Monday, August 26, 2013

The Sapphires

The Sapphires is based on the real story and co-written by the son of one of the four women in The Sapphires who traveled to Vietnam in the 70's to sing to the troops. Full of sisterly badgering, prerecorded tracks and a slightly unconvincing romance, The Sapphires has its weaknesses, but I still really enjoyed the story of these women from a unique aboriginal Australian upbringing, and their brave adventure into Vietnam to sing their hearts and souls out. Chris O'Dowd is oh so charming and It's cool to see him in this role. Each of the girls also did a truly wonderful job of asserting their different personalities. I personally wish there were more movies like this one these days; fun, real, joyful, dangerous, thrilling, about family and the journeys we make in life. 

The story is also a play which ran in 2010 Perth International Arts Festival at the Black Swan State Theater Company in Perth, Western Australia. What a delight it would be if more production company's could showcase this play. I'd go see it! That soul music just gets under your skin, I think everyone just may be dancing by the end of the show.

These are the original Sapphires below:

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Tiny Furniture (2010)

I wasn't sure what to expect from this film, but what I discovered was a creatively expressive tale of an average young woman's transition from graduating university into the world. Lena Dunham impressively wrote, directed and starred in this film showing her renaissance woman capabilities and following in her role-model Woody Allen's footsteps. I appreciated the honesty with which she displays herself and her story as well as the gutsiness she has to bare-all before the camera, despite her being of an average physique with a unique fashion sense. I wish I had this gumption at her age, because all women are far too hard on themselves regarding their body when we are young.

I empathize with Dunham as a fellow woman with an artistic temperament and also for her “coming into womanhood” story. I think all women have their painful and/or exciting tales regarding their initial attempts at relationships, jobs and transitioning towards independence. While you may feel like punching the girl in the vagina for being such a pushover to men and a brat to her family, she portrays a realistic character; learning to be an adult while portraying a certain level of innocence, exploration and 'desire to connect' that many young women experience at this time in their life, resulting in good and bad experiences.

There is so much here in this single amateur film, that it is impressive. It plays almost like an older My So-Called Life episode without the internal dialogue, instead this film is carried by a natural way of chatting that is intruiging enough to keep you watching and some unique people. Aura's best friend is the eye candy, and the filmwork, though not overly vibrant, was fairly well done. I am especially glad they didn't use a handheld and that the sound was level. Though a couple scenes were not delivered the most fluently, overall; I appreciated the honest temperament and subtle creativity of the film.

One thing I like about this film is that; it has guts, while not being overly pretentious. I also thought the setting of her mother's house was perfect for displaying her family life in, (this is purely my opinion from the outside of things as I know nothing of her actual family life and this film is somewhat autobiographical) because it is so sterile-looking yet, artsy. There are “messy artists” and there are more “modern, organized, clean-line ” type artists, like her mom. I love how whenever Lena's character, Aura, asks for something her mom replies, “It's up in the white cupboard”, and then u see that the entire wall is made from white cupboards, so Aura has to look through them all. It is just one example of the slight detatchment Aura's mother has with her, and Aura is often seeking to connect with her in one form or another; by reading her diaries or sleeping in her bed. It is the expression of how a young woman wants to gain something from her mother's experience of her 20s, while still wanting to connect as a child to her mother. It is one of the many ways that Lena (Aura) shows her vulnerability at this stage in her life; this particular way with some grace.

I appreciated some of the scenes that show metaphorical significance as well; like when Aura has said goodbye to Jed and slumps into the deflating mattress, showing her emotional deflation and the ending,where the mother is irritated by the ticking of the alarm clock. Time is always going by, It subtly alludes to the inevitable adulthood just on the verge of Aura's future.

I wonder; where does the title Tiny Furniture come from? Does it imply 'playing house', I would almost pick a different plot-line for that allusion... the Tiny Furniture here is one unique artistic way that Aura and her mother connect; they both like them and have perhaps used them in their artforms. Perhaps Aura, at this time in life felt as if she was “stuck” and merely existing, as a piece of furniture, and sometimes being used for other people's purposes? I am probably overanalyzing it, but I'd like to know.

