Posts Tagged ‘film and parenting’

Zombies on the Couch

September 28, 2011

I’ve been writing a fair amount this year about fear, primarily because our unresolved anxieties can be a significant obstacle to both optimal parenting as well as a buzz-kill to a life richly and fully lived.

While it’s often relatively easy to see other people’s “issues” in stark relief, it’s our own Shadows that lurk behind us as we face the sun.  Hence a tour of one of my worst, albeit absurd (at least for a “grown-up” who is also a clinical psychologist), fears…

It was a Saturday night and my parents were out (but then, at least in my mind, they were always out.  They would say otherwise, but the fact that they made me feel that way speaks, at the very least, an emotional truth—and I digress here because parenting is not a legal proceeding, but an emotional reckoning and we want our kids to feel like we enjoy them and to feel like we’re actually there, which happens to be the opposite characteristics of zombies, but now I’m getting ahead of myself).

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Peeling the Gibson (or, Why Brave Men Run in my Family)

September 21, 2011

“Gibson.”  Def.: A martini garnished with a cocktail onion.

I heard that Mel Gibson is planning a movie about Judah Maccabee, the Che Guevara of Hanukah (click for an amusing interview with Mel by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic).  I heard many Jews are outraged.  I hesitate to write about this because you don’t want to encourage bad behavior by paying attention to it.  But just as Mel can’t control himself when he gets loaded, sometimes I just can’t control my fingers at the laptop.



MEL GIBSON HOLLERS at a WOMAN COP.  We only hear fragments:

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Love and the Tree of Life

July 13, 2011

Two friends separately wanted me to see The Tree of Life, partly so that we could talk about it.  I went and saw it with Will, my movie-buddy-kid.  Then Will and I talked all about it—and there is much to discuss, much ambiguity and beauty and disturbance and yearning and indulgence and brilliance and sadness and not seeming to end… And then I had good talks with my two friends, and I liked the movie more for seeing it through their eyes, for noticing new things, different themes, discrepancies between what we each thought actually happened in the film.

At first I was trying to decide if I liked it, much less loved it, as my friends did… and then I thought that maybe that’s the meta-message, or point:  to love is to know someone or something, separate from ourselves, and yet connected all the same.  Maybe it’s better to ask what an artist was expressing, or what we felt and experienced, than it is to give it a grade, or even a thumb’s up or down.

The Tree of Life left me a bit melancholy.  It is partly brilliant in showing scenes of a vanished childhood of empty lots and unsupervised times making trouble and darkly discovering hearts and bodies… and it is partly confusing, boldly artistic in an “American way” as one of my friends suggested, and I agree.

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Oscar on the Couch

February 23, 2011

Whatever you think of the Oscar-nominated films, or the Oscars themselves for that matter, this Global Grand Prize Game pulses with fear, desire, inclusion and exclusion on a mass scale.  Given that our dedicated focus as of late is the amelioration of fear, what better generally misunderstood figure to place on the analytic couch than Mr. Goldfinger himself (cue the James Bond theme here):  Oscar.

Oscar is our quintessential American Gigolo—a hooker with a heart of Oliver stone who wears his gold on his sleeve.  Oscar is a king who gives no speech, a Gatsby who doesn’t even float; not on the east coast, nor does he float in Gloria Swanson’s Sunset Boulevard pool either—but that’s still him at the bottom of our collective Theodore Dreiser/An American Tragedy lake that we’ll all be dragging like Rue Paul this Sunday when we’re Watching the Detectives who star in the big recurring dream/nightmare we all seem to Inceive each Oscar season.

So, what strange zeitgeist stirrings might be glimpsed in the collective tealeaves of this year’s best picture nominees?  Perhaps we might deconstruct the nominated pictures in terms of raw dread and universal human emotion:

I cannot trust mom, and so I am not sure if I am good or bad.  Love and success are not safe—I am not in a safe, sane or integrated place:  Black Swan.

Dad cannot be counted on, so I must figure it out alone.  I am not in a safe place (and I will lose an arm to get there):  True Grit.

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Love and Fear on the Big Collective Screen

January 26, 2011

Having studied both film and psychology, I find myself often thinking about the interplay between these two worlds that have so captured my own imagination and interest.

Continuing with my theme for this year:  cultivating authentic calm, I turn to the most successful movies of all time in order to contemplate the zeitgeist, collective anxieties and potentially rising, and healing, consciousness.

