Girl Interrupted

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers: Douglas Wick, Winona Ryder
  • Writers: James Mangold, Lisa Loomer, Anna Hamilton Phelan
  • Genres: Biography, Drama
  • Actors: Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Jared Leto, Elisabeth Moss, Travis Fine, Vanessa Redgrave, Whoopi Goldberg

Susanna Kaysen (Ryder), 18 years old in April 1967, “voluntarily” (her parents essentially force her to go there, and she is not free to leave until the staff approves her release) checks herself into the fictitious Claymoore Hospital (based on McLean Hospital, the actual institution featured in the memoir), after an overdose of aspirin and her stay extends for over a year.

She befriends fellow patients Polly “Torch” Clark (Elisabeth Moss), a burn victim; Georgina Tuskin (Clea DuVall), a pathological liar; Daisy Randone (Brittany Murphy), a sexually abused girl with an eating disorder and who cuts herself; Janet Webber (Angela Bettis), an anorexic; Cynthia Crowley (Jillian Armenante), whose only disorder seems to be a proclivity to dress like men and is there because her parents don’t want to see her; and others, and forms a small troupe of troubled women in her ward. Susanna is enchanted in particular by Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie), who has been diagnosed as a sociopath (as in the book, it is left to interpretation whether she actually is one). Lisa is a force to be reckoned with: she is magnetic, rebellious, won’t take her medication and verbally abuses the other patients. Lisa befriends Susanna and together they start causing trouble. Lisa encourages Susanna to stop taking her medications and/or trade them with others, and generally resist the influences of therapy (referred to by the patients as “ther-rape-me”).

At the end of the film, Susanna states that by the 1970s, most of her friends were released and some she saw and some never again. But there wasn’t a day “her heart doesn’t find them.”

Knight Day

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers:
  • Writers: Patrick O Neill
  • Genres: Action, Comedy
  • Actors: Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, Maggie Grace, Paul Dano, Marc Blucas, Viola Davis, Olivier Martinez

Roy Milner (Cruise) is a secret agent who goes on a blind date with unlucky-in-love June Havens (Diaz), and ends up pulling her into a journey to protect a powerful battery that holds the key to an infinite power source.

3 10 to Yuma

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers:
  • Writers: Screenplay, Halsted Welles, Michael Brandt, Derek Haas
  • Genres: Action, Crime, Drama, Western
  • Actors: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Logan Lerman, Peter Fonda, Ben Foster

Dan Evans (Christian Bale), an impoverished rancher and Civil War veteran, awakens to find his barn in flames, set ablaze by two men working for Glen Hollander, to whom Evans owes money. The next morning, as Evans and his two sons herd, they stumble upon outlaw Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) and his gang using Evans’ cattle as a road blockade to ambush an armored stagecoach. As he loots the stage, Wade discovers Evans and his two sons watching from the hills. Acknowledging that they pose no threat, Wade takes their horses telling Evans that he will leave them tied up on the road to Bisbee.

Wade travels with his gang to the town of Bisbee, Arizona to enjoy a celebratory drink at the local saloon. Meanwhile, the railroad guards find Evans and his sons with Byron McElroy (Peter Fonda), a Pinkerton agent and lone survivor of the ambush. Evans reveals Bisbee as Wade’s likely destination, where the guards immediately return, joined by Evans and McElroy. While Doc Potter (Alan Tudyk), the local medic/veterinarian, treats McElroy, Evans tries negotiating with Hollander, who reveals his intentions to sell the land to the railroad rather than grant water rights to Evans. Enraged at the loss of his livelihood, Evans tries confronting Hollander in the nearby saloon where he finds Wade, whom he distracts long enough for the railroad guards to ambush and arrest him.

Wade’s gang set up positions around the station as the train approaches. William, observing the events, stampedes a herd of cattle (echoing a similar act performed by Wade earlier in the film) that provides cover for Evans to push Wade onto the train. As Wade boards, he congratulates Evans. At that moment, Prince steps up and shoots Evans four times, despite Wade’s shouted order to stop. Wade steps off the train and catches the gun belt Prince tosses him. After a tense moment of silence, Wade abruptly executes Prince and the rest of his gang. William appears and draws his gun on Wade but finds he can’t kill him, instead turning to his dying father. Wade boards the train politely and surrenders his weapon. As the train pulls away, he whistles for his horse, who perks up his ears and immediately canters after the running train into the distance.

Walk the Line

  • Directors: James Mangold
  • Producers: James Keach, Cathy Konrad
  • Writers: Gill Dennis, James Mangold
  • Genres: Biography, Drama, Music, Romance
  • Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Tyler Hilton

The film details Johnny Cash’s life from his growing up as the son of a cotton picker in Dyess, Arkansas, dealing with the death of his brother, his drug addiction, subsequent rescue by future wife June Carter, and his famous concert at Folsom State Prison.

The film opens in medias res with an exterior shot of Folsom Prison in 1968. The grounds are quiet except for the faint sound of music. Two guards on their tower peer at the main building. As we slowly approach the main building, the music begins to increase in volume. The camera tracks past empty cells and halls as the music becomes louder and more distinct; now cheering can be heard. Finally we see the source of the cheering: an audience of inmates for Johnny Cash’s band, which is playing a vamp. In the next shot, a table saw rests on a table as a hand casually strokes the blade. After repeated calls, we are made aware that the hand is that of Johnny Cash. The blade reminds Johnny of his youth and particularly of the death of his brother. (Later we learn that the voice calling him onstage is that of the prison warden.)

June tearfully agrees, and after a long embrace the scene fades to the deck of Cash’s home in Hendersonville. Cash watches his father interact with his newest daughters Rosie and Carlene. He jokes with his father, their tense relationship having apparently begun to heal. The final shot shows Cash continuing down the stairs to the pier, looking up, and meeting June’s eyes where she is fishing with her father. They look at each other and Cash smiles and the frame freezes; the scene then changes to footage of the couple performing together, with brief biographical information about Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash superimposed over it.