In any case, Tiny Furniture is a great debute film in my opinion and I commend Lena for her brave, all-in, forthright and sincere artistry.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Ruby Sparks (2012)

It's been such a long time since I have seen a movie that has unexpectedly moved me and delighted me. This film is vibrantly filmed, honestly written and endearingly portrayed. The plot-line presents a creative way to display the innate struggles of being within a relationship. The first falling in love moments, the lovable qualities in that other person, the desire to hold onto that ideal forever.

The existential dilemma of free well with regard to how much of our lives is fate and how much is our creation is playfully acknowledged here. Our natural desire to control is always running parallel to the universe's randomness and unpredictability. The underlying lesson being that if one loves something, the best thing to do is to let it be itself, and if need be, to let it go and see if it comes back to you.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Superman: Man of Steel (2013)

Freakin' New York gets terrorized again! I suppose since Superman is the ubermensch of the American people, New York is traditionally the mecca. It is also the common setting used to represent Metropolis as the adult home of Superman. It's the perfect backdrop for the final battle; amidst the ashes of a crumbled cityscape and in front of an exploding tank truck. A truly epic battle that was built up to very well by spurts of action being injected throughout the film up to that point. I couldn't help but compare this film to Star Trek: Into Darkness; as both films seem to follow a similar climax with Star Trek's epic battle at the end set within a futuristic London, England. I'm not sure how Starfleet ended up having the UK as their epicenter, but for Superman; the United States has always been the representative setting for Superman. He was raised in a small country farm community as a normal American boy, and then moved to the city to represent the voice of the American people via the Daily Planet.

(Another parallel between Star Trek and Man of Steel being their nemeses; While in Star Trek Kirk and Spock battle an intelligent psychopath who carries an indistinguishable passion to re-awaken his people, in Man of Steel there is an equally passionate nemesis seeking to re-instate his people on Earth.)

This film does well in stirring the American spirits; via enlisting the American Military as front-man representative of the people (who needs the President in all this anyways?), as well as a brief scene involving Superman seeking the guidance of a Christian Man of God (a very American allusion). There are also two scenes that stand out as evoking the American's empathies; The landscape of New York in the final battle evokes memories of 911, while the tornado that takes away Clark's father tugs close to the American conscience right now given the recent battering of tornado devastation in Oklahoma. Tornadoes are a very common tragedy of the Southern States though, with their yearly total of confirmed tornados currently at 436 (

I think this film suffered for some critics due to it's 'over-Americanization' in some respects; It comes across as slightly cliché. I also think it suffered from a slightly cheesey dialogue upon entrance of the film and an overly futuristic focus. The Superman we all know and love is steeped in an average American upbringing; growing up in a small idyllic town with sweeping American countryside, that becomes too small for Clark because he is special enough to outgrow it and move onto bigger and better things. This is probably what we hoped to see; a more chronological story of Clark, so that we could connect with him more. Instead, the film was a bit jumbled, jumping back and forth between the past and the present and painting a picture in a more elaborate way. It perhaps did not achieve the depth that some more chronological tales may. Despite this, the scenes they chose to portray as flashbacks of Clark's upbringing did stand out to me, as did some of the truly fantastic Superhero moments (though when he stands below the 'World Maker' and intercepts its charge, I was gripping my seat wondering “How are you going to do this Superman!!!???” and after he did it, I still wondered how he did it.... BUT HEY, he's Superman! Of course he saved Earth!... He just had to be in the right place at the right time I guess,... and embody the cellular makeup of an entire culture of superhumans).

I can't avoid mentioning the brief scene where Clark, in his moment of desperation, seeks the guidance of a priest. I am sure many people were either inspired or deterred in their opinion of the film due to this scene. It was a small scene and yet it's created a host of controversy only proving it's effectiveness. While we can debate whether the film was supporting Christianity via the “American Way” which attempts to instill the significance of seeking a 'faith perspective' in all important decisions, OR that the film was replacing the Jesus figure with Superman himself, we have to understand that it suits the setting of the story of Superman. If he grew up in the American south, odds are, he would have gone to church and adopted a sensitivity to its form of guidance (though in this film it is assumed and not displayed as part of his upbringing via a flashback). This was a highly anticipated film for me as both a fan of Superman and of the producer Christopher Nolan, and I personally don't think this mild allusion ruined my vision of Superman enough to side-step the accomplishments of this film.

