Sunday, September 20, 2015

Sunday Serenity -- Movie Review: OC87

OC87:The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie

Bud Clayman, having had his dreams of a film making career interrupted by mental illness some thirty years ago, reaches again for his dreams by making this film portraying his struggles with mental illness.  We watch as he and those who witnessed it reminisce about the darkest moments of the major depressive episodes.  We are given glimpses into what a typical day looks and feels like for him with his Asperger's social awkwardness in full view and his OCD circular thoughts provided via voice over.  And as the story progress we watch his coping skills increase as he implements a makeover of his life with the advice and help of friends, family and therapists.  Along the way we witness the healing of relationships, including that with himself, a significant triumph in light of the challenges imposed by Asperger's aka high-functioning autism in which social engagement is severely impaired.

In one scene he acts in a script he wrote based on an episode of Lost in Space that moved him as a child.  The one where John Robinson encounters his evil anti-self in another dimension.  In Buddy's version he gets to verbally chastise and overcome the bully side of himself that has tormented him for decades with harsh judgement and belittlement.

As I watched that I flashed on the Star Trek episode in which a transporter accident split Kirk into two extreme opposite personalities--docile and aggressive.  Kirk learns that neither one of them can survive without the other but only the docile Kirk comprehends this.  The aggressive Kirk will accept nothing less than docile Kirk's annihilation so he must be rendered unconscious and held in docile Kirk's arms as they make the trip through the (hopfuly) repaired transporter to me melded back into one complete person. That is the scene I'd want to reenact with my inner bully.

I need to thank Buddy for this monumental achievment and congratulate him for the follow-thru (so difficult for him) in bringing this project from concept to reality.  But especially for his courage in giving us this intimate view into his heart, mind and life when one of the major issues he struggles with--high-functioning autism--makes intimacy nearly impossible.

A few year's older than Buddy (HS class of 76) and female, I've struggled with major depressive episodes, chronic anxiety, panic attacks, OCD and ADHD, since before kindergarten.  Bipolar was considered several times because of hyperfocus, insomnia, agitation and rapid speech but ruled out because I never had a manic episode not induced by medication and anxiety or sleep deprivation explained the rest.  But less than a week ago I was diagnosed with high-functioning autism and my search for more info led me to this film which could not have reached me at a more momentous time.

If for no other reason than the profound effect his story is having on me, OC87 was worth every penny, every minute, every ounce of effort and every emotional angst and personal risk invested in it by everyone who participated.  Thank You all from the bottom of my heart.

Based on other reviews on Netflix, I'm sure I'm not the only one so affected.  This was important and successful work even if no other metric seems to confirm that.   So you tell that to those OCDemons Buddy.  And keep telling them until you believe it.

OC87 is for anyone either curious or with a personal need for insight into living with mental illness--yours or someone in your life--including therapists. Buddy and his team have given a spot-on portrayal of what it looks and feels like from inside and out. It humanizes him, revealing him to be much more than the sum of his symptoms and elicits compassion rather than pity and admiration rather than condemnation even when he isn't coming across as very likable.

In the end it is profoundly uplifting because Buddy is obviously on the right path forward, having made visibly significant improvement by his efforts and dedication to 'make over' his life and already had a huge win over his inner demons just by conceiving and following through to the finish with this gift of a film for the community at large--however large you want to define that.

The fact that he was in his mid forties when he made this childhood dream come true shows that it is never too late.  Especially if you start believing in the possibility of what seemed impossible and then take the necessary steps toward it in defiance of the demons of doubt--both inner and outer.  Right now, in this moment, while still under the influence of Buddy's film I'm again feeling the possibility of reaching for my childhood dream, ending the currently six-month hiatus from writing and finishing one of the dozens of fiction WIP in my files-or a brand new one.

More importantly I understand now that finishing isn't the most important thing--the effort itself is worthy and potentially transforming as I just witnessed.

If I start to doubt again, I will return to watch OC87.  (So please, please, please leave it up on Netflix.)

Tho some of his experiences differ from mine, for those that are similar I can testify to their accuracy.   I will be referring some of my friends and family to this film for insight into my struggles.  Especially the Asperger's aspect.

The only significant difference is in the way my OCD circular thoughts manifest.  Instead of fear of acting out on thoughts of violent acts against others, I have an inner tyrannical taskmaster continuously berating me for failing, never allowing me to enjoy a sense of accomplishment by interpreting successes as failure because they never meet the impossibly high standards (like having completed only ten percent of a day's to-do list that contained six weeks worth of tasks) and using these failures as proof that I am a failure--and an excuse to give up.

There are ways other than thoughts that my OCDemons manifest for which I saw no reflection In Bud's experience so I'lll save them for future posts.  But I can say that like Bud's mine have nothing to do with hand washing, germs, counting, or checking locks and appliances so well  portrayed in culture media to seem synonymous with OCD.  There are a myriad of ways obsession and compulsion can manifest alone  and together and more than a few have plagued my life.

Keep making films Buddy.  I will be watching for more of your work.  You are so talented, insightful and honest.  The industry and film community needs you and your unique way of seeing the world.

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