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Classic Movie Reviews

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             CLASSIC  MOVIES
Reviewed by Mark W.Shulkin MD


Please use "Edit" and then "Find" to  see the Movie Review that interests you

34.+ LUCY
33+. Flight
32+ Critical Care
31+ Casablanca
30+. Up in the Air
29+. Second Hand Lions
28+. Julie/Julia child
27+, Big Fish
26+. The Chosen
25+. Hours
24+. All in the Family/Archie Bunker
23+ Tarzan
22+. Wizard of Oz
21+. The MATRIX
20+. KISSING Jessica Stein
19.+ The Bourne Identity
18.+ Intimate Secrets of the YaYa Sisters
17.+ THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON
16.+ Slumdog Millionaire
15.+ Rachel Getting Married
14.+ Vicky Christina Barcelona
13+ Sex in the City
12.+ Lars and the Real Girl
11.+ the Matrix
10.+ The Devil Wears Prada
9.+ Sea Biscuit
8.+ Dances with Wolves
7.+ Goldilocks
6.+ All In The Family
5.+ Superman
4.+ Tarzan of the Apes
3.+ The LOne Ranger
2.+ The Princess and the Frog
1.+ Eat Pray LoveGrand Budapest Hotel
The Producers
Twelve years of Slavery
Proof of Heaven
Citizen Kane
.The Graduate
.Kramer vs Kramer
Bonnie and Clyde
.Tootsie
.Guys and Dolls
.West Side story
.Around the world in 80 Days
. Guess Who is coming to Dinner
.Annie Hall
.Enough Said
Who is Afraid of Virginia Wolf
. All in The Family
.Snake Pit
.Argo

                                                I Love Lucy

 Lucy, released July 25, 2014 sold $41 million its first weekend. It’s a chick flick in which Lucy is a superwoman. You girls will enjoy it unless you happen to be of Asian descent because the bad guys are all Korean.  It’s not the “Hero’s Journey” you find in every story. You know that format. Something goes wrong for a person and then there’s a crisis, which worsens before there’s a resolution. This story is about evolution instead of resolution.

 It starts with a single cell’s continuing  mitosis to form Lucy and it ends with her body, but not her personality, time traveling into outer space. (Remember Einstein’s e=mc2 about the relationship to energy, mass and  time.) In the middle of the flick Lucy piggies out on CPH4 (not its real name), a neo natal hormone which speeds up the evolution of her brain but also shortens her time on earth.

 I don’t go for science fiction but this one is both science and fiction. For instance, Morgan Freeman, a neuroscientist, lectures  that people use only 10% of their  brain. That’s  the fiction part. (He thinks that somewhere around 40% they’d be able to read and control other people’s minds,  have sonar like dolphins do, get computer like memory, and be able to navigate the time/space barrier.) The 10% part is fiction because I know that in strokes and trauma to any area of the brain, there is always some dysfunction. Fiction because electromagnetic studies show that you get electric impulses if you stick an electrode into a cell anywhere in the brain. And if  90% of my brain wasn’t being used wouldn’t it  atrophy from disuse?

It’s fiction because in my dreams preverbal past memories and even the traditions and wisdoms of my Hebrew ancestors come to consciousness. (That ancestral part really works--like how come some dogs are herders even though they’ve never seen a sheep?) If it’s true that I’m using only 10% of my brain, I’m using up a lot of mental energy repressing the other 90% so it won’t distract me from performing matters at hand.

 I do more brain repressing than most people because I’ve got ADHD. Like I can’t get it out of my mind that Morgan Freeman plays Dr. Norman (no first name) and Norman is almost an anagram for Morgan. Or maybe for “normal”. And how come, the writer /director/producer of Luc-y has the given name  Luc, (Luc Besson). Luc is the root word for light or for bright like in lucid, illuminate, and hallucination. And then my wandering goes to Luc gets luc-ky and his  blockbuster brings in $41 mil the first weekend. See what I mean? Maybe I should repress more than 90%.

But the flick’s also science. My car’s got this GPS with an evolved lady, whose dolphin  like sonar uses satellites to plot my destination as I move about from place to place. In order to tell me the exact the time of my arrival she figures my speed, controls stoplights, and politely redirects me if there are unexpected road detours or pit stops (and even when I mischievously disobey her).  I think maybe that evolved lady is that same Lucy.

 You say here is no such lady, she’s only a computer? But think for a moment about e=mc2 which says that a body’s mass (Lucy’s for instance) exists only as a function of energy and time. You don’t have to be Einstein to realize that Mark Shulkin’s body is here only from his birth until his death. The cells that divided to form  my body go

back in time to those of the first living creature and my spiritual energy  will continue through eternity.

  After my time on earth, I won’t want Lucy’s, the GPS lady’s,  job. An inner evolutionary  voice tells me to just look after my children and their descendants and their friends.

                                            

                                                 El WEEKEND

 This is a flick for those of us who have had the stamina to weather the joys and disappointments of a long term marriage and who unlike Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and Snow White realize that all the characters are parts of ourselves. In spite of superb acting and beautiful photography of Paris, I found the first half hard work until I discovered the plot and where the story was going, So, Spoiler Beware, let me share with you what I found.

Nick, a British college philosophy professor and Meg, his school teacher wife, celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary with a weekend in Paris. They are disappointed to find that the hotel they had honeymooned at is now run down and dilapidated. We get to know them as things go from bad to worse and they are headed for divorce. We also meet Nick’s ex student, Morgan, who has a very different solution to the fact that “romantic love” must die before the struggle to achieve “real love” can begin.

Though only in his late 60’s, Nick is feel is feeling old, fat and unlovable by anyone, especially by amazingly attractive Meg, who employs a pursuer-distancer mode to manage her fear that she is boringly unlovable and that life is to coming to an end too soon. She keeps Nick interested by alternately repelling his advances and seducing him. He handles his fears of abandonment by telling himself that undying love and faithfulness to one’s wife is the only way, though we note that he sometimes looks lustfully at young women. Morgan’s is a third alternative. He actually abandoned his first wife and family, starting over again with a younger woman who adores his success and maturity. Problem is that journeys into dreamland are likely to be repetitive.

The abandonment problems start in the first year of life when the symbiosis with mother is interrupted by her temporary unavailability (like she has to go to the bathroom). Baby screaming distress brings back Mom’s attentiveness and fosters grandiose fantasies about being powerful, All this is recorded in brain cells, replayable at future times of “childhood” crisis.

A “second childhood” occurs in adolescence when forced to give up dependency before having the emotional resources to be an adult. Examples are Nick and Meg’s son and Morgan’s son, both addicted unemployable and in love-hate relationships with their parents. (More encompassing was a national adolescence in the open marriage and drug abusing culture of the 60’s..) Morgan’s destructive flight from his wife and son during his mid life crisis is the “third childhood”.

Aging and facing retirement. Nick and Meg resolve their cris[s in what I term the “fourth childhood” though it’s more popularly referred to as the second. I won’t ruin a very novel, interesting, fun and thought provoking film by saying any more about it.

 

                                                   THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL


This is a black comedy about an imaginary land involved in a fictional revolution where the concierge of a run down resort/hotel is accused of murdering a wealthy guest and of stealing a valuable painting. With the help of his Lobby Boy/valet he narrowly escapes the sadism of her vengeful, greedy family.

Two of my very dear lady friends asked me to see this movie and to review it. When I asked them what it was about they refused to say, insisting that I see it first. I understood after seeing it that they were aware that it uniquely did not follow the Mythical Journey (Joseph Campbell’s term) for novels., movies,. myths, legends, and stories generally, In the Mythical Journey something upsets a routine(boy meets girl) followed by a crisis (boy loses girl) which gets even worse before a resolution (meaningful ending). In musicals the ending is always a wedding.

Actually this movie is more like a Rorschach in which the meaning depends upon what level the viewer wants to (or is psychologically ready to) experience it. For some it is a wonderful example of an action thriller or a murder mystery with wonderful photography, special effects (a ski and toboggan race that would Gold Medal in any Olympics), acting and casting of Frankenstein- like villains and Snow White innocents, mixed with some X-rated sex and dirty dialogue.

For others it portrays the history of the strife in Europe leading to WWII and the struggle with fascist dictators, Cuba, Iran, Egypt, and Syria, as recent examples but also the history of wars since the beginning of recorded history. As an example, Lobby Boy Zero’s family was destroyed in Holocaust-like fashion before he fled his mythical native country. For others it is also an interesting story about why the super wealthy owner of this luxurious hotel prefers to take a tiny room in the servant’s quarters rather than occupy a luxury suite.

If Anderson, the writer/director, had any message in mind he gives it away in the opening scene of a dilapidated cemetery with chaotic tomb stones and a statute of an author decorated with military medals and whose image magically turns into the narrator of the story. Yes, Virginia this is also a Science Fiction Movie. Like Zero's amorata, Agatha, and Zero, it goes every where from A to Z.

M. Gustav, the concierge whose façade of perfection, his representational self, requires using a perfume, Eau du Panache (Eau du flamboyancy?), to distract from his real self which enjoys sleeping with elderly women guests , (and probably men). Yet he is a good human being in his educating and protecting the orphaned Zero while learning something about life from the boy. Gustav is very human in that he is at once irresponsible, ridiculous, poetic, loving, noble and heroic. Aren’t we all?

For me, the movie describes life itself. Perhaps the title is a reference to "The Buddha" and his concern and love for everything in nature. And what a “pest” it is to try to achieve such perfection when life is constantly bombarding us with its slings and arrows. M. Gustav pays a high price for his perfectionism as his real self struggles to consciousness,

The obsolescent, past its prime, opulent Budapest Hotel is a nice symbol of the Unconscious. Today it exists only in our dreams, in our creative fantasies, and in our glorified wishes for fame and fortune. In our unconscious, just as Snow White has all the qualities of the seven dwarfs, we are the Lobby Boy Zero, the purist Agatha, the wealthy hotel owner, the honest lawyer, the fascist soldiers, the villainous children of the wealthy hotel guest, and the Frankenstonian family hit man.

 

                                                                      THE PRODUCERS


Zero Mostel as Max Byalostock is an aging, has been producer, who Bernie Madoff- like, uses a Ponzi scheme in which he seduces lascivious old women to invest in a Broadway play. Turns out that IRS doesn't audit flops and he and his nebbish accountant, Gene Wilder, as Leo Bloom will score a fortune, if it closes on opening night

Creator Mel Brooks has them hiring an American Nazi, Franz Liebkind, to direct "Springtime for Hitler" starring a actor Roger de riss". who glorifies a gay Hitler’s loving home life.

Embassy Studios refused to release this flick in 1967 because they felt it was in poor taste. In November 1968 they tried it out in a few American theatres and it was poorly attended. It flopped badly in the United Kingdom and German movie distributors banned it. Movie critic Roger Ebert reported that a woman, recognizing Mel Brooks and his wife Anne Bancroft in an elevator, said the film was vulgar, prompting Brooks to quip that it had risen beyond vulgarity. The New York Times and other movie critics labeled it harshly with reviews including, “loaded with sogginess” and “shoddy and cruel with broad ethnic humor” ‘

“Loaded with sogginess” referred to the ridiculing of homosexuals and women. Seems that our ancestors who fled the racial, religious, and gender prejudices of Europe brought those un-Constitutional attitudes along with them, Brooks broke the “don’t ask, don’t tell” public policy concerning Gays and his movie was un chivalrous in depicting the little old ladies as having sexual feelings.

