When a male reporter told Melissa McCarthy that she’s only a good actress when she looks attractive and that she, in fact, looked “really bad” in her role as Tammy, she was angry. But, she took the time to make it a teaching moment. He listened. He heard what she had to say. First, McCarthy asked the critic if he would want someone to deny his own daughter a job because of her physical appearance: He said: “No, I would never want that to happen! Never in a million years want that to happen.” Then, she said, “Just know every...

I just watched the trailer for Nancy Meyers’ new film, The Intern, coming to theaters on September 25th. It looks like it’s going to be right up there with The Holiday, Something’s Gotta Give, and It’s Complicated. When it comes to exploring the intricate emotions and complex difficulties relationships bring for women and men, Nancy Meyers is a master. This film focuses on friendship, not romance, and pays homage to her dad. Anne Hathaway stars as Jules Ostin, a 30-something CEO of her own company (an online fashion site) with co-star Robert DeNiro as Ben Whittaker, a 70-year-old widower and...

On the 25th Anniversary of Pretty Woman’s release, the question for some still remains: Does Pretty Women take the seriousness of prostitution and the misuse of vulnerable women too lightly? Or is there more to the film than that? As a psychoanalyst who just re-watched this spirited and poignant film, I think there’s more. Sexual exploitation is a grave issue. Yet that’s not the point of Pretty Woman. Certain critics might say it should be. But, the fact is - Edward (Richard Gere) and Vivian (Julia Roberts) rescue each other from some serious fears and fantasies about relationships. There’s quite a lot to learn...

Does the film that launched Julia Roberts’ stardom insensitively overlook sexual exploitation or is it a romantic comedy that features one man’s fantasy? The jury is still out. It’s very difficult to make a comedy about such serious issues as prostitution and sexual trafficking (see my post on The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt). And, with the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Garry Marshall’s Pretty Woman starring Roberts and Richard Gere, reactions have resurfaced from many camps. Kaethe Morris Hoffer, Executive Director of the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitatin (CAASE) writes an open letter to Gere in HuffPost with the plea...

We all need love. Age doesn’t lessen that. Yet, sometimes it’s hard to trust love, for complicated reasons, even though you want it. John Madden’s The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel gives us a bird’s eye view into 6 serious obstacles to love. In my experience as a psychologist, the reasons for putting love off are often not conscious. That’s where help comes in handy - especially if you keep coming up against the same problem again and again. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel illustrates some of these emotional roadblocks quite well: Expecting not to be wanted  Evelyn (Judi Dench) and...

With The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opening on Friday, March 6th, I thought I’d review what the first heartfelt and hopeful film tells us about change at any age. Change is hard. Especially if you’re discouraged by losses, disappointments, stale marriages, difficult parents, and unresolved fears. Yet, this film gives us some important pointers about what allows for change – whether you’re in your senior years or still young. Here are 6 I’ve found helpful in my work as a psychologist and psychoanalyst. 1. Let Go of Old Grievances: Muriel (Maggie Smith) Carrying around grievances shuts you down. Isolates you. Can...

I am one of those who applauded Graham Moore for his moving and courageous acceptance speech when he won his Imitation Game Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay. So, as a psychologist, when I read the critiques, I had to stop and think: Why? Why pick on things like – he isn’t gay? He used the word weird to describe his experience and that of others? That most people won’t be standing on that stage in their lifetimes? This happens for various psychological reasons. Sometimes old personal hurts, like feeling unheard and marginalized, get stirred up – and it’s easy to...

Amy Elliot Dunne is a seriously troubled young woman. Rosamund Pike’s nuanced and chilling performance, in David Fincher’s Gone Girl, does her troubles justice. Yet, can we merely write her off as an unredeemable sociopath? If we follow some clues to what drove her to do what she did - is it even remotely possible to find a bit of sympathy? Clue 1: Traumatic Childhood Trauma comes in many forms. Amy’s trauma is this: she’s never as good as Amazing Amy, her parent’s fictional daughter. “Never as good as.” That’s crushing to a child. Now, she watches for this everywhere. Expecting it. Hiding...

The Academy Award winning film, Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski, is beautifully poignant visually, thematically, and psychologically. A haunting story of loss and the sometimes- unwinnable struggle against the overwhelming feelings involved. Loss is difficult under any circumstance. In Ida, we witness an aunt and niece estranged in the aftermath of the Nazi occupation in Poland. Both victims of almost inconceivable losses, they take very divergent paths in their attempts to survive. But, those paths also take them away from life instead of towards it. What does Ida tell us about ways of coping that don’t allow life to go on? “I’m...

Each time I watch a film, my psychoanalyst’s mind begins to construct the same kinds of understandings I might give to my patients. Here is a recap of my psychological thoughts on tonight’s Oscar Best Picture Nominees and a few films in other Categories. 2015 has been a great year for actors and directors at their very best. BOYHOOD:  Feeling Stuff Is The Point Of Life … Linklater’s interest in realities underscores the fact that life is anything but seamless - a pretty harsh and at times discouraging truth. But, the director also gives us a not-insignificant take-away gift voiced by Mason...