one flew over the cuckoo's nest

I've had three Netflix movies sitting on top of my TV for the last two or three months... I'm in that weird Netflixian stage in which you never really feel like seeing what you've got, but you feel guilty returning them, so you're in Netflix limbo. Who knows how long this would have lasted if Nuevo Man hadn't sat down last night and watched one with me?

Our selection was, as my oh-so-brilliant readers have probably figured out by now, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. It's always been in that category of classic movies that I've wanted to get around to, but never did. And now I have. Yay me.


If you are in the tiniest minority of film geeks who don't know this, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest centers on the population of a ward at a state mental hospital, circa 1963. The head nurse, Ms. Ratched, pretty much runs the show, though she chooses to accomplish that through intimidation and humiliation. Let's face it: her charges are easy victims. A monkey wrench is thrown in the proverbial works when Randle McMurphy (a young Jack Nicholson... mmmmm) comes to live on the ward. He's an habitual trouble-maker, but his playful needling of Nurse Ratched becomes personal when he recognizes the tyrant behind her calm, sunny disposition.

As some of you know, in my real life I've worked in the human services field for about a decade, specifically with people with developmental disabilities. The story of Nurse Ratched and her ward sounds horrific, and in many ways unbelievable, but I was struck with how much I recognized a lot of the behavior in this film. Often, it happens when someone has worked with the population for too long (everyone tends to burn out eventually), but not everyone can see themselves doing it. It is so easy, especially after several years of dealing with troublesome personalities or irritating behaviors, to become passive aggressive and controlling.

Now don't get me wrong... I've never actually met a real-life Nurse Ratched. That's what prison cells are for. And I certainly don't condone it; emotional abuse is still abuse. But I was astounded at how well this aspect of institutional life was captured in this film.

On a lighter note, I really enjoyed:
  1. young Christopher Lloyd
  2. young Danny DeVito
  3. the aforementioned young Jack Nicholson (he used to be a great actor!)
So now I'm hoping to get to my final two Netflix movies. On top of the TV set at the moment are The Proposition and The Deer Hunter. Any suggestions?
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8 Response to "one flew over the cuckoo's nest"

  1. David Bishop says:
    April 23, 2009 at 9:20 PM

    I really love One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. It's one of those movies that would probably make my top 100 if I were to revise my list. It's also one of the few instances where the movie is as good as the book, although not being the exact same beast. The book is actually told from the point of view of the Native American. The movie feels more like it were told, as much as it can be told, by Mr. McMurphy.

    Um, well seeing as how I'm the one that pleaded with you to put The Proposition in your queue, I think you know how I vote.

  2. valis says:
    April 23, 2009 at 11:15 PM

    In re: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
    The young Brad Dourif too!

    Months! I can't believe you let movies sit that long, es loco! Sure I've done a couple of weeks when I'm busy, but you owe your blogger readers more. ;) OK, enough of that.

  3. Pistola Whipped says:
    April 30, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    I love this movie. I'm currently in a Netflixian state with the movie Rendition.

    Should I send it back?

  4. Nayana Anthony says:
    April 30, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    I hate to say it, but yeah. Send that one back, Pistola.

    For me it was just *meh*. Not worth holding up the queue.

  5. Dad Says:
    May 5, 2009 at 9:28 PM

    If you are going to watch The Deer Hunter, don't watch it alone. You will need a drink, valium, or a good cry at the end.

    One refreshing part...Christopher Walken as a good guy.

  6. Reel Whore says:
    May 6, 2009 at 3:14 PM

    Ah, Netflix limbo; a familiar place in my household. I either lose interest in the movie while in transit, have to wait for my wife to find time to watch with me (the perils of joint viewing), or get too busy watching other movies & shows that I've borrowed.

    On another note Cuckoo is awesome. It was wild seeing all the young versions of these folks.

  7. RC says:
    May 30, 2009 at 11:08 PM

    i love one flew over the cuckoo's nest.

    it really is a great film!

  8. Eric says:
    June 7, 2009 at 3:07 PM

    Great film. Oh and I echo Dad's sentiments on "The Deer Hunter"

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