#WorldMentalHeathDay Prevention and Support #Joker

World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. This year the focus is on suicide prevention, there’s more information and videos for classroom use on the topic here

Firstly, I’d like to remind everyone to take the time to listen and spare a kind or encouraging word to those we interact with every day, especially if they look as if they need it,  because we all need a smile, a hug, or a supportive word.

Secondly I’d like to share with you my reflections after watching the film, Joker, earlier this week. I wasn’t planning on seeing the movie because I had heard that it was too violent and disappointing, not only by US critics, but also in the UK, where a recent Guardian review describes it as ‘the most disappointing film of the year’. Fortunately, one of my best friends, Elena, convinced me to go with her, and I’m so glad I did!

Joker does include violent scenes, although they are not more graphic than most action movies or video games kids play, and they are not just thrown in for effect, they are embeded in the story line.

It is also dark, because it portrays a heartless and cruel society, and distressing because it proposes no explcit solution to the subsequent violence, and foreshadows an increase in madness and bloodshed.

On the other hand it does accomplish a positive goal, and that is creating empathy with the main character’s life and circumstances. I want to make it clear at this point that I am in no way condoning or justifying Arthur’s behaviour. There is no justification for such extreme violence.

Some may think encouraging empathy is not a positive or necessary goal, that there is nothing to be understood, because the mentally ill should be locked away to protect the rest of the population, but that is neither a long term nor an ethical solution.

There are two solutions implicitly hinted at throughout the film.

In the first place prevention and in the second place adequate, professional and pharamcological support for those who need it.

Arthur was an illegitimate son, born to an unstable mother, herself having been in institutions, while he was physically and mentally abused by step-fathers, rejected by his biological father, ignored by social services, dismissed by mental health services, laughed at by colleagues, ridiculed by passers by and attacked by bullies and gangs.

I kept thinking that so much could and should have been done to prevent the escalation of the decline in his physical and mental health. I am convinced he would have been a different person if he had had better parenting, education and social and mental care.

Whatever you believe, the film certainly encourages debate and analysis of how societies could imrpove mental health issues and social welfare, and that in itself is an invaluable benefit.

Other reasons to watch Joker are, great acting, directing and photography, a moving and action packed story, and a fabulous soundtrack. Here’s my favourite song taken from the staircase scene towards the end of the film.

Here’s the complete playlist on Spotify

There are plenty of great songs such as, Send in the clowns, That’s Life, Put on a Happy Face, Stormy Weather, White Room, Smile, and many more.

Have you seen Joker? What did you think?

Are you planning on seeing it? Why or why not?

#1lineWed **FAME** @jackiefilm #filmreview

Pearls are always appropriate, but nothing tells the story of fame and loneliness like an Oscar. 

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I’ve just been to see the film, Jackie, and I’d like to tell you how I feel about it.

Jackie is a very intense and dramatic fim. Natalie Portman is on the screen non-stop the whole film. She does a great job, but so much of Jackie becomes almost claustrophobic. 

In spite of her constant presence, I’m not sure if we really get to know Jackie very well, which is a bit frustrating. The film deals with the days leading up to J, F. Kennedy’s funeral after his assassination.

There’s a lot about the Whitehouse decoration, but hardly any aspects of their marriage, family life, or Jackie’s personal life, are mentioned. 

We observe a woman who is in a state of shock, and who wouldn’t be when her husband’s brain is splattered all over her skirt? Understandably, she doesn’t show her real self, or the best of herself, and I missed seeing more of the ‘normal’ Jackie.

We know nothing of Jackie the mother, the wife, the daughter, the friend, or the person at all.

She is a woman who is grieving and obsessed with making sure her husband’s funeral is as grand and stately as she believes he deserves.

What struck me most, was her loneliness. She handles everything on her own, except for some help from her brother-in-law, Bobby, and Nancy, her personal assistant at the Whitehouse. She can’t sleep, and is seen to be on medication, chain-smoking, and always on her own.

Of course, there are people around her, but there seems to be no one she can talk to. Where are her friends? family? her husband’s family?

It amazed me that no women were there to hold her hand through the ordeal. Didn’t she have any sisters, or sisters in law, or best friend to hold her hand?

Peter Saarsgard plays the role of Bobby Kennedy. He’s a great actor, and I enjoyed his performance, but although Bobby comes across as supportive regarding Jackie, we know very little about how he feels for the loss of his brother and the dramatic events taking place in the US at the time. 

The late John Hurt, played the role of priest, who listened kindly and tried to console her, but although he was helpful, what she needed, was something else, namely, a friendly and loving shoulder to cry on. 

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Finally, Jackie only tells us what she wants us to know, She insistently tells the reporter, on whose interview this film is based, that certain things disclosed cannot be printed. For example, she tells him that he can’t say she was a smoker. If she’s prepared to lie about smoking, presumably because she thought it would harm her image, what other things might she lie about for the same reason?

To sum up, the film introduces us to an unstable and unreliable woman. whose husband has just been killed. A woman who is mainly concerned with keeping up a brave and stately front for the world to see and history books to record. Jackie is playing the part of America’s widow, because she knows that’s how she will be remembered, and she wants to win an Oscar.

As far as I’m concerned, both Jackie Kennedy and Natalie Portman deserve the Oscar for their outstanding performances. I’d give them 5 out of 5 stars.

By the way, the music score was fabulous. It conveyed sadness, distress, and distortion. Here is a short clip.

More information about the film here

Follow the film on twitter here

Have you seen the film? What did you think?