Search results for ‘Mother and Child’

Mother and Child

September 8th, 2010 — 12:52 pm

Mother and Child* * * *
Mother and Child
– sp – Over the years I have either personally known people or treated individuals in therapy who yearned for a connection with a biological parent whom they never knew. Some actually had the opportunity for such meeting in their adult life. They were able to tell quite remarkable stories of this reunion of the adopted child and the biological parent which often involved meeting other relatives. Screenwriter and Director Rogrigo Garcia had been working on a movie script on this subject for over ten years. He used his penchant for being able to tell multiple stories which effectively blend together as well as his skill in creating rich woman characters. The result is an interesting film which examines many facets of the emotional experience of giving up or not giving up a a new born for adoption as well as the long term impact on mother and child when the two do separate. The story originally centers on Karen (Annette Bening) who at the age of 14 gave up daughter for adoption 34 years previously . However, her phantasies about the daughter are never far from her mind. The daughter Elizabeth (Naomi Watts) is self motivated successful attorney with no intention of every settling down with a man although she freely seduces them. She seems embittered by the fact that her own biological mother never tracked her down. Lucy (Kerry Washington) rounds out the trio of the main women characters and is a woman determined to adopt a child so she and her husband can have a family. The study of the mother child relationships is complimented by the mothers of Karen and especially that of Lucy (Epatha Merkerson) . Samuel Jackson and Jimmy Smits play parts contrary to their often tough guy roles as in this case they are sensitive caring men. The evolution of the characters and the depth of their emotions experienced in this movie brings to light the enduring bond that flows between so many ( but not all ) mothers and their children. (2010)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama

Ricki and the Flash

December 12th, 2015 — 07:29 pm

***

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 10.32.25 AMRicki and the Flash-nf

If you are a “streeper” (nickname Meryl Streep’s fans often called themselves) you are going to enjoy her in this performance. As usual Ms. Streep who is known as a perfectionist in preparing for her roles, appears to have mastered her character down to the last note.

In this case, it is as an aging rock musician who has only made one album and now spends the daytime being a grocery checkout lady and the evenings being a grooving rock musician leading her band “The Flash” playing in a local club in Tarzana, California. Her fellow guitarist Greg is played by Rick Springfield, known to be quite a successful musician in real life. Ricki left her husband and children when her kids were quite small to follow her dream as a rock musician and had very limited contact with them over the years. One of them Julie (played by Mamie Gummer , a rising actress who in real life is Ms. Streep’s real daughter) has just had a traumatic marital breakup and Ricki returns to Indianapolis to support her. Her daughter and two grown sons one of whom is about to get married are not very thrilled to see her at first. Her former husband (Kevin Kline) has married a very lovely woman (Audra McDonald) who confronts the rock musician with her failure as a mother. There is a lot of sadness in this film and also a lot of rocking music led by Ricki (alias Ms. Streep) and Greg (alias Mr. Springfield) and some very fine backup musicians.

The story by Diablo Cody and the direction by Jonathan Demme lead us on a fanciful trip but in the end it is feel good stuff. We don’t think it will lead to Ms. Streep’s 20th Oscar nomination but you never know. (2015)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Musical

Obvious Child

July 11th, 2014 — 05:00 am

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Obvious Child-rm– If you can relate to women in their late 20s, especially New Yorkers and a situation where they might end up needing an abortion, this film will probably resonate with you. Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) is a 28-year-old single woman living in Manhattan and has a one-night stand and finds herself pregnant. By day she works in a bookstore and by night she is a standup comedian. Gillian Robespierre who directed the film and wrote the screen play based on a story by Elisabeth Holm, Anna Bean, Karen Maine and himself, skillfully used this latter occupation to share with the audience the inner thoughts of this character as her comedy shtick was truthfully talking about her life and whatever she was experiencing. In this case it was a break up with her boyfriend who had an affair with her previously good friend. She then meets Max (Jake Lacy), which leads to a wild night and the “slip up” leading to the pregnancy. The movie is really a comic drama. On one hand we see the empathic feelings of Jenny’s close friend (Gabby Hoffman), her new boy friend and her divorced parents (Polly Draper and Richard Kind). The interaction with her mother did bring out the greatest comedic moment of the film as when Jenny tells mom she has to discuss something very serious with her and then reveals her pregnancy. Mom then responds, “Oh, I was concerned you were going to tell me that you were moving to LA.” Mom however did go on to tell her about her own abortion before her marriage and before it was legal. So this movie is also a political statement that is being released as the controversy about a women’s right for health insurance to cover contraception as well as her right to an unencumbered abortion is back in the headlines. It is therefore also noteworthy that in the credits of this movie there are numerous names of individual people who financially supported this movie as part a “kickstarter” program to get it made.This might be an added incentive to support this film at the box office or on Netflix.. (2014)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Oranges and Sunshine