As for casting; How awesome is it that Laurence Fishburne is Perry White! When I recognized this, I knew there must already be a sequel in the workings to have such a strong black actor in this role. It already tributes a scene to him where he stands by his employee “Jenny” as the aliens are death-charging New York. I am eager to see how he guides Lois and Clark as he did Neo with the red pill/blue pill of The Matrix (though Perry White was typically a completely different sort of leader, lol! This will be a revamped Perry White for sure). Michael Shannon was a formidable foe; after defeating such an equal match, what can't Superman do? I also appreciated Diane Lane and Kevin Costner as Clark's parents and unlike Superman Returns (2006), I am excited to see Henry Cavill and Amy Adams return in their more classic roles as Lois and Clark of the Daily Planet. Henry Cavill portrays the classic Clark Kent/Superman well, with the face and presence he strongly brings to the screen. This film begs for a sequel!

As an artist I have to comment briefly on the visuals of this film. Especially because so much of it was representing a futuristic technology. I wasn't sure at first about the decisions they chose in representing alien technology as they did, but in the end I appreciated the imaginative undertaking that was displayed in some scenes. The spaceships were a blend of organic shapes (seen before in the carcass-like alien space ships in Aliens (1986), yet this time built with an alien metal. Instead of using a liquid metal, such as the nemesis T-1000 in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991), a fluid mass of pellet-like metal pieces took on an Artificial Intelligence as the spaceship's make-up. The epi-center of the central database is portrayed as an under-water network; almost like seaweed or alveoli, as opposed to the usual 'electrical neural or brain' imagery that may normally be expected.

I think the scene that won me over on this visual ideation though, was where Clark's alien father describes the history of Krypton and the room erupts into a moving mural of storytelling. This imagery takes a black and white film quality and is even Art Deco-esque, alluding to the era when Superman was originally born in North America (1938).

While I was surprised in some ways to discover this film was not quite what I was expecting; I am confident the sequel to this Man of Steel will quickly overshadow the oft spoken about Fifty Shades of Grey release in a couple years.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monsieur Lazhar (2011)

A brave film that tackles the issue of the aftermath of a teacher's suicide within an elementary school classroom. Nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film and based on the play Bashir Lazhar by Evelyne de la Cheneliere, this film has some strong performances and is an honest attempt at opening up the issues regarding the teacher-student relationship, how a school may best handle grief, as well as touching on the subject of foreigners. Mr. Lahzar is a refugee who finds his way into the role of taking over as teacher of the classroom who just lost their previous teacher to suicide. Mr. Lahzar has his own story of grief which he carries with him, as he finds his way to teach the children as a strong, stable figure.

I appreciate the themes presented in this film that cause us to ponder what is right or wrong. While I like the film, I wonder if, as a play, the material would have been presented even stronger, as one imagines sitting within the audience as if also students in Mr. Lahzar's classroom. I am a little dismayed that there were not more moments in the film that we could connect with him as if he were our teacher. Mr. Lazhar was lovable though; in his devotion to a job he had never tackled before, and to the children in his class as well as in his desire to be able to provide more for them. Lazhar even had a bit of a relationship starting with another teacher he admired, but was bound by responsibility to refrain from expressing himself.

I believe the strongest performances were acted by; Emilien Neron and Sophie Nelisse, two children in the class deeply affected by the passing of their teacher. Both are very promising little actors! I am looking forward to seeing young Sophie Nelisse return for her second film based on the book; “The Book Thief”which comes out next year.

