Love and Romance

Lady Gaga: ‘Bad Romance’ and What It Really Means to be Authentic


I find Lady Gaga such a fascinating figure, not because of her artistic talents as much as the paradoxical nature of her public self. On the one hand, she often comes across as naive or simplistic, with the "love yourself" message she constantly sends out to her adoring fans. As I've written before, you can't achieve authentic self-esteem in that way, but she nonetheless seems genuinely to...
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Defense Mechanisms

‘The Book of Mormon’: How to Practice Denial


I've been laughing myself silly all week, listening to the soundtrack (and watching YouTube videos) of the Tony Award-winning musical, The Book of Mormon. Its book, music and lyrics were written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone (of South Park fame) in collaboration with Robert Lopez, co-author and director of another successful Broadway musical, Avenue Q.

While the melodies may be a bit generic, they're catchy and memorable; it's the lyrics that...
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Ambivalence

Exploring Mother & Daughter in “Postcards from the Edge”

Further exploring various dynamics of the mother and daughter relationship [For the first part in this series click here], we’ll have a look at a scene from Postcards from the Edge (1990).

This film is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Carrie Fisher (daughter of actress Debbie Reynolds). Suzanne Vale (Meryl Streep) plays the addiction-prone actress daughter of movie star Doris Mann (Shirley Maclaine). Doris is portrayed...
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Bipolar Disorder

Mel Gibson in ‘The Beaver’: The Uses of Splitting


I'd heard so much negative buzz about The Beaver (starring Mel Gibson and directed by Jodie Foster) that I stayed away from my local movie theater despite the film's interesting psychological subject matter. This past week, I finally saw it on DVD and was surprised to find myself appreciating it much more than I'd expected.

While there's some truth to the criticism I've heard, The Beaver tackles a difficult subject -- suicidal depression...
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Family Dynamics

Exploring (S)mothering in “Terms of Endearment”

In this next series of posts, I’m going to take scenes from a number of films to explore various aspects of mother-daughter relationships. It can be helpful to take stock of how we were mothered, how we’ve complied with and/or rebelled against the woman who raised us (or was supposed to and didn’t). Also it is useful to identify the beliefs and messages that get handed down to us,...
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Anger and Hatred

Exploring Covert Incest in “The Ballad of Jack and Rose”

Rebecca Miller’s The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005) presents an intimate look at how father-daughter relationships can cross the line into covert or emotional incest. Rose (Camilla Belle) is the 16-year old daughter of terminally ill Jack (Daniel Day-Lewis). They have been living in isolation, just the two of them, on a small island, the site of a failed commune; Rose’s mother had long since...
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Anger and Hatred

Mia Wasikowska in ‘Jane Eyre’: Mental Illness as Moral Taint

If you're a fan of 19th century fiction like me, you've no doubt read Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre and seen one of the many fine film and TV adaptations. The first such version was a silent film released in 1910, with eight or nine more to follow before the classic Orson Welles - Joan Fontaine film from 1944.

Many other movie and TV adaptations have been made since then, some memorable, others not so much; but...
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Bipolar Disorder

Announcing a New YouTube Channel

I discussed the film "Limitless" in this earlier post, but in my new YouTube channel, I talk about bipolar disorder and use the film to illustrate the manic shift from hopeless problems to perfect answers.
Here's a link to the YouTube video about psychotherapy issues in bipolar disorder.

Photo by Marcel Oosterwijk, available under a Creative Commons attribution...
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Death and Dying

Exploring the Empty Nest in “The Kids Grow Up”

“Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question” ~ cummings

Like many good films, books or conversations, independent filmmaker Doug Block’s The Kids Grow Up can stimulate our own self-inquiry, leading us to ask ourselves questions about where we are with the topic presented. More than supplying answers, these kinds of works elicit personal examination, much as Block did in his excellent documentary, 51...
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