Tuesday, September 30, 2008

About a Boy

This is a touching movie about an immature, shiftless, womanising man who grows up a little due to the influence of a troubled young boy. He finds love, and the boy's mother doesn't commit suicide. He pulls through for the boy. It's also funny. I liked it.

Grade: B+


This book began interestingly enough. At first I found Sinclair's style quite compellingly descriptive, and was rather excited about the rest of the book. It captured my attention immediately, and I had high hopes for it.

Somehow, though, I grew further and further distanced from the book as time went on. Sinclair overemphasizes how great Socialism is and how terrible capitalism is. The book is far too political and it starts to feel like you're being beat over the head with the ideology. The main plot of the book is that Bunny, the protagonist, can't make up his mind. After a while, he gets incredibly annoying.

I was really disappointed in the book overall. It seemed to have so much promise, and then everything changed for some reason. I haven't seen There Will Be Blood, but it's comforting to know it's only loosely based on the book.

Grade: C

Prozac Nation

Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir Prozac Nation is an incredibly intimate look into the nature of depression. We get an extremely personal glimpse into the mindset of someone who is clinically depressed, and learn exactly how it feels. We follow Wurtzel through her first overdose as a young teen at summer camp, to the abandonment of her father at age fourteen, to her enrolment at Harvard, to her first real heartbreak, to her diagnosis of atypical depression, and finally to her first real suicide attempt and eventual recovery. At times the narrative is a bit tedious and repetitive, but nonetheless it is highly illuminating.

As Wurtzel tries to make sense of her depression, she explores possible causes, thereby exposing popular thought surrounding this illness in psychology and mainstream culture today. She holds her family situation as a partial cause, and also the state of society in general. She also considers a biochemical explanation, but ultimately concludes it is probably a mix of all of these factors.
Wurtzel goes on to examine the prevalence of Prozac prescriptions in American society today. She accuses America of becoming a “Prozac Nation” in which everyone with the slightest case of morose feelings is prescribed Prozac or some other antidepressive. She points out the rising occurrence of depression among young people, so much so that it has become a part of our culture. Prozac Nation was written in the 1990s, at the height of grunge, and it would be interesting to examine how depression fits into culture today. Of course, there are certainly subcultures centred on depressive thought, what we know as ‘goth’ and ‘emo.’

Depression is a huge part of the lives of many Americans. There are fewer and fewer people who don’t at least know of one person who suffers from this disease. As someone who has a close relative who struggles with depression, this was an important read to me, if for no other reason than it allowed me to understand much better what depression is. It also brings up interesting social questions. Do social, political, and economic factors in America breed depression? The answer, it would seem, is yes. This book also leads one to ponder what place mental illness holds in society, and how much it has to do with biology versus social problems. Is it appropriate that so many people take a pill to get better instead of other therapeutic measures?

Grade: B

PS I Love You

AKA PS This is a terrible movie.

I'll admit, the premise is sort of sweet. At the same time, it's sort of creepy and even a little disturbing. It seems almost wrong that someone would do something like this to someone and not let them move on in a normal process of grieving. I'm not sure what Hilary Swank was thinking; she's much better than this. Romantic 'comedy' is not her thing at all. The characters were sort of annoying, the dialogue was terrible, and the acting was pretty bad as well. There's not really a lot of romance, and I was pretty unsatisfied with the ending. Basically, not at all good.

Grade: F