When you’re a scared little boy in the middle of a war and your father’s missing, Adolf Hitler can become your best friend. That is, in your mind at least. And, why not? He’s the man with the most power in all of Germany. What better friend to help you stand up to your fears? Or is he? Taika Waititi’s radiantly hopeful Jojo Rabbit shows us what makes a little boy fall for propaganda - and just why he needs Hitler as his imaginary friend. Yet, it’s complicated, isn’t it? Because when he begins to question his own convictions, that...

Has it really been 4 years since John Crowley and Nick Hornby’s film, Brooklyn, hit the big screen? And, why is it still a movie that speaks to us and that we keep going back to? Is it because it’s the versatile and talented Saorise Ronan’s first major film? Or because we all know, somewhere deep inside us, our own journey away from our original homes? What is the appeal? I think it’s because Brooklyn tells us so much about what can go wrong between a mother and a daughter, about a young girl’s early pain, pain that persists. And,...

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...

Summer love on a deserted island isn’t real life. That’s the Gordian knot in Bergman’s 1953 Summer With Monika. This erotic and heartbreaking film tells the story of two adolescents caught in the throes of an idyllic love. It’s a love they both long for, given their troubled and sad early lives. And also an escape from life’s current cruelty and reality; which they can’t ultimately avoid. We all complicate love by what we bring from childhood. Bergman was no different. In his films, he wove an unconscious self-analysis as Barbara Young (2015*) rightly says. So, I think we can easily...

“One sleeps in one’s childhood’s shoes,” Bergman remembers Swedish poet Maria Wine, saying, and “that was the real starting point of Wild Strawberries.” (p. 212*) It’s true. And, some live inside the echoes of a cold mother. Every psychoanalyst knows how our childhoods slumber within each waking and dreaming moment of our lives, creating their repercussions. Like Dr. Isak Borg’s loneliness. A loneliness predicated on the need to stop emotional time; so not to feel anything. As we travel with Isak back to his childhood home, we see the chilling effects of his cold mother (and too many siblings in the...

Grief is a complex thing. Each of us grieves in our own way and for our own reasons. Alfonso Cuaron’s  sensitive and compelling Roma, tells the story of Cleo, a domestic employee and her employer, Ms. Sofia. We follow two very different women linked together in parallel universes of betrayal and loss. Two women with polar opposite reactions to grief. Grief brings turmoil; in its crashing waves or subtle surges; threatening to pull us down like the sea’s dangerous undertow. Grief’s eruptions aren't easy to manage. And, there are various ways grief is either felt, faced; or is not. Cleo...

Middle School definitely sucks for many kids. It sucked for Kayla Day (Elsie Fisher) in her excruciatingly awkward (but at the same time sweet and hopeful) journey from Middle School to High School in Bo Burnham’s film Eighth Grade. Maybe it sucked for you. We see the obvious reasons in vivid Technicolor: the insecurities, the struggles fitting in; the fears of rejection; the uncertainties about “who am I?” It doesn’t help that there are mean kids and bullies to contend with. Yet, this isn’t the whole story. Teenage self-doubts have not so obvious roots in earlier childhood history. Not so sure?...

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...

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...