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To see a simple English version of reviews about some of the movies, click on the  ESL section of Midnight Oil.

The Snake Pit (1948)

The Snake Pit”  has Olivia de Havilland play the part of Virginia Cunningham, a young woman who finds herself locked up in a mental asylum. The film is taken from a novel by Mary Jane Ward and is  directed by Anotole Litvak. It combines the point of view of the disoriented and harassed patient, Virginia, with external elements that keep the film firmly grounded in reality. In spite of the efforts of her loving husband (Mark Stevens) and Dr. Mark Kik (Leo Genn) to reach her, the harrowing experiences of the mental patient continue for a full two hours. “The Snake Pit” is  an unusually honest film about mental illness for 1948, even if it does enter the realms of the melodramatic and over the top psycho-analysis at times.

>>Real Life: John struggled with the mental grief of a lifelong physical affliction. Why couldn't he just be normal?

>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

Catch the TVO video trailer for "The Snake Pit" (1948

Video excerpt from "The Snake Pit" (1948)

Shine (1996)

“Shine”(1996)  tells the story of Australian pianist, David Helfgott, a man whose artistic talents and fragile mental state are negatively impacted by the post-war trauma of his troubled father. Helfgott makes an unlikely comeback after a dramatic mental breakdown and institutionalization. Geoffrey Rush (adult) and Noah Taylor (adolescent) both won critical acclaim for their portrayal of Helfgott’s character. While the issue of whether “Shine” tells the “entirely true” story of the child prodigy gone wrong may be debatable, what is clear is that this film certainly is a good story worth listening to in its empathetic treatment of the individual and the artist.

The film “Shine”(1996) was previously presented in the context of TVOntario’s “Brain Week – From Brilliant to Broken” . Be sure to catch the SNAM Interviews for “Shine” called “Art and Madness”, a most interesting examination of the relationship of mental illness and artistic genius as depicted in film.

>> Real Life: John Castro may sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" a bit differently than some versions you have heard. John talks about his passion for music and why he did not appear to be the typical contestant on American idol. (There's more to it than sporting a ukulele on stage.)

>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

See the video trailer for the movie "Shine" (1996)

West is West (1987)

"West is West" (1987) is a bit of an unusual mix. A young Indian man from Bombay shows up in San Francisco intent on gaining admission to the country and to the University of California. Things go terribly amiss and Vikram (Ashutosh Gowariker) ends up living the less than desirable version of the American dream as an illegal immigrant. Bollywood and its stylized vision of life in India is never far away from Vikram's imagination. The American girlfriend, played by Heidi Carpenter, somehow gets incoroporated into the mix (or should I say mix up) and goes from gothic to glamourous (Bollywood style). But it all works somehow.

It should work because Ashutosh Gowariker has been able to make a success of himself back in India going from actor to writer/director/producer with much critical acclaim. While "West is West" may not be the greatest movie ever, it certainly tells an important story about the immigrant experience that is perhaps not heard often enough in North America.

>> Real Life Story: The ups and downs of the search for success in his professional life as an architecht threw Mark for a loop until he came to terms with the meaning of this one word: wait.
>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?
View the TVO Saturday Night at the Movie Interview segment dealing with the immigrant experience "East Meets West" featuring video clips from "West is West" (1987)

Dear Frankie (2004)

“Dear Frankie” (2004) IMDb is a real gem starring Jack McElhone as a young deaf boy and Emily Mortimer as his mom. Gerard Butler is the stranger who is brought into the picture in order to play the role of Frankie’s “dad” for a day. Things have a way of getting kind of complicated when the adults involved find they have to bend over backwards in order to maintain the charade for Frankie’s benefit. It’s a lovely tale told with much care and compassion for the plight of the single mom who tries to do her best with a very difficult dilemma.

TVO producer, Thom Ernst talks on his blog. about how this unusual and charming film came to be screened on SNAM.

See the TVO interview related to "Dear Frankie", in which the issue of telling lies in order to protect children is examined.


>>Real Life Story: Shannon deals with her fatherless childhood and, in her adult life, leaves an abusive relationship.

>>More to see: Looking for more out of life?

See the video trailer for "Dear Frankie" (2004).

The Late Show (1977)

The Late Show (1977) with Art Carney and Lily Tomlin pairs a cranky has-been detective with a kooky young woman who hasn’t quite got her life under control. The odd couple is formed when minor crimes and misdemeanours escalate to a major blackmail and murder case. Things become unexpectedly serious both on the investigation front and the personal relationship side of things. Two slightly out of step and lonely individuals find that they have something to contribute to one another’s lives. Robert Benton directs this backward glance at the hardboiled detective film noir movies of the 1940’s à la Raymond Chandler/Philip Marlowe. The film leaves behind a surprisingly touching picture of the subject of aging thanks to good acting on the part of the lead characters and the support of Benton’s direction as well as a decent script.

See the TVO video preview for the "Never Too Late" presentation with "Nobody's Fool" and "The Late Show"

The companion piece in this series, "Nobody's Fool" with Paul Newman, Jessica Tandy, Bruce Willis and Melanie Griffith was also reviewed on Midnight Oil.

>>More to see: Looking for more out of life? 

>> Real Life Story: Pete's lifelong ambition to be the best at something (anything) became the driving force behind his existence - until it drove him to a place of despair. Pete then found another way to be himself.
See the video trailer for "The Late Show" (1977).

Don't miss the entire TVOntario Interview for the "Never Too Late" episode. Included is a discussion of "Nobody's Fool" and "The Late Show" in the conversation about Hollywood films and the subject of aging.

Posted on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 07:44AM by Registered CommenterCatherine Savard | CommentsPost a Comment