Showing 31 - 40 of 114 annotations contributed by Belling, Catherine
Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) is an airforce pilot. His girlfriend, Lydia (Meg Ryan), leaves him because of his drinking problem. Tuck becomes involved in a top-secret project to miniaturize humans and inject them into the human body. Tuck is the first experimental subject; he is to travel, in a tiny pod, inside the body of a lab rabbit.
This is complicated when, once Tuck and his pod have been shrunk and placed in a syringe ready for injection, the film’s villains, led by the sinister Victor Scrimshaw, break into the laboratory and steal the microchip needed to restore Tuck to his normal size. A scientist escapes with the syringe containing Tuck. Iago, Scrimshaw’s henchman, chases him and, to keep the technology out of their hands, the scientist injects Tuck into Jack Tupper (Martin Short), who just happens to be nearby.
Jack is a hypochondriac who works at a supermarket checkout. When Tuck creates a computer link-up to Jack’s vision and hearing, and speaks to him, Jack believes he has been possessed; his physician suspects a psychiatric disorder. After much anxiety, Tuck explains things, enlisting Jack to track down the villains and get the stolen microchip from them. With Lydia’s help, they thwart the villains (and reduce them to half their normal size).
After journeying inside both Jack and Lydia’s bodies (he moves from one to the other when Jack kisses Lydia), Tuck is rescued and restored to his normal size. Tuck and Lydia reconcile and marry, and Jack, given new confidence by having Tuck within him (like a macho kind of internal inspirational tape), is cured of his hypochondria and anxiety and finds a new life for himself.
Susie Salmon, fourteen years old, is raped, murdered, and dismembered by a serial killer who has moved into the neighbourhood. He disposes of her body in an old sinkhole. Susie is presumed dead when someone’s dog finds her elbow in a cornfield. The rest of her body is never discovered. This novel begins with the murder and follows Susie’s family and friends through the ten years after her death.
Her mother and father separate after he becomes obsessed with proving that Mr. Harvey is the culprit (he is, but evidence is hard to find) and she has an affair with the detective investigating the case. Susie’s sister, Lindsay, grows up as the one who has to stand in for two sisters, one present, one lost; her much-younger brother, Buckley, grows up as the one resenting his family’s dismemberment.
Susie’s schoolfriends grow, too: Ray Singh, who first kissed her, is an early suspect. He becomes a doctor. The sensitive, lesbian, Ruth Connors, is near the cornfield at the moment of Susie’s death and feels something she later realizes was Susie’s soul leaving. She becomes a feminist visionary and poet.
By the end, Susie’s parents have reconciled, Lindsay has married and had a child, and Mr. Harvey, the serial killer, has suffered a death perhaps accidental, certainly just. The strong interpersonal structures that develop after Susie’s death are the "lovely bones" of the title, the narrative rather than material remnants of Susie’s life.
What makes this novel more than an account of loss and grief and recovery (though it is a well-imagined account of this kind) is the fact that it is narrated entirely by Susie, from the perspective of heaven. Heaven is a place of possibility, limited only by the imagination and desires of the dead, and it is a place from which the living can be watched, their lives shared and, perhaps, very occasionally, influenced.
Susie suffers being excluded from her family, but her suffering, her voice implies, is tempered by an extraordinary serenity, a kind of calm that most clearly marks the difference between her condition and that of the living. At the end of the novel she briefly returns to the living, inhabiting Ruth’s body and, with Ray, redeeming and obliterating her own appalling first, lethal, sexual experience. After this she can leave off watching "Earth" all the time, as the horizons of heaven expand beyond those she has left behind.
Based on actual events, this is the story of a stranger who disrupts life in Sparta, a small and depressed town in upstate New York. Dean Lily, the "illusionist" of the title, in his early twenties, does magic tricks with playing cards, makes the young women of the town fall in love with him, and is really Lily Dean--a woman. Chrissie Peck, the story’s survivor, who leaves town for college at the end of the novel, befriends Dean and watches as he seduces the single mother Terry Kluge, and then abandons her for the more conventionally attractive Melanie Saluggio.