July 7th, 2014 — 12:08 am

***Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 1.07.56 AM

Oranges and Sunshinenf This film is a good example of how we might rate a film 3/5 and yet highly recommend it as one that should be seen by anyone who cares about social injustice. There are many better examples of dramatic films with unforgettable performances by talented actors and directors, which will win Academy Award nominations. But this Australian film directed by Jim Loach with a screenplay by Rona Munro plods along but rivets our attention because it tells the true story of a historical event that we and we are sure many other people had no idea had occurred. It is about a British social worker by the name of Margaret Humphreys who in the 1980s stumbles upon the situation that in the 1940s and 50s the British government deported to Australia young children born to troubled poor mothers who couldn’t care for their kids. The mothers were often told that the children were being adopted in England by various couples although if they did make efforts they would not be able to track them down. The truth was that they lived in various orphanages in Australia in very dire circumstances, were treated very badly and many were abused. During this blight on British history there were 130,000 children who went through this pipeline to Australia. They never had a chance to find out who their mothers were and whether they were still alive. Margaret Humphreys (played by Emily Watson) at first took on the task of trying to help some of these now adults find their mothers. She then devoted herself to exposing this great injustice in addition to reuniting these adults with their mothers when possible. We see how she set up a program in Australia where most of these orphans lived and held some reunions with each other. We also see a scene in a monastery, which may have been the site of some of the stories of abuse. There was a scary episode where an intruder who seems to be warning her to cease her efforts, threatens Ms. Humphreys at night. It is a weakness of the film that we never learn more about the nature of these threats. Ms. Humphrey made efforts to publicize the story of these mass deportations in the media and to get the government to help in her endeavors. She spent an increasing amount of time in Australia, away from her own family. Some of the horrors that the children went through are related in excellent performances by Hugo Weaving and David Wenham. We learn during the credits at the end of the film that it was not until 2010 that the British government acknowledged its mistake and the Prime Minister apologized. It was at that point that we learned of the tremendous number of children that had gone through this disruption of their lives with all its repercussions. As a sidebar we are reminded of the large number of films that we have seen as well as some true life stories that we have heard, which  in some way recount the desire to reunite with one’s biological parents. Of course in the situations recounted in this film, these people did not have parents who adopted them. Some discussion of this topic can be found in MB’s blog http://www.psychiatrytalk.com/2014/04/the-search-for-a-persons-biological-identity/  (2011)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign, History

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

February 10th, 2012 — 07:31 pm

*****

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close– rm   It is very fitting that on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 a major movie should emerge that captures the personal emotion that so many New Yorkers experienced as over 3000 lives were evaporated in just a few hours with probably close to 10,000 children losing a parent. The screenplay by Eric Roth (who also wrote  Forest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)  based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, achieved this feat by not only recreating the pieces of horror that so many people went through that day but it went several steps further and deeper. The movie exposed the idealized bond between father and son which when it is there, is the most extreme tragedy to lose. We also come to appreciate how sad it is when it was never there and what could have been. Just as you think that this is just about the father-son attachments, we are shown the  love and attachment that a surviving mother might have to her grieving child. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are excellent as the parents as is Thomas Horn as a quirky pre-teen (possibly with Asbergers Syndrome)   who finds a way to speak or show what he is thinking and feeling. John Goodman, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright turned in great performances in smaller but key roles in the film.  Stephen Daldry should get kudos if not some tangible award for   pulling all this together as the director. However it is Max Von Sydow the veteran 83 year old actor,  who plays the old man with a special connection to the others, who never utters one word in the movie but  may have turned in the standout performance of this film. The storyline may be considered by some to be a little contrived but we understood it to be an allegory where a a young boy’s trip  through the five boroughs of Manhattan is a search for growth in himself.  We  found this movie to be a tear jerker in no uncertain terms. All Americans identified and connected to those fateful events.  But if you were in New York during 9/11 and even if you were fortunate enough not to have lost a loved one, you had to have been affected by what was going on around you. We recalled the cars in our suburban parking lot that were not picked up that evening by the commuters who never came home. We remember the thousands of homemade posters that were put up all over Manhattan describing their loved ones who were listed “as missing” when it was clear that they really had perished. We know all our lives will never be same again. Having lived through this, makes this film all the more meaningful.  It will be interesting to see if people are ready to see this movie or if the painful hype that invariably will accompany it will keep it from being a big box office success. If New Yorkers were the only ones voting it might emerge as the Oscar winner but in any case this movie will be part of the history which will define  this past decade. (2011)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

