LOVE – Is it real? What does it take to make it work? The Netflix series Love by Judd Apatow, Paul Rust, and Leslie Arfin raises some important questions. What takes an attraction farther than a romantic fantasy? What allows two people who’ve been hurt in the past to get beyond the fear of being hurt again? Sometimes we don’t know how to ask these questions. Sometimes we ask them after a relationship fails. Yet, there’s always a next time and it’s never too late to find the answers.In ten episodes, we get to know Gus Cruikshank (Paul Rust) and Mickey...

What is lurking below the surface of a highly intellectualized philosophy professor’s emotional control? We find out in Losing Ground, filmed in 1982 but recently released by Milestone Films, noteworthy for being the first feature length film produced and directed by a Black American woman. Kathleen Collins, who died an early death of cancer in 1988, became passionate about film while doing graduate studies in literature in Paris. Collins believed a screenplay is a film essay and wrote Losing Ground with the carefully crafted point of view at the heart of any good piece of writing. Her talent for cinematic...

Carol, directed by Todd Haynes, starring Cate Blanchett as Carol and Rooney Mara as Therese, is a story of love. More deeply, though, Carol is a story about why we’re drawn to love a certain person. In each attraction, something missing is sensed and desired in the other. Love can bring us to ourselves in a way nothing else can - if we’re open to both the questions and the answers. Carol, then, is more Therese’s story than Carol’s. Who is Carol to Therese, a Carol that looms as large in Therese’s mind as the one word title of this film? Hard Questions To grow into...

Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2016 Oscar nominated documentary, The Look Of Silence, is a riveting exploration of the Indonesian genocide’s complicated psychological aftermath. In 1965-1967, the military dictatorship killed over a million assumed Communists opposed to their rule. In the film, we follow the Rukun family, centered on 44-year-old Adi, all unable to grieve the brutal murder of son and brother, Ramli. This loss has destroyed their lives. Adi, an optometrist, approaches the killers on the pretext of examining their eyes, trying to make sense of his brother’s death. Facing the past is the only way to break free of a very...

Asif Kapadia’s 2016 Oscar winning Best Documentary, Amy, is a deeply truthful portrayal of the troubled psychological life of 6-time Grammy winner, Amy Winehouse. Amy predicted fame would drive her mad and, in a sense, it did. What the film makes clear to me, as a psychoanalyst, is that her complex fear of losing what she had, whether musical fame or love, was the real problem. We touch the surface of Amy’s fears in these lyrics from What Is It About Men: “my Freudian fate. History repeats itself. It fails to die.” The anxieties rooted in her “Freudian fate” were...

I am a psychoanalyst who loves my work. I am also intrigued by what the characters in film can tell us about real human problems. This season, I've closely watched and written about all the Best Picture Nominees. I've also written pieces on several of the nominated documentaries and some of the films with nominated actors and actresses. In my pieces, I've covered themes including the following: bulimia, divided selves, the dynamics of fear, how integrity can triumph over fear, humanizing revenge, homesickness, the dangers of living in a psycological bubble, what happens to a baby who isn't loved, being love-starved, depression and mental tyrants, breaking the secrecy surrounding sexual abuse,...

Director Ridley Scott's film, The Martian, tells the story of NASA astronaut Mark Watney’s (Matt Damon) accidental abandonment on the barren planet of Mars. Early childhood abandonment also creates a desolate emotional landscape. People can’t be trusted. Hope is fractured. On Mars, Mark has two things to turn to: the distasteful music of Commander Lewis’ (Jessica Chastain) 1970’s disco classics and his own ingenious tactics of survival. For anyone abandoned, these are serious questions: is clinging to fierce self-sufficiency the answer? Or is human connection that has already failed a too risky music to trust? Abandonment An unexpected and violent dust storm...

Steven Spielberg's powerful film, Bridge of Spies, asks some compelling psychological questions. Could there be two more different men than a Brooklyn lawyer in 1957 at the height of the Cold War and an alleged Russian spy – or are they different at all? And, if they aren’t, what is it exactly that forms an unexpected human bond in the face of hostile forces trying to bring them down? With James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) and Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance) that connection boils down to one complex thing: being A Standing Man. What it means to be A Standing Man is at the...

There are opportunists in the mind that take over in states of emotional deprivation. Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) in Director George Miller's western style post apocalyptic film, Mad Max:Fury Road, is a good example. As a psychoanalyst who treats severe depressive states, I found this film a fascinating allegorical tale of the conditions under which mental tyrants take over, as well as the kinds of control they exert. We see in the characters of Max (Tom Hardy), Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), and Nux (Nicholas Hoult), what it takes to fight these tyrannical forces and also what causes that fight, in some,...

Steve Jobs is a brilliantly conceived and emotionally revealing film by screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle. According to both, this film is a human story not a biopic. I agree. As we get to know Jobs through the filmmakers’ eyes and Michael Fassbender’sperformance, we are taken into the heartbreaking roots of his controlling behavior. If we look closely at the effects of his earliest days, it’s possible to understand why some people use their intellect over feeling – to stonewall any recognition of the need to give or receive love. A Baby Film, of course, takes artistic license. I didn’t...