To each woman, Dean is the perfect man--gentle, funny, caring--and, in Terry’s case, the source of profound sexual pleasure. But Dean is arrested after stealing from Terry, and a newspaper report reveals that he has the body of a woman, that what he calls his "deformities" are in fact breasts.
The abused and sociopathic Brian Perez, who has always loved Melanie, accosts them and forces Dean to expose his body to her. After Melanie has left, appalled, Brian rapes Dean, who is persuaded in hospital to tell the police. Dean returns to Terry, who realizes that her love for Dean exceeds both his gender and his betrayal of her, but Brian tracks them down and murders Dean, Terry, and Terry’s small son.
This film is biographical, based on the life of the actress Frances Farmer (1914-1970), who was briefly successful in Hollywood in the early 1940’s and was then institutionalized for mental illness. She was "cured" by a transorbital prefrontal lobotomy.
The film begins with Frances (Jessica Lange) winning a high school writing competition with an essay criticizing God. This outspoken intelligence characterizes her. As a young actress, she wins a trip to Russia in a competition run by a Communist newspaper, performs on Broadway, and ends up in Hollywood. Quickly, however, it becomes clear that her unconventional behavior and attitudes make her vulnerable to people, including her overbearing and vicariously ambitious mother (Kim Stanley), who demand that she conform to more passive forms of femininity.
When Frances is arrested for drunk driving, her mother puts her in a "convalescent home," where she is given insulin injections in the guise of "vitamins." She escapes and, deciding that the pressures of the film industry are causing her drinking problem, tells her mother that she won’t be returning to Hollywood. Her starstruck mother, appalled, has her committed.
After undergoing the closely filmed experiences of the strait jacket, the padded cell, and shock treatment, all in the frighteningly bedlam-like atmosphere of the asylum, Frances submits to psychiatric surgery. This is perhaps the most disturbing part of the film. She is lobotomized in front of an audience by a mallet-wielding surgeon who boasts he can do ten patients per hour because "lobotomy gets ’em home."
Sure enough, Frances is allowed to go home. The film ends several years later in 1958, when Frances Farmer really did appear on the television show, "This is Your Life." We watch the show through the eyes of Harry York (Sam Shepard), the journalist who has always loved her, and he goes to meet her afterwards.
She has been transformed: composed and seemingly serene, but fundamentally blank, she has become a chilling shadow of herself. Early on in the film, she refuses to cooperate with a psychotherapist, saying "I don’t want to be what you want to make me: dull, average, normal." By the end of the film she has been reduced to the hollow appearance of all these things--and is grateful for it.
Cookson Selway has had a problematic childhood (his mother dressed him as a girl and his father was a murderer) and a complex youth (after dealing cocaine and becoming an alcoholic, he went into the restaurant business, made a fortune and retired at thirty-nine). Now 44, he is settled into wealthy middle age, living in Massachusetts with his wife, Ellen, a mystery writer, and his teenage daughter, Jordan. When Jordan goes away to boarding school, Cook and Ellen move to London so that Ellen can research a new novel.
Cook, always unconventional, sometimes sees things no-one else can, and in England, his condition, whatever it is, becomes worse. He begins to believe that the Willerton, the old hotel he and Ellen stay in, is haunted. He encounters three "ghosts," a small boy, an adolescent girl, and a man about his own age who is always drunk and repulsively lascivious. He learns that, years before, a girl died after jumping or falling from an upstairs window. It is rumored that she had been sexually abused by her drunk uncle. The only other person who seems aware of the ghosts is Pascal, the French bellboy, who soon becomes Cook’s ally.
Cook begins acting increasingly strangely, and his wife and the people she befriends (in particular the Sho-pans, an elderly Chinese couple) are convinced that Cook has started drinking again or is having some kind of mental breakdown. The reader is never given a final explanation for what happens; the "ghosts" certainly seem to reenact events from the hotel’s history, but they are also deeply linked to Cook’s own obsessions. They are all, perhaps, aspects of himself. Both fascinated and horrified, he is unable to reject them, even as his obsession estranges his wife. Only when it causes the death of Pascal is he able to leave the hotel and, perhaps, the ghosts. The couple return to America, and tentatively begin to recover.
Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction
The work consists of twenty-three devotions, each in three parts--a meditation, an expostulation, and a prayer--recording and exploring Donne’s experience of illness (probably typhus). The work traces the disease’s course and treatment, beginning in the first devotion with the first signs of illness, moving through the patient’s taking to bed and sending for physicians, their prescribing and carrying out various treatments, and a worsening of symptoms followed by the crisis where, in Devotion 17, the patient prepares himself for death. He then begins to recover, the physicians purge him, and, like Lazarus, he rises from his bed. The physicians then try to correct the cause of the disease in him, and, in the final devotion, warn the patient that a relapse is not out of the question.
Donne explores the spiritual implications of each stage of his illness, using the experience of his body to provoke reflections on the health of the soul. For instance, in the first devotion he asks why sin, unlike physical sickness, does not show early signs which might enable one to get treatment in time. Donne uses the arrival of the physicians to explore Christ’s role as physician to the soul, and the spots which appear on his body to meditate on Christ as the unspotted carrier of human stains.
Anticipating death, he considers the relationship of soul and body, seeing the body’s death as the cure of the disease. He then sees the physicians as God’s instruments in curing his body and miraculously raising him from illness. Finally, he argues that the root of all illness is internal, lying in the sin which infects his soul, and that therefore he must work constantly to prevent the relapse which continues to threaten.
Primary Category: Literature / Fiction
Genre: Short Story
The narrator is an ICU (intensive care unit) resident. He describes his encounters with three patients: a 23-year-old woman, Kimberley, shot in the head by her fiancé before he killed himself; Mr. Wilson, the alcoholic into whom Kimberley’s liver is transplanted after she has been declared brain dead; and Mr. Griego who, in a failed suicide attempt, has shot off his lower jaw.
In the call room there is a poster that reminds the doctor of a lake in Vermont where his family had vacationed when he was a child. The lake, alive with fishes, had filled the boy and his brother with expectation: "We wanted something to happen, we wanted it to come gliding out to us, miraculous, powerful, full of wonder." (p. 56)
When the resident’s thoughts are interrupted by Mr. Griego, who has leeches attached to the wound where his chin is being constructed, his recollections shift to another lake. Overgrown with algae, it had insufficient oxygen, no fish, and when he and his brother swam in it, they emerged covered with leeches. He recalls the violence with which his brother tried to kill one of the creatures, pounding it with a rock. The lake had become "repugnant" but also "exciting."
These memories are juxtaposed with Mr. Wilson, who has Kimberley’s young liver in its new, "damaged bed." The resident finds himself withdrawing from Mr. Wilson, whom he imagines as a ghost that has haunted Kimberley’s life, drinking it away, or as a kind of monster rising up from beneath the surface of a lake.
The resident is called out a third time, to transfer Mr. Griego to the floor. The leeches have been removed and killed and his chin is healing well, looking both "clean and terrible." His new face will scare his little daughter, the resident thinks.
This film traces the shared career and dissolution of Beverly and Elliot Mantle, male identical twins (both played, thanks to seamless special effects, by Jeremy Irons) who are gynecologists, running a successful fertility clinic in Toronto in the 1980’s. They share both work and personal lives; Elliot, the dominant twin, lectures at the hospital, accepts awards, plays the smooth professional--and seduces women. Beverly, the quiet one, sees patients, does research--and sometimes has affairs with women his brother passes on to him.
They usually draw the line at patients, not because of ethics, but because "it’s not safe." Their dealings with women have to be carefully compartmentalized, for the ambiguous intimacy of the gynecological doctor-patient relationship is difficult and dangerous for the twins, who form a psychologically unstable and deeply interdependent relationship on their own, likening themselves to the original Siamese twins, Eng and Chang, whose names they eventually take on, too.
Their symbiotic system is disrupted when a television actress, Claire Niveau (Genevieve Bujold), consults them about her infertility. She has a trifurcate uterus--the twins call her a "mutation"--and will never have children. Elliot, fascinated, seduces her, and then gives her to Beverly, who falls in love, with disastrous consequences. When Claire discovers that they’ve deceived her and temporarily leaves, Beverly becomes addicted to the amphetamines and sleeping pills that Claire habitually abuses.