They reminded be a bit of Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter; so cute! and such good actors! I look forward to seeing more from them both!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Horror Movies and Their Bad Name (Horror Series, Part 1)

Everyone loves a little thrill and intrigue to entertain their evenings on the weekend. Since we were children scared of the boogey monster in the closet or under the bed, we would scare each other with stories of bloody Mary in the mirror, or we would each know a ghost story to tell around the campfire. We would read books by RL Stein or Diane Hoh, watch Wes craven's 'Scream' and 'I Know What You Did Last Summer', and we would spread local gossip about the town pervert to beware of. There have always been stories of terror to evoke fear into each other.

It's interesting that as children we behold such stories with wonder and even seek them out as entertainment, perhaps it is a bit of rebellion from our parents protection and it satisfies part of our curious young & imaginative minds. In Europe many of the traditional fairy tales were laced with the morbid and macabre. Our Western culture has taken many of these stories and filtered them into simple, linear and pure forms for children to view. Our children, though with good intention, I'm sure, are censored from much of the lessons that can be learned from the original tales. In America, we don't see the sense of scaring our children, perhaps because of our fear of coming across as 'the bad guy' (or the bad parent).

Strange as well, is the social taboo inherent in 'upright society' against being a fan of horror film. Which is the main purpose and motivation for my writing about horror film here.

Somehow though, not all horror films seem as bad as others. 'Horror' is an overarching genre for many sub-genres. The more socially accepted part of horror perhaps being 'Thrillers', the next less threatening (perhaps because it has a huge geek-factor) is 'Sci-fi', a close third are stories related to the paranormal or ghost stories. Then there are the horror flicks that perhaps can be lumped into the 'Cheesey' or 'Campy' genre. They tend to provoke a sense of the ridiculous; either by their 'badly done' special affects, script, singing (yes singing!), acting, or a combination of well-done and not-so-successful elements, causing them to gain a cult following. 'Monster Movies' may be part of the “cheesey” genre due to some of these reasons, and despite their 'literary cred' (Frankenstein or Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde).

After these sub-genres of the Horror genre are slashed away, we enter into the darkest parts of horror; movies that actually have some psychological presence, that disturb us and reveal our most intimate fears. These are movies related to demon possession, exorcism, or the occult. These also involve the 'Slasher' genre and other movies involving serial killers and rapists of either psychologically/ scientifically deranged humans or paranormal creatures of the night. These are the Horror movies most frowned upon; the movies that enrage censors and make the average upright citizen think there must be something wrong with you if you gain some sort of entertainment from it. They involve the perverse, explicit, and gruesome.

As a student of Psychology, I was faced with the question one day in class if there were any topics that I would find too disturbing to be able to handle being faced with in a clinical setting. This exercise was to help us face our shadow, discover our boundaries and to reflect on human nature in relation to ourselves. If I was to be a counselor one day, how could I help someone who was struggling with divorce, or cheating, or pedophilia, or having raped someone, or other imaginable sins that would no doubt be a subject that would come up within a counseling session. How would I handle these subjects as an objective counselor who provided unconditional positive regard? Could I handle them? One way I decided it was safe to study human nature in order to find more understanding of such issues was by opening up to movies that I would not normally permit myself to watch. Growing up, I did watch a bit of sci-fi and I always had a bit of a taste for the dark and twisted. I loved The Adam's Family, Beetlejuice, Casper, Who's Afraid of the Dark and Michael Jackson's Thriller. These weren't horror in the darkest sense of the term, but they did have a tinge of dark to them, perhaps it came from being a child born on Devil's Night and having many a Halloween birthday party? I admit that I was a bit of a strange child because I remember showing the movie Alien at my twelfth birthday party and none of my girlfriends were interested, they thought we were going to watch some girly chick-flick, but I thought Alien was master film-making and assumed my friends would think the same.

What makes some horror permissible and some horror impermissible? In Highschool I remember watching What Lies Beneath alone one night and being delightfully entranced by the suspenseful film-making. Yet, at another time, I condoned my mother for the purchase of the movie Bram Stoker's Dracula because I was offended by the blatantly obscene and dark sexuality. At the time, couldn't possibly wrap my head around the purpose of it in order to permit it, even in the seductive way it was crafted. It was my innocence, my youth, my lack of experience and my religious ideal of purity that caused me to resist some things and to protect myself from the uncomfortable experience it could perturb. There was no need to expose myself to these things growing up, it was much safer to hide from them than to face them.

