Movies About Mid-Century Men and Musings about Mental Health

Louie Zamperini, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking … Somehow I find that I’ve been recently watched several films (in the theaters no less) that are biopics of amazing, interesting, unique men.

Unbroken poster Movies About Mid Century Men and Musings about Mental Health

Unbroken, Imitation Game and Theory of Everything have a lot in common. They’re all primarily set in the mid-20th Century; the first two are about WWII. They are all about men who are unique from others in some big way. Zamperini was an Olympic athlete and the other two are cutting-edge mathematicians/ scientists. Each of the men is challenged in life in some huge way (as a prisoner of war, persecution for homosexuality and with a degenerative disease). In each case, the film is based on a book about the life of the person as told by someone other than the man himself. And they were all nominated for Academy Awards.

The Imitation Game poster Movies About Mid Century Men and Musings about Mental Health

I don’t usually watch movies or read books where men are the main characters. It’s not intentional. I suppose as a woman I tend to be drawn towards women’s stories. I usually read women’s memoirs. And most Hollywood films have women as main characters. In fact, the main women in the lives of both Turing and Hawking do play a big role in the film and I was endlessly interested in them. I wanted to know a lot more about Joan Clarke, the only woman working with Turing, and about Jane Wilde Hawking who choose to love (and eventually leave) her brilliant husband. But ultimately, the films are about the men, and the lives that they led in part by choice and in part out of happenstance.

Theory of Everything Movies About Mid Century Men and Musings about Mental Health

Each of these films brought tears to my eyes, always right at the end of the movie. With Unbroken, my eyes welled with tears at the end when I learned that Zamperini eventually did go to the Olympics to run the torch in Japan, the place where he had been tortured so many years before. There was something so amazing about the resilience in that and so beautiful about the global recognition of that important thing. The film says that he married and had two kids and I couldn’t help but wonder what his life was really like, what kind of PTSD he might have lived with, how his family relationship really worked out. But the teariness was because of the way the film suggests that there was some kind of personal resolution at the end.

zamperini Movies About Mid Century Men and Musings about Mental Health

With Imitation Game, the tears were from anger at the injustice of it all. Turing was prosecuted for homosexuality and put on chemical castration hormones. The film doesn’t go into detail about how those chemicals affected him, but I can imagine that they were awful in terms of wreaking havoc on the body and emotions. A year after starting them, Turing committed suicide. And reading that line at the end of the movie just made me cry.

alan turing Movies About Mid Century Men and Musings about Mental Health


I can’t even wrap my head around the war as told from the lenses of these two different men – a prisoner of war held in Japan after 40 some days at sea and all the death witnessed and pain experienced there followed by a life that presents on the surface at least as relatively normal and a man who created the cutting-edge computer system that broke the German code and helped to bring that war to an end but who died shortly after in a tragic way by his own hand.

stephen hawking Movies About Mid Century Men and Musings about Mental Health

I’m not sure what in Theory of Everything made me teary. It was a different kind of teary. Maybe it was the dissolution of the couple’s marriage. Maybe it was the scene at the end when Hawking imagines being able to just get up and pick up a pencil that has dropped, something so simple for most of us. Is it a blessing or a curse that he was trapped in that non-working body but that his brilliant mind was unhindered?

Perhaps because what’s always interested me is human psychology or perhaps because I’m immersed in counseling studies for my program but I can’t help looking at the stories of each of these men and wondering about their mental health. I wonder about Zamperini and PTSD. I wonder about Turing and depression. I wonder about Hawking and grief. I wonder what makes them able to persevere (or perhaps not, in Turing’s case) and what the quality of life is in terms of mental health rather than what output they offered to the world.

I don’t have answers. Just musings.

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The Single Story

I’m still kind of recovering from my long weekend back to school. Those weekends are intense and they just wipe me out. I’m in class from 9-8 on Friday and Saturday and then 9-4 on Sunday. The classes this semester are family dynamics, psychopathology and trauma – not light material. So when I woke up on Monday I just felt completely beat up from the inside out and I’ve been mostly recuperating since.