If you look at the top-grossing movies in our American experience (adjusted for inflation so that we have a relatively fair picture of what pictures the most people have bothered to watch, as opposed to simply dollars spent), we have the following list:

Gone with the Wind ‘39

Star Wars ‘77

The Sound of Music ‘65

E.T.:  The Extra-Terrestrial ‘82

The Ten Commandments ‘56

Titanic ‘97

Jaws ‘75

Doctor Zhivago ‘65

The Exorcist ‘73

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ‘37

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“Jackass” 3-D: Mirror of our World

November 3, 2010

I had an interesting weekend recently, one that took me from yoga to Jackass 3-D to The Merry Wives of Windsor.

And while I did my best to “take the yoga” with me to Jackass, I must admit that it is Jackass that I am most inclined to think and write about (perhaps the best of the Jackass oeuvre, while Merry Wives is widely acknowledged to be one of the weakest efforts on the part of the Bard)—as Jackass turns out to be an absurdist work of non-sense that could have come right out of Weimar Germany or 20’s Paris.

It’s not that the Merry Wives was not delightful, as it was performed by The Globe Theater’s troupe and is a work dealing with middle-class Elizabethan manners, a nice counterpoint to the rectal temperature reckoning to which Jackass subjects the American Zeitgeist.  If Queen Elizabeth was a woman who apparently could not get enough of that philandering jackass, Falstaff, the movie Jackass has everything to give the Queen’s English the bum’s rush.

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Inception on the couch — interpreting collective dreams

July 28, 2010

Whatever brought you to these words today, please consider taking a moment to dedicate reading them to whatever it is that you want (health, wealth, success, love, happiness, your child or children’s well-being).  Setting an intention is a step toward elevating the mundane, which may be the lion’s share of what it takes to get more spirit into, and out of, our lives (not to mention the collective situation that we all share).

Meanwhile, what I wish for you is for you to want what already is.  In this way I wish my version of true happiness for you.  And your happiness, I believe, will benefit everyone you care about (i.e. happy parents are a gift to their children).

While there is no shortage of opinions about the new movie, Inception, (and I’m not here to add another one to the mix) as a zeitgeist phenomenon, films that question reality are coming at us with increasing bigness, frequency and would-be importance.  So, what might this be reflecting back to us myriad members of the zeitgeist?

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“All I really want our love to do…

July 21, 2010

…is to bring out the best in me and you” Joni Mitchell “All I Want.”

After declaring Please Give to be the best movie I’d seen this year, along comes another small movie with a big heart, The Kids Are All Right, to serve as a perfect west coast companion piece to Please Give’s New York City.

While Please Give captures the texture, tone and spirit of the rather specific slice of New York City in which I have lived and loved in an earlier chapter of my life, and through which I wander in my imagination when I read about plays, restaurants and exhibits in “the paper of record” (but from which I am currently blocked from fully savoring by economics and time zones), The Kids Are All Right is a movie that would probably make me miss the very specific LA in which I live, wander and wonder… if I were sweating this summer out in New York.

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Triumph of the Will… to watch horror films

June 23, 2010

Welcome to Privilege of Parenting’s blog on the first of weekly rather than daily blogs in the service of both sanity and our collective children.

To kick things off for this solar year, I could not be more thrilled than to introduce a guest blog from my thirteen-year-old son, Will (who besides being my kid, is also one of my absolutely most favorite people on the planet).

As a matter of full disclosure, this guest blog came about when Will was asking for ways he might earn a little money this summer.  Besides washing the windows, I suggested that I would pay for a guest blog ($5.00); he answers my challenge today (and thus today he’s doing better than most of us in the cash for words department).

Readers of PoP may be aware that I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to horror films, yet this past year I have watched more than one or two with Will, and so his blog arises from, and weaves back into, the very fabric of our relationship (which mostly just distills down to how much love we love each other).


Why I like horror movies

I am a true horror movie fan. I have loved this type of movie for about 2 years now and before I liked it I had the same question as a lot of people. “How could anybody like horror movies?” Well in this blog I am going to do my best to answer that.

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When writing gets leathery

June 15, 2010

Deep in the matrix of my psyche I associate writing with leather.  Not because of leather-bound volumes in oak paneled libraries, but because of coats—leather coats.

When I was a kid my dad had a friend who had a leather factory on the far south side of Chicago, near to where my dad had grown up.  The old Jewish quasi ghetto had morphed into an African American quasi ghetto.

Being middle class Jews trapped in some never-pay-retail internalized racism, it happened that my family once rode forever through a Chicago winter, arriving at a freezing warehouse filled with dead cow skin sewn into every variation of a coat that a pimp could want.

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