Top 20 Movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest”

Top 20 Movie One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975) ranks 3rd in Matt Lynn Digital‘s Top 20 Movies in ranked order listing. The film won five Academy Awards among four other nominations. Oscar wins included best picture, best director (for Milos Forman), and best adapted screenplay (for Bo Goldman and Lawrence Hauben).

Directly stated, I recommend you see this movie. Much of what follows from here falls into the category of spoilers. Take my strong recommendation to watch the movie if you have not, reading on at your own peril. Read on if you’ve seen the movie.

Cuckoo's Nest 2 - Jack Nicholson(Jack Nicholson as R.P. McMurphy)

Jack Nicholson stars as R.P. McMurphy, a criminal that pleads insanity. Once inside the mental institution, McMurphy rebels against the oppressive actions of Nurse Ratched as portrayed by Louise Fletcher. Nicholson won the Oscar for Best Actor as Fletcher won the Oscar for Best Actress.

Cuckoo's Nest 3 - Louise Fletcher(Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched)

McMurphy discovers a number of patients with mental disorders in the mental ward he comes to inhabit. Everyone fears Nurse Ratched and her orderlies, though the larger principle at stake is not clearly visible. McMurphy looks to shake up the orderly operation of the ward. That operation includes frequent medication doses, talk therapy sessions, injections to control the patients, electroconvulsive therapy, or a lobotomy.

McMurphy bets the ward that he could get into Nurse Ratched’s head without getting punished. Ratched ran a tight ship, seeking control in a manner that McMurphy convinced many in the ward to challenge. This included Chief Bromden, the Native American character played by Will Sampson.

Cuckoo's Nest 4 - Will Sampson(Will Sampson as Chief Bromden)

Bromden would not speak, make eye contact, or listen to anyone in the mental institution as a defense against the insanity he saw there. The reserved approach led to less interventions from the orderlies or nurses. While not getting better, the idea was to reduce the abuses present in the institution. McMurphy led revolts among the patients to include things like watching baseball on television, turning down music, and other things.

Ratched started clamping down on the disruption to the order caused by McMurphy. Ratched aimed to break McMurphy’s will rather than cure him, so McMurphy’s attempts to get back into the nurse’s good graces only served to frustrate him. The nurse, after all, held the key to McMurphy earning his freedom.

McMurphy took the mental ward on a boating trip without approval from the medical staff of the hospital. The immensely strong Chief Bromden was asked to lift a heavy panel to breakout of the mental ward, aka the cuckoo’s nest. In getting off campus, McMurphy led the asylum patients to steal a boat, hire a prostitute, and have a decently human time that they would never get from the asylum.

Cuckoo's Nest 5 - Brad Dourif(Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit)

When getting back, Nurse Ratched was particularly cruel to patient Billy Bibbit as portrayed by Brad Dourif. Bibbit was a shy and sensitive soul who was significantly concerned with being perceived as moral, careful sexually, and inactive in that respect of his life. After Ratched threatened to tell Bibbit’s mother about the boat trip with a prostitute, he committed suicide.

This instigated death by Ratched pushed McMurphy over the edge of frustration. McMurphy shattered a window to the nurses station in frustration for a second time, and was administered electroconvulsive therapy and a lobotomy. Now without the lucidity of normal brain function, Chief Bromden took action.

Bromden smothered McMurphy with a pillow, broke the window to freedom with the heavy panel, and walked to freedom. In essence, the revolt spurred by McMurphy prompted Chief Bromden, now revealed as the bird in the movie’s title, to fly over the proverbial cuckoo’s nest.

This is a movie that I watch over and over without tiring of it. The characters and deliberations of self are rich and dynamic. The characters feel authentic, even with the awareness that the situation is contrived. There is authenticity in the expression of the many aspects of the human condition. These factors all contribute to my high rating of this movie.

Matt – Tuesday, August 14, 2018

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Bringing awareness to ‘Invisible Influence’ with Jonah Berger

University of Pennsylvania marketing professor Jonah Berger brings us a book on the social influence in influencing decisions we actually make. Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior offers us a book about persuasion reminiscent of Robert Cialdini‘s book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Both books can be read as a psychology of persuasion geared at sales processes, social customs, and the ways that day-to-day life is conducted.

