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...

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...

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...

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...

The River’s family’s “I Got You” kind of love is If Beale Street Could Talk's most potent reminder of exactly what transcends hate, helplessness, and despair. We see it when Tish’s dad holds her: “I got you, baby, I got you.” When Tish says to her newborn son: “I got you. I got you. I promise.” And, when her Mama soothes her fears: “Love is what brought you into this world. If you trusted love this far, don’t panic now. Trust it all the way.” Yes, this kind of love is a steadfast love; love that doesn’t run away in...

Peter Zvi Malkin’s Holocaust trauma worked in his favor to capture Adolf Eichmann, Hitler’s Chief Executioner; Head of the SS Office of Jewish Affairs and the Architect of the Final Solution. At least that’s the Hollywood version of the story. It makes sense as PTSD goes. And, although Chris Weitz’ Operation Finale invented the dialogue between Malkin and Eichmann for dramatic purposes, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to believe that some of it might have been going on either in Malkin’s mind or in his unconscious. After all, wouldn’t it make sense that the personal nightmare and rage he...

Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman is a brilliant, terrifying, and timely treatise on hate. The film tells Ron Stallworth’s true early 1970's story (played by John David Washington): a courageous, harrowing, but ultimately foiled effort to expose the KKK and its virulent racial hate. Fuel it’s fires and hate justifies violence. Then is now: 1970 is 2018. Hate doesn’t make us “fine” people. Hate is never “fine.” BlacKkKlansman takes hate seriously. Lee masterfully juxtaposes the haters and the hated to expose the insidiousness of hate. This is the film’s overarching intent. And, Lee succeeds. He recruits us to join in fighting hate's power. Certainly,...

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,...

Woody Allen's new film, The Irrational Man, gives us a troubled philosophy professor, Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix), in an existential crisis. Although Abe is an expert in Existentialism, he can’t live its system of belief. He’d have to find meaning in his life and live it to its fullest, in spite of its limits (or his past). Abe can’t. He lives in despair, and this despair leads him to an irrational act. Yet, the clues to why he does what he does are lost in an imbalanced amount of philosophizing. The character of Abe Lucas could have used a script...