Category Archives: cinematherapy movies

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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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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A Cinematherapy Women Behaving Badly Movie: Beyond the Forest

Beyond the Forest (1949)
Stars: Bette Davis, Joseph Cotton
Director: King Vidor
Writer: Lenore J. Coffee, based on the novel by Stuart Engstrand

It’s hard not to reach the pinnacle of hysteria when you live in small-town Wisconsin where the sawmill spews hot flames and thick smoke all night long and you have to keep your shades drawn to blot out the inferno-like reminder that “Life in Loyalton is like sitting in a funeral parlor, waiting for the funeral to begin. No, not sitting—lying in a coffin and waiting for them to carry you out….You got a drink?” Yes, the big fun here is shootin’ critters from tree unless you get lucky one night and find yourself flirtin’ with a handsome stranger who by some extraordinary luck ends up in the local lodge for the weekend.
Rosa Moline (Bette Davis) has sharpened her snark to achieve maximum effect whenever she sees her husband (Joseph Cotton), because he reminds her of just how badly she wants to take the first train to Chicago and order up a dry martini from room service. But is Rosa Moline really all that bad, a scorpion in a mad fury ready to sting herself to eternal death due to her evil and headstrong ways? Or is she just a woman with unmet needs who is misunderstood, underappreciated, and at the mercy of a narrator prone to overwrought prose?

When you’re about to scream from boredom and ready to reconnect with your bad girl self and start misbehaving, head to your liquor cabinet, shake or stir as you prefer, and check out the Cinematherapy Women Behaving Badly movie Beyond the Forest. Girl, do not apologize for your need for self-care right now, ‘cause we know your urge is killer.

BeyondtheForest Women Behaving Badly Cinematherapy Movie

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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

 

 

240px-Mickey_Rooney_still

 

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April 7, 2014 · 12:37 pm

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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Indiscreet with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman: Happily-Ever-After Movie Rx

Are you in need of a Happily-Ever-After movie to fill your mind with bliss and erase all traces of rational thought, so that you can stop thinking and just ENJOY? Here’s a prescription for a perfect Happily-Ever-After movie that will serve as chocolate mousse for the soul and smooth every ruffled feather and frayed nerve.

Indiscreet (1958)

Stars: Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Cecil Parker, Phyllis Calvert

Director: Stanley Donen

Writer: Norman Krasna, based on his play Kind Sir

You know you’ve stepped into a different era when a flustered Ingrid Bergman is advised by her sister (Phyllis Calvert) to put on a girdle so she’ll feel better. In fact, this whole movie has a surreal quality that makes one wonder if there was ever a golden era in which girdles boosted serotonin levels or if, perhaps, the screenwriter of this delicious 50s morsel spent a little time in an alternate reality.

The male love interest, Phillip Adams (Cary Grant), is not just suave, sophisticated, and charming: He has a glamorous, high-paying job, is single and straight, and can drink Scotch and sodas morning, noon, and night and never show the slightest hint of inebriation or under-eye puffiness. The female love interest, Anna Kalman (Berman), is an actress living in London, who never seems to have a role yet can afford designer dress-and-coat ensembles to don on casual evenings out. Plus, she has a sympathetic sister and brother-in-law (Cecil Parker) living conveniently close by and no loser boyfriend hitting her up for his half of the rent money.  Like Phillip, Anna has the extraordinary capacity to drink Scotch and soda morning, noon, and night yet still walk straight and look fabulous without any sign of bloat. Even more implausibly, she can carry off a hat consisting of a huge black feather that wraps around her entire head—without looking like an alien.

Of course, there are all sorts of cute little twists to keep the couple apart, and an outrageously daring act on Anna’s part that shows she’s plucky as well as beautiful, and it all ties up in one neat little package requiring no restrictive foundation undergarments. Too delightful!

Watch this when you’re harried to the max and tell yourself that a half bottle of wine and a handful of Ferrero Rochers won’t go straight to your thighs and belly, ‘cause at this point you’ll believe anything.

Happily Ever After Movie Indiscreet with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman is a cinematherapy movie guaranteed to whisk your troubles away

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