Mental Health Awareness Week – Hollywood Tackles The Taboo

Written by Chris Gelderd

May 8th – 14th marks Mental Health Awareness Week.

When you say “mental health” to many, the first thing they think about is person who acts a little different to others, who does not conform to many social statuses, and is generally a bit of an outsider. Mental health is so much more than that, and many people simply do not understand the far-reaching effects mental health has on those who suffer with it, and also the ones who love, care, work or even simply know the affected party.

What can encompass mental health? Wow. Where do you start?

Anorexia. Hallucinations. Panic attacks. Tourettes. Work-life balance.

The list is comprehensive to say the least.

Hollywood hasn’t shied away from mental health in film, and many popular films over the years help spread awareness of mental health issues, the effect they have and the consequences. Yes, of course, Hollywood doesn’t always get it right, and it has to make subject matter entertaining to make money, but studios, cast and crew do try to inject mental health into movies where they can, and they do an important thing by doing this – spread the word and help the general public become aware.

I like Carmine Falcone’s quote in ‘Batman Begins’ to sum up this taboo:

“This is a world you’ll never understand. And you always fear what you don’t understand.”

Mental health is a world many will never understand, and because of that, they fear it. 

Let’s take a look at a snapshot of popular movies that have tackled mental health in some way and left an impact on audiences, created important discussion and spread awareness to help alleviate that lack of understanding.

AUTISM – Rain Man (1988) / The Imitation Game (2014) / Power Rangers (2017)

Autism is a growing disorder which is characterised by a lack of social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted or repetitive behaviour. Dustin Hoffman as Raymond in ‘Rain Man’ was the first big glimpse into Autism via Hollywood, and as there was little understanding or support at that time, it acted a double edged sword. “Rain Man” is the term people use for Autistic people because that’s what they expect – quirky people who make funny noises and remember everything. But, it made people take note and that was the start of what is now a growing understanding and study of Autism, even now in film. Things have come a long way and continue to do so.

DEMENTIA – On Golden Pond (1981) / The Notebook (2004) / Remember (2015)

Dementia, bracketed with Alzheimer’s disease, causes a long term and gradual decrease in the ability to think for themselves, process emotion and affect their daily functioning. A heart-breaking issue, this lends itself to a strong emotional core that comes across in powerful films. It helps us understand how this can slowly take away a person, without us even knowing it until it’s too late. It shows how we can help them, how we can cope and what helps them remember moments thought long gone. ‘The Notebook’ does this to great effect.

DEPRESSION– Interiors (1978) / Cake (2014) / Inside Out (2015)

Depression encompasses many factors including low self-esteem, low energy, false beliefs and a general low mood. It is becoming increasingly common in today’s society, but one many who don’t understand can dismiss easily.  Film shows us how triggers can cause depression – major changes to lifestyle, medication, health or social issues can lead people experiencing depression. Jennifer Aniston in ‘Cake’ portrays this brilliantly, and even Pixar help touch upon the subject for young audiences in ‘Inside Out’.

EROTOMANIA – Fatal Attraction (1987) / The Crush (1993)  / Enduring Love (2004)

A delusional disorder in which the suffer can easily believe another person is in love, or infatuated, with them. This lends itself to other areas such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. For effect, this is played to a more sinister side, creating thrillers and haunting stories told from a victim’s point of view, but with moments that help us understand why the suffer feels the way they do, which is often over-looked and ignored.

OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE DISORDER – Sleeping With The Enemy (1991) / The Aviator (2004) / Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

This disorder has people depend on routines, checking things repeatedly and trying to stay in control. Linked to anxiety and a risk of suicide, OCD can dominate a person’s day and life by their need to perform certain routines and have certain thoughts and processes in order to cope, linking back to an earlier trauma.

SUBSTANCE ABUSE – Pulp Fiction (1994) / Pure (2002) / Flight (2012)

Otherwise known as addiction or dependence, substance use disorder (SUD) can refer to any physical substance, but is primarily alcohol and drug related which affects the suffers physical and mental state, and affects the safety of them around others. Film continues to deliver powerful messages about the roads that lead to SUD and also the consequences if it isn’t worked on to be righted.

Agoraphobia. Eating disorders. Hypersexuality. Post-traumatic stress disorder. Suicide.

As said before, the list is too great to fully explore, but films for all ages, from ‘Finding Nemo’ to ‘Trainspotting’ have continued to help bring mental health to the big screen and for all generations to start to see and understand that this is NOT something to fear, but something to strive to help deal with and find support for the sufferers and their families and friends.

For more information on Mental Health, please visit this website: www.mentalhealth.org.uk

If you need someone to talk to, to listen or understand, then you are not going to be alone in finding that support.

Take some time out to discuss mental wellbeing with your friends and family if you feel there is need to. Encourage them, and yourself, to open up, to share and discuss, and most importantly, not to feel alone or judged by society.

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Top 5 Movie Dance Scenes

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes

We all love a good boogie, right? Even better when there’s a touch of comedy to the dance moves, and these five dance sequences from the movies are equally entertaining as they are oddly impressive. 


5. Ben Mendelsohn (Lost River)

I only recently saw this film, and to be honest this dance sequence is probably the one which gave me the idea to put together this list. I loved this part of the film, mainly because I had no idea it was coming and it was so out of the blue in the context of the film. Ben Mendelsohn’s moves here are extremely creepy and sinister, yet you can’t help but have a wry smile on your face when you watch this scene.