At a more mature age of 23 though, I decided that with my new found guts I would not screen myself off from the dark underbelly of the world any longer. If I were to understand human nature better and be better prepared to handle life in the real world where I am preparing myself with education in order to serve others and guide them through psychological counsel, I was to open up to the Horror movie genre.

I remember one night, alone in my apartment, I put on American Psycho. I am not very keen on movies about murderers, or serial killers, but I had heard this movie was a 'must see' and I liked Christian Bale. So, braced with my new resolve, I braved ahead. I admit the film was very well crafted, but at the same time, I scared myself to bits. That same year I also braved the movie Interview with a Vampire based on the book by Anne Rice. This film was controversial when released because of the young age of the actress; Kirsten Dundst, playing such a sexually charged role as a vampire. Despite the fact that this character was brilliant (and so was the entire film successfully thrilling and atmospheric), such mature material did not seem appropriate on a child. In fact, it almost seemed to be abusive to permit it. I've heard similar things spoken regarding other horror movies involving children as actors. Many parents, upon seeing such films, become so disturbed by the idea of their child in the character's situation, that they believe there must be something inherently wrong with portraying such things for entertainment purposes. Is entertainment the only purpose for watching movies? What is it about horror movies that we find so alluring? Is this alluring nature wrong and does it make you some kind of sinner to give into it and to find yourself liking it?

There must be something worthwhile to them if such films as The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby and Sweeney Todd all managed to win Oscars. Oscar movies often have some message that is given celebration for how effectively it has been portrayed to American audiences. Not only was The Exorcist awarded an Oscar, it was also banned temporarily after it's initial release to theaters. How effectively disturbing to spur people on to both ban and award it! I think it will go down in history as one of the most disturbing movies ever made. Though I am biased to the subject matter due to my Christian upbringing; I think everyone can get sufficiently disturbed by the fact that it's such a young girl portrayed as doing and saying such atrocious things. By showing an appreciation for such a disturbing film, am I supporting the notion that young women acting so perversely is entertaining? Absolutely not. In fact, the movie just goes to show how ugly it is for such a virginal girl to be so violating.

Rosemary's Baby does an affective job of displaying the manipulation, abusively forced submission and utter alienation that cult forces can have over a vulnerable woman. It's a portrayal of base human nature worth fearing!

Sweeney Todd, though achieving it's Oscar specifically for Art Direction, is recognized for it's story. It is a well-known play that has been filmed several times (one version starring Angela Lansbury). Sweeney is a dark tale of a man turned murderer who, under the guise of an honest civil servant, exacts his revenge and convinces his neighbour to partake in feeding their misdeeds disguised to their unsupportive community. The town is unaware, as we often are, that we feed on other's sins with ignorance. It is at times humorous as well, which is part of it's brilliance, as it is difficult to translate such evil deeds into something chuckle-worthy. The script is clearly an excellent example of dramatic irony and the plot is placed in a context that 'plays' with our every day experience; in such a way that we can giggle at how such a thickened plot has established itself and eye it curiously to observe how it may untangle itself.

Does curiosity kill the cat? Not in the sense of watching film. Whether we squirm or cover our eyes with discomfort, we feel our anxiety rise in our chest as we empathize for the victim, or we feel the release of exacted revenge against an antagonist securing our morals, there is something to be said for how validating it is to be repulsed by evil things. If we were enjoying the notions of evil in such films by wishing to re-enact the exact degree of horror, then there would be trouble, but most horror watchers are people who are honest that horrible things exist and believe they should be recognized for what they are. So, no matter how lecherous a film may be, it is not without it's place and purpose in the vast artistry of displaying human nature that film achieves.

Broken Flowers (2005)

Broken Flowers has a great plot; Don, an aging bachelor is being left by his current flame, when he gets a pink letter in the mail. This letter states that he has a son who may potentially be on his way to meet him. Wonder struck at this news he shares this letter with his friend who advises Don to seek out the women from his past relationships.

