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Relevant Research & How-to Guides
Featured Books on Deviance in Film and Popular Culture
Selected Films with Deviance Themes
American Beauty (dvd)
Winner of five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Sam Mendes) and Best Actor, this black comedy stars Kevin Spacey as Lester Burnham, who fantasizes "about a life that doesn't so closely resemble Hell." His obsession with one of his teenage daughter's classmates inspires rebellion at work and at home.
American History X (dvd)
This controversial drama, directed by Tony Kaye, about the consequences of racism stars Edward Norton, Stacy Keach, Edward Furlong, Fairuza Balk, Beverley D'Angelo, Elliott Gould, and Avery Brooks. In the wake of his father's murder, Derek Vinyard (Norton) finds himself overcome by feelings of hate and rage, and he turns to a local white supremicist (Keach) as a mentor, ending up in prison for a brutal murder. Three years later, ashamed of his past and pledging to reform himself, he finds that his younger brother Danny (Furlong) is following in his footsteps.
Bowling for Columbine (dvd)
Filmmaker Michael Moore takes aim at America's love affair with guns and violence in this Oscar-winning film. Moore mixes footage with animation and candid interviews with a wide spectrum of people, from the NRA's Charlton Heston to rocker Marilyn Manson
The Breakfast Club (dvd)
They were five teenage students with nothing in common, faced with spending a Saturday detention together in their high school library. At seven a.m., they had nothing to say, but at four p.m., they had bared their souls to each other and became good friends.
Breaking the Waves (dvd)
Lars von Trier became an international sensation with this galvanizing realist fable about sex and spiritual transcendence. In an Oscar-nominated performance, Emily Watson stuns as Bess, a simple, pious newlywed in a tiny Scottish village who gives herself up to a shocking form of martyrdom after her husband (Stellan Skarsgard) is paralyzed in an oil rig accident. Breaking the Waves, both brazen and tender, profane and pure, is an examination of the expansiveness of faith and of its limits.
Capturing the Friedmans (dvd)
The Friedman family lived a seemingly normal life in Great Neck, New York, until Arnold Friedman, a respected teacher, and his youngest son Jesse were accused of molesting multiple children. Throughout the arrest, trial, and eventual imprisonment of Arnold and Jesse, the family continued their tradition of documenting their lives with home videos
Carlito's Way (dvd)
Sprung from prison on a legal technicality by his attorney (Sean Penn), former drug kingpin Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino), a ruthless Cuban immigrant, stuns the local underworld when he vows to go straight. Taking a job managing a nightclub, he tracks down his one-time girlfriend (Penelope Ann Miller) and rekindles their romance, promising he has changed - but his dream is undermined at every turn by murderous former cronies and young thugs.
City of God (dvd)
This true story of crime and redemption is directed by Fernando Meirelles. The streets of the slums, Rio de Janeiro's "City of God", are a place where combat photographers fear to tread, police rarely go, and residents are lucky if they live to the age of 20. In the midst of the oppressive crime and violence, a frail and scared young boy will grow up to discover that he can view the harsh realities of his surroundings with a different eye: the eye of an artist. He becomes a professional photographer, which provides him with a window into his world and a way out
Clean, Shaven (dvd)
Lodge Kerrigan began his succession of utterly unique, visually and aurally dazzling character studies with the raw, ravaging Clean, Shaven. A compelling headfirst dive into the mindscape of a schizophrenic (played by the remarkable Peter Greene) as he tries to track down his daughter after he is released from an institution, Kerrigan's film brilliantly uses sound and image to lead audiences into a terrifying subjectivity. No one is left unscathed.
Paul Haggis wrote and directed this urban thriller that tracks the volatile intersection of a multiethnic cast of characters struggling to overcome their fears as they careen in and out of one another's lives.
Donnie Brasco (dvd)
Posing as jewel broker Donnie Brasco, FBI agent Joe Pistone (Johnny Depp) is granted entrance into the violent mob family of aging hit-man Lefty Ruggiero (Al Pacino).
Easy A (dvd)
Olive (Emma Stone) is an unpopular high school student who doesn't want to admit spending the weekend alone, so she lies about losing her virginity. When word gets around school, Olive finds her reputation transformed and uses it to her advantage. However, what will happen when she finds her life resembling that of Hester Prynne, the heroine of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter"?
