Welcome, readers. Characters On the Couch and my blogging on film is back with Three Identical Strangers and a subject I'm passionate about: the lasting effects of separation trauma. I took an almost four-month hiatus to build out my new office at 435 N. Bedford Drive, Suite 406, Beverly Hills, CA 90210 – a lovely and peaceful new space for my much loved clinical work and writing. That wasn’t the only thing, though. Along with the demands of the office build out, I also needed time to write a chapter on Pedro Almodovar’s film, Broken Embraces, for an exciting new book. Pedro...

Tim Wardle’s documentary, Three Identical Strangers, is a timely and disturbing account of the trauma of early separation. As a psychoanalyst who specializes in separation trauma, I left the theater shaken and troubled. Children aren’t for using. They aren’t for self-serving studies, proving points or punishing parents (yes, Trump and your cronies, that’s you.) The scars are severe and they last a lifetime. We see those scars in Bobby, David, and especially Eddy. The triplet’s separation was deliberate. It didn’t have to happen. It happened 6 months after the triplets were born on July 12, 1961 to an unwed Jewish high...

Desire is what director, Luca Guadagnino, hoped to convey in Call Me By Your Name – the kind of desire that allows you to live life by following your feelings with openness. Guadagnino calls this: “living with a sense of joie de vivre", in which, he says: "we should always be very earnest with [our] feelings, instead of hiding them or shielding ourselves." This is at the heart of the struggle both Elio (Timothee Chalamet) and Oliver (Armie Hammer) must overcome as their love unfolds. Call Me By Your Name is about more than desire, though; it is a film...

Paul Thomas Anderson has done it again. He’s a master at exploring the various kinds of perverse power games involved in problems with dependency and love. Anderson’s new film, Phantom Thread, is another brilliant character study to add to Boogie Nights, Magnolia, The Master, and Inherent Vice (to name a notable few). In Phantom Thread, burning at the heart of the sick game Reynolds Woodcock (Daniel Day Lewis) and his Alma (Vicky Krieps) play, we wonder once again: who’s the one in power? And what is the need for it? Plus, we also can’t escape asking: what exactly is the...

and Lady Bird begins with a Joan Didion quote splashed across the screen: “Anyone who talks about California hedonism has never spent Christmas in Sacramento.” Christmas is mostly for children or, at least, the child part of us. And, few come through childhood unscathed. Greta Gerwig’s charming, brilliantly written, funny, and psychologically real film has a lot to say about mothers and daughters. Being a mother has its challenges. Being a daughter means separating to have your own life. That has its difficulties too, especially when your mom has a hard time letting go. For Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Saoirise Ronan)...

Shoot Film, Not People: this is the poster filmmaker Peggy Lawson, Leo Hurwitz’s wife, carried during a march against the Vietnam War. As we watch Dialogue With A Woman Departed, Leo’s 4-hour love poem to Peggy, we come back to this sign again and again. We come back to Peggy: marching in protest, hair tied back with bandana, face determined, alert, and wise – a kind of wisdom not so easily won. Peggy’s Texas childhood was difficult. Part Native American, she experienced poverty and discrimination. Her sensitive, intelligent, aware nature detected even then the unfairness of poverty, the struggles of those...

In 1968 Leo Hurwitz and Manny Kirchheimer filmed an early version of Cezanne’s Still Life with Apples, to be called Journey into a Painting at the Museum of Modern Art for the American Federation of Arts. Unlike that film, the expanded Discovery in a Painting, made from the same materials, would be voiceless, the images would simply flow to reveal through framing and editing the intimate interior of the artist’s world. There would be no one but your own sensibilities to guide you. Writing notes like, “I see what an intense and penetrating eye gives back through paint: the warmth of...

Leo Hurwitz’s 29-minute film, Discovery in a Painting, is a beautiful sampling of his personal passion for seeing. Filmed at MoMA in New York City, this film is one of the various ways Leo explores the importance of seeing with open eyes. For Leo, seeing doesn’t just involve seeing what is there. More radically, perhaps, seeing means seeing what others don’t want to see; and seeing what is hidden but can be discovered if we stop to take a look. Watching Discovery in a Painting, I couldn’t help but wonder why Leo chose Paul Cezanne’s Still Life With Apples (1895-1898) as...

This Island, a Leo Hurwitz film - directed and edited by Leo with co-editor Peggy Lawson and cameraman Manfred Kirchheimer - is a film about a museum: The Detroit Institute of Art. But, This Island isn’t just about a museum. It’s about discovering the meaning in art; and that requires looking deeply and openly to see what is there. If we let him, Leo Hurwitz has a few things to teach us about seeing. We are witnesses to that fact as we watch all his films. Light and the City and Discovery in a Landscape in his The Art of...

Seeing isn’t a simple thing. It often takes another person’s eyes to help us understand something in a new way. This is how Leo Hurwitz uses his eyes and camera in his The Art of Seeing series with its three films, Light And The City, Discovery In A Landscape, and This Island. In these films, made between 1968 and 1970 with fellow filmmaker and wife Peggy Lawson, Leo uses a form of empathic communication that he calls, “I will look with your eyes, you will see with mine.” Through this kind of seeing, Leo gives each of us a chance...