|| My New
Favorite Thing: MANIC (IFC Films)
I saw Manic at the Pioneer Theater, a small space run by Two Boots, a local New York pizza chain, and it threw me for a loop: how did a movie this good wind up premiering at such a hole-in-the-wall?
The big name in this indie is Don Cheadle, whose presence serves largely to remind you that Manic is not a documentary. The real stars are the kids, whose performances as patients in a private mental institution are eerily real. Lyle (played masterfully by Joseph Gordon-Levitt of [cough] Third Rock from the Sun) arrives at Northwood Mental Institution as an angry teen unwilling to come to grips with his violent behavior. (Young Lyle was committed for bashing in a kid's head with a baseball bat.) He rooms with the intensely shy Kenny (Cody Lightning), falls for wallflower Tracey (Zooey Deschanel of All the Real Girls), and befriends Chad (Michael Bacall), a funny, doe-eyed dreamer with manic depression.
Without descending into false sentimentality or easy cynicism, Manic portrays the world through the ideas of its underdogs, kids from affluent families that have abused or neglected them. At the same time, the movie relays the internal struggles of psychologist David Moore (Cheadle), who blames himself when his kids miss the mark. Shaky camera work and scattered violent outbursts make it hard to watch at times, but this demanding film must be seen. You won't find it at Blockbuster, but Netflix has it, and your more arts-oriented video stores should as well.
Channel 101.com (video comedy)
Wizard People, Dear Reader (movie)
My hot glue gun (tool)