What gets you stuck in a time loop? A freak of quantum physics? The self-quarantine of COVID-19 in which one day seems like the last (or the next)? Or, could it be the cynical self-protective bubble that loss and fear of love creates? Palm Springs, Max Barbakow and Andy Siara’s endearingly creative, intelligent, sensitive, and hopeful film tells us all about this bubble, in the story of Sarah and Nyles; an unlikely yet perfectly matched pair. They find themselves at Sarah’s sister’s wedding. Day after day after day. Sarah because she followed Nyles into that cave, even though he told...

This piece on Hamilton was originally written for and published on YourTango.com. What can turn infidelity around? What does "I'm not throwing away my shot" have to do with infidelity in marriage? You’d be surprised. There’s a lesson in it, to be sure. In fact, the Tony-award-winning musical Hamilton holds many lessons on infidelity. To start, we have a need for power, the past, and old hungers. If you’ve had a painful past, the side-effects likely won’t let you free — no matter how hard you try. So, what do you do with the pain? You cling to any form of "power" you can find over...

The world is filled with too much hate. This piece is in honor of Black Lives Matter. Dedicated to those who've spent their lives, like Starr Carter in The Hate U Give, having to hide, needing to code-switch to play it safe (as discussed on NPR's Code Switch). George Tillman, Jr’s compellingly forceful film offers us a very important set of remedies: Speak Out. Don't Be Quiet. Don't Be Afraid To Speak Truth To Power. I’ve re-posted this piece in support of those who are now actively standing up against racism in the form of police brutality. I’m joining those...

Arthur Fleck is Joker. That’s the name of Todd Phillips’s 2019 film and Joaquin Phoenix’s well-deserved Best Actor Oscar-winning character. Arthur must be a Joker, a self-made stand-up comedian. He must laugh, even though his heart is breaking. And, being a comedian is the best way to keep laughing. Isn’t that right …? No, he’s not successful at it. But, laughing is a must - for complicated reasons that unfold as this disturbing film escalates to a confusing and shattering end. Confusion about what’s real and not, what’s funny and isn’t - is where Arthur lives. Joker says it clearly:...

We see the trauma. And, we witness the friendship and love. I’m talking about Sam Mendes’s more-than-war film, 1917. I’m also talking about a different kind of war that all of us are fighting now. A war with an invisible virus. COVID-19. And, just as in 1917, it’s love for each other; our fellow warriors in cities and across the globe; friends and family - yes, it’s love and determination to fight and not give up that will get us through. So, let’s take Blake and especially Schofield’s 1917 journey to heart. See what we can learn from it. And,...

When you’re a scared little boy in the middle of a war and your father’s missing, Adolf Hitler can become your best friend. That is, in your mind at least. And, why not? He’s the man with the most power in all of Germany. What better friend to help you stand up to your fears? Or is he? Taika Waititi’s radiantly hopeful Jojo Rabbit shows us what makes a little boy fall for propaganda - and just why he needs Hitler as his imaginary friend. Yet, it’s complicated, isn’t it? Because when he begins to question his own convictions, that...

Does Frank Sheeran really have no conscience? How can a man kill with no compunction -  and not feel anything? In Martin Scorsese’s engagingly (and not too long), fictionalized film, The Irishman, we watch Frank as he moves up the ladder of The International Brotherhood of Teamsters. With just a little help from his friends. The mob, especially Russell Bufalino, figures greatly in his success. And, also, in making Frank the hitman he is. Fear is a part of it. And, his belief that this is what he has to do to keep his family safe. But, when he must...

Quentin Tarantino, in his brilliantly conceived and “executed” Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, has turned the tides on one of the most horrific events in Hollywood history. The Manson family murders of Sharon Tate, her unborn baby, and her friends, on a night that robbed them of their futures. Yet, what interests me most is the way the story of Rick Dalton and his stunt double/mirror image, Cliff Booth, functions to undo a different kind of fear: the terror of being a has-been. That fear is almost as deadly as actual murder. It can implant a demeaning voice in...

Hunger can lead to desperate acts. And, it does -  in Bong Joon-Ho’s startling new film, Parasite. Plus, we find. if you’re hungry and helpless (emotionally, that is), you can even become a parasite. The kind of hunger we witness in many of Parasite’s characters leads to various forms of exploitation - of the class above or below. But, it’s not simply exploitation that makes for a parasite. There are many complicated things that cause the need to feed off someone else. Mostly, we discover, it’s what lives in the basement. Locked up there (potentially in all of us if...

It’s a very sad Marriage Story. Nicole (Scarlett Johansson) and Charlie (Adam Driver) haven’t stopped loving each other. But, Nicole doesn’t know how to do their marriage anymore. The only answer seems to be divorce. Yet, is it? Noah Baumbach’s film, in all its unearthing of the many deeper questions not yet answered, shows us the complexities of what a couple brings to a marriage. Along with the tangles their individual emotional worlds and early family histories create (and weave around them) when not fully understood. Or, worked out. What would it take to save this marriage? Especially since, as...