Invisible Influence 2 (Jonah Berger)(Jonah Berger)

Invisible Influence looks into the subjects of social influence in five main chapters. These chapters are prefaced by an introduction then considered with an application as conclusion. Please note that the language of my summary here is taken largely from the author.

Chapter 1 explores imitation and mimicry.

Chapter 2 examines the drive for differentiation.

Chapter 3 starts to explain how these competing tendencies combine.

Chapter 4 examines the tension between familiarity and novelty, and the value of being optimally distinct.

Chapter 5 illuminates how social influence shapes motivation.

The chapters do a clear job of speaking in common sense ways with examples of the principles in use. This feels like a strong technique for making the subject matter easy to understand and apply in real life. In much the way I felt with the Cialdini book reviewed here, this helps the book succeed in helping people understand things happening around them.

Invisible Influence 4(A visual synopsis of Invisible Influence as drawn by Dani Saveker)

Largely, the material of the book introduced concepts early in the book in a logical sequence. The information compounded with further understanding of those concepts added more knowledge of that content. That the overall information combined contradictory instincts into a synthesized whole that invites understanding of disparate influences in a single, perhaps unconscious decision-making framework was helpful. I am able to see the theory.

Invisible Influence 3(Invisible Influence by Jonah Berger)

There is not much here that I didn’t get in Cialdini. This book was not presented with research or anything that would appeal to me that way. The bottom line here is that I received some reminders about the way life works. This book earned a 3.5-stars out of 5.

Matt – Saturday, August 11, 2018

The legacy of spies, with care by John Le Carré

David Cornwell, more popularly known by his pen name of John Le Carré, provides the world with the ninth book in the George Smiley world. Released in hardback in the late summer of 2017, the world enters the mind of Peter Guillam in the book The Legacy of Spies.

Legacy of Spies 2 - John Le Carre (David Cornwell)(John Le Carré/David Cornwell)

Smiley is retired by The Legacy of Spies. While Smiley remains quite relevant to the inquisition tale spun here, the larger story is the inquisition of these two through the eyes of soul of Guillam in today’s world. The madness of defending the actions of two men of yesterday’s generation, the half-English half-French Guillam is tasked with defending Smiley and himself from a tense inquisition that he, Guillam, is only partially responsible for having perpetuated.

Legacy of Spies 3 - John Le Carre (David Cornwell)(John Le Carré/David Cornwell)

Many that were fans of the Cold War espionage of Guillam and Smiley will appreciate the introduction of these two into a post-September 11th world. There were moral contradictions in the conduct of the first. Placing this in the modern world is unique in the universe of the espionage novel. The main undertaking of the book, taken through Guillam on behalf of Guillam and Smiley, is the movement of ends exceeding means for Mi6 in the Cold War pictured against means exceeding ends in the modern world.

Legacy of Spies 4(A Legacy of Spies)

The Le Carré flare for understatement continues to carry the day with A Legacy of Spies. The book waxes nostalgic for the past traditions while simultaneously questioning them. Was the effort, expense, and death of the espionage of the likes of Guillam or Smiley worth it? Were there enough safeguards to stop things that deserved to be stopped? Was the modern day grilling of this sort even fair?

My final rating may be harsh, yet I rank A Legacy of Spies at 3.5-out-of-5 stars.

Matt – Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Movie Review for Live By Night (2016)

Live By Night (2016) is a crime drama set largely in America during the era of Prohibition in the United States. The film follows on the heels of the 2012 book by the same title, which was referenced in this book review by Matt Lynn Digital.

Live By Night Movie 2 - Chris Messina as Dion Bartolo, left, and Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin, right (Chris Messina as Dion Bartolo, left, and Ben Affleck as Joe Coughlin, right)

Ben Affleck played Joe Coughlin in the movie adaptation of the book Live By Night, which introduced us to the central question of family and whether a gangster can remain moral. The clear answer is no, though the notion of ethics is strong in this movie as well as the Dennis Lehane book. Affleck wrote the screenplay, produced the film, and obviously served as a central star within the action. The tension between Coughlin and his father, a corrupted former Boston police captain damaged by a long string of willfulness and his son Joe’s occupation, are treated in an upfront if understated way in the film.