That said, the weekend was truly inspiring. We pack a lot of amazing information into these weekends and I always leave with so, so much to think about. The favorite thing that stands out from this past weekend is a short TED talk that we watched in family dynamics about “the single story”. I have lots of thoughts but for now I’ll let the video speak for itself:

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TV Shows I’ve Marathon Watched This Summer

I watched a lot of TV this summer. I have terrible insomnia so I watch a lot of television at night. I also watch TV while crocheting and sometimes I have TV on the background when I’m doing busy work (answering email, etc.) Here are some of the television shows that I watched at least one full season of in the past few months:

oitnb TV Shows Ive Marathon Watched This Summer

Orange is the New Black

in treatment TV Shows Ive Marathon Watched This Summer

In Treatment

Continue reading

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Kiss The Water: Niche Documentary

I randomly selected Kiss The Water on Netflix the other day and discovered that it is a really interesting documentary. It’s not compelling, on-the-edge-of-your-seat interesting but it’s really unique in both topic and style.

The story is about Megan Boyd, a niche artist who devoted her life to creating stunningly beautiful perfect flies for fly fishermen. I don’t know anything about fly fishing and didn’t even know that there was an art to this craft but it’s apparently a detailed thing. I love stories about people who commit their lives to something that no one in the mainstream world even knows much about so that kind of captured my interest.

kiss the water documentary Kiss The Water: Niche Documentary

The film itself is artistic as well. There are these beautiful shots of hands making the flies that are close-up and edgy and vibrantly colored. They’re quite striking. There are beautiful photographic landscape images caught from unusual angles (like through dirty windows)! And there is drawing/ animation incorporated into the film in really unique ways. It’s not something that you see every day and I give a lot of credit to the filmmaker for the work that went into making it.

Like I said, it’s not like every moment of this film was fascinating for me. Some of the interviews didn’t say much. Some of the artsy moments weren’t quite my thing. But overall it was inspiring to see the creativity that went into the film and the life that the film is describing.

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Walt Disney’s Silent Film Alice

IMG 4213 764x1024 Walt Disneys Silent Film Alice

If you Google “Walt Disney” and “Alice” you’ll get a lot of results for Alice in Wonderland. However, I learned from my trip to the Disney Museum that there was an earlier Alice in Disney’s work.

IMG 4214 764x1024 Walt Disneys Silent Film Alice

Early in his career (in the 1920s) Disney did silent film work. There was a popular series with a star named Alice (called the Alice Comedies). There were actually four different girls who played the character of Alice over the years, the most well-known of which was Virginia Davis.

Disney made the first Alice film on his own. He’d been doing some other films for Laugh-O-Gram but the company went bankrupt and Disney was trying to make some money. The main thing I learned at Disney Museum was how he was constantly having to reinvent himself and persevere through tough times to become what he was.

IMG 4210 1024x764 Walt Disneys Silent Film Alice IMG 4211 764x1024 Walt Disneys Silent Film AliceAs you can see from the above image, these silent film comedies included the real love girl Alice but also included animation. The main animated character was a cat that resembled Felix the Cat.

IMG 4212 764x1024 Walt Disneys Silent Film AliceMore than fifty Alice movies were made in the four yeras between 1923 and 1927.

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8 Multicultural Movies to See

I thought I’d share a partial list of movies that were recommended to my Multicultural class (partial because it’s only for the current class, not the full course). I’ve only seen the first three on the list.

fruitvale film 8 Multicultural Movies to See
Fruitvale Station
I just recently saw this film, which is about the BART station shooting. I couldn’t believe when I saw on the film that it happened in 2008. It feels so present here still. I was impressed with the film in the sense that it seemed to present the story as fairly or neutrally as possible, which had to have been tough to do with this controversial case.
crash film 8 Multicultural Movies to See
I saw this movie a few times when it first came out and really loved it. I haven’t seen it since and do want to watch it again with an eye towards specifically why it was chosen for this course. Netflix also did a two-season TV show based on this movie, which I’d like to watch again.
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Beautiful Darling

candy darling Beautiful Darling

It had been awhile since I’d been on Netflix so I decided to flip through and see what there was to see. I landed on Beautiful Darling, a documentary about Warhol Superstar Candy Darling.

andy warhol Beautiful Darling

There was a period when I got really fascinated by Warhol and read a lot of books about him and his art and The Factory and so I knew a bit about his superstars as a result but I don’t remember a lot about them really. What I do remember is mostly about Edie. And yet watching this documentary I couldn’t help but think that Candy Darling must have been the most fascinating of them all.

candy darling full body Beautiful Darling

The thing about Candy Darling is that she’s truly, strikingly beautiful. And seemingly really talented as an actress, which can’t be said for all of the Warhol actors. And she’s a little tragic, in a Marilyn Monroe kind of way. At least, the documentary presents her as this star who exuded confidence and comfort in her own skin … and yet she was stuck in a body that didn’t feel right in a time when that wasn’t accepted at all and she seemed to desperately want a love that she never quite found.

candy darling photo Beautiful Darling

Tragic, beautiful, human.

