Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Psychology and Film: A short list of some recommended depictions.

"You know what your problem is, it's that you haven't seen enough movies - all of life's riddles are answered in the movies" (Steve Martin)

Shame - Sex Addiction; Michael Fassbender style.

The Basketball Diaries - Heroin Addiction. A young Di Caprio is more interested in skin popping than shooting hoops. 
 
Awakenings- Catatonia. Based on real events, a tragic and heartfelt story with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro. From Oliver Sachs' book of the same name.
 
Lars and the Real Girl - Loneliness, Shyness, and Social Ineptitude. When you think it's time enough for the family to meet your sex doll. She's a great listener!
 
Owning Mahowny - Gambling Addiction. The late Phillip Seymour Hoffman as a Canadian Banker with all the cash he needs. Based on a real-life incident: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce clerk Brian Molony, who embezzled over $10 million from his employers in just 18 months to support his gambling habit.
 
The Butterfly Effect - The Butterfly Effect! The idea, used in chaos theory, whereby a small change at one place in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere, e.g., a butterfly flapping its wings in Rio de Janeiro might change the weather in Chicago.

Memento - Short-Term Memory Loss. Guy Pearce has anterograde amnesia and is unable to store recent memories.
 
Melancholia - Melancholia! Lars Von Trier's take on the mental downfall of one woman (with the end of the world not helping).
 
Project Nim- A great look at the intelligence of our closest animal relative. The chimp also knew one term: 'Ooohh Ooo, Ah Ah', meaning; 'this bath's too hot.' 

Take Shelter - Curtis LaForche (Michael Shannon) starts to believe that he is in the early stages of developing paranoid schizophrenia. His mother was diagnosed with the illness at a similar age and he is fearful of suffering the same fate. The plot explores the boundaries between delusions and reality.
 
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold - Product Placement and Advertising in TV and films;  directed by Morgan Spurlock, the guy who brought you 'Super Size Me'.
 
The Bridge - Suicide. A tragic look at how the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco has become an infamous place to take one's life.
 
Girl, Interrupted - Mental Institutions. Based on the true story of Susanna Kaysen in the 1960s.
 
The Machinist - An Insomniac doubting his own sanity. The producers of the film claim that Christian Bale dropped from about 173 pounds in weight down to about 110 pounds to make the film. His 63-pound weight loss is said to be a record for any actor for a movie role. He regained the weight in time for his role in Batman Begins (2005). A must see.
 
American Beauty - A film about suffocating conformity to social roles, and how people sometimes need to break free of them...and knock one out from time to time.
 
Castaway - Survival, Loneliness, Social Isolation; and a ball more loyal than most friends. WILSON!!!!

Helen - Major Depressive Disorder. A powerful depiction of woman going through the throes of Clinical Depression.

Monster- Psychopathy. Based on the life of Aileen Wuornos. It earned Charlize Theron an Academy Award for best Actress; it could have got one for the similarity alone (right). 
 
Changeling - Capgras Syndrome: A disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.
 
Catfish - The internet and online personas. Great documentary style film showing just how false the online world can be. It can also shed light on the often predatory world of online behaviour.
 
Hotel Rwanda - Prejudice and discrimination. The film is also relevant to the discussion of pro-social and altruistic behaviours. It was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the 77th Academy Awards, with Don Cheadle also being nominated for Best Actor.
 
Crash - An incredibly powerful and sophisticated 2004 Paul Haggis film about cultural diversity.
 
Devil's Advocate - Persuasion and attitude change. ''Vanity, definitely my favourite sin.''
 
The Savages - Dementia and family conflict amongst others. Starring Laura Linney and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
 

Me, Myself & Irene - Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID); previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

or Fight Club (right) if you fancy less laughs.


Boyhood - Growing up and the elusive experience of youth. Amazingly it was shot just over 39 days spanning 12 years.
 
12 Angry Men - An incredibly powerful portrayal of social influence and decision-making processes within a jury. It's in black and white, but things aren't as black and white as they may seem. Puns...

Fatal Attraction - Erotomania. The top grossing movie of 1987. Nominated for several Academy Awards; the movie was the cause of much discussion around the topic of marital infidelity.

Bully - Bullying. A 2011 documentary; the film follows the lives of five students in U.S. schools who face bullying on a daily basis.

127 Hours - Resilience. Produced by Danny Boyle; a true story based on mountain climber Aron Ralston.

Racism and Prejudice; the list here is endless, but notable mentions go to American History X, A Time to Kill , Gran Torino , and This is England.
 
Antichrist - Delusions, Sadomasochism, Depression, Femininity and the rest. To be honest, this one is completely out there; make of it what you will. Directed by Lars von Trier, some have dubbed it a grotesque masterpiece. I thought it was top class; even though I didn't get my head around it.
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"It's funny how the colours of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen."
                                                                                                                                   ~ Anthony Burgess