Now fifty years later, Metacritic ranks it as the nation’s best comedy second only to the Wizard of Oz, (which really isn't a comedy, making The Producer number one ).Hey Movie Fans!! What’s with you guys? What’s changed you in just 45 years?

. If you had been born in the 1920’s like Brooks and I were. you’d know.. Let me explain. I remember what life was like in post WWII America.

In1946, the drama critic for a daily newspaper, Sterling Gutmann, praised my performance in a high school play in his column and then for the next several years treated me to movies and plays. He was obviously effeminate but no one spoke about it, (except for homophobic me who joked about him to my friends) We sat together in front row seats and afterwards discussed the shows. That’s where I got my enthusiasm for movie reviews.

My attitudes, pre women’s lib, were the common ones about women back then: “Good girls” don’t and are idealized as innocents expected to be virgins until married and “bad girls” do the stuff that I needed them to do to prove my masculinity. Those who went to college hoped to get their MRS rather than their BS and when they were successful became the property of a man.

“Shoddy and cruel with broad ethnic humor”.deplored the anti-Semitic. content. Two Jews were planning to get rich with a criminal scheme. So ingrained was their Jewish love of money that the movie ends with them happily continuing the Ponzi scheme even while imprisoned for it.

In spite of having fought a war against the Nazi genocidal philosophy, covert anti-Semitism was alive and well in America in 1960. When my BW (beautiful wife) and I came to live in Philadelphia, real estate agents had a “gentleman’s agreement” not to show us properties in “restrictive” communities. and our travel agent told us which hotels in vacation land would accept reservations for Jewish sounding names.

The present popularity of The Producers suggests that things are better now (though it’s currently OK to tell Polish jokes even if you are not Polish but telling Jewish jokes is still in poor taste. )

 

Footnote: What’s in a mame:
“Shulkin” (Yiddish for Shula’s child)
Byalostock”, (Yiddish for a kind of bagel
Ponzi” (Italian for Bianchi or white)
“Bloom” (Yiddish for flower)
“Mel Brooks” (alias Melvin Kaminsky)
“Liebkind” (Yiddish for love child)
Roger de “Briss". (Yiddish for circumcision)
“Sterling Gutmann”, (Norwegian for a very good man)

 

                                                          OUT OF THE FURNACE

My GSB ( Grandson Ben Fetterman) can’t wait to see this overly violent “not for a chic” flick, The credits list him as “Assistant Producer in the Art Department.” Ben’s role involved photography of tunnels and single lane bridges in near Pittsburgh Appalachia, as well as designing sets, and the buying of props and costumes for the actors, some of whom he got to know personally.
Actors, by the way, are cast not only for their physical appearance but for their ability to find a part of themselves which can live the roll. That’s termed “method acting”, the practice of connecting to a character by drawing on personal emotions and memories. Method actors are known for immersing themselves in their characters to the extent that they stay in character even off-camera for the duration of a film.
So GSB, psychoanalyst like, got to know the player’s inner secrets. Maybe, like a psychoanalyst, he even saw parts of himself in the actors, which is probably what captures everyone’s interest In someone else’s story.

Here’s the thing:
Russell Baze (Christian Bale) has a blue collar job at the local steel mill while caring for his terminally ill father by night. Russell's younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck), returning from Iraq with PTSD, gets involved with ruthless crime boss Wesley, (Woody Harrelson), and ends up missing. The police chief, (Forest Whitaker), won’t get involved, so Russell takes matters into his own hands at the risk of losing the love of his life (Zoe Saldana) .

Russel, like many psychoanalysts, doctors, nurses, and professional caretakers is a “parentified child”. That’s an often oldest child whose parents, either because of death, illness, or preoccupation with life's problems, are not available to provide love. The child unsuccessfully tries to win parental love by caring for younger siblings. The younger siblings are not satisfied with being assigned a substitute parent and they resent the disciplinary part of a sibling’s parenting, In turn the parent-er is angry about his/her unappreciated effort. The result is a love hate relationship that continues into adulthood available to be acted out in real-life situations, for good or for bad, as well as in a Hollywood drama.
Rodney’s experience in Iraq magnified his childhood experience times one thousand. Not only was his country an irresponsible parent but the army as a substitute parent was even less satisfying. The movie is a metaphor for all the wars that have played havoc on us while promising honor and glory if we serve. We are all Parentified Children at some level.. Does war cause men more so than women to be competitive and aggressive rather than with nurturing and compassion? Do children identify with their country as well as with their parents? Is that we call the country motherland or fatherland?
Russell’s drunken driving prison experience puts him more in touch with his hate side than his love side. The love side is apparent when he has a clear shot of a doe during deer hunting season but turns away. The love side of him comes out in his love for his brother and for Zoe Saldana. But the hate side comes out in his relationship with Wesley (Woody Harrelson), Problem is that he’s unaware of the childhood love hate inter-relationship and he has no conscious control over it.

I was most fascinated by Wesley (Woody Harrelson) who so loves to hate that he lacks the flip flop relationship between the two feelings. To understand him and his feelings one needs to know something about Harrelson’s father.

A new book by Texas trial lawyer David Berg has unearthed evidence that pins the unsolved 1968 murder of his brother on the actor’s “hit man” dad.
“Run, Brother, Run” alleges that a rival businessman hired Charles Harrelson — who was connected to more than a dozen contract killings — to knock off Alan Berg, a carpet salesman and gambler, after business dealings turned “vicious.”

Berg is “confident” that Harrelson “kidnapped my brother and murdered him for $1,500.”

According to the book, Harrelson’s girlfriend, Sandra Sue Attaway, lured Berg to the Brass Jar, a Houston bar. Harrelson forced Berg into the car with a gun and told Attaway to drive to a remote location. There, he got out and shot Berg in the temple. Harrelson reportedly strangled Berg after the gunshot failed to kill him.

Despite his dad’s murderous ways, Woody loved him.
“If you sit down and rap with the guy, the main thing you’re probably going to do is laugh,” Woody, who did not return calls for comment about the book, said in a 1994 interview.But his associates knew him to be a cunning and remorseless killer.
Charles Harrelson was first arrested for robbery (his day job was selling dictionaries) when Woody was just 7 and disappeared, leaving his three sons with their mom in Texas. His gambling debts hooked him in with members of the Sicilian mob. To make good on what he owed, he began contract killing.

Woody only learned of his dad’s notoriety when, at 12 years old, he heard his father’s name mentioned as the suspect in the for-hire assassination of US District Judge John H. Wood Jr. outside of his home in San Antonio, Texas. Harrelson was hired by drug kingpin Jimmy Chagra, who was scheduled to appear in court for drug trafficking before Woods.
Harrelson shot Wood point blank in the back of his head — the first American judge to be murdered in the 20th century.

After two years on the lam following the slay, he was apprehended in Texas, high on cocaine, where he admitted not only to Wood’s murder but bizarrely claimed he was an accomplice in President John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Still, Woody, who reconciled with his father during the Wood trial in 1981, spent “millions” trying to secure a retrial. But it was all for naught — in 2007, Harrelson died from natural causes in prison at the age of 69.
Woody, according to reports, was “devastated.”

 

                                       TWELVE YEARS IN SLAVERY


This is the story of Solomon Northrup, a New York Afro American free man who was kidnapped and sold into slavery during the 1850s. Free again after 12 years he wrote a book describing the torture that he endured.

Have you ever considered that in all stories, as in dreams, all of the characters are parts of yourself? Snow White is Happy, Sleepy, Dopey, Grumpy, Sneezy, Doc and Bashful and Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz needs to gather the Scarecrow, the Tin man, the Cowardly Lion and the Toto parts of herself before she “can go home again”,

The BW.(Beautiful wife) and I felt like Solomon Northrup, his grieving wife and children, as well as the cruel slaveholders. We suffered through this two hour long movie that seemed like it would never end but we stuck it out even though we both wanted to leave. Perhaps it was “white man’s guilt” thohg it was probably even more painful for Afro-Americans. When Oprah Winfrey was interviewed about it on TV she burst into tears and said she couldn’t discuss it, .

The many movies about slavery that have preceded this one have lacked this much sadistic detail. Director Steve McQueen apparently felt it time that America face up to its shameful past and its less than color blind present. Movies have come a long way since the slapstick comedy of the silent films and they play a major role in changing social attitudes, Consider Kramer vs Kramer’s advocacy of child custody for men or Dances with Wolf’s positive portrayal of Native Americans as opposed to the B-Western’s.

 

Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife
A book by Eben Alexander MD

Medicine is an evidence based science even though my medical school histology professor started his first lecture with,
“There is little doubt that half of the millions of facts we are about to teach you are wrong but unfortunately we don’t know which half.”
Even so, it continues to be Flunkoutsville for medical students if they answer exam questions creatively with an educated guess or a logical assumption.. That’s why a Harvard Associate Professor of Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital neurosurgeon, Eben Alexander M.D., became a Darwinian while a medical student even though he grew up in a religious Episcopal family believing in Creation .

Then during a seven day coma due to bacterial meningitis in 2008, Dr. Alexander went to Heaven, spoke directly with God, and rediscovered his faith. It not only cured him of alcoholism but inspired his writing a New York Times best seller.

A bestseller because other “Believers”, not having attended my histology class, sooth their doubts about the supernatural with confirmation from a prestigious medical authority. Also a best seller because “died in the wool Darwinians” who want to debunk his story about the afterlife also buy the book. Some of them point out that Dr. Alexander’s priveleges have been suspended from many hospitals and that he had lost two of the several malpractice cases against him because he had altered the medical records to read what he had wished had happened rather than what did.

Meanwhile, God if he exists, wallows in that polarity, which is a metaphor for night and day, winter and summer, high tide and low tide, etc. etc. etc.

Dr. Alexander’s near fatal meningitis was another example of that polarity since it led to recovery from his alcoholism. Commonly many alcoholics continue drinking until they hit rock bottom, in having lost their jobs, destroyed their marriages and some of them ending up in jail.
I don’t doubt that Dr. Alexander truly believes that his after death experience was real and not a dream because the meningitis bacteria completely destroyed the neurons of his cerebral cortex and his ability to dream during the coma,. But if he’d remembered his histology course he’d have known that neurons once destroyed never regenerate
More than likely, the coma was medically induced by the emergency room physician when he arrived there in status epilepticus (intractable grand mal convulsions). Standard E.R. treatment for status epilepticus is intravenous Valium which relaxes muscles and is about 50% effective. That having failed, Dr. Alexander was probably given intravenous Propofol, a long acting anesthetic which prevents a nerve cell’s absorption of Sodium and its interaction with intracellular Potassium which results in the electrical charge that innervates it. This temporary paralysis of the cerebral cortex does not damage the cells but allows a euphoria (like being in Heaven) most likely the result of insulating oneself from all the defense mechanisms required by the stresses of everyday life.

Propofol was the euphoriant that Michael Jackson used for 60 days until it killed him.