4. Ben Stiller (Starsky and Hutch)

This one took quite a bit of pondering to come up with, but as soon as I remembered this sequence I just had to include it in the list. I’m not the biggest fan of Ben Stiller, but ‘Starsky and Hutch’ was, for me, one of his best films, and this hilarious dance-off scene is the highlight of the whole film. Stiller busts out some classic moves, and let’s be honest, he had Dancin’ Rick beat all over. 


3. Uma Thurman and John Travolta (Pulp Fiction)

This is probably the most iconic dance scene of all time, and I’m not disputing that at all. Uma Thurman and John Travolta’s legendary dance scene in ‘Pulp Fiction’ is the most recognisable and famous of them all, but that doesn’t make it the best. It is however, a magical moment in cinematic history and a real stroke of genius from Quentin Tarantino. 


2. Oscar Isaac (Ex Machina)

Now this is the ultimate in dark comedy! Oscar Isaac, who plays the mysterious, rather detestable genius Nathan in this sci-fi flick, comes out of nowhere to drop an incredibly synchronised dance sequence which took the film world by storm last year. This is arguably the best moment of one of 2015’s top films; so good, that I just had to recreate it for the JumpCut UK Film Awards (watch this and skip to 27:43, or watch the whole thing, your call).


1. Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite)

Only one dance scene could beat that masterclass from Oscar Isaac, and that is, of course, the awkward yet endearing display from Jon Heder in ‘Napoleon Dynamite’. Not only is this a sequence which cracks me up every time, but it’s actually pretty impressive too. Jamiroquai’s ‘Canned Heat’ track is used perfectly, and Heder nails every step. Confession time: I’ve also mastered the moves to this one too.


So there we have it. Have I missed any movie dance moments out? Let us know in the comments section or hit us up on Twitter @jumpcutUK or @jumpcutjakob.

Watch This Space: May 25 – May 31

Welcome to your weekly go-to-guide – WatchThisSpace – where we give you recommendations of films to watch in the cinema, on the television and those brilliant films hiding at the back of your DVD collection.

IN THE CINEMA

The Rock is slowly winning us over, proving that he is a respectable actor in Hollywood. He certainly earns enough anyway. His latest offering, ‘San Andreas’, promises to be quite the spectacle, one which simply HAS to be enjoyed on the big screen.

We waited a week with this one, to gauge the opinion from opening weekend. Disney’s attempt at a summer hit with ‘Tomorrowland’, has been quite divisive among audiences thus far, with the consensus seeming to be that the fantasy flick is just about worth seeing.

ON TELEVISION

Monday 14:25 GMT: The multiple academy award-winning western ‘Dances with Wolves’ graces our screens during the Bank Holiday afternoon on BBC2. An emotional roller coaster, set against wonderful scenery and with a beautiful musical score to accompany, this film is just about as good as the West gets. 

Monday 20:00 GMT: Finish your holiday in explosive style with Avengers Assemble’ on BBC1. You’ve probably seen it before, but why not relive some Marvel magic. Sit back with your beverage of choice and enjoy blockbuster action at its very best.

Wednesday 18:55 GMT: Film4 brings us the hilarious ‘Sister Act’ on Wednesday evening. The perfect way to break up the working week, this film will do it’s best to raise your spirits. As far as musical comedies go, there’s nun better. I’ll get my coat…

Wednesday 22:55 GMT: A real late-night treat for you on Film4 this week. Arguably his best film, ‘Psycho’ is trademark Hitchcock. One of those films that you’ve heard people talk about, but never had the opportunity of seeing? Now’s your chance. Just don’t expect a peaceful sleep afterwards. 

Saturday 17:25 GMT: With the release of Jurassic World growing ever closer, see where it all began with the ground-breaking, timeless classic that is ‘Jurassic Park’ on ITV2. The iconic action film for all ages, this is one simply not to be missed. Hold onto your butts.  

DIG IT OUT

This is our favourite part of the WatchThisSpace section. We delve into our own DVD collection and pick out some amazing films, that may not instantly spring to mind when you’re stuck for inspiration to make your movie night a success. Maybe you’ve never seen a film that we pick – or even heard of them for that matter – but you’re gonna have to trust us on this one, and Dig It Out.

A Beautiful Mind: There was sad news last week when mathematician John Nash and his wife were tragically killed in a car crash. Celebrate his life in this truly incredible film with Russell Crowe portraying the genius with an Oscar winning performance. Dig out this wonderful film that chronicles the life of a truly wonderful and inspirational individual. 

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo: Following Sweden’s victory at this year’s Eurovision ‘singing’ competition, we recommend watching one of the country’s more notable exports, aside from flat-pack furniture of course. The original Swedish adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series of books are astounding. This is a brilliant beginning to a wonderfully gritty and violent crime trilogy. Make sure you watch the original Swedish version though, as it is infinitely better than the later Hollywood effort starring Daniel Craig.

Fish Tank: Last week we were treated to a teaser trailer for the upcoming biopic ‘Steve Jobs’, starring Michael Fassbender. Now, we urge you to travel back to the start of this wonderful actor’s career and check out the provocative, British flick about that fine line between adolescence and the scary world of adulthood.

Pulp Fiction: Cannes, the biggest event in the film festival calendar, has come to an end. This time, the coveted Palme D’or prize went to Jacques Audiard for ‘Dheepan’. A great film no doubt, but will there ever be a better winner than Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 effort?

 This week’s WatchThisSpace was compiled by Jakob Lewis Barnes and Nick Deal