Live By Night Movie 3 - Brendan Gleeson as Thomas Coughlin(Brendan Gleeson as Thomas Coughlin, the father of Ben Affleck‘s character Joe Coughlin)

The film begins in Boston during a stick-up, wherein Joe Coughlin swears revenge on a love interest of a love interest that motivates Coughlin to run liquor in the Cuban section of Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City. To do so, Coughlin goes to work for Maso Pescatore, whose relationship to Thomas Coughlin is diminished in the on-screen portrayal given the pair in this movie. While the nuance here isn’t necessarily important to the larger story, the full dynamic between the two Coughlin’s is lost. A comparative examination of the Coughlins to Mason and Digger Pescatore is also lost.

Live By Night Movie 4 - Chris Cooper as Maso Pescatore(Remo Girone as Maso Pescatore)

The relationship between Loretta Figgis and Chief Figgis of the Tampa Police are given slightly more treatment in the movie than they received in the book. That is, the ultimate fate of the the police chief in this father/daughter relationship exceeds that for which we were given by Dennis Lehane in the book.

Live By Night Movie 7 - Dennis Lehane(Dennis Lehane, author of the book Live By Night)

An entanglement between Maso Pescatore, Joe Coughlin, and the two Figgis’ does get a fair and full treatment from the movie and the book. The revenge angle that Coughlin had with mobster Albert White is given short shrift in the movie, ultimately leading to the elevation of Chief Figgis in the movie.

Live By Night Movie 4 - Elle Fanning as Loretta Figgis(Elle Fanning as Loretta Figgis)

Largely, the movie adaptation of Live By Night suffered from some of the same focus problems that existed in the movie. That is, both tried to be too many things. As pointed out by a Ted Kluck review in the Jackson Sun of Tennessee, “in part because [the movie] couldn’t decide whether to be a thinky art-piece or a traditional shoot-’em-up gangster movie[,]….it failed to be either.”

Live By Night Movie 6 - Remo Girone as Chief Figgis(Chris Cooper as Chief Figgis)

The characters largely end up with the proper disposition at the end of the movie, meaning that they were true to the book. I personally prefer for things to work out like that between books and movies, inasmuch as the larger narrative of characters get to be explored fully. I enjoyed the movie, though I will say that the movie falls short of some of the best in the genre. For readers of the book, you owe yourself a viewing of the movie.

Matt – Wednesday, August 1, 2018

David Sedaris and the ‘Theft by Finding’ diaries

To keep things fresh in the world of reading, my experience dictates that you cannot read the same kinds of things all the time. It’s well to read a book like TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou,  or even Dennis Lehane‘s World Gone By. All bring different experiences, narrative styles, and points about life and family to their individual work. It is precisely because they have different things to say that I found myself interested and reading them.

Theft By Finding 2 - David Sedaris(David Sedaris)

I leave it to you to determine if David Sedaris belongs listed with the likes of McCann, Angelou, or Lehane, or if any of these four belong together in a comparison. In the book Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977-2002, you as the reader are introduced to a diary of personal observation, obscure and shocking tidbits of appalling human interactions of a cruel and unfeeling nature, gossip, an overwhelming desire to eat at International House of Pancakes, troubles with lasting employment, and ultimately the glue of his relationships with both his mother and father.

Theft By Finding 4 - David Sedaris(David Sedaris wrote Theft By Finding)

Much of the sharing within this book, ultimately a collection of his own diary tied together and told chronologically, gives you a sense for Sedaris‘ humor. The observations are quirky and revealing about the author and the world he inhabits. The cultural exchanges he has with a particular teacher of the French language to non-native speakers strike me as a particularly inviting example of humor that is well executed. If you tend towards an open mind on the world with a comfort for exploring experiences away from home, then you will do well in reading Theft By Finding.

Theft By Finding 3 - David Sedaris(David Sedaris)

The book Theft By Finding is bill as the first of two books of the collected diaries of David Sedaris. My rating for Theft By Finding is 4-stars out-of 5. This ranks relatively high for the books I have read so far in 2018.

