Jun 08

Bud Clayman: His Mental Health Challenges Depicted in “OC87”

Bud Clayman: focus of a new film

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

(A New Film)

OC: obsessive-compulsive disorder

87: the year the obsessive-compulsive disorder of Bud Clayman led to a total retreat from others

The Rest: his other diagnoses

“OC87” became the nickname for the “altered state of mind” Bud Clayman experienced during that particularly challenging year—Clayman and his therapist came up with that. The specific disorder in question is known as “harm OCD“—when the intrusive thoughts have to do with causing harm. 

A definition of harm OCD by The Gateway Institute: “Harm OCD is a type of OCD that causes a person to have doubts and fears about whether they are in control of themselves and if they could become violent towards themselves or others.”

Clayman explains some of his issues to Robert Siegel, NPR: “OC87 stands for the year 1987, when I decided to literally control the whole universe – or at least, attempt to try and control the whole universe. I wouldn’t allow any spontaneity with people. I wouldn’t small-talk with people. Basically, it was just something that totally existed inside of my head, that I created.”

States psychiatrist Larry Real, M.D, about the film: “An engaging strength of this entertaining documentary is that we see how a person with severe mental illness needn’t be a genius or a virtuoso to be worthy of our respect, admiration, and love. Instead, the person can be a teacher, a waiter, a student, or Bud Clayman – a late-blooming filmmaker with a great sense of humor who’s doing his best to get by.”

Kalvin Henely, writing for Slant:

As Clayman lets us in on the obtrusive and uncontrollable thoughts that stifle his efforts toward functioning normally, we witness the degree to which the quality of his life—his job, the film’s financing, his emotional support—is owed to others, especially his father. Because of this, it’s obvious that, while Clayman’s life has been stymied, he’s luckier than most people, a fact of privilege that’s never acknowledged in the film, but would probably be healthy to realize.

At one point, Clayman’s psychologist mentions to him that if he actually looked as anxious as he felt on the inside, everyone would be freaked out. That seems obvious to us, but to Clayman it’s news he needs to be reminded of…(I)t’s in this rather dry and ordinary portrait of Clayman that it’s possible to realize how internalized real mental illness is; it can seem almost unnoticeable to others, silently isolating the sufferer from those who might be able to help.

Joe NeumaierNew York Daily News: “Clayman, who co-directed with filmmaker friends, is fascinating company. The camera allows a necessary distance for him, as evidenced by the ladies who sit with him at a speed-dating session. They don’t get him, but he’s not the one missing out.”

Feb 02

“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”: A Critical and Personal View

I’d never read the 2005 novel on which the new movie Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2011) is based, but I’d seen theatrical previews several times and was eager for its arrival. Watch below, and maybe—or maybe not—you’ll agree:

From this trailer, I get that there’s a kid who knows he’s always been different from the other kids—but has the good fortune to have as his movie parents the loving Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock. I see a kid who suffers a shocking and profound loss on 9/11—the death of his dad. Accustomed to doing various reconnaissance expeditions his dad had regularly directed for him, he then sets out on one of his own making to find the lock that a key of his father’s will open. He meets many strangers along the way, including Viola Davis and Max von Sydow, who also look like troubled souls.

Question for Some Research: Is this film really worthy of my attention or is the preview better than the movie itself?

A summary of problems I encounter regarding Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close:

For starters, many figurative tomatoes have been thrown at it on the popular movie review website—even by many of the “top critics.”

Next, the title. Critics find it highly mockable. Extremely this and incredibly that. I need not repeat any of the multiple variations on this theme. As you can make up your own without even seeing it, how extremely easy and incredibly unoriginal.

Third, the number of critics who find it either manipulative, contrived, exploitive, or all three, would astound even Oskar Schell, the 11-year-old protagonist of this film who actually likes to count things.

Finally, Oskar himself, as played by Thomas Horn, a real-life TV Jeopardy genius/winner. Several reviewers make a stink about disliking him. I wonder, though, while reading their harsh words, what it actually may say about the critics themselves. For instance, are they missing the possible nuances about being a special kid who might be on the autism spectrum? Are they aware but insensitive, uncaring, intolerant?

After all of the above, I consider not seeing it after all. But what about the advice Oskar has shared with us in the trailer? “Dad said, you can’t be afraid. Sometimes we have to face our fears.”

I see the movie.

The title twist I now most appreciate? Kelton SearsThe Spectator, calls it Extremely Honest and Incredibly Divisive. To his audience of college students who themselves were youngsters about Oskar’s age on 9/11/01:

For those who are ready to go back and take a second look at what happened, this film is spectacular and revelatory for the very same reason it is upsetting so many people. It takes the terrifying, upsetting, uncomfortable plunge, and it succeeds.

Sears also says:

…This film will rip your heart out—but it’s okay, because it finally gives meaning to a day that still hardly makes sense. This film reminds us that everyone has lost something.

But what about Oskar? Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly, for one, notes that there’s a mightily significant burden placed upon him:

…Here’s a tale that compacts the grief of an entire world, country, city, and thousands of loved ones left behind into the pain of one vulnerable, fictional boy.

And Rafer Guzman, Newsday:

Horn delivers a star turn as Oskar, a child trying to make sense of a tragedy that still baffles us all.

And me? I watched this intense and highly intelligent and hyper-focused boy methodically and painstakingly work and work and work towards making sense of his unfathomable grief and loss—and I never ever tired of taking the journey with him.