For the second week of 2022 as part of Wandering Through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks. We go into the subject of movies set in hospitals whether they’re medical dramas, horror, or just weird movies set in a hospital. Here are my three picks:
1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Milos Forman’s adaptation of Ken Kesey’s novel about a criminal who goes to a mental hospital to avoid going to jail by pretending to be mentally ill as it is a film set entirely at this mental hospital. With this great ensemble cast that include great performances from Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Will Sampson, Danny Devito, Christopher Lloyd, Brad Dourif, Scatman Crothers, and William Redfield. The film is an exploration of life in this mental hospital where a bunch of men are treated cruelly by this nurse as it is an exploration of inhumanity where this criminal is in a place that is far worse than prison as he learns that these men who do need help are also prisoners themselves where Nicholson’s character at least tries to give them some idea of life. It is a film that truly deserves the accolades it has received as well as a film that manages to go into depth about mental illness.
2. It's Kind of a Funny Story Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck’s adaptation of the Ned Vizzini novel is another film set in a mental hospital but it is more about the exploration of a young man who checks himself in following an attempted suicide jump as he learns that there’s other people at this hospital who all suffer from depression. Boden and Fleck not only manage to put in some humor and light-hearted moments in a film that is meant to be serious yet it manages to be quite hopeful in its presentation. Especially with its ensemble cast in Keir Gilchrist, Emma Roberts, Jeremy Davies, and Zach Galifianakis who are able to bring some reality into people with real problems but also provide hope as well as a way to show the joys of life no matter how hard the real world can hit someone.
3. Shutter Island Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel is one of the filmmaker’s more underrated films as it is more of a suspense-drama set inside this mental hospital in an island where these two detectives are there to investigate a patient’s disappearance. It is a film with a lot of complexities into the idea of madness as one of these detectives is also dealing with loss. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio in one of his more overlooked performances with an ensemble cast that includes Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Jackie Earle Haley, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, and Michelle Williams. It is a film that is very stylized in its presentation but also in how Scorsese manages to bring a lot of complexity to these characters with an inventive twist in the end that only gets more compelling through re-watches.
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