I thought that the story of Dr. Alexander’s life on earth as well as the story within that story about his time in Heaven was well written. It was a worthwhile study of Near Death Experiences, current thinking about dream interpretation and about a variety of spiritual paradigms..
I conclude that the afterlife is still a mystery rather than a reality. That’s is in line with he growing acceptance of alternative medicine by traditional medical practioners. I also believe that God, if he exists, has a special place in his heart for those of us who have doubts about Him. He knows that it requires more for us to follow His example than it does for the true Believers.

 

                               Adam

A sleeper with great acting and wonderful scenes of
New York City and Central Park. It tells a love
story that is different than any other.

The movie is helpful to the understanding of
Asberger’s Syndrome and I recommend it to you if
only for that. What I learned that it is typical of Asbergarians
is that they aren’t able to understand what other people are feeling—and they really need to ask people what
they feel in order to successfully relate with them. A
corollary to that is that they don’t share their own feelings well and ihat leads disruptive relationships
Don’t we all suffer from a degree of Asbergers?
C’mon, be honest!

As a consequence of his concrete thinking, Adam
lacks guile. That quality of honesty in relationships, though refreshing, can be distancing in itself. Turns out the only woman friend in his life would have continued the relationship but for his truthfulness that his need for her to help in his life adjustment predominated over his being in love with her.

Though it’s hard not to love someone who values you
so highly and who is so utterly direct in his feelings about you, (as opposed to having to play the “dating game” most college women get involved in,) she, as his teacher, has learned that she must be honest about her own feelings as well as being attentive to Adam’s or she will end up in a troubled relationship.

Moral of the story: Use your head as well as your
heart when you fall in love

 

,
                                            ENOUGH SAID


Worth watching just for stellar jobs by Louise Dreyfus (of Sat. Nite Live fame) and the late Mr. Gandolfino who plays a poor slob like me instead of a Mafia gangster. Her first comment was about the tendency of immature women to be influenced by the opinions of their women friends.

I get a hint about the “Why?” of my less than conscious need to avoid massages when I hear the dialogue about the frequency of men sexualizing them.


The writers could have done a little better about ‘how tough it is for middle-aged divorcees, already suffering from relationship shock, to deal with a “picked over and limited market supply of suitors”. And also about how easy it is to project or to recognize the faults of previous partners on a new one.


On the other hand Louise Dreyfus was able to overlook Gandolfino’s obesity and able to see his underlying goodness (before having been influenced by his ex-wife). How great that she pursues the relationship even though he’s definite about wanting nothing further to do with her. It’s a sign of her growing maturation.
Just shows the value of risk taking generally and in marriage particularly. “No pain, no gain.”


                                                            ALL IN THE FAMILY

As I pondered, weak and weary over reviewing All in the Family, I decided to consult the Maven. Mavens, as you know are experts on every subject. They can tell you where to get things wholesale, which are the best doctors to treat specific ailments, where to hold a wedding on the cheap, or the best summer camp for your child. Mavens are always right.. If you need a Maven and don’t have one, let me know and mine will come gently rapping at your door.
The Maven told me that this well known family has become American folklore. The Bunkers guided Americans through the chaos of the 60’s back to the complacency of traditional family values of the 30’s and into the glorious materialism of the 80’s.
.
Lucky I had asked the Maven.. I knew that the program had hit the top of the Nielson Poll each year from 1971 to 1976, but I hadn’t known about the folklore bit or the positive influence on American thinking.
“How can that be?”, I naiv’eted., “Archie Bunker is such a horse’s ass?”
“Nay” spoketh the Maven, “Say that nevermore.. Archie’s an American icon. He championed pre and post World War II traditional family values and almost single handedly stemmed the sexual revolution and anti Viet Nam anarchy of the 60’s. He didn’t prevent change. He slowed down the pace so his viewers could have a chance to absorb change safely.””
“Gee whiz” I acquiesced, “I never thought of it that way. So that’s what the theme song was about.
‘Those were the days when men were men………….. ‘
He didn’t buy Open Marriages, single women raising kids, or Gays coming out of the closet.”
The Maven was just revving up:
“ He stabilized chaos in other ways too. He opposed ethnic diversification, the homogenizing of what was a unique mix of various cultures. He stalled the Gay/Lesbian movement’s threat to a rising birth rate, He foresaw the Women’s Movement making men into second class citizens.”.
“Golly Christopher!”, I amazed, “So that’s why he was always saying those things about Heebs and Chinks and peoples of the colored persuasion.. .And that’s why he’d tell Edith to ‘stifle’ when she disagreed with him and that’s why he called grown up Gloria ‘little girl’. I thought the Meathead was the good guy because his values were opposed to Archie’s”..

“Oh no!” quoth the Maven, ”The Meathead’s values were similar to Archie’s. Yes, he’d organize a demonstration for womens’ rights but he’d expect Gloria to make the posters for it along with sandwiches for him after she came home tired after a full day’s work.
He payed lip service to the egg headed liberal causes but nothing more. Nothing more! He was as much a male chauvinist as Archie was..”


I thanked the Maven profusely. I confessed that before being enlightened I thought the show was about this uneducated dyslexic who confused words with their antonyms and homonyms. A guy who had to work two jobs, dock worker in the day and cab driver at night, angry about still not living the white picket fenced suburban American dream.
The Maven opined that I was confusing content with process. Issues are never solvable at the issue level, One needs to get to the level beneath the issue, the process. Problems aren’t solvable, they are dissolvable if given enough time and a respectful process,


If romantic love dies too rapidly, before reality love can be established, the power struggle erupts and brings out the worst in the lovers. Same thing happens when two corporation merge without an adequate transitional period. Changes have to happen in small stages or there is hell to pay no matter how great the promise of the venture. Sudden and dramatic changes are exciting but you pay a price for them.
I told the Maven that if I had know that in the past, I wouldn’t have repeatedly fallen in love with my illusions and ended up feeling disappointed and depressed..
Quoth the Maven “NEVERMORE!” But I know me. I won’t change.

 

                                            Fiddler on the Roof


This is in my opinion a perfect movie in its photography (in Yugoslavia- as close as possible to behind the Russian Iron Curtain-, its casting, Topol or Hershl Bernardi the Jewish voice equivalents of James Earl Jones), and its lively music and exquisite choreography. What a treat to see Molly Picon, now an old lady but still the characters she portrayed in the old days of Jewish theatre.


But what stands out most is Sholom Aleichem’s insightfulness about the essence of human eistence. Be you Jewish or Gentile, Iraqi, Afghanistanian, Chinese or Aftrican, gay or or female life is very like fiddling on a roof. The struggle for freedom of of choice and for opportunity continues more than a hundred years after he wrote, at political, religious, interpersonal and intra psychic levels. Take your choice and you can find your personal struggle expressed in the movie.

Sholom Aleichem is the nomme de plume of Sholom Rabinovitch. Writing in Yiddish as well as in Russian kept him in touch with his people of his origin who were literate only in Yiddish and Hebrew. In their tongue Sholom Aleichem translated to “Peace Friends”or less literally “Peace be unto you, friend”.


RUSSIAN AND WORLD HISTORY
The turn of the 18th Century was similar to the end of the 19th in terms of revolutionary economic and psycho-social change. The invention of railroads, automobiles, electric power, telegraphs, and telephones, and antisepsis were equivalent to modern day advent of computers. miracle drugs and supersonic flight. The industrial revolution of the early 1900’s became the technological revolution of the late 1900’s. Both stimulated economic and political changes t (expressed in Communism and the coming to power of Third World Countries.) that continue into the third millennium.
Nineteenth century Europe was an era of flexing MILITARY muscle with wars in which Russia was only one of the European countries trying to gain status and nationalistic pride. Perhaps Russia needed this more that some of the others after her miserable defeats in the mid century Crimean War and end of the century war with Japan.
Never having had a significant number of Jewish citizens, Russia, conquering the central European nations (especially Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and the Ukraine) became host to large populations of Jews, which became Russia’s Jewish Problem. The Jewish Problem was to be solved by :
1: Assimilation, (i.e.a 25 year conscription of boys into the Russian Army,)
2: Conversion (i. e. marriage outside the Faith)
3:Extermination (i.e. in pogroms)
4: Emigration.
ASSIMULATION
There were several laws promoting assimulation passed in the later 1800’s, one requiring Jews to attend Russian public schools. Tuitions were funded by taxes on religious candles. Jews found these schools so foreign and unfriendly that they avoided them in favor of their own private Hebrew Schools where Yiddish and Hebrew language were taught instead of Russian.
Few Jews ever learned to read or write Russian preferring Yiddish for everyday use and Hebrew for religious purposes. They tended to be insulated from the world outside their stetl unless someone who could read Russian came upon a Russian newspaper and reported the news. Such an incident happens in Fiddler when a man, literate in both Russian and Yiddish, offers to report the news at a prayer study group. The Rabbi says if its bad news he doesn’t want to hear it. For bad news he says he’ll read the Bible about Noah and the floods.
FfREUDIAN INFLUENCE.
Freud Published The Interpetation of Dreams in 1900. Tevye’s imagined dream use his thinking in moderating the Jewish tradition regarding parental arrangements for children;s marriages. Tevye resurrects his long dead mother in-law, Grandma Zeitl, to be the advocate for her namesake , granddaughter Zeitl, who revolts against matchmaker Yenta’s (Molly Picon) and Tevye’s marriage contract with butcher Leyser Wolf.
Who better to convince wife Golda of a woman’s right to choice than her own (disenfranchised ) mother?
In his Freudian style dream, Tevye expresses the other side of the conflict by trying to convince Grandma Zeitl that she’s wrong in advocating tailor Mawtl Komsoy to be Zeitl’s bridegroom Wish fulfillment wins out when a ghostly Frumeh Sarah predicts tragedy if ;the contract is not undone.
TRADITION
It is this relatively minor break from tradition that sets the stage for Mawtl the tailor’s emancipation from the empty isolation of the stetl. Mawtl is excellently cast as a nebbish whose powerful voice and acrobatic dancing predict the potential for manhood when he finally acquires a sewing machine.
Having prepared us with Zeitl’s break from Jewish tradition, Aleichem introduces us to tevye’s emerging son in lsw, Perchik, who aggressivley champions women’s rights and frees Daughter Havl from having even to ask parental permission to marry for love. The scene that dramatizes this giant step from Jewish tradition is at Zeitl’s wedding where Perchik who instead of burying his sexual feeling for Havl in intellectual- political theorizing, breaks the rules about mixed sex dancing and gets most of the other guests to do so also.
Later Havl, not yet married, leaves the family to join Perchik in Siberia where he has been sentenced after his arrest for leading a Communist demonstration in a student Square.
Banishment to Siberia was not imprisonment. One lived in his own house and worked there usually bringing his wife and children to live and work there too. My own great grandfather Zvi Hersh Shulkin, (of blesed memory) spent 10 years in Siberia and requested permission to stay after his sentence was served. Perhaps his request was refused out of fear was that Siberia would eventually become more Jewish than Russian. )

EMIGRATION
Tevye, Golda and their fourth and fifth daughters escape the coming pogroms heading for New York where they have relatives.
At the time. according to the song “Do you Love Me”, they’ve been married 25 years and must be in their 50’s. Romantic love has long been replaced by a more reality oriented bonding partnership of shouldering the joys and sorrows of life. If the fiddler is an appropriate symbol of what their life was like it was not so much an unhappy one as it was a volatile one. They are old to emigrate for their own sake. Too old to expect to master much English or for milkman Tevye to thrive vocationally. Their move is for their children.
Will the fiddler’s tune be as lively in America? Will there be as many high notes? Will Tevye make it in the Big Apple? Sholom Aleichem had not yet experienced America yet himself when he wrote Tevye the Milkman we’ll have to speculate about that ourselves.
Odds are that the fiddler will not change his tune. Tevye’s cultural obsessions with religion are an egosyntonic character trait. They’ve been survival techniques that have maintained his balance on the precarious rooftop.
He has a very personal relationship with his God, feeling that God is watching over him and interacting with him. He does not pretend to understand God or to understand God’s decisions but he projects God as benevolent and able to be reasoned with.
When in the horns of dilemma, he looks first at God’s traditional (or the religious) way and he moderates it with, “On the other hand-----”, Then, stretching one of God’s Biblical decisions, he resolves the conflict with a compromise that seems a best fit for himself and his family. Example: Daughters one and two marry without the intercession of a matchmaker, but Tevye reasons, “so did Adam and Eve” and God allowed that.

