site, thank you so much for coming back and for your support!  Greater things are yet to come!  So stay tuned!

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Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989) Dir. William Shatner

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After the popularity of Star Trek IV, it’s a shame that the most unpopular Trek film had to follow with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  For all intents and purposes it has to be said that, yes, Star Trek V is a terrible, awful film.  But I like it.  Yes, it’s pretty stupid, with Kirk, Spock and McCoy singing Row Row Row Your Boat.  Yes, the whole idea of the Starship on a journey to find God is pretty silly and redundant.  But for all its dumbness, I feel a certain nostalgic connection with this film.  My parents took me to all the other Star Trek films, but I was too young to remember them.  This is the first Star Trek feature I saw and actually remembered.  I was about 8 years old when this movie came out.  I knew enough to know it wasn’t a great movie.  But for what its worth I liked it.  And to this day, I think it’s a underrated.  I could watch this movie more times than the boring and long winded Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  It’s certainly more tolerable to me than the mediocre Star Trek: Nemesis.  This is definitely a crappy film.  But I did learn something while I was in film school…you are allowed to enjoy shit, as long as you recognize in the back of your mind its shit.  Star Trek V is a shitty film.  But I love it.

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I don’t know exactly on what level this movie appeals to me.  Maybe it’s the search for God aspect that I find intriguing.  I always found it funny that the Great Barrier might have supposedly been this far off place, but with the time they spend traveling it seems like it’s right on their back doorstep.  They’re also just as surprised when they manage to fly a starship through it.  You’d think somebody would have sent a probe in to analyze the interior.  Oh well.  There’s logic gaps galore in its story.  The main threat of the Klingons is some punk kid Klingon who for some reason has enough power to overrule his elder Klingon crew who clearly know he’s an idiot for trying to take on Captain Kirk.  There’s Sybok, whose power to mind control people is never really explained.  There isn’t really much in the way of character work either.  I don’t think anyone really learns anything from this experience, except for Sybok who finds out he was duped this whole time, and whose sacrifice doesn’t really do squat to stop the alien “God”.  I suppose you could say it’s the adventure nobody really asked for and it turned out nobody needed after all.  Nobody’s really on a search to renew their faith.  It’s basically an inconsequential haphazard Star Trek adventure.

But I think there has to be at least one Star Trek film that takes us into the realm of the silly idea.  After all, The Original Series was loaded with silly episodes (Spock’s Brain anyone?), or the one where we discover the Greek Gods are actually aliens that came to Greece long ago.  Tribbles.  Need I say more?  This is the one reason I like this film so much…because it is a silly pointless adventure.  I don’t think it really takes itself that seriously either.  It’s got the best, most silly line in all of Star Trek.  Kirks, “What does God need with a Starship?”  There is the one thing that I think keeps this film together in the spirit of Star Trek, and it’s the bonding between Kirk, Spock, and McCoy.  For all the people who hate the sing a long campfire scene, it’s a silly scene yes.  But the friendship and bond between these men is true to the series.  Kirk brings up some sentiments that he keeps them around because he feels its his fate to die alone.  It’s why I find some charm in the end, after Spock saves Kirk from the alien presence at the end, Kirk says to Spock, “I thought I was going to die alone.” Spock: “Impossible.  You were never alone.”  These guys are family.

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It’s kind of funny too that the Enterprise falling apart seems like a perfect metaphor for this movie, where everything is broken and nothing really works right.  You almost have to wonder if this might have been a nod to the film itself.  To be just outright bad as a film is a gift that only The Original Series could bring.  You don’t find enough episodes that are bad in TNG, but worse they are just mediocre.  A mediocre film to me is far worse than a film that’s just straight bad.  With a mediocre film, there’s always a promising idea but poor execution and not firing on all thrusters.  A bad film will fire on all thrusters and wind up blowing up the ship.  Some films are just made that way.  But while the thing is going down in flames….it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the ride.

