Tag Archives: psychosis

Movie Reviews: Ward No. 6 [Russian] (****)

I picked this movie because it looked very lonely on the Amazon Instant watch. Am I glad that I did? Yes, for the most part.

To the positive, this movie encapsulates some pretty deep philosophy, plunging all the way to the depths of pondering existence itself. The story follows a psychiatrist working in a mental ward who slowly goes native and begins to identify more and more with his patients until… well, you’ll see if you watch the movie. The movie shot is in a documentary format that makes the setting feel like a pretty accurate rendering of a 2007 Russian insane asylum.

To the negative, the film takes a LONG time to build up to anything. Even though it’s only 85 minutes long those first 30 seem like they could be condensed to about 5. By the standards of the average movie viewer this one is a bit long in the tooth. Also the yellow subtitles are sometimes exceptionally hard to read against the white backgrounds so keep your eyes ready for gymnastics as you read along with this one.

In summary, this is a slow-mover but one with a great point to make. There’s not a lot of action but plenty to think about if that’s the sort of thing you’re in the mood for.

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Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

Rage Against the DyingRage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On a slight variation on my seemingly unstoppable opening jibber, I did NOT receive this book as part of a GoodReads drawing. However, my delightfully erudite fiancée DID receive it in a drawing and was kind enough to pass it along to me for afters. Despite the generously kind consideration of both my fiancée and the publisher, I give my solemnly sworn opinion below.

To sum up the story without diluting any edge of mystery, our protagonist is a retired FBI agent who never quite caught her man. What should have been the pinnacle of her career ended with rather a whimper a few years ago and as the book begins she finds herself once again ensnared in the case that didn’t quite close.

From the very, very beginning, Masterman takes her readers by the frontal lobe and hurls them at break-neck pace through a uniquely suspenseful story line. The real hook of the story is set within the first eight pages and after that one is exceptionally disinclined to put the book down for any reason. Our author renders her characters with great skill that invokes disgust, pity and hatred with just a few words. For a debut novel this one shines quite brightly.

In addition to the skill with which the characters are rendered, the story just has a very real feel to it. With many first novels there are times at which credibility hits a brick wall but not so in ‘Rage Against the Dying’ as one could very believably read this same story in a newspaper. Masterman paints a picture that is at once horrifying, graphic and creepily believable. One almost wants to buy a security system after reading it.

To summarize, I often judge a book by the pool of people to whom I would consider passing it next. Given the VERY dark and graphic nature of this book, that pool is fairly small. Anyone offended by vivid portrayals of pure human evil would be well advised to keep their distance. Contrarily, this is one of the few books I’ve read in the past couple years that made good material for reading while on the exercise bike. It’s gripping enough that a fairly substantial workout will vanish between its gory and primitive depths, a wonderful and gritty debut for a budding author. Brava!

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