Movies for the week: Insanity as a mental asset

Saturday 5 April 2014, 11.47am HKT

8.05am local time, 19°C (66°F), fine and sunny

MOVIE reviews are not a regular fixture on this blog for the sensible reason that movies are for watching rather than to read about. So here are the movies I’ve watched this week.

I watch a lot of movies because I’m often forced to wait hand and foot on my clients while they faff around over their markups for typesetting or printing. My blogging is also a byproduct of that waiting around.

A lot of my people find my take on movies (and clients too) are rather “conceptually unique” (as my friend A.T. helpfully puts it) and sometimes suggest I should blog about it.

I’ll present two movies watched during the week — one modern, the other an oldie or classic — that have been interesting enough as blogging fodder. I’ll first give my own highly personalised description of the movie and then my take — ‘the whole point of the movie,’ so to speak.

I won’t be psychologising the inner artistic merits or the acting — that’s for amateur film critics, to be perfectly honest.

The Hill (1965) via wikipedia

The Hill (1965)

MGM, black & white, 2 hours 3 mins

The plot seems to me:

Allied soldiers sentenced for insanely trivial misdemeanours while fighting the enemy are now fighting to survive the gruelling conditions of a ‘glasshouse’ (a.k.a. military detention camp in Britspeak, or stockade in Americanspeak) in the blazing Libyan desert during WW2. An inmate dies from the stupid, fetishistic Victorian-era abuse (excused as military discipline). To cover up the mess, the screws (‘canaries’ in British militaryspeak) abuse the other inmates even more. The officers are too gormless and scared to contradict the senior NCO running the show.

The whole point of the movie:

Given half the chance and especially abroad, the British (or more correctly, the English) are even more sadistic and racist than the Germans. Unfortunately, they can be surprisingly creative in their ritualistic, stiff-necked puritanism disguised as discipline and making up excuses.

Clearly, things have improved vastly in our modern times because the sadism and abuse are now more systematic and scientific (per 9/11). It’s just unethical and legally actionable to tolerate personalised sadism and abuse because that just creates a hostile working environment.


Completely confirms the Turkish saying, “Only the English would burn their mattresses to get rid of fleas.” One scene shows the proper way to carry out mass disobedience in the face of sadistic discipline.

My private name for it: “Pay Attention to Who You Work or Fight For”

(Image above via Wikipedia)

Trance (2013) via Wikipedia

Trance (2013)

Cloud Eight etc (studios), Fox (distributor), colour, 1 hour 41 mins

The plot seems to me:

Up-and-coming art auctioneer gets into a terrible mental flap with his “moderate problem” of gambling and consults a hypnotherapist. Warp-speed romantic involvement with the therapist ensues, leading him to do a gutsy heist for an Old Masters painting. He then forgets where he stashed it. The jocks he’s in cahoots with are stupefyingly stupid enough to unquestioningly believe in the therapist’s song-and-dance routine about fishing the required information out of the auction-boy’s head. The psychobabble mindgames then spiral out of control, with an innocent bystander horrifically losing her life for helping out of kindness and good manners.

The whole point of the movie:

There’s NO WAY to tell how mental some people are inside (or eventually become). Indeed, some people (like that hypnotherapist) are probably more unbalanced in their own quiet way than even they themselves realise. It teaches us that, if you’re going to offer help to anyone, be sure to help fully but at arm’s length. Those who need help are not the type you’d be advised to associate too closely with. Common sense, really.


Every movie with Rosario Dawson in it has her saying the line “In an ideal world…,” which leads me to think her movie contracts might actually specify it.

My private name for it: “Shrinkwrapped”

(Image above via Wikipedia)



© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2014. (B14101)

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