Archives for July, 2011
Certain films point to the creativity that can follow in the aftermath of an impeded, unrequited or lost love, or simply a love that just doesn’t work out. Sometimes a juncture is reached in a relationship in which it can go no further, whether through death, divorce, rejection, betrayal, circumstance or choice. There are various ways we can react to such loss and grief. We can be in denial, numb out, avoid our pain through addiction of any sort (including busy-ness), become stuck in the past, or try to find another “love object” ASAP, among other things. We can sublimate, or something new can emerge (more about these further on).
If you enjoy smart, well-acted and beautifully filmed British movies where psychological nuance drives the story rather than plot, then be sure to see Cracks (2009), starring Eva Green. This exquisite film was directed by Jordan Scott, and produced by her father Ridley Scott and uncle Tony Scott. Based on a novel by Sheila Kohler, Cracks revolves around a charismatic teacher Miss G (Eva Green) at an English boarding school for girls, located on Stanley Island in the year 1934. Miss G's influence on her "team" of students recalls the way Maggie Smith enthralled and shaped her own young proteges in The Prime of Miss Jean Brody (1969), though with more sinister undertones. Miss Brody was narcissistic and self-deceived; Miss G suffers from crippling agoraphobia and takes flight from reality into grandiose fantasies of herself as a world traveler. While she inspires her students to believe in themselves and their potential, she also relies upon their adulation and belief in her lies to sustain those delusions.
Is this man sexy? It seems challenging to find a “good” man (especially a father) who is presented as a sexual being in movies. This seems to reflect the “split” in our society; having lots of sex and being sexy is touted as being supremely desirable, especially in advertising, yet we don’t see many male role models in television or film depicting an integrated male sexuality. What I mean by this is a man considered both “good” and hot.
Adolescence is a tricky time for fathers and daughters. The film My First Mister (2001) presents some ideas of how to skillfully traverse this territory. Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski), who goes by the name of “J,” has just graduated from high school. She self-mutilates, is a “goth,” and is alone, lonely and nihilistic. Her parents are divorced. Her mother (Carol Kane) is Pollyanna-ish; the mother and daughter are polar opposites who can’t relate. Her father (John Goodman) is a pothead with whom she has very little contact.
When I decided to watch The Company Men with Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper, I was hoping it might show how crisis can teach us the importance of truly meaningful work in our lives. Or maybe how men who define themselves almost exclusively in terms of their professional roles can learn and grow when their self-perceptions are challenged. While The Company Men briefly toys with such ideas -- Ben Affleck's character actually shoots hoops with his son in one of the final scenes! -- here's what I really learned from watching this movie:
In Part I, we saw big changes in Pleasantville, now: the Mayor tries to regain control of the situation by organizing a town hall meeting. He represents the fascistic part of our Super-Ego clinging on to old value systems for dear life by rallying defense mechanisms. This part rejects, banishes, and excludes those aspects of ourselves that bring up unwanted painful and shameful emotions in order to keep things comfortable and “pleasant.”