The drugs impair his work, he begins to hurt patients, is hospitalized, and after a calamitous breakdown in the operating room (where Beverly attempts to use the monstrously beautiful surgical instruments he designed himself
"for operating on mutant women") both brothers keep their hospital privileges only on condition that they don’t use them. Elliot tries to rehabilitate Beverly, but realizes that the need to do so comes from their absolute interdependence--they might as well be physically joined. So Elliot begins taking drugs as well, and when Claire returns and Beverly goes back to her, Elliot breaks down completely.
The rest of the film traces Beverly’s failed attempt to become a separate individual. The instruments he invented are now, he says, "for separating Siamese twins," and, in a terrifying surgery scene, the drugged Beverly "operates" on his conscious though equally drugged brother, apparently disemboweling him. Next morning, Beverly leaves the apartment where his dead brother lies and calls the woman he loves, but he cannot talk to her. He goes back, his bid for independent identity a failure, and the film ends on a shot of the two, dead, in an embrace echoing the Renaissance anatomical illustrations of in utero twins which illuminate the film’s opening credits.
Primary Category: Literature / Fiction
Genre: Short Story
Monsieur Daron, an eighty-six-year-old-man, comes to live at the new spa in Rondelis. He believes himself to be in excellent health, as a result of "careful living." He has always had "an obsessive fear of death," and he avoids all pleasure because it may be dangerous.
In order to measure and monitor his own condition, M. Daron arranges for the doctor in charge of the springs to visit him once a week with information on the health of everyone else in the surrounding area who is over the age of eighty. When he hears that someone has died, he quickly identifies a cause that might have been avoided; the man who died of pleurisy should not have gone out in the cold, and the one who died of dysentery must have eaten the wrong food.
Eventually, though, one old man dies for no apparent reason. The doctor can report no lesion, no disease: "He died because he died, that's all." M. Daron is horrified and asks the man's age. Eighty-nine. He laughs in relief, saying, "whatever it was, it wasn't old age . . . ."
James and Elizabeth Morison and their two sons, 13-year-old Robert and 8-year-old Peter, called by his nickname, Bunny, live in a town in Illinois. It is 1918, the end of World War I.
The first third of the novel is narrated from Bunny's point of view. His mother, to whom he is deeply attached, lets him know that she is expecting a new baby. Her vivacious sister, Irene, separated from her husband, arrives for dinner. There is talk about the influenza epidemic, and Bunny remembers that on Friday a boy at his school fell ill. Later that evening, Bunny develops a high fever and is put to bed with the flu.
The second part of the book is from Robert's point of view. Bunny is seriously ill. The schools have been closed because of the epidemic and Robert is not allowed to go and play with his friends. His boredom is alleviated when a sparrow gets into Bunny's room and he is allowed to use a broom to drive it out. To his horror he realizes that, while he was fetching the broom, his mother had gone into Bunny's room and sat on the bed, even though the doctor had said she must stay away for fear of infection.
Bunny recovers, and the boys are sent to stay with their Aunt Clara while their parents travel by train to Decatur where Elizabeth will have the baby. At Aunt Clara's they learn that both parents have contracted the flu, and then that, after giving birth to a boy who will live, Elizabeth has died.
The last part of the book is from James's point of view. Returning home without his wife, he is certain that he will be unable to live in the house or take care of his sons. He decides that Clara and her husband should raise his children. Irene arrives and disagrees, telling him that the dying Elizabeth had told her she did not want this. Irene has meantime almost reconciled with her husband (as a small child, Robert had a leg amputated after being run over by the husband's buggy). Irene now tells James that she has decided instead to stay with him and help raise her nephews.
The novel ends with Elizabeth's funeral. The doctor has reassured Robert that he was not responsible for his mother's illness, though James continues to be haunted by the possibility that if he had chosen a different train, they would have avoided infection. At the same time, he recognizes Elizabeth's ordering and determining power, and how it will continue to shape his and his sons' lives.