Feeling trapped in the quarantine of COVID-19? That’s why you should watch Shawshank Redemption more today than ever. Yes, I mean today, January 20, 2021, the day of the Inauguration, and all the days ahead. Because this virus has seemed like a prison sentence, as much as the one Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) and Ellis Boyd 'Red' Redding (Morgan Freeman) found themselves in at Shawshank prison. Especially Andy, as innocent of any wrong-doing as we are. Even if you see no clear way out (but perhaps there is one now), don’t think it’s dangerous to hope. It’s not. Hope is...

Richard Curtis' 2003 film classic, Love Actually, is the ultimate Christmas ROM-COM. After all, the Christmas holiday-time is the season of love, romance, and family. But, what if you couldn't be with family because of the pandemic? Or love isn’t working very well with the stresses of quarantine? Or maybe you've run into love's inevitable stumbling blocks trying to navigate a most difficult 2020. Worse, what if you couldn't find love and you’ve just spent another lonely holiday? The biggest question is: how do you hold onto hope after a year that's shattered so much? “Christmas is about telling the...

Lonesome Rhodes, a brashly-charming-drunken-drifter, is turned radio personality by Marcia Jeffries in Elia Kazan’s 1957 film, A Face in The Crowd. The film explores the climb to power of a rabble-rousing anti-social con man, as well as Lonesome’s ultimate tantruming downfall. Sound familiar? But perhaps the real question lies in why a woman like Marcia falls for such a man. Yes, “sexy sells” to some women (the sex appeal, that is, of narcissistic bad boys). But why does Marcia fall so hard? What draws her in? And what 6 fateful mistakes does she make in loving the wrong man? What’s the...

Why return to the same place over and over? It’s healing. How? Craig Foster says it best in his moving, life-altering, love-story, My Octopus Teacher: “That’s when you see the subtle differences. That’s when you get to know the wild.” It’s true, too, of going through a wildly tumultuous emotional time, not so different than the Cape of Storms where My Octopus Teacher takes place. The more you go deep inside, over and over, to look at the tangled underwater terrain of your feelings, the more you see the nuances that can set you free. This is what psychoanalysis does....

Jordan Peele’s brilliantly conceived film, Get Out, does its job of shattering the myth that we're living in a post-racial America. My great uncle, Leo Hurwitz’s film, Strange Victory, did the same in 1948 after we won the war against Hitler but came home to racism here. It’s now 72 years later and there’s still too much to be scared of. Peele tells us he made Get Out to face his fears, mostly of: “Human beings. What people can do in conjunction with other people is exponentially worse than what they can do alone. Society is the scariest monster.” Yes....

Holidays are getting close and they’re complicated enough without COVID-19. Now you have to think twice (or, at least for different reasons) whether you can risk going Home for The Holidays. The usual question is: Do you want to go home to family, with all the quirks, neuroses, and old sibling warfare that Jodie Foster’s 1995 film lays bare in its anxiety-ridden yet comedic ways? But what if you can’t go home and you need the love that’s there too, even if it sometimes drives you crazy? We all need a happy ending right now. Home for The Holidays has...

In a dictatorship, human hearts don't matter. Leo Hurwitz shows this frightening reality in his powerful film, Heart of Spain 1937. America is now in a fight similar to that of Spain's democratically elected republic against fascist General Francisco Franco. We fight against Trump's self-serving and cruel inhumanity in a deadly pandemic. And, we need a conduit of empathy similar to Dr. Norman Bethane's blood transfusions to soldiers in 1936 Spain. [Click here to watch Heart of Spain.] Spain’s heart was breaking. It was 1936 and the telephone woke Leo Hurwitz from a deep sleep. He heard a friend’s voice on the other...

Leo Hurwitz’s powerful 1948 WWII documentary, with its ironic title Strange Victory, is just as timely today as it was then because the film explores the inescapable question: “If we won, why do we look as if we lost? And, if Hitler died, why does his voice still pursue us through the spaces of America’s life?” It is a very strange victory - when we successfully fought the violent effects of discrimination and persecution in Germany but came home to open expressions of hate in our own country. That hate is still here, as virulently as before, in 2020. Why...

Let's remember the dangers of fascism. Forgetting is a very threatening thing. And, Leo Hurwitz’s The Museum and The Fury 1956 shows us why. Yet we do forget when we don’t want to see what exists on our own soil. Leo’s other film Strange Victory (1948) details the seeds for fascism in America: racism, antisemitism, and White Supremacy. When we can’t call it what it is, history repeats itself. The Museum and The Fury 1956 offers the best reason for not forgetting: “History is the echo of an angry scream.” That echo is now, in 2020. We must stop it....

A narcissistic mother uses her children. She controls them, starves them of love. In John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate (1962), that’s Eleanor Shaw Iselin, Mother of lead character Raymond Shaw. Raymond is deeply convinced: “I’m not lovable.” No wonder he has enough hate to be brainwashed to kill. “Yes, Mother,” “Yes, Ma’am, and “Yes, Sir” govern his responses. And, so he becomes his power-hungry Mother’s Russian pawn. We know foreign powers infiltrate elections. We might even say Trump was The Manchurian Candidate in 2016. But how does a power-hungry mother infiltrate a love-starved child’s mind? If the child does anything else...