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This film was also getting near the end of the Original Series films, and you can see the cast was starting to wind down and probably wanted to make a film that didn’t have to be taken too seriously.  I actually think The Undiscovered Country has more of the “We don’t give a shit anymore” feel from the cast than this film does, despite having a better story.  But I always felt that I could take the worst Star Trek film over the worst Star Wars prequels any day.  At least there’s some attempts at acting in this movie.

Overall my consensus is, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier is a giant turd.  And what a beautiful, glorious flaming turd it is too.

New! Film Reviews and Hollywood Leftovers Pages

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Two new pages have been added to the website!  Now if you look at the Header, you can check out my Archive of Film Reviews, and I have another new page called Hollywood Leftovers!, where you can visit posts I’ve written about Classic movie stars, and see my past tours of Hollywood!

REVIEW: The Caine Mutiny (1954) Dir. Edward Dymytrk

TheCaineMutinyI can finally check off The Caine Mutiny on my list of films I needed to see.  But to tell you the truth this won’t be the only time I watch this incredible, brilliant film.  For a film like this to be made in 1954, there are themes here I would have never expected of a movie made in this time period.  The title implies the event of the mutiny in the film, but the real mutiny is much deeper, which is the abandonment and destruction of one man during a crisis.  This is actually a film about a man who becomes mentally ill, and the misunderstanding and judgement placed on him as a result of his actions.  The people around him only see him for the diagnosis and not the actual man that led him up to this moment.  What’s brilliant about it is that up until the final moments of the film, we’re actually on the crews side.  Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart) suffers a breakdown that puts crew in serious jeopardy during a typhoon.  But what matters is the build up to that moment as the navel crew comes to their own conclusions about what is happening to the captain, which is the primary influencing factor when the mutiny takes place and he’s relieved of command.  But when we get to Navy Lawyer Lt. Greenwald’s (Jose Ferrer) final telling off of the crew at the end, after in court he just destroyed the 14 year career of a respected navel captain, it’s clear that Queeg was really a victim of his own personal pain.  Nobody could see it except Greenwald, who was forced through circumstances to destroy this great mans reputation.

I have to say, I was misled in siding with the crew during Queeg’s building insanity, but all the while I kept thinking there was something wrong with the crews reaction to what was happening.  Our entry point into the film is through young Ensign Willie Keith (Robert Francis) after just graduating from the Navel Academy.  He’s also a mama’s boy, a little stuck between mom and his girlfriend, and whose really the most important woman in his life.  But Willie is assigned to The Caine, which as far as battleships go is a rust bucket.  The crew is sloppy and undisciplined.  The first commander, Captain Blakely, struggles to keep the ship in order.  Willie doesn’t care for Blakely much because of all the disorder on the ship, and is relieved when Blakely is replaced by the much more strict and enforcer of discipline, Captain Queeg.  But while Queeg puts in a good effort to clean up the men and turn the ship around, his enforcing of discipline goes to far.  Queeg covers up for a training exercise gone wrong, makes the ship run away in combat, and then more disturbing things happen when he wakes up the core officers at one in the morning complaining about a quart of missing frozen strawberries from dinner, and more.  Ensign Keith and Lt. Keefer (Fred MacMurray) try convincing First Officer Maryk (Van Johnson) that the Captain is suffering from some Paranoid mental disorder and that he needs to do something to relieve him of command.  Maryk gets caught up in the confusion, and when Queeg puts the ship in danger during the typhoon, Maryk feels he has no choice but to mutiny with the crew and relieve Queeg of command.

