One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Genre: Drama

Director: Milos Forman

Writers: Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman (Screenplay), Ken Kessey  (Novel)

Staring: Jack  Nicholson, Louise Fletcher

Rating: ★★★★★

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is one my all time favourite films and most likely on everyone’s lists. There’s no surprise either as it won all five top Academy Awards, best picture, actor (Jack Nicholson), actress (Louise Fletcher), director (Milos Forman) and screenplay (Lawrence Huaben and Bo Goldman). That pretty much sums up what you can expect from this film, faultless from acting to directing, crew and cast all being outstanding. There’s something about One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest that leaves you speechless and with a lump in your throat, I don’t know if it’s the sad end to McMurphy, his failed attempt to defeat Nurse Ratched or if its relief as he chose his own fate.

Based on Ken Kessey’s 1962 award-winning and best-selling novel it surrounds the topic of mental illness and is set in a psychiatric ward. Although those in Oregon State Hospital may stutter, may be paralyzed, paranoid, scared, shy and fearful they will understand and admire McMurphy and by that not get better by pills or therapy but by liberation. After skipping jail McMurphy (Nicholson) is sent for “evaluation” and although not insane, a study by psychologist Rosenham suggests its only a matter of time. Grasping onto his sanity and his somewhat freedom the McMurphy finds conflict with the ward’s nurse Mildred Ratched (Louisde Fletcher), hard and cold she lays down her laws but its only nature for McMurphy to rebel. Realising the unfair treatment, the lack of privileges, fun and living the fellow patients get McMurphy gets a group together to rebel against Nurse Ratched.

The relationships formed and the characters met along the way are brilliantly presented and displayed. The way mental illness is portrayed is simplistic and that’s not a flaw nor a criticism in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest but a credential. In McMurphy’s helpless “army” is Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif) a nervous wreck of a young man with a terrible stutter, Charlie Cheswick (Sydney Lassick), a man that displays childish tantrums, Martini (Danny DeVito) who’s delusional; Dale Harding (William Redfield), although well-educated and strung he suffers from paranoia and finally the most interesting “Chief” (Will Sampson) a silent American Indian who’s believed deaf and mute. They each have their own story, their own pasts and problems and in befriending McMurphy they have a taste of civilisation.

There are two views of this film, some would say it’s representation of those mentally ill is outrageous, false and unjust but many will say that One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest is superbly manipulative. It’s scenes of rebellion, McMurphy’s hell raising middle finger to Nurse Ratched are the most popular, the fishing trip and the all night orgy however you can not escape the unease and confused looks on the patients faces. The film is truly made by its two leading stars, both Nicholson’s and Fletcher’s adaptation of their characters. Polar opposites it’s a film about a battle between righteousness and living. I will not say anymore about the plot, characters or scenes, I will just say that this is the only film that left me paralyzed in emotion as the credits rolled down.

 There’s no faults in this film, it’s an accurate adaptation of a novel, a hugely successful film and has earned its place as an all tome favourite and great. Films aren’t like One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest anymore, we seem to lack simplicity and humour. As the characters show not everything is what it seems and this film isn’t just another drama about mental illness, its a story of change and realisation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 5 Funniest Film Titles

I wanted to post something less “serious” and something a bit more fun and that will create a few laughs so why not adventure into the world of film titles. I tried to challenge myself not to just search for every Asylum film made and include them, so sorry “Sharkando” and “Giant Octopus Vs. Mega Shark”.  Before I narrow the list down and present to you the top 5, here’s some that didn’t quite make it but deserves a mention.

Disco Beaver From Outer Space – It’s a 1978 film that actually has high credentials and ratings, about National Lampoons mocking everything that’s wrong with cable TV. To be fair the name sounds more fun than the film but I guess there wasn’t many Disco Beavers available in the 70’s.

Another film failing to make it is “Anus Magillicutty” yeah maybe we shouldn’t go to deep into this one (no puns intended). Just like the others Santa Claus Conquers The Martians didn’t make it either and it had the same luck with the Oscars. A story surrounding Santa that gets stolen from Martians because their kids had no one to make them presents, slightly heart-warming?. Finally just scrapping outside was “Don’t Worry, We’ll Think Of A Title”, yep there’s genuinely a film out there with that title. Made in 1966 it’s an action film about a mistaken foreign agent evading capture, yeah I wouldn’t bother buying that one either.