CONVERSION
It’s only with daughter number three that Tevye’s projection of his own empathy and sense of fairness onto God doesn’t work. The third daughter marries Russian Orthodox Fietka in his Church instead of under the hoopah.. When she attempts a rapprochement’, he doesn’t even see her, behaving as if she were dead. The family had already said the traditional mourner’s “kaddish” and observed the 10 days of “sitting Shiva” as if she had actually died.
What a demonstration of Aleichems understanding of character structure as a pattern of developmental survival defenses. To have accepted her conversion would be tantamount to Tevye’s giving up his life or at least his sanity.
Unconciously our loyalty to our loved ones is a significant debit in which we owe them a lot for the joys and sorrows they’ve shared with us. But we do not owe them our survival.

Reviewer’s Notes: For the straight scoop on My great grandfather’ s prison sentence in Siberia, go to http://family.mentoringlove.com and enter Zvi Hersh Shulkin under SEARCH.
For translation of Yiddish words in the text, write in “dictionary” under SEARCH.

I highly recommend seeing ARGO which is up for seven Academy Awards. It’s a true story about hostages in Iran ( see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21003432 ) but slightly embellished to make a good movie, Alan Arkin and Ben Afleck do remarkable acting jobs.
I was disappointed that it wasn’t the story of my cousin John Limbert who was held hostage in Iran for 444 days between 1979 and 1981. (John and I are doubly related in that we share the same great great grand parents and because his grandmother married her first cousin, my grand uncle Jake Shulkin.) If you’re interested in John’s story you can read it on page 76 in my book 100 Years in America available on Amazon.com. (I have a few copies available at my cost of $12.00 if you email me.)
There is a story within the story and a movie within the movie.
Both Alan Arkin, a Hollywood movie executive, and Ben Affleck, a CIA agent, are estranged from their families because of dedication to their work. That’s a message to the audience about both the good and bad aspects of how the roles we play at work can affect our family life. After all, movie screens are a mirror in which we see parts of ourselves in the characters on the screen.
Both Arkin and Affleck seek love and affection for their artistic efforts on-the-job while sacrificing love and affection in their family life. One needs to ask oneself the true purpose of excelling in one’s work.
Like movie actors we play many roles in life such as husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter, best friend, student, political activist, movie critic, etc. We even play a role when trying to just be ourselves.
The movie suggests that the way to be successful is to “fake it”.
The risk involved in “faking it” is what makes this movie exciting. A message one might also get from the movie is that even if one is unsuccessful one can feel good about one’s efforts. After all, the things that happened to us during our lifetime are mostly random and what really counts is how we react to them.
Ben Affleck who also directs the movie is not up for an award as best director. I’m hoping that like the CIA agent, who for security reasons was not acknowledged for his creative efforts, Affleck will be rewarded by an increase in his own self esteem.

 

                                                                  CRITICAL CARE

This 12 year old film’s protagonist, James, (Are people who have a plural given name more likely to develop a second personality than the rest of us?) Spader soliloquizes before his metamorphosis that getting the MD after his name changed him from a Mediocre Dork or Dufus into someone considered a good catch by women. Along that line I’ve considered the possibility that his on-stage name, Dr. Werner Ernst, may be the author’s unconscious statement about doctors generally—“We’re ne’er Earnest..
As a second year, somewhat narcissistic resident in a general hospital Dr. E finds himself caught in a double bind between two half sisters vying for their vegetating father’s 10 mil estate. It’s in the resolution of his dilemma that he achieves the Judeo- Christian destiny of having to suffer or die (at least the narcissistic part of him does ) before he can be reborn as a dedicated physician ( read Savior of suffering humanity ).
Serious critics, of which I am not, might consider this movie great comedy by exaggeration all over the place in its sending messages of economic, religious, and moral significance while degrading women, doctors, lawyers, and the elderly. I, on the other hand, see it as a political statement that might have been written this year.
The Plot
Here’s the thing; The rich dying father is comatose and the doctors want to do a gastrostomy- put a tube in his stomach so he can be nourished better than with IV’s .. His medical caretakers think (incorrectly since the tube can inserted through the skin over his stomach in his own bed without using even local anesthesia ) the surgery would be life threatening but advise it anyway because he’s. got great health insurance coverage and the hospital is more concerned with its bottom line than in its mortality rate.
As the aged alcoholic Medical Director/CEO puts it, --If the patient has HMO (or just Medicare) the sooner he leaves that bed the more money we make, but if he has “ pay for service” rather than “for diagnosis” coverage, the more days and more services we provide the more we get into the black. It a dilemma for Dr. E. since even if he’s not earnest he’s honest.
My Take on Health Care Reform
Now I’m much too politically challenged to have an opinion as to whether “the public option” in Obama’s Health Care Reform will flood people away from their private coverage into tax payer subsidized and maybe rationed coverage. I’m too economics naïve to fathom the nearly $800 bil cost of the plan that the Congressional Budget Office estimates over the next decade. And whether or not the Republicans are right that illegal immigrants would get coverage, the doctor complex in my empty head asks,
“ Don’t illegals feel pain and suffering as much as legals or any other human beings?”.
But I love President Barrack Mohammed Obama (In Hebrew Boruch means blessed) much to much to oppose anything he wants to do even if I’m still battling idealism against higher taxes in my own mind.
Maybe his name should be Barracks instead of just singular. I think he’s in a double bind just like Dr. E was. Not that I don’t believe that he is on a moral mission to honor his mother’s recovery from illness by providing all Americans with universal coverage. .
Some Obama History
Michelle was vice president of Medical affairs at the University of Chicago Hospital when Barack was an Illinois state senator. She achieved some well deserved fame and some funding from the state legislature for improving the emergency care system for the
neighboring community (read poor people) by creating a coalition of surrounding hospitals, each specializing in providing the optimal treatment for specific illnesses or injuries. Her success and benevolence in that achievement was frequently mentioned when Health Care Reform come up in the presidential campaign.
Paradoxically, less that a year after the election, the U. of Chicago Hospital was being accused of “dumping”, i.e. sending the uninsured or underinsured to other distant hospitals for care in order to raise their bottom line. An elderly cardiac died in the four hours required to get care at at more distant (30 miles) hospital and a young trauma patient had unexpected complications due to a similar delay in getting care. That’s of course the bad side. The good news is that it’s stimulated business for Chicago’s recession burdened malpractice lawyers.
Baracks double binds (note the plurals) is that his wife needs him to follow through on her good works and he needs to keep his campaign promises versus the voters are mainly middle class whites worried about their jobs and income and not likely to risk inflation and higher taxes, Barack’s failure in this early domestic venture would have done little for his popularity rating.
Not to worry. Turns out that all myths, stories, drama’s, fables, dreams are made from the mold of Hollywood movies. The archetypal ending if not always a happy one but is always a meaningful one in which the hero or heroine overcomes a character fixation and achieves maturity just as Dr. E. did.

CASABLANCA
The prewar book that was adapted to the screen, as opposed to the movie, was an overt attempt to mobilize American public opinion to get involved in WWII. The screenplay artfully documented that conflict and the history of the time with very sparse dialogue. When it came out in November 1942, not much explanation of the characters’ feelings was required as we were in the midst of war on two fronts and losing in both of them. The movie was a morale builder at a time of national sacrifice. (A low budget patriotic contribution by an industry that would later be ravaged by McCarthyism after the war ended.)
People under 75 years old, either are too young to have seen Casablanca or they saw it so long ago they’ve forgotten the story and just remember the quotes,
“I don’t stick my neck out for nobody” says Bogart, cynically refusing to take sides on the war. And later mellowing in his refusal but rejecting Berman’s offer to cohabitate, he says to her,
“Not today, not tomorrow, but someday soon, your decision would come back to haunt you” and she decides to honor her marriage to her fugitive Undergound leader, husband, Paul Henried.
Bogart and Bergman don/t end up together romantically, both choosing to be faithful to other values.
I’ll review the plot. Bogie spent 1935 as a mercenary supplying munitions to Haile Sellassie, in Ethiopia’s unsuccessful resistance to an invading Benito Mussolini. In 1936 Bogie fought in the Spanish revolt against fascist dictator, General Franco.
Both these activities were violations of the American foreign policy of Isolationism. Western nations did not want to side against Mussolini for fear it would drive him into an alliance with Germany (which happened anyway). Strong anti-communist feelings tainted aid to the Spanish rebels and though the US was sympathetic to those nations overrun by Hitler, (Norway, Sweden, Holland, Poland and eventually France), we did not want to repeat our involvement in the global WWI warfare just as we were recovering from the Depression. So Bogie was an expatriate who fled Paris just ahead of the Nazi overthrow and establishment of a puppet Vichy government there..
Similarly Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre had left Spain and were busily profiting in forging exit visas for other refugees from occupied countries who had chosen Casablanca as the stopover to freedom in neutral America. Claude Reins got an Oscar for his supporting role as the Chief of Police in Free French Casablanca who wavered between loyalties as he observed the shifting winds of German versus Allied victories.
What a cast! And how’s this for understated dialogue? Greenstreet asks Bogie why he came to Casablanca.
“For the waters”, says Bogie dryly.
“But Morocco” is a desert” says Sidney.
“Yeah, I was misinformed.” comments Bogie, probably observing that the German General Rommel is chasing General Montgomery’s retreating British army across North Africa and likely to take Casablanca soon.
I won’t spoil the movie by revealing it’s ending but the plot really centers on the corrupt Police Chief and his indecision as to how to play out his politics in the best interests of his survival.
In 1942 the answer to his best interests was still undetermined. As it is in the Middle Eeast now, Haille Sellassie turned out to be a more cruel dictator than the Italians ever were. The communists turned out to be our allies for a while and hopefully will be again. Political correctness depends upon being able to foretell the future, and my own political naïveté is increased by my difficulty in just understanding present realities.
After all, if the British had won the American Revolution, Benedict Arnold would be the Father of Our Country and George Washington’s name would be synonymous with traitorism.
Up in the Air
I thought it unique in not being the usual plot where someone is doing well, has a crisis and the crisis gets worse before the happy or meaningful ending.
My metaphor for this one would be like a song in which the melody is that we are all subject to losses (jobs, loved ones, death, etc. ) and if we protect ourselves from that loss we live empty lives but if we let ourselves be vulnerable we can face depression and despair.
And while that melody is being played out, a metronomic beat is also playing. i.e.—those ancillary themes which have to do with the recession, with the facade of gold cards and frequent flier points and first class airplane seats, expense accounts, texting, skyping, and all the modern technology that dehumanizes.
If you take the n’s out of Ryan Bingham’s name you get “R Ya-a big ham?
The acting really was exceptional- especially Alex- who played a role women seldom have in movies- where her seductive use of men as sexual objects equaled or surpassed any man’s (even Ryan’s) ability to do that. In fact she says that she is a carbon copy of Ryan “but with a vagina”.. Natalie was also well played as the kind of techno-nerd who has all the best answers for efficiency but no humanistic experience or skill in delivering it.
I felt that all the characters were parts of Ryan, Natalie- the adolescent part that felt that romantic love was all that’s important , Jim the part that is aware that romantic love is illusional but decides to commit to marriage anyway, the divorced sister who having tried it decides she can go it alone better, and the unemployed people who conclude at the end of the film that their relationships with spouses and children overcome their material losses.
But Ryan’s story is the melody that goes up and down during that background metronomic music. He starts out having immunized himself to feelings - shutting out his family of origin and the people he works with, and the victims he fires, by telling himself that happiness is in 10 million frequent flyer points and in being free and unfettered by relationships. Then in some clever script writing he gets tricked by Alexis’s facade of being loving, especially in the setting of the wedding—into taking a chance on being vulnerable and making a commitment.
It’s then that the movie gets deep and somewhat vague. For me the ending was a kind of Rorshach test in which you could choose for yourself how Ryan ends up. In the last scene as he ‘s boarding the airplane, he leaves behind his “backpack” with either his air traveler paraphernalia or maybe his relationships with people (since his lectures talked about putting relationships in the backpacks ) . To me he’s not ready to risk making a committed relationship yet but is too aware of the emptiness of “living up in the air” to be satisfied doing that anymore. Perhaps he, too, now has lost his job.
That would be a meaningful ending for a “shark” who capitalized on firing other people.

