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K-Pax [DVD] 
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|Contributor||Kevin Spacey, Melanee Murray, Mary McCormack, Iain Softley, Robert F. Colesberry, David Patrick Kelly, Peter Gerety, Alfre Woodard, Saul Williams, Celia Weston, John Toles-Bey, Lawrence Gordon, Tracy Vilar, Lloyd Levin, Gene Brewer, Ajay Naidu, Michael Levy, Jeff Bridges, Charles Leavitt See more|
|Runtime||1 hour and 55 minutes|
When a man arrives in New York, calling himself Prot and claiming to be from the planet K-PAX, the police turn him over to a psychiatrist Dr Powell, believing him to be insane. Prot's behaviour is unusual and his claims unbelievable, but as time runs out, Powell finds that the truth may be even stranger.
A wonderfully fresh, original piece of work, K-Pax is a film that manages to combine a variety of genres while still maintaining its own unique identity. The premise of alien life on earth may not be a new one, but Ian Softley's movie is a startling new take on the subject. Spacey's Prot is picked up by the police and, when he claims to be a traveller from the planet K-Pax, is delivered to the care of psychiatrist Jeff Bridges. The intense relationship that develops between the two forms the core of the film, as Bridges searches for the truth about his mysterious patient while also gaining valuable insights into his own life. The movie's great strength is that it keeps the audience guessing up until the very end, refusing to offer them an obvious, tidy conclusion.
Spacey is, as ever, fantastic, playing the kind of charismatic oddball that brought him such acclaim in American Beauty and The Usual Suspects. He manages to embody the themes of the film perfectly, imbuing his character with both a rich humanity and an eerie otherworldliness. Bridges (20 years after he played the role of an alien in Starman) is a revelation, reasserting his position as one of Hollywood's great unsung actors. Softley handles the film with precision, with each revelation from Prot's past adding to the mystery of the story, countering the film's dark, moving moments with episodes of real humour and warmth.
On the DVD:K-Pax offers a wealth of treasures on disc. Director Softley provides two commentaries (one for the UK and one for the US) and there is an interesting "making of" featurette that goes beyond the usual platitudes to offer a genuine insight into the creative process. A series of deleted scenes are combined with an alternative ending, though all the material on offer is careful not to spoil the vital ambiguity of the plot's conclusion. All the major participants are interviewed and there is a gallery of still photographs taken by Bridges. The film's often dreamlike visual mood is captured beautifully by the enhanced format; this is undoubtedly a well thought out package. --Phil Udell
- Aspect Ratio : 16:9 - 2.35:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : No
- Rated : Suitable for 12 years and over
- Language : English
- Package Dimensions : 18.03 x 13.76 x 1.48 cm; 80 Grams
- Director : Iain Softley
- Media Format : PAL
- Run time : 1 hour and 55 minutes
- Release date : 5 Jan. 2004
- Actors : Kevin Spacey, Jeff Bridges, Mary McCormack, Alfre Woodard, David Patrick Kelly
- Subtitles: : English
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Studio : Vci
- Producers : Gene Brewer, Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, Michael Levy, Robert F. Colesberry
- ASIN : B000087I3F
- Writers : Charles Leavitt, Gene Brewer
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: 29,200 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
- Customer reviews:
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 April 2021
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But the movie's treatment of mental health is just... Offensive.
In real life, people are institutionalised in a mental health hospital because they're either a danger to themselves, or a danger to others. Or they have such profound issues that they can't take care of themselves (e.g. profound autism).
And once institutionalised, the general idea is to make people well enough so they can rejoin society. This is, generally speaking, the purpose of a hospital. They aren't prisons.
People do not get institutionalised just because they have obsessive compulsive order, or germ phobia, or because they're delusional. To imply that's the case is offensive to those that live with these issues on a daily basis, yet live independent lives.
But that's the idea behind this movie. A man appears delusional but is harmless. So... We lock him up in a mental health ward.
And Jeff Bridges plays one of the least believable psychiatrists (psychologist?) in the history of cinema. He deceives patients by playing along with their delusions. He breaks patient confidentiality at the drop of a hat and discusses a patient with his family. He invites the patient to his home. I mean, come on. This man would be struck off instantly. And he must have one of the worst records in psychiatry because all he does is humour his patients.
I know, I know. This is a Hollywood movie. It's not real life. But the picture it paints of mental health conditions that are very common, and the treatment of mental health, is so utterly wrong that it shouldn't have got past script stage.
This is a film that wants to be Awakenings, with a little bit of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. But both those movies were grounded in reality. This is just fantasy – and that's being charitable.
On a New York railway terminal, a beggar sees a man (Kevin Spacey) appear from nowhere. As he's seen a robbery, he is held by police. But it's plain he's mentally ill. So he's taken to a Manhattan Psychiatric Institute for assessment. His story is with charm, but the story is he's an extraterrestrial from the planet K-Pax and this linked together in a very well integrated and cross-referenced and logically built. Some medical staff want to dose him heavily for good. But his psychiatrist wants to discover why this story exists to help him, and not to just sedate him forever.
The idea that someone can be mentally ill, and yet function at a high level is a fine balance of credibility. The issue that he could explain an unexplored distant planetary star system is beautifully explained. The charm is in equal measure with both Jeff and Spacey feeding off each other. The ward has many people with serious mental health conditions, and I learned a few symptoms pertaining to these conditions I didn't know before, e.g false smell. The solution I will not spoil for you, but it's well explored. The light touch is well done and not overly explained, but explored. I liked this films way of explanation of mental health, i.e NOT just a violent stupid looney. it's new slant on mental health symptoms and its sheer entertainment value.
It's 20 years old now but the film seems undated, probably because it's really about people and is very simple but very well done. A great story, transferred well to film with good acting performances.
Spacey is of course unpopular these days but I don't think that tarnishes his work personally.
but there might be some additional criteria relating unknown astronomical data never known.. ever
The central story of a man arriving in New York and appearing to be deranged and then sent to a lunatic asylum sounds simple enough. He claims to be from another planet and seems to have the power to heal people spiritually and psychologically. One of the joys of the film is that you never quote know whether Spacey really is Prot from the planet K-Pax or Robert Porter, who experienced a devastating trauma in his life. Jeff Bridges as his psychiatrist is convincing as a man becoming distanced from his family, whom Prot is also able to heal. The ending is both sad and happy, like most of the film. I like it because of its originality, its creativity, its fine acting from stars and supporting cast. I like it as well because it doesn't attempt to give the audience neat answers. It's mysterious and powerful because of it.
A truly fine film and one worth seeing again and again.