#5 The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?? (1964): Just a bit of a mouthful, written and directed by Ray Dennis Steckler- you know that really famous guy who done that film “Rat Pfink a Boo Boo (1966)” yeah me too. The story though sounds quite, well entertaining. The main character of Jerry falls in love with a stripper at a carnival, little does he know that she is a sister of a gypsy (could have guessed that one, come on Jerry!), the gypsy turns him into a Zombie and he goes on a killing spree- Tasty!

#4 The Lawnmower Man 2: Beyond Cyberspace (1996): So who remembers The Lawnmower Man (1992) well if you do then I’m sure you’ve seen this sequel. Without going into too much depth it’s about a man called Jobe who is a computer genius who attempts to connect all the computers in the world onto one network, does he mow lawns? most likely. If the film fails to interest you well at least you got a big pretty poster to look at, and look! there’s Jobe mowing lawns at the bottom.

#3 The Curious Dr.Humpp (1969): Please let this be a cute film about a camel who saves other animals…… nope it’s about a sexual kidnapping doctor. Dr. Humpp kidnaps couples who have sex, injects them with substances to improve their sexual abilities but  unfortunately he has to stop himself turning into a monster as he takes orders of a talking brain.  It could get worse though, it could have kept its original name of “La venganza del sexo”.

#2 Captain Supermarket (1992): The film Army Of Darkness in Japan is known as Captain Supermarket, I’m not sure why or how due to the film being about a man defeating an army of the un-dead after being teleported back to 1300 AD. The film has had actually had some success and has got a very good rating. It’s a shame it isn’t about a guy protecting our precious Supermarkets against those trolley stealing youths otherwise it could have got top spot.

#1 The Tony Blair Witch Project (2000): Claiming number one is the spoof of The Blair Witch Project, The Tony Blair Witch Project. It didn’t have much success and is known just to be laughed at, but at least it lives up to the standard of Mr Blair.  It’s about a group of politicians who hunt down the “The Tony Blair Witch”, when asked if it had relations to the former British Prime Minister the writer and director Mike Martinez answered “it might have, it might not”, but we’ll make our own minds up shall we. Surprisingly and more impressively its managed to make a quarter of a million dollars from worldwide sales and is a popular found footage film, wait a second does this mean this was a true story…..

My Top 5 War Films

#5 Jarhead (2005): At number five is the film based on the award-winning, best-selling book of 2003 Jarhead by Anthony Swofford, a soldier who served in the gulf war that expresses his feelings and tells of his experiences. The adaptation is accurate as it purely focuses on the experience of one individual serving, in the film this individual is Tony Swofford played by Jake Gyllenhaal. It isn’t action packed, or heroic but realistic and cruel showing the real doings of soldiers in the war, the harshness and the impact.

Jarhead follows the story of Swofford who after training becomes a sniper and gets sent to the Gulf War, however he doesn’t even shoot his rifle. It shows them exhausted, lonely and bored as they don’t get given an opportunity to use their training. In some respect they are their own prisoners as they stand in boiling heat and oil 24 hours a day waiting and waiting.

 

This is a realistic film it doesn’t glorify war and that’s I like about it, at one point Swofford explains why he served and signed up, “I’m 20 years old and I was dumb enough to sign a contract”. The other characters in this film are not as important, Swofford befriends the scout sniper Troy (Peter Sarsgaard). The other relevant character being their Staff Sergent Sykes, (Jamie Foxx) who is the polar opposite of his unit of scout snipers, he loves his job and lives for it.

Jarhead was directed by Sam Mendes and he manages to capture the direct experiences of one person in one period time unlike most films, making it somewhat unique. Jarhead deserves my #5 on this list as its hard, real and shows the change in the individual life, not glorifying war and not making action heroes.

#4 Saving Private Ryan (1998): At number four is the incredible Saving Private Ryan, rated as the 37th best film of all time it’s not only a prestigious Great War film but an all time great in general. Graphic and gruesome as they get, and action packed but at the same time presents a real life problem, the problem of the safety of those giving orders and those carrying them out.

A group of soldiers led by Capt. Miller (Tom Hanks) have been sent of a propaganda mission to boost morale and create good press. The mission is to find Pvt. Ryan and bring him home, what they don’t know is the danger they have been thrown into and as one of the soldiers mumbles “This Ryan better be worth it”. This film has one of the most remembered opening sequences of all time, thrown straight into gunfire men debark their ship on Omaha beach, fast paced and gruesome the sequence shows blood splattering, limbs flying and the what was once blue sea turn a violent red.