For Richer or Poorer (dvd)
High-living Manhattanites Tim Allen And Kirstie Alley are left holding the bag--and a hefty IRS tax bill--thanks to a crooked accountant. On the run from the feds, the couple winds up in Pennsylvania's Amish country, masquerading as visiting relatives of a farming family.
Tod Browning's cult horror film about a normal circus performer who seeks to marry a rich midget for his money, then murder him. The "freak" population of the circus becomes aware of her intent and plot a horrible revenge.
Girl, Interrupted (dvd)
Winona Ryder stars in this film adaptation of Susanna Kaysen's autobiographical book about her 18-month stay at a psychiatric hospital in the turbulent late 1960s. Angelina Jolie won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her colorful role as Kaysen's rebellious fellow inmate.
Based on the true-life best-seller WISEGUY by Nicholas Pileggi, this film version directed by Martin Scorsese gives an intimate account of life inside what people call the Mafia.
Liam Neeson stars as Alfred Kinsey, a man driven by scientific passion and personal demons to investigate the mystery of human sexuality. Laura Linney plays Kinsey's free-thinking wife.
Ma Vie En Rose (dvd)
Ludovic, at six years old, believes he was meant to be a little girl, and the mistake will soon be corrected. But where he expects the miraculous, Ludo only finds rejection, isolation and guilt - as the intense reactions of family, friends, and neighbors strip away every innocent lace and bauble. As suburban prejudices close around them, family loves and loyalties are tested in the dramatic turns of Alain Berliner's first feature.
North Country (dvd)
Charlize Theron portrays Josey in director Niki Caro's film - the story of women who broke the gender barrier laboring in hazardous Minnesota iron mines and broke legal ground with the nation's first class-action sexual-harassment lawsuit.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (dvd)
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey. Tells the boisterous, brawling story of a hell-raising free-spirit and his adventures in a mental ward. McMurphy's (Jack Nicholson) rebelliousness pits him against Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) and the full spectrum of institutional repression, and his vital charm wins him the loyalty of his fellow inmates.
Pulp Fiction (dvd)
Quentin Tarantino's low-life tale is a trip through the Los Angeles criminal underworld. John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson star as two hitmen, with Uma Thurman as their boss' dangerously alluring wife.
Rain Man (dvd)
"My father has stuck it to me all my life", complains Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise), a callous, self-centered young hustler who feels he's been cheated out of his three million dollar inheritance. Left only with his late father's prized rose bushes and a vintage '49 Buick convertible, Charlie soon uncovers yet another surprise - a brother he never knew he had. Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning portrayal of Raymond, an autistic savant living in a world devoid of normal perception, may well be the crowning achievement of his distinguished career.
Red Road (dvd)
Jackie works as a CCTV operator. Each day she watches over a small part of the world, protecting the people living their lives under her gaze. One day a man appears on her monitor, a man she thought she would never see again, a man she never wanted to see again. Now she has no choice, she is compelled to confront him.
Reefer Madness (dvd)
Often dismissed as a hysterical reaction to the growing drug menace, REEFER MADNESS was in fact an influential independent film that cunningly profited from America's narcotic paranoia. In the guise of an educational drama, this film indulges the carnal curiosity of viewers yearning for a glimpse into a world more sordid than their own.
Stand and Deliver (dvd)
Edward James Olmos gives a fierce, widely-acclaimed performance as Jaime Escalante, a math teacher at East Los Angeles' Garfield High who refuses to write off his inner-city students as losers. Escalante cajoles, pushes, wheedles, needles, threatens and inspires 18 kids who were struggling with fractions and long division to become math whizzes. But are any of them really ready for the AP calculus exam...and a ticket out of the barrio? The film's exhilarating ending is even more astonishing because it's true.
Training Day (dvd)
Denzel Washington won an Academy Award for his performance as a rogue cop who takes a new detective (Ethan Hawke) through a day of dange and disturbing revelations.
The Trials of Darryl Hunt (dvd)
"The Trials of Darryl Hunt" is a feature documentary about a brutal rape/murder case and a wrongly convicted man, Darryl Hunt, who spent nearly twenty years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Both a social justice story and a personally driven narrative, the film chronicles this capital case from 1984 through 2004.
What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (dvd)
Trapped in a small town, Gilbert Grape (Johnny Depp) supports his eccentric family, which includes a 500-pound mother, a mentally disabled brother and two problematic sisters. All of this is put in jeopardy when he finds love with a newcomer played by Juliette Lewis.