A Father Issues Movie for Cinematherapy: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017)

It’s all fun and games until somebody’s closet full of bones arises in the collective psyche. Then someone’s bound to lose an eye, have their ship blown up, or experienced their heart being cracked open. And indeed, amidst the punctuation of crackling dialogue, all of that transpires in this comic action adventure movie that doubles as a Father Issue cinematherapy flick.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 extends the adventures of a family of friends and frenemies led by Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), whose oft-prickly exterior hides the unprocessed grief of a boy connected to his loving mom only through wistful memories and a mix-tape of 70s pop songs. His loss has left him wide open for emotional manipulation by a too-perfect vision of Disney icon Kurt Russell wooing Mom in the woods behind the Dairy Queen. Turns out the father and son reunion is going to be less of a harmonious soft rock duet than a clash of visions, however. Rescue and happily ever after at daddy’s side bears a high cost, it seems.

It takes a pair of badass sisters still living out the story of rivalry spun by their own daddy long ago and a bitter pair of soul brothers, whose only connection to their own vulnerability is their affection for a ridiculously adorable junior teddy-bear creature, plus a few other colorful characters, to wake Peter out of his starry-eyed stupor. Watch this movie when you’re smarting from old parental wounds. It will remind you to beware of Greek Gods with archetypal names like Ego who come bearing gifts and to consider giving your imperfect parental figures second chance.

Guardians of the Galaxy 2 father issues movie cinematherapy

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A Working Girl Blues Movie for Cinematherapy: The Girl (2012)

Back in the day when both men and women referred to professionals of a certain gender as “girls” instead of a “women” and expected blondes to be more fun for lecherous male bosses to chase, a single mom proved that she could survive the pecking order of the workplace even when it left her bloodied and in need of a tetanus shot. In this Working Girl Blues movie, Sienna Miller plays model-turned-actress Tippi Hedren, who is taken under the wing by the most celebrated director of the moment, Alfred Hitchcock (Toby Jones) and his wife, Alma (Imelda Staunton). Unfortunately, despite their gentle cooing over cocktails, the two turn out to be less a pair of loving mentors than an ominous couple of crows eyeing easy prey. Poor Tippi has no clue about their plan to cut, print, and move on to the next Nordic blonde who fits into the designer wardrobe pieces.

Mauled, brutalized, and subjected to the filming of every moment of psychological horror in the script or improvised on the spot, the “girl” shows that when a woman’s career is dependent on getting through the next take, she can put up with just about anything. The key, apparently, is to remain fiercely focused on your own goals, replenishing yourself with some much needed feminine-energy time out from under the harsh spotlights, basking in the kindness of the afternoon sun so you can remember who you are when you aren’t just the latest expendable “girl” taking orders and following directions.

Watch The Girl when you need a mental health break from work. It will help you renew your confidence in your ability to soldier, make your mark, and then move on to something better and more worthy of you. This Working Girl Blues flick can provide cinematherapy for anyone who needs reminding that the best opportunities may not be all they seem, so focus on what you can get from the situation and be ready to take flight at just the right time for YOU.

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Rebecca, A Cinematherapy Martyr Movie

Wishing you could be whisked away by a loving man who sets you up financially, renders irrelevant your lack of career or personal direction, and gives you your own English country mansion to rattle about in? Rebecca, a Cinematherapy martyr movie, is a great reminder that abdicating responsibility for your life decisions and letting some guy steer the boat is never a wise idea, even if it does make you feel cozy on a cold autumn morning.

 

Our shy heroine (Joan Fontaine), whose sense of self is so minimal that the screenwriter never reveals her name, is thrilled when wealthy Maxim deWinter (Laurence Olivier) deigns to marry down and rescue her from a life as a paid companion to a most disagreeable busybody (Florence Bates). However, for all Maxim’s patronizing promises to care for his new bride, and his silly little flirtatious remarks about how she ought never to grow up, our gal is going to have to face reality. Frankly, her new knight in shining armor has something hidden deep in the darkest waters of his soul that is going to surface one day and demand to be dealt with. And until the new Mrs. DeWinter stops with the apologetic bowing and scraping before the servants and starts getting a reasonable sense of entitlement, she’s going to be haunted by the late Rebecca DeWinter’s reputation as the hostess with the mostess–and by Rebecca’s favorite freakishly devoted maid, Mrs. Danvers (Judith Anderson). Honey, we know you hate confrontation, but here’s a good rule to live by: When the hired help starts fingering the carefully preserved lingerie of its late owner and suggesting that you focus on your inadequacies and lean a little further out that third-floor French window, it’s time to put your foot down and speak up.

 

Feeling the need to go below deck and let someone else take over? Watch Rebecca (1940), a Cinematherapy cautionary  tale about avoiding responsibility so you can be glad you won’t someday have to pay the price for someone else’s cowardice.

 

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“You always pass failure on the way to success”–Mickey Rooney

“You always pass failure on the way to success”–Mickey Rooney

Mickey Rooney has died at age 93. Many of his performances were in great Cinematherapy movies, including the Love Is All Around You movie The Human Comedy, which is truly “Cinematherapy for the Soul.”

 

The Human Comedy (1943)

Stars: Mickey Rooney, Frank Morgan, Van Johnson, Fay Bainter, Donna Reed

Director: Clarence Brown

Writer: Howard Estabrook, based on a  story by William Saroyan

 

Sometimes it’s nice to curl up with one of those unapologetically sentimental classics and escape to a world where people always speak in a loving manner, pray simply and eloquently when they are afraid, and seem to exist in a perpetual state of grace. But be forewarned: You’ll either let forth a waterfall of tears when you watch this one or get antsy with its old school pacing. Take a breath and consider it a meditation, and you’ll be able to truly enjoy Mickey Rooney’s Oscar-nominated performance as a boy on the verge of manhood trying to make sense of the rhythms of life and the madness of war.