 

Second Hand Lions
Two old grumps, (Robert Duvall and Michael Caine) are living Texas style unhappily without experiencing usual human emotions until they meet up with the same kid (Haley Joel Osment) who had healed Kevin Spacey in the Sixth Sense. The kid, just as depressed now as a pubescent 14 as he was as a latency age 9 in the Sixth Sense, skillfully therapizes the old geezers while they journey him safely through adolescence.
One of the Geezers gives Kid two growth gifts,
“Believe things that aren’t necessarily true” and
1. “Good will always triumph over Evil”, (This second principle is easy to accept, even in the case of Iraq, if you buy the first.)

What great advice for a budding therapist! Kid’s learning a lot about doing psychotherapy from Spacey and from the Geezers and he is just a few depressions short of being able to apply for a therapy license
Kubler Ross Stages
Coincidentally, in both movies, Kid searches for a stable parent figure only to find that in each of his movie roles he first has to cure a grown up who is mourning his wife’s premature death,
The Geezers are enmeshed in Denial, Depression, and Anger stages as they sit on their front porch with shotguns in their laps waiting to take pot shots at traveling salesman who have heard rumors of their fabulous wealth. When they reach Acceptance, of their aging and their unfulfilled dreams, they decide to self- destruct. (Though they’ve kept their promise to stick around until Kid had reached adulthood, it’s not a perfect treatment outcome.).
Kid doesn’t yet realize that he has not only to keep his patients in therapy until he, the therapist, is healed but also a little longer just for the patient’s sake.
Good Use of Sentence Stems
Intuitively knowing better than to ask invasive questions, Kid helps the Geezers re-live their feelings in telling their story. He uses sentence stems like “and after that what happened was-----? “
He ends up believing an unbelievable narrative about the Geezers’ former life in the French Foreign Legion, earning their trust and a therapeutic alliance. (After all there is no reality, only the perception of reality.)
But, when the Foreign Legion story ends short of completion, Kid dares to be more direct when he asks a Geezer “What happened to your wife?” and he does get the answer.
“Oh yes”, interjects the BW,. “but only after he has tested the closeness of their relationship in offering Geezer the warmth of blanket which the Geezer accepts. (BW is the family expert on good timing. )
Later on Kid uses the old “threat of loss” trick as he abortively goes back to live with his Borderline mother. Finding Mom not really a candidate for therapy, he goes back to the Geezers, He puts it to them rather forcefully in modified Behavior Change Requests.
Until he grows up they must:
1.Promise to take better care of themselves by eating more veggies.
2.Give up their dangerous hobbies and avocations.
3.Participate in community activities like PTA meetings at his school.

The Geezers choose to do all three requests for the kid’s sake and in doing so grow into having usual life experiences and completing the mourning process.
Moral of the Story
Good does triumph over evil,
Good kids live happily ever after.
A little sugary to my taste, but I believe these things to be true. And I will continue to believe them even if Haley Joel Osment regresses and has to find still another movie role in which he has to cure a grown up to remit his recurring depression.

 

.                                                  Julie/Julia Child

A very good, -feel good- but not perfect movie that dragged a little during the Julie flashbacks, probably because Merle Streep s Julia scenes were so great that Julie s scenes suffered by comparison. Merle seems a cinch for a best actress Oscar. She so stole the show that other good performances like that of her soft spoken husband, Stanley Tucci, who made her seem even bigger than life, and that of her outspoken sister, won t get the recognition they deserve.

The photography, the music accompaniments, casting , and makeup people were also deserving ;though the editing could have been better if it had shortened some of the Julie scenes.
The Plot
The comparison of two women who, though of a different generation almost 20 years apart in ages, had the similar experience of feeling life meaningless and of finding a hobby-cooking- to fulfill themselves. Both handicapped by gender discrimination, undergo hardships and disappointments, The crisis part of their stories, their disappointments and facing of failure, is not as catastrophic as in most stories but eventually both women prevail with a -feel good- Happy Ending.

The villains are the American publishers, capitalist -profit greedy- misguided in their agreement with the French cooking school teacher that Americans are too insensitive to appreciate French cooking. In contrast to these villains, the men in the movie seem angelic- the two husbands and the French chef teacher- compared to Julie s cell phone addicted women friends who make her feel inadequate with their successes, to her stereotypical bad mother, and also compared to ADD afflicted Julie herself who though only in her late 20 s is portrayed as an inadequate housekeeper, an inexperienced writer, and as a not so hot love maker until she gets 65 answering Machine success messages and gives her husband the sex he d been wanting all his married life.

She is violating Julia Child s copyright, while expecting Julia Child to love her and her self absorption causes her husband to temporarily leave her,


                                                               Lots of Projection
All of the -projection in this movie was not from the projection booth. Julie used a lot of it. As Julie s husband said to her - your Julia Child is the Julia Child of your mind-.  Julie s immaturity is easily excused by her youth. But how about the over idealized portrayal of Julia Child. She’s a war hero/CIA intelligence genius who continues her heroine role in bringing long food rationed suffering post WWII Americans the ecstasy of French cuisine. Money is not her motive. She is so above the usual human concerns about weight and appearance that she indulges herself in food sampling gluttony.

Julia Child is a good and loyal friend to everyone. She graciously accepts her husband s frequent job relocations, She is never discouraged by publishing setbacks. What s more, she didn’t marry until 40 and we are to believe that she is so passionately in love with her husband that she satisfies him in bed as if she were a sexual athlete. Oh, spare me such fantasies. Get real Julia!

In contrast Julie s success was due to her good timing in being able to master the then new technology of blogging- along with the general public s appetite for French recipes without having the expense of buying Julia Child s book.

In summary, this is a very good, not to be missed movie, but not a perfect one. I appreciated seeing Julie s life of not so quiet desperation while comparing it to my own. I, too, was once young and survived it..

                                                                    BIG FISH
Albert Finney plays the role of a dying father who has been estranged from his grown son for the past three years because he had told his son a series of tall tales instead of being direct and truthful about his own past life. The son, about to become father himself, makes a last effort to get to know his father and to heal the rift. In doing so the film tells us who both men are and makes profound statements about the nature of life itself.

The son as the narrator starts out saying that the story is so difficult to tell that he’ll let his father tell it. Then in selecting flashbacks of his father’s stories about things that happened and things that didn’t happen, he becomes just as romantic and imaginative a story teller as his father (and the director) are.

The viewer is watching a journey about “coming to consciousness” The son complains that his father lied to him about the father’s past but he’ll end up understanding that his father actually was a blend of reality and romantic fantasy, just as the world itself is a blend of the way it is and how it is perceived.
To get to know his father, he will have to get to know himself, and in doing that has to get to know the nature of nature.
Perhaps all good art, whether poetry, paintings, statues, music , and literature are ink blots in which we project the social or intra psychic conflicts of our present lives. What do you make for instance of the Siamese twins who are joined at the hip but whose very different personalities function well together?. What was the director trying to tell us when Danny Devito is suddenly transformed from the owner of a circus into a vicious dog, whose fury is easily calmed when the father throws a stick for him to fetch.?

The father turns out to be trying to maintain his small town values even while he’s become aware that he’s too big a fish to live out his life in such a small pond.

                                                                    THE CHOSEN


My 14 year old grandson, who I’ve nicknamed the Silent One (SO) because he never speaks to me, nor to any one else for that matter unless he has to, phoned the other day to ask if he and I could discuss the movie the Chosen. His class is reading the book and he needs to be able to discuss the characters, their hopes, dreams, and inter-relationships.
Eager to establish any conversation with the SO about anything, I shlepped out to TLA to cop the CD. I ended up buying the CD instead of renting because I had planned an early trip to NYC the next day to spend the day with my older brother who had just checked into Sloane Kettering Cancer Center for chemo and radiation. I hate paying late fees and the CD was on sale for only $11.45.
The Chosen, starring Rod Steiger and Maximillian Schell is based on a book by Rabbi Chaim Potok. It’s the Hebrew Day School equivalent of Catcher in the Rye.
The story is about two orthodox Jewish boys, one of whom is ultra Orthodox Hassidic. They befriend each other and suffer the torments of adolescence together. Schell and Steiger play their fathers and have exactly opposite fathering styles.
Schell is the perfect Imago father, who mirrors, validates , empathizes and shares his dreams with his son. Schell on the other hand never speaks to his son except while they are studying the Torah. The son has learned to accept the lack of word sharing but is hungry for a relationship, which is why he gets so involved with Schell and son even though the Orthodox Jewish Schell and son are almost Christian (goyim) by Hassidic standards.
“So why doesn’t the Hassidic rabbi talk to his son?” queries SO, he of the Where did you go?-Noplace, What did you do?-Nothing., Who did you see?-Nobody. relationship style.
A Complicated Answer
As I pondered what level of explanation would be appropriate for his limited life experience, I felt a weighty responsibility to find a meaningful way to portray the complexity of the Rabbi’s personality. Of all his aunts and uncles, his three other living grandparents, and his postgraduate educated parents why was the SO coming to me for s answerers. He’d never indicated by any spoken word that he thought I had any particular wisdom or talent. So I asked him, “Why did you choose me to ask?”
The SO replied with silence but for the first time I realized that he thought that I was someone special and exactly the person he could trust to handle this assignment..