As Don sits in his home wearing a track suit that looks like a new version of something out of the 60s, sits in his house decorated in a similar way; 60s style furniture in a modern house. The light blue coloured walls and low light create a somber atmosphere as Don sits alone pondering his circumstances. Then, spurred on by his friend, he sets out on his journey listening to a perfect soundtrack of 60s 'let's-get-it-on' music. Each time he journeys to the next woman, this music is playing in the car, an echo of his past 'player lifestyle' still setting the tone for his current state of life. In a way this music is unsettling to us; it makes us giggle embarrassingly for him as he goes to face the women from that past life.

Don, with guts that it doesn't quite look like he would actually embody, given his persona, faces each woman with an honest respect and intent to discern if she was the one who sent the letter. As the title suggests, each woman is yet another example of a 'broken flower' and the music in the car while Don journeys seems to become more discordant and almost painful to endure. Don also seems prey to the blossoming young women along his path who treat him via their own projections of self-fulfillment.

Near the end, Don is then left wondering with us about wether the letter was real, and if he does have a son, will he meet him? He shows us a sense of responsibility in opening to this reality, as if his world is redefining itself in a new way for him. I will not ruin the ending for you by giving away too much here, but I liked it. This is a very thoughtful film, filmed in a way to encourage one to absorb what Don experiences on his journey by reflecting the protagonist as an observer, such as we are doing along this journey with him.

Don is played by Bill Murray, who is usually associated with comedy, but who pulls off this somber role with a fair degree of integrity. I believe many solemn roles are best played by comedians who understand the vast array of the human condition and are able to translate the subtle tendencies of some of the more subdued emotions with brutal honesty. The problem is, many viewers may not take these actors seriously in these roles because they feel a disconnect with the expectations they hold while observing this actor. They wait for that moment when this actor will snap out of their somber portrayal and crack a joke, but it never comes. The end of this movie does, in a way, leave one hanging for this reason, as well as falling open plot-wise.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013)

Other then Sherlock and Watson, I don't think there is a better Bromance then Kirk and Spock! This film does an excellent job at portraying the beginning of their relationship as they also take the reigns as captains of the Starship Enterprise. Their personalities are so opposite, yet they are able to gain respect for eachother's strengths and help the other with their weaknesses. They become an amazing team able to engage all the best skills from all of their crew in the most elaborate ways to meet the most ideal ends.

I believe the makers of the film have done an excellent job re-establishing the original crew, crafted from such great personalities as to make a well-adjusted team that functions so well together via all it's different people. What personalities they are! From all different cultures, working together brilliantly; you can't help loving them each for their own unique contributions to the show. The actors did an amazing job at portraying the original characters. While watching this movie, it brought back to me how it felt to watch the original tv show growing up. With the lengths that film is able to go with special affects and computer graphics, Star Trek has been captured in a truly fresh and exciting new way. I think the passion that went into this film is evident down to every plot twist, character development and each thread on each uniform.

Visually, the movie is always engaging; with scenes of the imagined future cityscapes of London and San Fransisco, of an entirely different planet covered in vibrant pink trees or a recreation of the beloved Enterprise' cockpit decked out with retro-uniform clad officers.

I was also truly delighted to see Benedict Cumberbatch as the psychopathic antagonist Khan, because I'm such a fan of his portrayal of Sherlock for BBC. Defeating such a well portrayed and challenging nemesis makes the Enterprise crew that much more of heros! I look forward to going on more adventures with this crew, and at seeing some of the new worlds and lifeforms that they will meet on their future journey in space.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Prozac Nation (2001)

Based on the book by the same name which is a first hand account of Elizabeth Wurtzel's struggle with mental illness. It's been around 9 years since my initial viewing of Prozac Nation. Before watching it again, I merely remembered a film that had been a raw portrayal of one woman's struggle with some form of depression. Since I came from a Christian upbringing some of the material was slightly shocking at the time, but I remember appreciating this movie so much because it was such an honest representation of mental illness as I had never seen before it. I went out and purchased it right away because I knew I would watch this film again. Unfortunately though, it has sat in amidst my film collection gathering dust for this long.

