Category Archives: Cinematherapy

Moll Flanders, A Cinematherapy Pity Party Movie

When you’re feeling sorry for yourself, unable to spot silver linings or “Keep Your Sunny Side Up,” as the old song goes, a Pity Party movie is a good way to remind yourself that things could always be worse. Let’s face it, it’s easier to feel grateful for what’s going right when you spend ninety minutes watching everything go wrong for someone else.

 

Pity Party Movie: Moll Flanders

Stars: Robin Wright, Morgan Freeman, Stockard Channing

Director: Pen Densham

Writer: Pen Densham, based on the novel by Daniel Defoe

 

Eighteenth-century England is not exactly a supportive setting for a plucky and compassionate young woman who has no interest in meekly submitting to patriarchal expectations or rules. Unfortunately, while Moll Flanders (Robin Wright) is able to escape her birthplace—Newgate Prison—and a convent where nuns are more than two centuries away from being able to contact Ronan Farrow regarding Reverend Creepy—the outside world proves quite a trying place, too.

 

Taken in by a woman of wealth (Stockard Channing), Moll finds her self-esteem plummeting when her job description changes without notice. Her youthful determination to achieve financial stability has blinded her to the warnings that she’s going to have an awfully hard time exploring other opportunities after she consents to a red-light-district life.

 

When at last Moll finds the courage to dream again, a plot twist throws her right back into utter despair. And then things really get ugly. And then better. And then—really? I mean, is there no justice? Okay, maybe it’s looking up… No. Seriously. Come on, already, people!

 

By the time you learn what really happened the night of that deadly storm, you’ll be more than ready for a cathartic ending that will wash out all your pent-up frustration, anger, resentment, and grief and leave you feeling that maybe your own life might not be a hopeless cause after all. Moll Flanders: Cinematherapy for when you need to throw a Pity Party and work your way back to feeling strong again.

—Nancy

 

Cinematherapy image Moll Flanders Pity Party Movie

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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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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.
 
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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

 

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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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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.

Working Girl Blues movie cinema therapy the girl Tippi Hedren

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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.

 

Rebecca Cinematherapy martyr 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

 

 

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April 7, 2014 · 12:37 pm