Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Revolution #9": intriguing premise about a schizophrenic breakdown


A little film called “Revolution #9” from director/writer Tim McCann, Exile Pictures and Wellspring Media brings up some interesting problems. The film shows an appealing young man James Jackson (Michael Risley), 27 according to the script but 32 when the film was made [2001]) apparently sinking into paranoid schizophrenia, and being forced by the “system” – even the police powers of the New York City health department – into commitment and medication. And there is a puzzle, was something done to him, or was this just in his mind.

Dr. Phil, today, in fact, talked about “anxiety disorder” as a medical problem that can feed on itself. Is that what is going on? A psychiatrist says that 27 is late for primary schizophrenia, but it does happen, and that only about a third of patients recover fully. Many will have to be on meds for their entire lives. The disease is compared to diabetes.

I went through the psychiatric mess myself in college, as I’ve described in the blogs elsewhere. There was the “nothing to be ashamed of” line. I remember being told, “oh, you’re going to be seeing a psychiatrist for a couple of years, not a couple of weeks.”

Actually, my situation was special, but what it’s like today is more applicable. We connect the dots in our situations and relate them to our own vulnerabilities, and imagine that people will have a reason to challenge our deepest weaknesses and then make them into issues.

That’s how his madness starts, when he accuses a coworker of moving stuff in his cubicle. He is a writer, who reviews movies and media for commercial websites. But it’s no longer creative, it’s a job. His boss calls him in for inserting his own paranoia into his reviews. He gets fired.

There’s his girl friend (Adrienne Shelly) and the reluctance of her family to accept him as a fiancée. Is this what sends him down? Well, pretty soon he sees a perfume advertisement (hence the title of the movie), and he starts imagining that the company is manipulating him with subliminal images. But why would it target him? He contacts the company, with confrontations that seem bizarre. Later, he gets into how movies manipulate people with images. Well, they do. (Just remember “Bugcrush.”)

Toward the end, there are some clues that just maybe his paranoia is justified. But still, the original problems come from within.

The "business" scenes in the film remind me remotely of the 2008 drama "August" about a startup in 2001 (see Nov. 1, 2008 on this blog).

The DVD has two very brief shorts by the same director, “Naughty Eyes” and “Ivoryland” (the later a soloist “musical”).

I make this post today on an older indie, primarily DVD film, on a day when theater chains must be wondering if they could survive mandatory "social distancing" to contain a perhaps overblown threat of swine flu.

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