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.”

Panic Room

  • Directors: David Fincher
  • Producers: Judy Hofflund, David Koepp, Gavin Polone
  • Writers: David Koepp
  • Genres: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Jodie Foster, Kristen Stewart, Forest Whitaker, Dwight Yoakam, Jared Leto

Meg Altman (Jodie Foster), recently divorced from the owner of a pharmaceutical giant, and her 12-year-old daughter Sarah (Stewart), who has diabetes, are staying in a four-story townhouse that was previously owned by a disabled, reclusive millionaire. It has a panic room, an isolated room used to protect the owner from an intruder that is protected by a four-inch-thick steel door and an impressive security system, and features a separate phone line.

On the night the two move into the home, it is broken into by Junior (Leto), the grandson of the previous owner, and Burnham (Whitaker), an employee of the security company used by the residence. The two are after $3 million in bearer bonds, which is locked inside a floor safe in the panic room. Unknown to Burnham until after they’ve broken in, Junior has recruited Raoul (Yoakam), a bus driver who lives in Flatbush, to assist in the heist.

After discovering that the Altmans have moved into the home one week before they anticipated, the burglars decide to go on as planned with the heist. However, Meg wakes up and discovers the intruders from the CCTV monitors in the panic room when she wanted to switch off its glaring light. Before the three can stop her, she runs to Sarah, wakes her, and they escape to the panic room.

Following the trouble with the home invasion Meg and Sarah begin searching for a new house in the newspaper.

Alexander

  • Directors: Oliver Stone
  • Producers: Moritz Borman, Jon Kilik, Iain Smith
  • Writers: Oliver Stone, Christopher Kyle, Laeta Kalogridis
  • Genres: Action, Adventure, Biography, Drama, Romance, War
  • Actors: Colin Farrell, Angelina Jolie, Val Kilmer, Rosario Dawson, Jared Leto, Anthony Hopkins

The film is based on the biography of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian King who conquered Asia Minor, Persia and Ancient India. Shown in the movie are some of the key moments of Alexander’s youth, his invasion of the mighty Persian Empire and his death. It also outlines his early life, including his difficult relationship with his father, Philip II of Macedonia (Val Kilmer), the unification of the Greek city-states under the League of Corinth[3] and the conquest of the Persian Empire in 331 BC. It also details his plans to reform his empire and the attempts he made to reach the end of the world.

The storyline begins in 356 BC with Ptolemy I Soter (Anthony Hopkins), who narrates throughout the film. With a lavish budget, the film depicts Alexander’s daily life and the strained relationship between his parents. Alexander grows up with his mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie) and his tutor Aristotle, where he finds interest in love, honour, music, exploration, poetry and military combat. His relationship with his father is destroyed when Philip marries Attalus’s niece, Eurydice.

After Philip is assassinated, Alexander becomes king of Macedonia and the rest of Greece. Having briefly mentioned his punitive razing of Thebes and burning of Persepolis, Ptolemy gives an overview of Alexander’s west-Persian campaign, including his declaration as the son of Zeus by the Oracle of Amun at Siwa Oasis, his great battle against the Persian Emperor Darius III in the Battle of Gaugamela and his eight-year campaign at Hydaspes against Porus in India.

The film also focuses intensively on the close and warped relationship that Alexander shared with his mother Olympias, even though he never saw her after embarking on his long campaigns.

Requiem for a Dream

  • Directors: Darren Aronofsky
  • Producers: Eric Watson, Palmer West, Scott Vogel
  • Writers: Novel, Hubert Selby Jr, Screenplay, Darren Aronofsky, Hubert Selby Jr
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Ellen Burstyn, Jared Leto, Jennifer Connelly, Marlon Wayans, Christopher McDonald

The film charts three seasons in the lives of mother and son Sara (Ellen Burstyn) and Harry Goldfarb (Jared Leto), Harry’s girlfriend Marion Silver (Jennifer Connelly), and Harry’s friend Tyrone C. Love (Marlon Wayans). Each character is ultimately destroyed by addiction and self-delusion.

The story begins in summer. Sara Goldfarb, an elderly widow living alone in her Brighton Beach apartment, spends her time watching infomercials on television. After a phone call announces that she will be invited to attend a live taping of a television show, she becomes obsessed with matching her appearance to a photograph from her son Harry’s graduation, her proudest moment. In order to fit into her old red dress, the favorite of her deceased husband, she begins taking a regimen of prescription weight-loss amphetamine pills throughout the day and a sedative at night. The pills alter her behavior, but she passionately insists that the chance to be on television has given her a reason to live. Over the fall, however, her invitation does not arrive, and she begins to up her dosage, causing nightmarish hallucinations.

Meanwhile, Harry is an irresponsible heroin addict. Together with his friend, Tyrone, who is also a heroin addict, and his girlfriend, Marion, an aspiring fashion designer and cocaine addict, the group enters the drug trade in an attempt to realize their dreams. With the money they make over the summer, Harry and Marion hope to open a fashion store for Marion’s designs, while Tyrone dreams of escaping the street and making his mother proud. However, at the beginning of fall, Tyrone is caught in the middle of a drug gang assassination, causing Harry to use the majority of the money they’ve earned to bail him out of prison. Meanwhile, because of the arrests and shootings of dealers, it becomes very hard to obtain any drugs, throwing Harry, Tyrone, and Marion into a state of deprivation. Growing more desperate, Harry convinces Marion to have sex with her psychiatrist in exchange for money, causing a rift between the pair. The group continues to deteriorate as Marion begins prostituting herself and Harry’s arm becomes severely infected from his heroin injections.

With winter comes the final arc in the characters’ downward spirals. Sara completely breaks down and becomes hospitalized, where she undergoes painful electroshock therapy. Harry and Tyrone travel to Florida, believing they can start over there, but Harry’s deteriorating condition forces them to visit a hospital, where they are arrested. Harry’s arm is amputated, while Tyrone must deal with hostile prison guards, hard labor, and drug withdrawal all alone. Harry has a recurring dream of Marion waiting for him at a pier, but awakens and realizes that she is gone and he has lost his arm. Marion continues to degrade herself at orgies for cocaine. Meanwhile, Sara has become emaciated and catatonic at a mental asylum. Lost in misery, each character curls into a fetal position. In Sara’s dream, however, she finally makes her television appearance and wins a prize. Harry is portrayed as a successful businessman, engaged to Marion. Mother and son hug and say how much they love one another through the cheers of the crowd and the glowing stage lights.