On the surface all of the decisions of the crew make sense, and we sympathize with them for the majority of the movie.  When I was watching everything happening, I couldn’t help but feel that there was something else going on.  At first I thought Queeg might have been putting an act on the crew, playing the part of a ruthless tyrant to help turn around a ship that was considered a joke to the rest of the navy.  But as the film went on, I could see this wasn’t an act at all and that there was something going on with him.  I was actually deceived by the plot as well, because quite honestly I never expected a film from 1954 to actually take mental illness in a human being seriously.  During the court room scene, the prosecutor (played by the marvelous E.G. Marshall) makes a point in his defense that Queeg did in fact turn a broken ship and crew around and bring it up to military standard.  The whole point of the prosecutions case is that the crew failed to see Queeg as a man.  The crew gave him a mental illness diagnosis when they had no experience with psychiatry at all, except what they picked out of a book.  When Maryk is on trial for leading the mutiny and is put on the stand, the prosecutor hammered him  with questions like, “Do you know what a schizophrenic is? A manic/depressive?  A paranoid delusional?”, all of which the answer was no.  When you watch the prosecutor go after Maryk, it seems at first that he’s being too hard on him when we as an audience were actually there and sympathized with Maryk when he struggled trying to make the right choice, and was pressured into his decision to lead the mutiny.  But no one on the crew really allowed themselves to get to know the captain, or attempt to be friends with him when he was being such a taskmaster.

TheCaineMutiny2Humphrey Bogart’s performance as Queeg is phenomenal.  For someone who appears to be an antagonistic character, I sympathized with him deeply.  There was a moment where after his bad call in the training mission, he makes an attempt to apologize to his officers. He can’t get himself to actually say it, but in his own way tries to get them to understand him and tell them the pressure he’s under (and not just pressure from command).  In his eyes you can see how bad Queeg feels about what happened.  What you also see is the distance and the deep loneliness he feels.  This is a man who has suffered something harsh in his life.  Something happened to him which the film never explains.  We never know anything about his backstory until the courtroom scene, and we only hear about his accommodations and the respect the Navy held for him in his 14 years of service at the very end.  This is also the reason we see the story from the perspective of the younger officer, who doesn’t have the experience in life or the knowledge to know what it means to be an esteemed Navel officer.  The first officer should have actually known better, as well as Lt. Keefer.  But both he and Maryk make the mistake of listening to Keefer, and it’s Keefer’s own arrogance and self righteousness that blinds the two officers from what they can’t see about Queeg’s behavior.  Their own personal intuition is blocked by the self righteousness of one man.  Lt. Keith even admitted in court that he liked Captain Queeg at first when he met him, because he enforced much needed discipline on the ship.  But he was convinced by Keefer to turn against Queeg.

When Maryk is on trial for his actions and Lt. Greenwald (Ferrer) decides to defend him, he realizes during the trial what the crew really had done.  Knowing Queeg’s incredible reputation, he is forced by the system to destroy this great mans career.  During the crews celebration of the victory of the trial, Greenwald comes in and shuts them all down, telling them what they had just done.  The ending of the film makes a powerful and brilliant statement.  It’s not only a statement about judging a person because of mental illness, but it also tells us what happens when we fail to follow our own intuition because of fear and misunderstanding.  When we feel we can’t make our own decisions, we allow other people to make them for us, which can lead to disastrous consequences.  In this case, it was Ensign Keith and First Officer Maryk who stopped listening to themselves, and started listening to Keefer instead, which influenced their decision to relieve Queeg.  And then in the courtroom when Keefer is on the stand, he turns against his crewmen, lying to save his own skin.  It’s not until the penultimate moment at the party after the trial, the crew realizes what they did and they finally see Keefer for who he really is.

For some of you reading this review, you might be wondering exactly what kind of film The Caine Mutiny is.  From the title alone, you would expect its a serious drama.  Things do get serious in the story, but if you’d really like to know…the film is actually very funny.  The beginning scenes introducing Ensign Willie Keith are hilarious and wonderful.  Many of the crew members are a colorful bunch of characters, and they are a lot of fun.  There’s a great scene in the beginning when Keefer is giving Keith and another ensign a tour of the rust bucket ship they’re assigned to, and Keefer says: “Well that’s the tour.  Any Questions?” Ensign:”Just one.  When do we surrender?”
It’s hilarious moments such as this that invite us into the world of the film and its crew.  We like them all right away.  It also helps that screenwriter Stanley Roberts had both the Abbot and Costello comedy, Who Done It?  as well as Death of a Salesman to his resume, showing how he could create the perfect balance of humor and drama, especially when the film needs to get serious.

“The Caine Mutiny” is a terrific film as well as an important one, which is just as relevant today as it was almost 60 years ago.