Monthly Archives: April 2020

Cinematherapy: Shirley Valentine, a Finding Your Voice Movie

Shirley Valentine (1989)

Stars: Pauline Collins, Tom Conti, Bernard Hill

Director: Lewis Gilbert

Writer: Willy Russell, based on his play

 

No worries: Shirley Valentine Bradshaw (Pauline Collins) isn’t climbing the walls. She’s just talking to them, including the fourth one, which lets us into her thoughts that she doesn’t bother sharing with her husband (Bernard Hill). A middle-class British housewife, Shirley has lost her sense of who she is beyond the wife who gets eggs-and-chips on the table by six o’clock prompt. Her husband (Bernard Hill) left his playfulness and flirtatiousness back in the disco era. As for passion, Shirley grumbles, “I think sex is like supermarkets—you know, overrated. Just a lot of pushing and something and you still come out with every little at the end.”

For all her flippant comments, though, Shirley is on the brink of packing up some panties with lace and a silk kimono to spend a fortnight in Greece. But it isn’t a lover she’s seeking—although hey, a frolic with a local innkeeper (Tom Conti) might go well with that Greek wine and sunshine. No, what Shirley really wants is to jump feet first into a bottomless ocean of sensuality and reclaim a self that isn’t afraid to make waves, enjoy a meal by herself, and tell someone “no,” putting a period at the end. She’s setting new terms now that she’s found that paradise is writing your own rules and letting go of the old ideas of who you are and what limits contain you.

When you find that your unflappable younger self seems like a dream child that became lost somewhere around the time that Thursdays petrified into steak-and-potatoes night, Shirley Valentine is the perfect aperitif, a tonic that will rejuvenate you and remind you that all you are seeking is within and always was.

 

Points to Ponder:

Is there a part of yourself that you need to reclaim, and if so, what rules are going to get smashed if you do?

Do you have enough silk kimono occasions in your life and if not, why not?

Who is the you that is reading these questions and how can you help her express herself?

 

—Nancy

 

 

Shirley Valentine movie poster

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When You Need a Catharsis Movie: Contagion, Your Cinematherapy Rx

Contagion

(Warner Bros., 2011)

Starring: Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, Laurence Fishburne

 

This movie was made in 2011, which makes the fact that it absolutely mirrors what we are experiencing in real life during the 2020 pandemic so chilling and so cathartic.  There is nothing like watching exactly what you’re going through, down to the period costume detail and the enforced socially distancing laws, to help you get it all out and feel better.

 

Beth Emhoff, a young, beautiful, and ambitious-in-the-twenty-tens-sense-of-the-word executive returns from a business trip only to die mysteriously of a flu before the horrified eyes of her husband Mitch (Matt Damon) and her two young children. The next morning, her son is dead as well, and it is up to Mitch, who is somehow immune to the virus and his daughter, Rory (Anna Jacoby-Heron), to stay in quarantine in their upper middle class suburban bungalow and survive the scourge until a vaccine can be found.

 

So you get the drift. Spot on. Watch this movie when you want to objectify the very real world around you, and watch from a distance as humanity struggles with a worse virus than this one and comes out okay on the other side. This movie reassures you that even though things are pretty freakish and downright surreal at the moment, at least you’re not alone. Matt Damon and even Gwyneth Paltrow are going through exactly the same thing that you are.

—Bev

 

 

Contagion movie poster

 

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Cinematherapy for a Pandemic

Ozark

(Netflix 3 seasons)

Starring: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner

 

This is a great series to watch when you’ve got a bad case of cabin fever, because literally, every time the hero in this series sticks his head out the door, somebody tries to shoot it off. Marty Byrd (Bateman) is an unassuming, mild mannered albeit very creative accountant, who discovers when his partner dies that their company has been laundering money for a Colombian drug cartel. What’s worse, a whole bunch of it is missing. In the first of many fancy high wire acts that Marty and his wife Wendy (Linney) perform with increasing ease and without a net, Marty talks the drug lords into sparing his life so he can launder money for them by building a new Monte Carlo in, wait for it, the Ozarks.

 

This series is like a backwoods House of Cards. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are like a Bogie and Bacall for a new generation, who battle together against the outside world and each other in order to find their way back to the garden with guts and glamor. Julia Garner, in a star-making role, is the white trash princess in the classic Greek sense of the word. Ruth Langford is triple scoop of disturbing deliciousness. All three seasons of Ozark reinvents for a pandemic generation the message that Depression-era audiences heard from Dorothy Gale… there’s no place like home.

—Bev West

 

Ozark studio image

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Cinematherapy Comfort Watching TV Shows and Movies

And THIS is why I’m binge watching the Brady Bunch on Hulu: It’s Cinematherapy comfort watching for when you want to relive the perfect childhood you didn’t have and handle no greater stressor than listening to two siblings in the family room squabble about who stole Bobby’s kazoo or Marcia’s list of campaign slogans for her student council president run. Bradys, take me away! NPR has it right: Returning to Old Favorites (Comfort TV and Books and Music Is a New Trend)
When you want pure escapism, a Happy As the Day Is Long movie or series can help you forget your troubles, stop worrying about the future, and immerse yourself in a bubble bath world as part of your own self-care. Let your cortisol levels drop and remember, the future is unknown, so you might as well imagine it to be a place filled with unicorns and rainbows where every problem reaches a heart-warming, chuckle-worthy denouement in 22 minutes.
 
Happy As the Day Is Long_ Cinematherapy comfort watching

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His Girl Friday: Cinematherapy Rx for the Working Girl Blues

My Cinematherapy movie Rx for you if you’ve got the Working Girl Blues? I’ve always felt His Girl Friday is a great Cinematherapy movie to watch when you are frustrated by your job (or lack of one) and want to try on someone else’s career for a spell and imagine work that excites you. Plus, with this flick, you get to enjoy the fireworks between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell and spend an hour and a half or so in a world where divorce is merely a first-act plot point to provide and obstacle to a smoldering love affair being rekindled. Makes a gal wanna believe…

So here’s the scoop. In this 1940 movie directed by Howard Hawks, written by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, based on their play “The Front Page,” Rosalind Russell plays a reporter and Cary Grant is her former boss who is ready for that sturdy wooden match to spark and rekindle his passion for her. Yeah, there was that divorce thing a while back, and he knows his ex has a plan to marry some Egbert and settle down to raise a family, but he’s got an Important Career to attend to, so a renewed relationship is the last thing he’s looking for.

Uh huh.

Face it. He’s scored far too many scoops to let a chance to reunite go up in smoke, even if he doesn’t realize it. There’s a happy ending he and she are headed for if they can just make sure she misses her train to Mr. Wrong-for-a-go-get-’em-gal-like-her.

Load up His Girl Friday, set the screen to play subtitles so you can catch the faster-than-an-ADHD-brain dialogue, and remember, it’s possible to have a love affair with yourself and your job as well as a guy.

That said, let’s just take a moment to appreciate Cary Grant as a classic RomCom hunk. I’d say he goes head-to-head with Clark Gable in this category, although back in the 70s, my fifteen-year-old self was on Team Gable all the way. I’ll take both of them silkscreened on a kissable pillow or as a celebrity crush, birth and death dates be damned. In the movies, Gable and Grant live forever, so why not indulge in crushing on them?

—Nancy Peske

 

HisGirlFridaycinematherapyimage

His Girl Friday: A Cinematherapy Rx for when you’re suffering from the Working Girl Blues

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