Rental Recs: Insane in the Frame

It was a long time coming, but ultimately inevitable: We all knew (don't pretend you didn't) that Britney was going to lose her shit. The shaved head, the tantrums, and ultimately, that she'd even go for K-Fed in the first place. And now, as E! Online reports, Britney's in the psych ward. Oh woe.

The only thing I'm worried about is that an entire generation of pre-teen mall girls will suddenly decide that a plastic wrist tag, a pee cup and a straight jacket are the hottest new fashion accessories. For that reason, I present this week's list of rental recommendations for vicariously hospitalizing yourself. Brace yourself, there are a lot of 'em.

One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)


Ultimately, this is a film about conformity, about how rebels and mavericks are really only a court order away from being labeled insane. Aside from the Joker (oh, Heath), this is probably Jack Nicholson's best role as McMurphy, a felon who mistakenly thinks that serving time in a mental hospital is easier than hard prison time. Cuckoo's Nest is also the perfect storm of filmmaking: a brilliant writer (Ken Kesey), a brilliant filmmaker (Milos Foreman), a brilliant cast (who knew Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito weren't always comedic performers). By the way, doesn't Nurse Ratched kind of look like Hillary Clinton?

Girl Interrupted (1999)


This is the film that earned Angelina Jolie the ultimate cred. For all the Tomb Raiders and Mr. and Mrs. Smiths, she's still got a best-supporting Oscar and you don't. Winona Ryder is the lead in this true story about female mental hospitals in the 1960s.

Shock Corridor (1963)


Sam Fuller was like the Ernest Hemingway of the film world: an adventurer, a genius, and ultimately, a character. Shock Corridor is about a journalist trying to solve a murder in a psych ward that was witnessed by three patients, and at the same time trying to maintain his own sanity. The classic moment of the film is the black character who's convinced he's in the KKK.

In Dreams (1999) and Gothika (2003)


Seriously, what's a film about a psych ward without Robert Downey Jr., himself a regular frequenter of rehabilitation facilities? In Dreams is Irish auteur Neil Jordan's sleeper thriller starring Annette Bening at the top of her career (1999, the year that she also starred in American Beauty) as a psychic tortured by vision of Downey's murders. Of course, if you get visions eventually you end up in the looney bin. Just ask Halle Berry: In Gothika, which is a pretty terrible film, but a watchable one, Berry's a therapist who finds herself locked up after she's accused of murdering her husband. Again, Downey co-stars, but this time as her therapist.

Batman Begins (2001)


I don't even want to think about this. I'm sorry. I'm still choked up about Heath and what that means for The Dark Knight. But it features Arkham Asylum, that's all you need to know. Oh, Heath.

28 Days (2000)


This may be the only time I will recommend a film starring Sandra Bullock in the lead. But, as far as alcoholic recovery films go, this one's actually kind of fun, though I'm not sure it was meant to be.

The Jacket (2005)


OK, I never saw this one, but it's on my Netflix list right now, so mostly I'm recommending it to myself. Adrien Brody, Keira Knightley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Daniel Craig, Brad Renfro.... this sounds like as great a cast as One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I can't vouch for the director, John Maybury, though. He directed Cyndi Lauper: 12 Deadly Cyns. According to the summaries, it's a Jack London story about a soldier who jumps ahead time and see his own death. That'd be enough to put just about anyone in the bin.

Revolution #9

The only big name in this indie flick is Spalding Gray, the tortured actor-monologuist, who himself committed suicide in 2004. I'd say it was ironic, but that'd be tasteless; Revolution #9 is considered one of the best treatments of the contemporary mental health system, in which the concerns of bureaucrats and insurance companies, rather than doctors, determine treatment.

K-Pax (2001)


If you like Kevin Spacey, and I mean really like him, like you'll sit through Pay It Forward just for him, then OK, go ahead rent K-Pax, a film about a guy who may or may not be an alien who's living in a mental hospital. Otherwise, just get off your ass and go to the dollar theater and catch Martian Child.