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30 Documentaries About Architecture I Want To See

Screen shot 2013 10 09 at 2.09.52 PM 30 Documentaries About Architecture I Want To See

Sometimes I really like when other people publish lists of things because it gives me something to work off of to learn something new. That was the case earlier this year when I saw Arch Daily’s article called The 30 Architecture Docs To Watch In 2013. I haven’t watched anything on the list yet but I came across the bookmark on my computer and got re-interested in working my way through the list. I think it would give me a great foundation in architecture, a design area that interests me but that I don’t know a whole lot about. A lot of them seem to be available online so I’ll start there. Have you seen any of them? Got any suggestions where to start?

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10 Things I Liked About The Gatsby Film

As soon as I saw the 3D preview for Gatsby (when I went to go watch Oz the Great and Powerful, which I loved) I knew that it was a movie that I wanted to see. I went and saw it a couple of days ago at the Kabuki theater where I enjoyed the Gatsby Gimlet that they were serving at the bar. I got immersed into the movie and I’ve been mulling it over since. Was it the most amazing movie I’ve ever seen in my life? No, but I did like it a lot and there were many reasons why.

DSC 6896 10 Things I Liked About The Gatsby Film

Here are ten things I liked about Gatsby:

1. Stunning 3D Effects

There were so many little details in the 3D effects that I loved. I’m a sucker for 3D movies. I’ll like almost anything in 3D honestly. I just get wrapped right up into the beauty of the imagery. This movie in particular did some cool things with the way trees hung in the foreground, confetti and snow fell into the crowd, curtains billowing and words were written onto the front of the screen.

2. Gorgeous Fashions and Style

carey mulligan gatsby 10 Things I Liked About The Gatsby Film

They did a great job of showing off modern couture interpretations of the fashions of the Jazz Age in a gorgeous way in this movie. It was a delight to just look at those fashions. The hairstyles, the accessories; all of the details were delightful in every scene in the movie.

3. Movie of Male Friendship

I thought it was a really interesting portrayal of the friendship between the two main male characters. We just don’t see a lot of movies that are about that topic. The movie is about many different types of relationships and they’re all interesting and important but that’s a unique aspect that differs from most other love story movies.

4. Reveals Sad Truths About Human Relationships

There are so many things that the characters in the movie could have done differently to honor, cherish, celebrate and improve their relationships. But we are human and flawed and the different relationships displayed so many of the true ways in which we can be flawed in our relationships. It’s sad, but it’s touching.

5. Music Choices

The film is filled with music. What I loved was how there was this great combination of the influences from the jazz age in which the film is set with influences of totally contemporary 21st century rap and pop music. This could have turned out terribly if it wasn’t done well but I thought it was done great.

6. Terrific Cinematography

Yes, this goes hand-in-hand a bit with point #1 about the great 3D effects but just in general I thought the photographic choices that were made were terrific. There were excellent choices made with the right lighting, the boldness of color in certain spots, the close-up details of faces in some places … It was a visually stunning movie to watch. There were certain times in the film when the Blockbuster Movie style storyline did start to get a little boring for me but the film itself didn’t bore me because it was so pretty to watch.

7. Interconnectedness of the Characters

I loved the way that the stories of the different lives of the characters were woven together throughout the film. Some smart choices there in the storytelling.

8. Glimpse into the Jazz Age

My father is in love with the Jazz Age so I know a little bit about it from what he’s shared. I know a little bit also from research I’ve done at various times. I’m the first to admit that I don’t know a whole ton about it but it’s definitely an interesting time period that I’ll eventually delve into more. I don’t know enough to say how accurately the movie represented New York in the Jazz Age but it seemed like it hit some of the key points in interesting ways, revealing the sensuality and fun of the time along with some of the darker influences that emerged then.

9. The Humor

Gatsby is not a funny movie. It’s a drama, a romance … but there were certain humorous lines that caught me off guard and cracked me up. Humor is always nice.

10. Narrated Story

I’ve always loved movies that are narrated in part by one of the characters. It’s a terrific storytelling technique that always endears a movie to me.

Have you seen Gatsby? Thoughts?

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