So after I gave him Potok’s explanation that in some small “stadls” in Poland, where the rabbi that was Steiger was raised, it was the custom for the Chief Rabbi of the town not to speak to his eldest son. It was one of many painful ways to develop empathy in embryonic rabbis-to-be so they could feel the suffering of their followers. The Rabbi himself had been awoken each night as a child by his own father so he would cry and feel the suffering of his forbears.

I also simplified some Jewish history. The Polish rabbinate became a hereditary family oligarchy with special privilege and generous material gifts from their subjects in medieval times .In the 14th Century Poland had fallen on hard times. Polish noblemen were unskilled in administration and they encouraged the immigration of Jews from Germany to tax their serfs and enforce regulations that made their fiefdoms profitable. The peasants blamed the Jews instead of the nobles for their poverty, eventually persecuting and killing them in a mid-millennium holocaust.

The Tavistock groups in 1940’s London documented that when a community is suffering it’s Collective Unconscious creates a messianic leader who will end the suffering. The first Hassidic rabbi was such a messiah. He was called the Bal Shem Tov, his name affectionately abbreviated to the BESHT. Not especially well educated in Talmudic law, the BESHT emphasized joy and happiness in religious observance.. He also emphasized the value of personal suffering in honoring Jewish forebears who had sacrificed their lives in order to safeguard their religious beliefs for posterity. Jewish guilt doesn’t have to be taught in the Church confessional, it is present from birth. This, I believe is the essential difference between Judaism and Christianity. It is part of the Jewish spirit to suffer and Jews are born with it.. Jews avoid discomfort of the body but they feel it in their souls. Christians on the other hand emphasize the suffering of both the body and the mind of Christ..

Then I told the SO that his maternal great grandfather had been the eldest son of the Chief Rabbi of a Polish stadl and would have followed a dozen generations of his forefathers as the Chief Rabbi of their stadl if he hadn’t rebelled against his father’s cruelty and immigrated to America in the ealrly 1900’s..

But the rabbi played by Steiger was not
a cruel man, nor a narcissist, nor a distancer
or an avoider. Potok describes him as
extremely sensitive and loving to everyone
but to his oldest son. Actually he was
and caring in relationship to the oldest son
too, but he had brought his Polish customs
with him to America. The son may have
eventually understood that. The son did
turn out to be empathetic and with his
father’s belated blessing went on to study
psychology at Columbia University, minus
the 15th Century Hassidic clothes and hairstyle.

** The next Day at Sloane Kettering Memorial Hospttal,. having finished his daily X-ray treatment for the day. I found my brother in his room tethered to an IV standard while absorbing a torturingly slow chemical drip.

Glad to see me, he seemed to be in Kubler Ross’s bargaining stage, half way past denial but not noticeably depressed. He told me that it’d been 10 years since he made a will and needed to update it. He mentioned his pension annuity having been chosen on life expectancy at the time it was arranged. Then came discussions of our parents’ and our grandparents’ deaths. All of these appropriate subjects for discussion for brothers who live in distant cities and who don’t see each other often. He also discussed more pleasant family events and generally was good company. But I am a terrible hospital visitor. I’m not good at curbing my sense of humor in serious situations and I worry that if I am too serious the patient will want me to cut my visit short.

So I took a page from the SO’s book and I was, for me, silent. I hope my relative silence had the limbic resonance of the SO or of the rabbi that Steiger played. As I sat in silence, I felt my brother listening to my silence attentively and I hope appreciatively. I may try this with psychotherapy clients.

 

                                                                    THE HOURS
For those who didn’t see it, I ‘d summarize it as the story of Virginia Wolff in the 20’s as she’s writing “Mrs. Dalsworthy” and how that affects a ‘50’s misfit housewife who hasn’t switched from women joining the labor force during ww II, and a contemporary New York Woman. Definitely a movie women would like more than men.
l didn’t feel I really understood it until almost the end. I l didn’t find it entertaining and I was “working” all through it, trying to get was it was about. I thought Merle Streep will probably win an Oscar for her acting and the director will get some artistic recognition for innovative story telling. I realize it was told in the “Whose Afraid of Virginia> Wolff “style of not knowing what was real.

• I thought it harder to follow than Virginia Wolff and also more depressing. ( I also thought “About Schmidt” was like being in 90 minute therapy session with a narcissist ) Time dragged.
I felt trapped and confused. I couldn’t leave early
for fear of feeling dumb in not understanding it. I also had the hope that if I stuck it out, BW would explain it to me later. She did. In the same way that Merle Streep was trapped by her love for a man who could not love her or free her, or get free of her, except by his own death. She was a prisoner of her own neurosis, reframed as a great
spiritual love affair.
This was a chic flick. How I longed for a car chase or shooting or two.
The minutes dragged by as if “hours”. The movie was aptly named.
The two women doing loving mouth to mouth resuscitation kiss was at little
exciting but I don’t know how that will play in the Bible belt.
I got the vague idea that Ms. Wolff was making a writing decision about
“someone must die” in her novel, it was affecting the outcomes of the
novelettes occurring eons of “hours” later. I fully expected it would be
atl the woman who died and was pleasantly surprised that she praticed
an equal opportunity policy in killing one person of each sex.

Virginia was of course a prisoner of the pre- antipsychotic medication era
as well as of her overprotective husband who out of noble but burdensome
kind of love (a noblesse’ oblige) kept that miserable lady bored in the
burbs when she longed, like the moth attracted to the flame, for the
action in London.

Her story was auto-prophetical rather than auto-biographical. Please, I
pray to the “Force” save me from those who love me too much but not well
enough.

The 50’s housewife, too ill adapted to domesticity, to even make a cake or
to enjoy her observant little boy, was born a zillion hours too soon to
find comfort in a Lesbian society. Hopefully when she reappears in Merle
Streep’s story, she has not yet lost her passion for sex and romance.
I give this movie fours stars (instead of Ray’s 5 stars) and all of those
for the four star/actors who should be acknowledged for an artistic
triumph. But all put together this movie was more depressing
than entertaining. I don’t recommend it and I think it will do mediocre
at the box office.

                                                               MONSTER’S BALL


Even though Halle Berry copped an Oscar with it and Ebert touted it the best flick of last year, the BW (Beautiful Wife) “nixed ” me on seeing this one because, she nags “ movies about monsters disturb your Z’s and cause you nightmares.” I’d still not have seen it if My colleague. Florida’s Right Reverend Mark Chidley, hadn’t crisped out a review on News@ Imago and queried the gang for MVE’s. (Mirror, Validate and Empathize)
Mark (Chidley that is) is a preacher guy and a certified super Imao couples’ shrink. But I figure he flunked Typing 101 at the Seminary. He mistyped the title (now available on VHS) as MONSTER BALLS instead of MONSTER’S BALL (which is deep South talk for the party red necks have when they chair-fry a death row Brother at the State Pen).
Imagine my crimson cheeks when I rush out to Blockbuster to ask the counter lady if she has Monster Balls.
“ Negative” she smirks, “Not even normal size” and then derogates unkindly about the size of my own.
The plot concerns a three generations of only gradually evolving correctional officers who have the usual racist sentiments of 1990, (when the gas station marquees are still advertising $.75 per gallon). Billy Bob Thornton, the middle Honkees gets emotionally involved with the BW of the guest on honor at a recent Monster’s ball, and in doing so starts his journey from self absorption and projectile self hatred. He travels to Empathy and re-incarnates as a human being. Berry too, morph’s from a self loathing, unloving wife with a mixed review of herself as mother to her sweets eating-disordered, but loving pre-teener, who has pre-deceased her.

Added to the usual forbidden lustful attraction between races, Thornton goes color blind because he is mourning the son he identified with in his projected self hatred. Thornton and Berry need each other to externalize their grief.

I first learned about that need in 1965 when I was a consultant to Jack Kennedy’s newly legislated Mental Health Act’s Outreach mandate. We hired recently widowed indigenous women folk to scour the obituaries and to call upon other recently widowed indigeni. The program worked well for a year and then flopped miserably. What had happened was the women we hired had recovered by then from their own grief and had lost a special talent for reaching their newly mourning clients This explains the continuing tradition of funerals in that we need others to feel what we are feeling to expedite grief work.. Will Halle and Thornton’s grief inspired tryst out last the movies end? I’ll vote for that since they seem really to have grown some neuron synapses of the insight and consciousness variety.

My Freudian past suggests that because early on, she asks if he’d like cream and sugar in his coffee, he says, “just black”. He don’t like even his coffee to be integrated.. But in the last scene, after some really exciting doggy style sex, they decide to top it off with a mutual preference for chocolate flavored ice-cream. Chocolate of course is neither black nor white.

This theme of integration of feelings, relationships, and social customs supersedes any message simply about racism, sexism, and paternalism. The movie is about being separate and connected at the very same time in all aspects of life. A clever example is in the photography of the execution scene.

We view the prisoner sitting in the hot seat from behind a glass window in the visitors section. The glass reflects a hazy mages, mirror-like, of the spectators who are super-imposed upon the victim. We are him and he is us. As we murder the murderer, we too are murdered. Infinite boundary violations are perpetrated in the name of loyalty to social order and social class!

But getting back to Mrs. Chidley’s son Mark’s request for validation and empathy, I assume that he preaches tolerance and good will to white Southern congregants, who almost as much as their Northern counterparts have learned to voice only the politically correct views. They are like clients who dialogue to perfection but are playing a role and do not change their attitude. Mark must not question their sincerity for danger of offending those who really are meaningful Christians. As the shepherd evolves on this issue he becomes in danger of estrangement from the flock. You need to have monster balls to risk your job and still be true to yourself. I think he has them.
ALL IN THE FAMILY/Archie Bunker
As I pondered, weak and weary over reviewing All in the Family, I decided to consult the Maven.

