John 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...

John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1917 – 1963) was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on November 22. 1963. I was sixteen years old when his murder was announced over the loud speaker in my high school English class. School was dismissed. I walked home along the train tracks with a close friend, both of us shaken by the suddenness of death. Leo Hurwitz’s Essay On Death speaks to death’s randomness. Of course, JFK’s murder wasn’t random, but the fact that death can come out of nowhere at any time means that we live constantly with the fragility of life. At the same time, we...

Martin McDonagh’s darkly comic and deeply painful Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri gives us a tough look at how anger and blame is one (ineffective) way of trying to handle very difficult feelings. We have Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand), a bereaved mom: hardened, blunt, feeling uncharacteristically helpless, and furious about it. The town’s much loved and dying Police Chief, William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson) has gravely failed, in her estimation, to pay sufficient attention to the brutal rape and murder of her teenage daughter. What else is there to do, but take matters into her hands? Then, there’s the counter-phobic, racist,...

Where is home? That’s the complicated question at the heart of Garth Davis’ film Lion, for a lost, bewildered, illiterate, scared, traumatized, stoically brave, and lovingly gentle 5-year-old boy, Saroo (Sunny Pawar). This little boy accidentally finds himself on a train taking him far, far from home, where he can’t speak the language, and has no one to help him find his way back. As this touching, heart-wrenching, inspiring film unfolds; finding home is what a very determined Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel) will finally do – 25 years later. Lost Saroo and his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) set out one night...

Loneliness is a silent world. That world is the world Ben (Oakes Fegley), Rose (Millicent Simmonds), and Jamie (Jaden Michael) inhabit in Todd Haynes’ gorgeously filmed and sensitively rendered half-period piece, half-silent and all-around beautifully woven film Wonderstruck. Haynes draws on the visual; on images that speak louder than words, to tell the story of these children – Rose from an era 50 years before the 1977 story of Ben and Jamie. All three are searching for answers, for belonging, for someone to hear them, in a strangely confusing world of loss. What Ben, Rose, and Jamie find is more...

Where does Wind River’s Jane Banner, FBI Agent, (Elizabeth Olson) fit into the mix of marginalized Native Americans and a white Game Tracker (Jeremy Renner) with a significant loss of his own? And, who was she anyway, coming out of nowhere in all her conspicuously dissimilar blonde beauty? We never really know. The film, with all its poignancy, sadness, and brutality left me with this one big question (one I thought would be answered, but wasn’t): If Jane Banner was so passionate in her desire to find the killer, what happened in her own history to make that so? What...

Director Jean-Marc Vallee’s film, Demolition, stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Davis Mitchell, a man who tragically loses his wife in a sudden car accident. If you haven’t seen the film, Demolition is a must watch to understand the subtleties of this post and, more so, the intricacies of Davis’ reaction. This is a film about a man’s difficulty feeling grief and what it takes for him to finally get there. Clearly – Davis has a troubled response to the loss of his wife, Julia (Heather Lind). He feels nothing. He tells the doctor he’s numb and, in his daydream, his diagnosis is...

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...

As much as I loved Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman, I can’t say I felt the same about The Revenant. I know the film won big at the Golden Globes and has received Oscar nods for Best Picture and Best Actor. Perhaps that’s because a fantasy lives deep inside us about exacting revenge where we believe revenge is due. Still, spending close to 3 hours watching the agonies of a man who’s brutally mauled by a bear, who can’t catch a break, is left to die by supposed friends, and has to endure one gruesome circumstance after another became almost unbearably tedious. Yet,...

M. Night Shyamalan’s new psychological horror film, The Visit, has twists and turns and unexpected surprises that I wouldn’t think of revealing. Of course, this film has one of Shyamalan’s shock endings – it wouldn’t be a Shyamalan film without it. But for me as a psychoanalyst, there’s something else of more interest. What this film’s characters tell us about the ability or inability to work out the sometimes very scary feelings of loss and guilt. In The Visit, we have a family – a Mom (Kathryn Hahn), a 15-year-old daughter, Becca (Olivia DeJonge), and a 13-year-old son, Tyler (Ed Oxenbould)...