Silence isn’t always golden. Not in Ingmar Bergman’s book. His various film treatises on silence speak to us loudly on many planes of emotional existence, and those planes are never smooth. Of course, silence can provide a necessary space for personal truths to appear. For imaginings to ripen and take hold. Or, a respite from parents’ demands or fighting. We’ve grown used to the railings against a silent God that refuses to answer in The Seventh Seal (1958), Through A Glass Darkly (1961), and Winter’s Light (1962). But not, ironically, in The Silence (1963). Instead, Bergman gives us silence filled...

Hunger can lead to desperate acts. And, it does -  in Bong Joon-Ho’s startling new film, Parasite. And, 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...

Even beautiful love stories have their complications when grieving for an old love isn’t over. Claude Lelouch’s captivating film A Man And A Woman 1966 has a lot to say about what it takes not to turn away from a new chance to fall in love. It’s in the story Jean-Louis tells Anne early in their meeting when they see an old man walking with his dog. “Do you know Giometti, the sculptor?” he asks her. “If there was a fire and Giometti had to choose between saving his art or his cat, he would choose life, not art.” Choosing...

Forgiveness is overrated. Understanding is not. And, there’s much to understand in Jennifer Kent’s riveting, violently troubling, and powerful new film, The Nightingale; about trauma, PTSD, unbearable grief, and the sometimes unimaginable sources of empathy. No, no one should ever be expected to forgive their abusers. “Forgiveness” for sadistic cruelty isn’t healing. What helps is for the most horrific kind of terror, pain, and loss to be truly understood in the eyes of another. This is exactly what The Nightingale shows us through Kent’s vision and in the parallel stories of Clare and Billy, a young Irish White woman and...

What are the basic ingredients in Joe Talbot and Jimmie Fails’s The Last Black Man In San Francisco? An old Victorian house. A young man who has no home. A mother who abandoned him and can’t keep him in her heart. A necessary fantasy. A Greek Chorus (that speaks the anger, hate, and under it, the grief).A gentrifying city that is taking everything away. “We don’t own shit,” is the mantra for what’s happening as the Blacks are pushed out of their neighborhoods. But, it’s a mantra that goes even deeper. When your mom left you long ago and you...

Reverend Tomas Ericsson is a man who cannot grieve. And, because he can’t, he struggles with both God and love. Tomas over and over coldly rejects his desperately loving former lover, Marta. Winter Light Ingmar Bergman 1963, slowly reveals the source of his loss of faith. Tomas loved his dead wife: “When she died, so did I.” This is a bitter man. Turned dead inside. Dead to his parishioners, his previous faith, the possibility of new love. Dead to a young congregant in despair who turns to him in terror for words of hope. All of this spells hopelessness and...

Can a cold narcissistic father drive a girl insane? The short answer is yes. Wilfred Bion defined psychosis as hatred of reality. And, what is there to love about the reality of a self-obsessed father who cares more about his own desires than his children? Facing that is horror. We see it in Through The Glass Darkly, in Karin diagnosed as schizophrenic. She’s turned away from reality, can’t accept Martin’s love; searches in her other-world for a kind father-God that might give her salvation and hope. When all she finds is a stony-faced spider trying to invade her, she must...

Antonius Block is a Knight in despair. A kind of despair that puts him right into a fight for his life. A fight that forces him to challenge Death to a chess game, determined to outwit him. Can he do it? What will it take to tip our Knight’s waning hourglass back in his favor? Certainly, Bergman’s famous allegory, The Seventh Seal, is about a man who has lost his faith. But, what is faith, exactly? Is it in a God? Or is faith really found in a capacity for love and human connection? Yes, the film’s religious symbolism reflects...

Shame can ruin a life. A mistake can force a woman to live in self-sacrifice. For Diane, the reasons why are hidden in the loaded question: “How is Brian?” This question haunts her through the entirety of Kent Jones’ character-driven film, Diane. Not only is Brian Diane’s alcoholic and drug-addicted son, but underneath her attempts to save him is the reason for her guilt. She never feels she can make up for what she did many years ago. Nothing lets her off the hook. She’s locked in a prison of voices muttering relentlessly in her mind. How does a woman...

We’ve all been intrigued with Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita since the classic film arrived on the scene in 1962. But, isn’t the burning question: Is there more to understand about Humbert and Lolita beyond, “he’s a pedophile and she’s a troubled 14-year-old seductress?” The answer is yes, there’s plenty. Believe it or not, both have pathological reactions to loss. Pathological is not a surprise, I’m sure. But, perhaps loss is. So, let’s look more deeply into the not so simple histories that have brought about Humbert and Lolita’s very disturbed longings and behavior. Making them unable to grieve. Professor Humbert’s Mother Loss Humbert...