Mavens, as you know are experts on every subject. They can tell you where to get things wholesale, which are the best doctors to treat specific ailments, where to hold a wedding on the cheap, or the best summer camp for your child. Mavens are always right.. If you need a Maven and don’t have one, let me know and mine will come gently rapping at your door.
The Maven told me that this well known family has become American folklore. The Bunkers guided Americans through the chaos of the 60’s back to the complacency of traditional family values of the 30’s and into the glorious materialism of the 80’s.
.
Lucky I had asked the Maven.. I knew that the program had hit the top of the Nielson Poll each year from 1971 to 1976, but I hadn’t known about the folklore bit or the positive influence on American thinking.
“How can that be?”, I naiv’eted., “Archie Bunker is such a horse’s ass?”
“Nay” spoketh the Maven, “Say that nevermore.. Archie’s an American icon. He championed pre and post World War II traditional family values and almost single handedly stemmed the sexual revolution and anti Viet Nam anarchy of the 60’s. He didn’t prevent change. He slowed down the pace so his viewers could have a chance to absorb change safely.”
“Gee whiz” I acquiesced, “I never thought of it that way. So that’s what the theme song was about.
‘Those were the days when men were men………….. ‘
He didn’t buy Open Marriages, single women raising kids, or Gays coming out of the closet.”
The Maven was just revving up:
“ He stabilized chaos in other ways too. He opposed ethnic diversification, the homogenizing of what was a unique mix of various cultures. He stalled the Gay/Lesbian movement’s threat to a rising birth rate, He foresaw the Womens’ Movement making men into second class citizens.”.
“Golly Christopher!”, I amazed, “So that’s why he was always saying those things about Heebs and Chinks and peoples of the colored persuasion.. .And that’s why he’d tell Edith to ‘stifle’ when she disagreed with him and that’s why he called grown up Gloria ‘little girl’. I thought the Meathead was the good guy because his values were opposed to Archie’s”..
“Oh no!” quoth the Maven, ”The Meathead’s values were similar to Archie’s. Yes, he’d organize a demonstration for womens’ rights but he’d expect Gloria to make the posters for it along with sandwiches for him after she came home tired after a full day’s work.
He paid lip service to the egg headed liberal causes but nothing more. Nothing more! He was as much a male chauvinist as Archie was..”
I thanked the Maven profusely. I confessed that before being enlightened I thought the show was about this uneducated dyslexic who confused words with their antonyms and homonyms. A guy who had to work two jobs, dock worker in the day and cab driver at night, angry about still not living the white picket fenced suburban American dream.
The Maven opined that I was confusing content with process. Issues are never solvable at the issue level, One needs to get to the level beneath the issue, the process. Problems aren’t solvable, they are dissolvable if given enough time and a respectful process,.
If romantic love dies too rapidly, before reality love can be established, the power struggle erupts and brings out the worst in the lovers. Same thing happens when two corporation merge without an adequate transitional period. Changes have to happen in small stages or there is hell to pay no matter how great the promise of the venture. Sudden and dramatic changes are exciting but you pay a price for them.

I told the Maven that if I had known that in the past, I wouldn’t have repeatedly fallen in love with my illusions and ended up feeling disappointed and depressed..
Quoth the Maven “NEVERMORE!” But I know me. I won’t change.

 

                                                 TARZAN OF THE APES


I’ve been following the common law marriage of Lord and Lady Graystone for some 65 years, recently through HBO, my window to the world. I see them about twice a year and never cease to marvel these days of 50% divorce rates that they’ve never so much as had a serious spat.


Now please don’t sell your million dollar suburban mansion and move into a grass hut in the African Veld. The Graystones may have something to teach us that will allow marital harmony while still having indoor plumbing.
First thing you are struck with is his Lordship’s eloquent clarity as he individuates from the family enmeshment. with “Me Tarzan, You Jane”.  No symbiotic joining at the hip for those two. Note the simplicity of the send, short, easy to mirror, no chance for misunderstanding of his meaning. The thought. However, and implications of his statement are quite complex.

He is aware that Lady Jane was born into the social milieu of London aristocracy with its defensive survival character traits of snobbery, one gunmanship, stiff upper lip in the face of vulnerability, and contempt for the lower classes and colonials who make their affluence possible.

He knows it well. Remember he visited the family and tried to adapt but found it too dangerous and he went back to Africa.
“Me.Tarzan, you Jane” says it all. Forget the titles and the façade of security. Your archaic “civilized” defenses won’t work in Africa. It’s a jungle out there and if you don’t love, honor, and obey without questioning my authority you will not survive.

Lord Graystone is not being sexist. Had Lady Jane been abandoned as a child and raised by the apes and he coddled on the soccer fields of Exeter, he would follow her leadership. Survival is everything and it belongs to only the fittest.

Boy Graystone will not have an adolescent identity crisis should he ever grow beyond latency. He got the message early, “Me Tarzan, you Boy”.

I disagree with the Freudians among you who say the secret to The Graystones’ marital bliss is that Lord Graystone feels sexually satisfied with what he experiences as a “hot” conjugal life since his ape parents went into heat once a year. You say that Lady Jane is more frequently receptive.

Harry Harlow’s work with baby Rhesi suffering from separation anxiety is a better explanation. Given a choice between a cloth mother with a light bulb inside or a wire mother equipped with a milk delivery system, the chimps opted for cloth and warmth every time. Lady Jane wisely attires in a halter top as well as a loin cloth unlike the native women. (See Harlow, HF and Zimmer RS. 1959 Affectional Responses in the Infant Monkey. Science:130:421-432).
This phenomenon finds practical expression in the Holding exercise with its simplified verbals and maximized fabric stimulation. Pettijohn observed that when puppies suffered separation disturbance they were comforted by soft and cloth toys but hard toys had no effect. (See Pettijohn TE et al. 1977. Alleviation of Separation Distress in Three Breeds of Young Dogs. Dev Psychobiology . 10:373-381,

Let’s consider the converse of the movie’s theme. Suppose a tourist Gorilla family were visiting in New York and Baby Gorilla got lost and adopted by condo dwellers, which teach him sign language and send him to a charter school. Would he turn out neurotic?
Actually this has been done by a lady psychologist who home schooled two gorillas and reported in National Geographic a decade ago. Unfortunately the experiment was marred because both gorillas suffered from ADDH (Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, and though perhaps capable of the Intentional Dialogue were not kindly disposed to doing it.

A better paradigm is the domestication of ‘man’s best friend’ the dog. Canines while phylogenetically not as well structured to communal interspecies habitation with humans do about as well as the intraspecies opposite sex 50% human divorce experience.
Selection of co-habitants and the ensuing ambivalence is the common factor resulting in two million dogs being killed in US. shelters annually because of unresolved domestic problems. In addition There are also an uncounted number of otherwise healthy pets euthanized by their family veterinarian. (See Patroneck, GI et al. .1996. Social Report : Risk factors for Relinquishment of Pets to an Animal Shelter. This is not to say that half of family dogs fail in their family adjustment any more than to say that half of people who marry fail, but in both cases the statistics are skewed by some people marrying and divorcing repeatedly and some dog owners being similarly indecisive with different dogs.

If great apes had more cerebral cortex and could symbolize like humans or less cortex so they would be more concrete and focused like dogs, they could deal better with human mixed messages. Any partner needs to hear explicitly just what the rules of the game are, and to have them re-enforced repeatedly.

Dogs are great at Intentional dialogue. Haw can one misunderstand a sender who wags his tail or puts it between his legs, and who snarls or growls his displeasure. The dog not only hears our words, perceives our feeling tones, watches our facial expression, but it anticipates our reaction to its behaviors.

The Intentional Dialogue is as much Pavlovian as it is Rogerian and interpersonal. (See Pavlov, IP. 1927.Conditioned Reflexes: An Investigation of the Physiological Activity of the Cerebral Cortex. GV Anrep (trans). NewYork:International)

When Ivan wanted to create a neurotic dog, he devised a cage with an electric grid floor which administered a shock when a red light flashed. After time, the red light alone produced the same result. To cure the dog, the de-conditioning could be done with fewer no shock flashes of light if the de-conditioning cage was the same or similar to the conditioning cage.
That why we fall in love with a spouse who replicates the wounding of our childhood.
The 1930’s screenwriter understood Pavlovian theory well when he matched Tarzan, whose life began in London aristocracy, with Lady Jane who brought that milieu to Africa for him.

                                                             The Wizard of Oz


This year is the 100th plus anniversary of a very old story-originally written in 1902. The movie was made in 1939. It needs revision.  It is somewhat unbelievable that a tornado could propel a living little girl onto another planet in outer space without her having a space suit or astronaut training.

But criticism being a no-no in relationships. I will make technical suggestions, saying what I’d like to see more of, instead of being critical. Because technical suggestions to therapists are most effective if you state the actual words you’d like the therapist to use rather than vague concepts, I will need to essentially re-write this story to conform to modern realities.
Dorothy is an abandoned child. Her Mother was a crack-cocaine addict, so Children and Youth took custody of Dorothy and placed her in foster care. Repeatedly, so she suffered foster care drift. She felt unloved and she worried about when Children and Youth (in the form of Elvira Gulch) would send her and her alternate personality, Toto, away again., (Toto must be an alter because it’s not likely that C&Y places dogs along with their child owners.)


In modern days, it would be a terrorist attack rather than a tornado that results in the cerebral concussion that renders her unconscious. The journey down the yellow brick road is really a journey back to childhood to recapture her lost selves and to find her biological mother. (Foster children or adopted children, searching for their biological mother, fantasy that what they find will be a good witch.)


While on the journey back to wholeness, she invents three more multiple personalities:.—Scarecrow, the thinking part of herself,--- Tinman, the feeling part of herself., -=--Cowardly Lion, the acting part of herself.
She already has the other multiple personality, Toto, the sensing part of herself.
So the five personalities are off to see the Therapist (wizard) who is a nice man but not a very good therapist.. He, himself, is anxious to go “home” and to find his lost self. He’s been quite depressed about being a false self, a rather grandiose and self absorbed one at that.


He is, however, aware that you can’t go home again and be whole until you go through the valley of the shadow of death (the haunted forest). to conquer your demons and give up your projections. Yes, the wicked witch of the West is only a projection.
The journey:  First the poppy field and its call to the addictive nirvanas . (Include in the addictions workaholism, writing movie reviews, withdrawal into lethargy, etc.


The second hazard is having “affairs” or the tendency to “monkey around” in dangerous but exciting kinds of escapades.
Thirdly is the confrontation with all the parts of the self. How true it is that there is no need for an actual conflict when the witch in Dorothy is melted away by water as Dorothy stretches to help the Scarecrow from “burn out”.
Back to the therapist and his hot air propelled plan for going home. He’s into the medical model of the expert giving advice to a suppliant patient and he would be quite willing to take Dorothy back to ”his” home, leaving her sensing authentic self behind on OZ.


Luckily the good mother in Dorothy (Belinda) knew that the best way is to do it your self and that Dorothy had that power all along. All she had to do was click her heels together.
By then she had integrated her multiple parts into a single self by ;then and was well “heeled”.

 

                                          KISSING JESSICA STEIN


This is a low budget sleeper written by its lead characters and filmed in suburban New York. Just as Kramer vs Kramer addressed the issue of Father’s rights, this addresses the social conflict of the decade: alternative life styles.

Jessica Stein is a JAP (Jewish American Princess) This is not said as a pejorative- the style of the movie is an equal opportunity to poke fun at all of us with undiscriminating bias toward everyone.
Jessica is young and adolescent not so much in years as in having been raised in a stereotypical Jewish household where the Central European values of Male dominance and females living their lives through their men has kept her from fulfilling her high risk dream of becoming an artist. Steady jobs like her brother’s computer programming are valued. If she follows the family template, she will remain chaste until she marries the nice Jewish neighbor boy and becomes the unliberated family dispenser of chicken soup that her mother appears to be.When Jessica mistakenly responds to a blind date ad and finds herself fascinated by exploring the passion of a Lesbian woman who, though more worldly in the fast lane of Manhattan art circles, is just as willing but inept at socializing with Jessica’ s Jewish family traditions as Jessica is in accepting Lesbian values. But the breakup of their live-in love affair does not have to do with any homophobic tendencies or xenophobic prejudices on her friend’s part.

It has to do with the traditional social mythology that women are supposed to be passive sexually. The couple struggles with the Lesbian “Dead in Bed” syndrome attributed by straight Psychotherapists to a lack of Testosterone in the system. Actually the distinction between the genders of the lovers do not alter the usual pursuer distancer dance that keeps couples from both psychological and sexual intimacy.