The film opens with Christina Ricci describing the home life she grew up in. Soon the image captures Christina sitting in her room as Elizabeth, completely naked, the perfect foreshadowing that this film will soon rend the rest of Elizabeth completely vulnerable to us.

I believe I was in university when I first saw this film, so I was at the perfect age to empathize with the writer as she portrays herself experiencing her initial independence and the struggles with perfection she faces. Our personalities are similar in that I certainly empathized with the complete absorption she would experience when listening to music, the intricate and emotive way she would write, and the whole cocoon of ideas and emotions she would become so enthralled with writing out. When I went through these moments, I would burn the midnight oil reading and writing poetry and obsessively immersing myself in some expressive ballad (Josh Groban or Eminem among others). I also recognized the struggles with mood and male relationships she had experienced due to a lack of self confidence (which apparently I realize I still have at times) and the bitter way she would express her struggle, like her 'coming out party'. Some of the similarities between her and I were uncanny, such as how in love she was with Rafe and even the pillows on her bed! I would even dress a bit like her in my university years.

This being said I have never been diagnosed as bipolar, though I have seen psychiatrists and psychologists. Depression is becoming more and more common and personally I don't see any utility in shaming for it. My interest in appealing to the character is that I am highly empathetic, I also think that many people could naturally understand her struggles. It's almost as if this story was written in order to sell a prescription drug, by appealing to how life can get hard and can be hard to deal with, especially when you have a sensitive and artistic personality.

The film also portrays the common use of alcohol to increase one's experience by enhancing one's personality, dually used to also cover up pain and quell the restlessness within. For a person with bipolar depression, this could potentially nurture a routine of sexually risky behaviours as indicated in the film, though many "normal" people have found themselves in these circumstances too. Though I was a bit of an angsty depressive person myself at times, I don't remember ever being cruel quite like she was to her friends. I do know it can happen though, and I do know the grief that comes with realizing you haven't been the greatest friend, partner, or person, when you've been struggling with a depressive episode.

Christina Ricci displays the downward spiral that can occur when the depressed person realizes what a burden she has become to those around her. There is a scene where she is fighting with her mother who is disappointed and frustrated with her, and Christina jumps between defending herself with angry words and then realizing how hurtful she is being and apologizing. It is as if she is a wounded animal that doesn't know any better than to bite the hand that feeds her, but when she realizes her faulty thinking, she becomes ill with the self loathing she feels towards herself. It is certainly a feeling of hopelessness, and of being trapped within your own mind and prey to your own emotions.

Christina, portraying Elizabeth, recognizes that she needs help. She has lost the ability to appreciate the things she used to love. She sees a doctor she can talk to, and though it is not all in the doctor's hands to fix her, and at times she regresses due to the natural stresses that risking to live fully in life can entail, in the end the film displays hope. With the proper medication and counseling, things will get better.

I like that this film ends with a sense of hope but, I personally felt left hanging, as I have continued onto adulthood past university and I want to know where Elizabeth is now and how the rest of her life has gone. What have been her struggles throughout job-searching? Establishing her career? Learning how to love again?

This film almost portrays Elizabeth's struggle as merely a teenager struggling with adjusting to real life adulthood and the demands of the world, but we all know now that depression doesn't always go away, that it often manifests again and again. For some people, it is part of a lifelong journey.

In my experience, medications can actually exacerbate such conditions, one major side effect of several antidepressant medications being causing manic episodes. Thankfully I can attest that though I have had reason for depression in the past, I've never had worsening depressive episodes. The worst one was always that first one as a teenager. They get better as you learn to cope and better care for yourself.

I have read the book Prozac Nation as well. It is a quick read and accounts a real-life story. Unfortunately I found it so similar to the film that I didn't get a feel that it was a better representation of all Elizabeth lived through and struggled with. The film does stand on it's own though, and will always have a special place in my regards.