Matt – Sunday, July 15, 2018

Mitch Rapp and the book ‘Kill Shot’

Earlier this week I wrote about Vince Flynn‘s book American Assassin with this post on the Matt Lynn Digital blog. Here today I offer feedback on the second book sequentially in the Mitch Rapp series, which is the book Kill Shot. Kill Shot is the second and currently final prequel in what is now a 17-book series of books created by Kill Shot author Vince Flynn.

American Assassin 2 - VInce Flynn(Kill Shot author Vince Flynn)

Unlike American Assassin, this book has not been made into a movie.  The book Kill Shot picks up about a year after the telling of American Assassin, continuing the concept of the all-star off-book CIA assassin Rapp working through a covertly sanctioned mission to kill terrorists acting amorally either directly as terrorists or through the abetting of them.

The well-executed intrigue of Kill Shot puts the Mitch Rapp character in Paris in furtherance of the above mission when, in Paris, a scheme is perpetrated against a Rapp mission that leaves him in Paris, France blamed for the deaths of a Libyan oil minister, four unidentified men, and three innocent civilians. Mitch Rapp is assigned the blame while the reader sees the larger play. Beyond knowing he’s been setup and wounded, Rapp is left to puzzle through the mystery, clear his name, and figure out whom to trust in a clandestine world filled with secrets, half truths, and legitimate worry that looks like paranoia.

Others are working for and against him, and looking to offer a just result to the larger questions of justice while adjudicating the facts. That the French General Directorate for External Security as well as the French National Police are on parts of the case, too, only serves to raise the intrigue and extend the mystery. The read was entertaining, engaging, and enjoyable.

Overall, I rate this read at 3.5-stars out of five (5).

Matt – Saturday, June 30, 2018

Mitch Rapp and the book ‘American Assassin’

Those familiar with the political thrillers of writer Vince Flynn will know that the character Mitch Rapp was first introduced to the world in the book Transfer of Power in 1999. Many will also realize that American Assassin (2010) and Kill Shot (2012) were introduced later to fill in some history to Rapp through Flynn‘s last novel, The Last Man (2013). Flynn died at the age of 47 in 2013.

American Assassin 2 - VInce Flynn(Vince Flynn)

Since then, Kyle Mills has released three novels that extend the Mitch Rapp story. This reviews gets into the chronologically first book in the Rapp universe, namely Vince Flynn‘s book American Assassin. The chronological order to these books is accessible here.

In the book American Assassin, the audience is introduced to Rapp, Cold War veteran Stan Hurley, CIA Deputy Irene Kennedy, CIA Director Stansfield, and a host of other characters after the Pan Am 103 attack over Lockerbie Scotland of December 1988. Rapp feels the sting of this intensely, according to the recruitment details that set a course of the career that will become Rapp‘s fate as well as a CIA anti-terrorism approach.

The book tells the tale of how Rapp and others were recruited into a new program for the CIA, how the training for the recruits occurred, and the personality and professional disagreements among Rapp, Hurley, Kennedy, and Stansfield through the course of training. Things are tense and difficult, ultimately continuing from there as realities in the larger story take the reader into the details of Rapp’s first action in the hypothetical “real world” of this fictional tale.

American Assassin 3 - Movie(The movie American Assassin (2017) is based on the book with some subject matter changes).

The growing tensions of forced political decisions overriding intelligence-level opinions are introduced as a motif that is visited in later books in the Rapp line, with at least something of a genesis to the trope taking root from the earliest experiences of Mitch Rapp as a professional assassin. The larger story of this book takes the reader into Beirut, Lebanon where the force that we’ve seen in later Mitch Rapp books proves decisive from the beginning. The origin tales of Rapp‘s talent, skill, and training are all executed fairly well. In giving me another Rapp story as a prequel to his origin story, I appreciate the work done in American Assassin by Vince Flynn.

I’ll leave it to the reader to determine if Mitch Rapp was successful in this opening tale for the beginning of his career. The story was not the most brilliant origin story ever written, though in giving me some easy reading of a known formula, I must rate the book at 3.5-stars out of 5.

Matt – Wednesday, June 27, 2018