The authors of the movie do not seem to realize this in the writing of a line that concludes that Jessica wasn’t Gay enough to match the sexual passion of her female lover. They don’t seem to realize that Jessica will have the same sexual inhibitions with the nice Jewish boy she marries and will have to work out the adolescent conflicts with him when romantic love ends and the “parent police” show up.
It’s a not to be missed movie but in this one defect it does the Gay community a disservice in that it perseverates the myth that sexual inhibition and sexual desire is gender related physiologically rather than learned traits.
Bourne Identity
Wisdom about relationships comes from recalling past experience in our own relationships and comparing them with what we know about other people’s relationships. In movies, writers and directors share their perceptions of the human experience and we have a chance to either validate or ignore their communication.
THE BOURNE IDENTITY is a thrilling action movie, the kind that men will love. Lots of fighting, the car chase extraordinaire. A spy double agent intrigue that does not patronize us into thinking that the bad guys are inadequate or the good guys will prevail. . I recommend it.

The movie illustrates several principles. A twist is that Matt Damon goes unconscious BEFORE, INSTEAD OF AFTER he falls in love. He has a retrograde amnesia in which he has forgotten who he is and he merges with his amourata in order to find his true self..

Going through the power struggle with her he eventually reaches what seems to be mature love without recovering his past identity such as his childhood experiences. He saves the pain and expense of questions like “What that remind me of in childhood is ………?” This going forward from where you are, rather than looking backward at your life is what I call a progressive treatment, as opposed to a regressive one, and it finds its application in the story telling technique of Imago Education. It doesn’t require a talent or desire for introspection and it can be a do it your self or strictly psycho-educational project.
As in all power struggles, the issues are a matter of life or death.
In the course of his uncompleted identity search, Matt decides that he and the woman he loves should give up their relationship because it threatens her life. She reluctantly agrees. As in marriage, one has to end the fusion and realize that one can live independently of a loved one if one has to. Lovers have to make their relationship a voluntary one rather than a compulsory enslavement. Only differentiation allows a rich connection instead of a slow but certain death.. The author is aware that death faces those locked in a fused and overly reactive power struggle. (Reference War of the roses)
I wonder if the writer was conscious that in choosing BOURNE Identity as the title, the idea of finding out who you really are (being re-born) comes after you interact with another person in a mature and boundaried manner..

 

                                           THE INTIMATE SECRETS OF THE YA YA SISTERHOOD

Definitely a chic flick and men may find it slow in parts. But it says it all about what life is about in its over dramatization of human experiences. (I don’t feel that the women performers were over-acting. I think the author meant them to be bigger than life to make the points.).

Though it has a PG-13 rating, its not for young adolescents and I’d leave the even younger kids at home when you see it. If I was an abused child or the Adult Child of an Alcoholic Parent, I would stay home too, as some scenes would be painful.

This movie approached relationship from the opposite direction compared to the BOURNE IDENTITY. In order for the amorata to get together, both the mother and daughter have to relive and to become conscious of their past relationships. The sisterhood forces them to do that against the mother’s and daughter’s wishes and what results is essentially a regressive therapy as opposed to a progressive one..

The men they’ve chosen to marry are remarkably mature and differentiated even in the face of abandonment by their women. The women can’t really fall in love with them until they work out who they were in relationship to each other. The only unreal part of the movie was that such mature non reactive men would stick with such unconscious women. Perhaps it was unreal that men can be as steadfast as these two were portrayed.

The undoing event in a continuing dysfunctional mother–daughter relationship was the mothers amphetamine psychosis due to taking handfuls of Christmas Trees (street slang for Dexamyl) and overtly abusing her daughter.

The daughter’s exposing her mother’s inadequacies to the world in a publication brings their troubled relationship out into the light and shames the mother. Shame needs to be brought out into the light before it can be expiated. Just as if it were the infidelity of a marital affair, the confession. remorse, and reparations have to be done with the person who was betrayed before a bond of trust can be re-established.. This reminds us that in the ninth step of Alcoholics Anonymous one should seek out, if possible, the involved person to make specific amends.

.Movies generally portray mothers as the heavies. I think the studios’ stockholders insist on that because it improves the take at the box office. In recent years we get to see the bad mothers rehabilitated such as in this one, Terms of Endearment and Postcards from the Edge.

All of this ought to motivate us parents to come to consciousness before the kids squeal to the newspapers, magazines, or in still another good movie.

 

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON


As we were leaving the theatre,I was wiping my tears
when the BW (Beautiful Wife) nudged my arm and
pontificated, “They could have left out that whole
bit about the tugboats and the movie wouldn’t have
been so long”.

My first thought was that this adaptation of
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1920 novel was so well
done that most of the audience thought its two
hours twenty minutes was too short and they’d
wished it would never end. But our years together
have given me wisdom and I’ve learned never to
disagree openly with BW. The things she says to
me, though cryptic, often have profound messages
that are not to be taken lightly. But just what
was she intimating?

I thought to myself, this was an unusual movie,
not your run of the mill situation comedy. There’s
no villain and no hero and where’s the crisis that
gets worse before it gets better and then resolves
with you feeling good or at least satisfied, None of
the above for Button.


Then I got it! “Time”, in causing Ben to age backwards,  was both the villain and the hero. Villainous in that it robs him of a normal childhood and leads to his demise.  Heroic in allowing two lovers to get together for a while. Albeit some times the sex was an older man with a younger woman or a younger man with an older women. But I’d guess
the audience approved of one or the other of those choices depending of their own age and sex.

They say that in one’s agonal moment your whole life  flashes before you in a matter of seconds and if all your fences were mended you die an easy death. Hard to know if that’s true from watching this flick because we don’t know if the flashbacks of the elderly protagonist in the process of dying were in real time or in virtual time.

Once I had a chance to quiz a man who had died and
came back to life about whether that was true.
He was a drug addict client when I was a counselor
in a hospital methadon clinic. A stab wound by a
colleague ruptured his abdominal aorta depriving his
brain of oxygen so that he was legally dead. But during
the eight minutes of no oxygen that are required for
permanent brain damage, a clever ER resident slit open
his belly, compressed the aorta above the wound, restoring
circulation to his brain while a surgeon repaired the hole.

No flashbacks of evil deeds, no light at the end of the
tunnel, he just said that his vision got hazy, then shadowy,
then darkness and then nothing. The flip side of his
experience was that he was so exhilarated in his rebirth,
that he redirected his considerable marketing talent to a
more legitimate business and I lost a patient.

Back to the Movie: My waterworks activated when Ben returns to the love of his life to find that she’s happily married to someone else and he goes off into depressed isolation. Then things got worse and you’ll have to see the movie to learn about that. Just be sure you are willing to become conscious of how Time can play havoc with your life. I suspected it would be a problem for me when the opening credits on the top of the screen proclaimed in bold letters,

“PARAMOUNT PICTURES PRESENTS –
and then at the bottom,
“ A TIME WARNER PRODUCTION”

 

                                SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE


“ What will YOu do with Yourself in your impending retirement?”,
Interrogates the BW (Beautiful Wife), who’d really prefer that I
continued working.
“Well, I’ll go to movies and maybe get a job as a movie
reviewer for a weekly newspaper or a monthly magazine”, I
fantasize defensively..
“ But your movie reviews are limited to character studies
and psychodynamics. All those years in a dimly lit consulting room
listening to nervous people hasn’t aught you anything about acting,
about directing, about photography. You’ve got a lot to learn
about movie reviewing.” The BW correctly critiques.

I counterattack with, “Who do you suggest I ask about how to learn those things?”
And then silence.

 

Slumdog Millionaire is the tragi-comic story of Jamal Malik, an 18 year-old Muslim orphan from the 1980’s predominantly
Hindu slums of Mumbai (Bombay).

We meet him in what should be the biggest day of his life.
With the whole nation watching, he is just one
question away from winning a staggering 20 million rupees on India¹s “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”
Interestingly, he’s not excited about it.
But when the show breaks for the night, the police arrest
and torture him, accusing him of cheating. How could a street kid know so much?
Desperate to prove his innocence, Jamal flashbacks us
to a painful multi-layered story of his life in the slums where he and his brother, Samil, grew up.
We learn that their mother was murdered as the boys narrowly escaped from a violent anti-Muslim attack by Hindu extremists He shares with us their adventures as homeless beggars on the streets of 1980 Bombay, (though it could be a ghetto anywhere).
And there are vicious encounters with local gangs, during
which they take on Latika, a girl also an abandoned child.
They speak of themselves as the three
Musketeers, but eventually Latika gets separated from them.

There’s a touch of humor as the boys are taken under the
wing of a Fagan-like sadist entrepreneur who teaches them to bilk foreign sight see-ers, while pretending to be tourist guides. They fake stories about well known tourist attractions that are more imaginative than the facts..

What fun contrasting the Eastern philosophy with a
Western style Game show that is based on materialism at
its worst.. What better villain than the game
show’s crafty scheming moderator who tries with each question to confront the contestant with greed for wealth and with the fear of losing it all.
The film’s crisis plays out after a lavatory scene
where he gives Jamil the “wrong” answer to the million rupee question. Will Jamal go along with this crookedness and lose everything.?..
.
The flashbacks often clue you in to how he gets the
game show¹s multiple choice answers to its difficult questions. But not every answer to the questions has been learned from life experience.

There is no facile script writing in this movie.
Some times Jamil uses the ” lifeline”, polls the
audience, or just makes a lucky guess. Does some
unknown power guide his continuing to be a contestant on
the show?

There’s a couple of other questions for movie go-er
to answer if he’’s to get value received for the ticket price. Like ,.
“What is this young man with no education and
no apparent desire for riches, doing on the game show?
and
“ Why does he have so little feeling about whether
he wins or loses the money ?”
Suddenly it comes to you as the end of the movie
approaches and you “get”:it. He doesn’t care about
money to move up in the caste system, He’s not
interested in a life of luxury. You suddenly feel
“uplifted” as you realize that this is a love story
to end all love stories. As we understand why he
manipulated getting on the show and what he really
had to gain, we discover a truism about our own lives.


This story is about “Everyman” and Everycountry” past or present.. Jamal’s story stands in bold contrast to his brother Samil’s aggressive style. Perhaps we need a little understanding of Eastern philosophy to fully appreciate the brilliance of the movie.

If I were to meet a Zen Master on the street and to
ask him where to apply to learn to become a Zen Master,
he would greet me with silence. He has long
forgotten the process. He just lives a life that has
divine truth in it, a life that has transcended
the mind-body separation.. He eats when he is hungry,
sleeps when he is tired, and he has no wish to acquire
material goods which are only transient and have no
meaning to him now or in the after life. God guides
him in truths about the meaning and purpose of life”.
A Zen Master is not at one with God, He is at one with Nature., His exhilaration is in transcending
the travails of society, of material possessions, and of malfunction or painful body sensations.

Does it matter !! the story was only pretending
to be about wealth versus poverty, about good versus evil?.

Was it a story about lessons learned in the
school of hard knocks (read torture)? I think it was
a love story! A subtle love story that contrasted
Jamil’s unending search for his childhood “true love”
with his brother’s vacuous struggle with reality.
Latika,, a truly beautiful actress by the way, is Jamal’s
“truth” and purpose in his life,
Re-uniting with her was for him the promise of being at
one with Nature.