The group have to decide if they want to follow orders or do what they were trained to do after saving Pvt. Ryan (Matt Damon). The film for some will just be an entertaining action packed war film just like any other but for those who see it in the real light will realise this film shows how soldiers are risked for a publicity stunt, addressing some real issues. The thing that impresses me the most about Saving Private Ryan is the ability to create that meaning but at the same time a Great War film with thrilling scenes. The characters are also well written and the acting is outstanding, the crew is on par too with Stephen Spielberg directing and Jansuz Kaminski as cinematographer. Saving Private Ryan much deserving its place on this list, after all it did win 5 Oscars.

#3 Platoon (1986): An anti-war film that’s written and directed by a Vietnam vet, Oliver Stone. Not a film of heroics, action, fantasy or fun but a film based on memories and experiences. The story follows a character based on Stone, played by Charlie Sheen, he a young soldier who volunteers for the war but upon arrival he gets told he doesn’t belong there and he’s an outcast. A film that shows the conflict within a platoon as well as the conflict with the enemy you came to fight.

The directing of this film is amazing, there’s no clear plot either making it unexpected just how Stone would have felt. There’s no clear shot of enemies and everything is rushed and disoriented. It’s a Vietnam film, the most popular topic for Americans in the last half century. It shows the impact on the soldiers, how they lost their heads as well as their lives, how they would open up and kill anyone to better them. It’s not a heroic film but a film of survival. It’s also gruesome, where most films would show action scenes to glorify war this is a film that reverses that, showing the harsh reality.

Stone eventually becomes a great soldier in the film, however not a hero and not an inspiration. Platoon doesn’t make war look fun cause war isn’t fun. It’s for me an amazing film and no surprise it’s on this list at #3, it made a huge impact on me and the world as it won 4 Oscars. It’s an exhilarating war film made even more amazing by the history and context.

 

 

#2 Full Metal Jacket (1987): Not only is this one of my favourite war films its one of my favourite films of all time. Full Metal Jacket is a film of two halves but one strong message. The first half set in the training camp where they are under the rath of the harsh mouthed Drill Sergeant Hartman (R. Lee Ermey) we follow the relationship between Private Pyle and Joker (Vincent D’Onofrio, Matthew Modine). It shows how they get moulded into weapons and instruments of destruction, how their fates are decided by their actions or inaction.

 

The second half of the film dives into Vietnam, focusing on the test of Jokers psychical and mental strength in the face of death, facing his true test if he’s a killer. The film itself is brilliant, although Full Metal Jacket seems like an uncompleted film it represents one of Americas uncompleted wars. The first half sets up us with the unbearable terror and humiliation something many of us can relate to however the second half is completely new to most of us. It shows the harsh reality and the effect on the mind in some ways Full Metal Jacket is an anti-war film as much as Platoon.

Directed by Stanley Kubrick there’s no wonder its a prestigious film and its on my list. It’s camera work drives you straight into action making it believable, and Stanley Kubrick helped a mainstream movie take a bold step. It’s undoubtedly one of the most remembered war films, and is responsible for one of the most famous quotes “this is my rifle, there are many like it but this one is mine”. That quote in a way sums up this film as it focuses on how a war isn’t a nations war but an individuals.

#1 Apocalypse Now (1979): A film by Francis Ford Coppola who was the man behind the Godfathers. He was probably the only man at the time with the ability or guts to make a film like Apocalypse Now. A film surrounding the Vietnam War focuses on the character of Captain Willard who’s sent on a mission to assassinate a colonel who has lost his sanity and is viewed as god by the local tribe.

The film is open to interpretation and has no conclusions, that disappoints and upsets those who like their films obvious and straight forward. Some argue this isn’t a war film but a film of man, surrounding the war in Nam it’s very much a war film with a message that shows just how crazy things got. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) experiences all the things that sent Colonel Krutz (Marlon Brando) insane, graphic, gruesome and somewhat horrific it shows an inside to Vietnam.

 

The films number one for a few reasons, first of all the context and history surrounding the film shows just how bold Apocalypse Now is. Technically the film is faultless, from the setting, sound, editing and cinematography, finally it’s a film that leaves you with questions that you have to answer yourself, conclusions you have to make up. It won 2 Oscars and besides that is voted as one of the best films of all time. A truly one of film that concludes my top 5 and gets its deserved top spot.

My Top Fives

I will be doing a “My Top 5” set of posts, involving my opinion on my top 5 films of a certain genre, decade, actors and actresses. My last post was “My Top 5 Actors” it would be great if you could give me feedback and even you’re own opinion on who think deserved a mention. – Thankyou