Archives: Film Reviews

  • 0.9 Ampere

    0.9 Ampere

    Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was first administered over 70 years ago. The amount of electric charge required to induce a seizure in the original human subject was 0.9 ampere, a detail that generates the title of this recently-released Italian documentary, written and directed by Giotto Barbieri.

  • Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire

    Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire

    The film Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire is indeed very much the personal journey of Canadian Lt. General Roméo Dallaire. In 1994, 800,000 Rwandan men, women and children, mostly Tutsis, were brutally murdered by vengeful Hutus in a chaotic 100 days of civil war and genocide. Dallaire was the UN Force Commander…

  • The Sterilization of Leilani Muir (1996)

    The Sterilization of Leilani Muir (1996)

    In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Alberta and BC governments passed legislation that allowed for the forced sterilization of the mentally ill or defective. By the time the Acts were repealed, shockingly not until the early 1970s, the lives of nearly 4000 individuals were irrevocably altered.

  • Primo Amore (First Love)

    Primo Amore (First Love)

    Anorexia nervosa can be a devastating and chronic disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality. A recent film dealing with anorexia nervosa is “Primo Amore” or First Love.. This Italian production directed by Matteo Garrone revolves around the relationship of Sonia (Michela Cescon) and Vittorio (Vitaliano Trevisan).

  • Love is the Devil – Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)

    Love is the Devil – Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (1998)

    Francis Bacon (1909-1992) is often regarded as the greatest of the modern British painters, best known for painting bleak and grotesque portraits with gruesome distorted limbs and physiognomies, particularly in the aftermath of World War II, when modernist art movements underwent cataclysmic shifts.

  • The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

    The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2005)

    Most reviews of The Devil and Daniel Johnston contain the word heartbreaking. The film chronicles the life of Daniel Johnston, a singer/songwriter and cartoonist whose previous widest public exposure occurred at the 1992 MTV Music Awards when Nirvana leader Kurt Cobain wore a T-shirt with a Johnston drawing. Unfortunately, Daniel Johnston’s musical career was derailed…

  • Keanne (2004)

    Keanne (2004)

    Keane is director Lodge Kerrigan’s third feature film and was executively produced by Steven Soderbergh. Considered by the Austin Chronicle as “one of the great, though largely unheralded, filmmakers of our time,” Kerrigan’s two previous films are Clean, Shaven (1994) – about an individual with schizophrenia attempting to reclaim his daughter from her adoptive family,…

  • I am a Sex Addict (2005)

    I am a Sex Addict (2005)

    There seems to be something paradoxical about the concept of sexual addiction. Addictions are supposed to be associated with clinically significant impairment or distress. And what could possibly be distressing about repetitive sexual activity – virtually everyone’s adolescent fantasy? Well – meet Caveh Zahedi and his highly personal film I am a Sex Addict in…

  • The Alma Drawings (2005)

    The Alma Drawings (2005)

    Alma Rumball was born in Huntsville, Ontario in 1902. Raised as a devout Christian, she lived a quiet and unremarkable life in rural Canada until she was about 50 and spent the next 25 years of her life obsessively and single-mindedly creating thousands of intricate line drawings and paintings. Adding to this bizarre tale, Alma…

  • Zelig (1983)

    Zelig (1983)

    Zelig is a Woody Allen film classic worth revisiting. It is the story of Leonard Zelig, a man who can seamlessly adopt the identities of those around him.

  • Grey Gardens (1976)

    Grey Gardens (1976)

    There are two questions that plague every psychiatrist: What is normal, anyway? And was F. Scott Fitzgerald correct—are the rich really different from you and me? All right, perhaps the latter issue is more of a personal than professional interest, but the documentary Grey Gardens provides a wonderful impetus to reflect on each of these…

  • Thin (2006)

    Thin (2006)

    The cultural mainstream in Western society is one where the ideal is thin and being overweight is often interpreted to represent a loss of personal control. The 70 per cent of women and 35 per cent of men who are dieting at any given time demonstrates our preoccupation with body image.

  • Titicut Follies (1967)

    Titicut Follies (1967)

    Titicut Follies is perhaps best known as the only American film ever restricted from full public exhibition for reasons other than obscenity, immorality or national security. Conceived and directed in the 1960s by Frederick Wiseman, a young lawyer turned film director, this 84-minute black and white documentary is a frank and relentless depiction of conditions…

  • Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

    Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

    Released in 2007, Lars and the Real Girl, the directorial debut of Craig Gillespie achieved a surprisingly successful reception for a small independent production. The film revolves around the life of 27-year-old Lars Lindstrom, a quiet, sensitive and vaguely awkward young man who lives in a converted garage beside the home of his older brother…

  • Hoffman’s Potion: The Early Years of LSD (2002)

    Hoffman’s Potion: The Early Years of LSD (2002)

    The hallucinogen lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) was accidentally discovered in 1943 by Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann. Surprisingly, a significant amount of the early research that explored LSD’s potential role in psychiatry was undertaken at the now closed Saskatchewan Hospital, a tertiary psychiatric facility located in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.

  • Team Spirit: The Jordin and Terence Tootoo Story (2004)

    Team Spirit: The Jordin and Terence Tootoo Story (2004)

    The suicide rate of Inuit in Canada is well known and alarming – generally cited as six to 11 times higher than that of the general population. The reasons offered are complex and include a higher prevalence of the following known risk factors for suicidal behaviour: childhood separation and loss, alcohol abuse and dependence, personal…

  • Death in Love: The Legacy of Survival (2008)

    Death in Love: The Legacy of Survival (2008)

    For those who endured Nazi persecution, the horrors did not end with the war. Although a significant percentage of Holocaust survivors have shown remarkable resilience, others have been crippled by a range of disturbing psychological symptoms. In Boaz Yakin’s film Death in Love, the connection between the Holocaust and subsequent psychopathology is made painfully clear.