Many of the residents of Ithaca, California, know that music brings comfort to the poor of spirit: The Macauley girls and their mother play the harp and sing to harmonize away the pain of losing their father. Their brother (Van Johnson) plays “Danny Boy” on the concertina to his army buddies as they wait to ship out, knowing many of them won’t return. And when middle son Homer (Mickey Rooney), a telegram messenger, is aching to inform a Mexican-American mother that her only son has died in action, she comforts him and herself as she plaintively sings a folk song from the old country in a musical thread weaving birth, life, and death together in the space between them.

Now, you know that with a main character off at war, and another who is the town’s bearer of all those “The War Department regrets to inform you” telegrams, and a small town quiet that goes on for reel after reel, the war is going to bust in like an unwelcome guest. And it does, injecting a harsh dose of reality that can only be alleviated by a reminder that at these times, unexpected visitors show up to remind us that from death comes life, from despair comes gratitude, from loss comes renewed hope, and from slow-moving 40s movies comes a reminder that moving slowly alerts us to what really matters in life. So open the door to Homer and his family when you’re feeling cynical and reconnect with the force of love that joins lonely melodies in harmony.

 

Mickey Rooney, Master of Putting on a Show, Dies at 93

 

 

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April 7, 2014 · 12:37 pm

Happy 90th Birthday Doris Day!

Happy 90th birthday Doris Day! Here’s a great subversive comedy of hers that falls under the category of Finding Your Voice or The Power of One. It’s called It Happened to Jane, and it’s about a single mom/entrepreneur who goes all out to fight a nasty corporation and rallies her entire town around her to boycott the company. Her chutzpah inspires an insecure Jack Lemmon to follow her lead and find his own courage to stand up for himself. Oh sure, she looks wholesome and sweet as pie, but don’t. mess. with. Jane. Or Doris Day, animal rights advocate.

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Shirley Temple, The Little Girl Who Could

No, she was not just a pin-curled moppet with a dimple, a sweet little voice, a penchant for tap dancing, and an excessively cute demeanor. When it came to Hollywood, little Shirley kicked somem serious butt. She was, for some years, the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. She saved the Fox studio from bankruptcy during the Depression, keeping thousands employed, even though she was so young that she had to sign her first contracts with an X because she hadn’t learned how to write yet. She broke the color barrier as the first white woman to touch a black man onscreen, tapping away as she held the hand of Bill “Bojangles” Robinson. And she went on to be a UN ambassador when she grew up, supporting Czechoslovakian president-to-be Vaclav Havel during the Velvet Revolution.

All that’s important to keep in mind during the most precious moments in her films when cynicism threatens to creep into your consciousness. Ignore any overly coy story lines and focus on the inner Shirley. Watch her light up the screen, playing off her fellow actors, and give her all whether she tears up, giggles mischievously, or sticks out her lower lip in indignation. And remember, just because someone’s got a headful of blonde curls and dimpled chubby cheeks doesn’t mean she isn’t a force to be reckoned with.

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Stowaway with Shirley Temple, a Power of One Movie

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Stowaway (1936)

Stars: Shirley Temple, Robert Young, Alice Faye

Director: William A. Seiter

Writers: William M. Conselman, Samuel G. Engel, Nat Perrin, Arthur Sheekman

Back in the Depression, Shirley Temple was rekindling feelings of hope in the hearts of people in movie theaters everywhere. With her 56 pin curls, adorable dimples, and perfect pout, she tapped her way into people’s hearts and convinced them that recovery was just around the corner and, meanwhile, why not celebrate what you’ve got? Cue the big band and fumble for your handkerchief, because doggone it, you’re gonna get a little misty even as you smile at her antics.

Like most of the movies in the Shirley Temple oeuvre, this one finds her orphaned, which of course allows those lost souls who become enchanted by her to adopt the precocious urchin—although not before several plot twists threaten her happiness and cause a big teary scene in which she declares she will be brave, by golly, she will.

In Stowaway, a stranger on the street, wealthy playboy Tom Randall (Robert Young), happens across Barbara “Ching-Ching” Stewart (our Shirley) in Shanghai, where she’s been stranded far away from her missionary guardians and robbed in her sleep. Having a purse of coins nicked is the worst that happens to Ching-Ching, because revolution, human trafficking, and exploitation of the innocent just don’t exist in this corner of reality. Shirley is magically whisked away into Tom’s shipboard world, where she gets a chance to sing, dance, do vaudevillian routines, and spout appropriate Chinese proverbs to remind everyone to be philosophical about the fickleness of fate. And of course, she also gets to look swell in an array of silk Chinese-inspired lounging outfits.

Ching-Ching rights all wrongs and brings out the responsible side of a ne’er-do-well and the adventurous side of a woman hitched to a cold-hearted fiancé. The rich learn that money isn’t everything and begin to spread the wealth. The greedy lose that which they most want to possess. The poor are rescued from poverty. Yes, the spirited, talented, relentlessly optimistic Shirley not only heals troubled souls, she single-handedly creates a system of economic parity within free-market capitalism. Quick, somebody elect that girl president!

When you need an infusion of positivity to fuel your ability to keep your sunny side up, indulge in a rainy day matinee of Stowaway and remember to S-M-I-L-E.

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