Phyllis and Harold

September 6th, 2010 — 08:39 am

Phyllis and Harold* * * *
Phyllis and Harold
– sp- Cindy Kleine undertook a project for 12 years where she interviewed her parents on film and put together the story of their 59 years of marriage with old movies, slides and letters. She originally felt the story was so interesting that she was going to transcribe the interviews and write a screenplay. However, she then realized that the real people saying their own words would be better than any actors she could get to recreate their story. So this filmmaker with the support of her husband Andre Gregory (well known theatre and film director best known for “Dinner with Andre”) put together a most unusual and successful documentary of the story of the marriage and subsequent life of Harold and Phyllis. Her father is shown as the dashing, handsome, confident young dentist who courts his future wife while he is in the army during World War II. He goes on to then develop a successful practice where he can take his wife on vacations all over the world providing all the comforts of life including a devoted nanny for his two children. However, the core of the story is how this marriage is experienced by his wife Phyllis, who is shown to have been a beautiful, articulate and poetic young woman. She shares in interviews with her moviemaker daughter on film her feelings and doubts about her marriage as well as her early secret romantic life, which blossomed again at age 70. Her grown children each find themselves becoming bold participants in a small but significant way in her mother’s secret life. The 84 minutes of this film seems to fly by reminding us that everyone’s life might be summarized in a well-kept photo album or in a thoughtful documentary if anyone was there to make it. Usually the children, let alone a discerning movie audience do not know parent’s innermost secrets. This is the exception and it is an exceptionally creatively edited, well-done documentary. It must have been somewhat therapeutic for Ms. Kleine to have made the film and for sure it will stimulate complicated emotions and discussion in many parents and grown children who view it. Expected to be released shortly and then on DVD. (2010)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Biography, Documentary

Room

September 7th, 2016 — 06:44 am

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 5.05.52 PM***

Room-nf

You probably have some idea of the plot of this movie as we did when we decided to view it one evening. A young woman is abducted and held hostage in an 11-foot by 11-foot room with only a skylight facing the real world. Her abductor has the code to the steel locked door. He visits her regularly in order to rape her. After about a year, she becomes pregnant and raises her son, Jack, in this confined space. We meet them when Jack is turning five years old. His television set is his only window on the outside but he doesn’t actually believe what he sees on it is “real”. This raises an interesting thought; do we all really know what is out there in the wide universe beyond our experience on our small planet Earth. For all we know, we have a very narrow perspective on “life”. We don’t think this was the overt theme of this film but it may have stimulated more than meets the eye.

More concretely, the movie takes us through the dramatic freeing of mother and child from their prison. We struggle with Jack and his mother as they attempt to reintegrate from this experience. In this regard, We found it incongruous that a mother who is so close to her child due to these circumstances could contemplate abandoning him. So, the story is one that tries to show the “power of guilt”.

The other power of this movie is the Academy Award-winning experience of Brie Larson as the mother and the amazing performance of the very young man, Jacob Tremblay who plays the child.

Thanks to the direction of Lenny Abrahamson and the novel and screenplay by Emma Donoghue, we are treated to a highly unusual story. Despite the great acting and the unusual plot, we felt that the film was lacking in drama and could have used more depth. We are only given a glimpse on the impact on the young woman’s parents played by Joan Allen and William H. Macy who lost their daughter for seven years ago when she was 17 years old. Overall, this movie could have been done better but it will be memorable to all who see it. (2015).

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

Steve Jobs

October 25th, 2015 — 02:17 am

Screen Shot 2015-10-24 at 10.25.41 AM***

Steve Jobs- rm

We came to this version of Steve Jobs’ story, Apple’s iconic founder, having seen the recent documentary film of Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine and also having read Walter Issaacson’s 2011 biography of Jobs. We are not so sure that we would have appreciated the nuances and the depths of how the relationships were depicted in this current movie, had we not experienced the two previous pieces. For example, we see a recurrent theme, which defines Jobs’ relationship with Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen) as he pleads with Jobs to give him and the Apple-2-team credit during the new Apple launches. Jobs refuses because he says he wants to emphasize the future. In fact, Jobs has treated his friend Wozniak, the real inventor of the first Apple computer, very poorly. They had been friends working in Jobs’ garage when they were in their 20s. While not shown in this film, it has been previously documented that one of the first projects that they worked together was designing a game for Atari where Wozniak did all the work and Jobs dealt with the interface with Atari but grossly short-changed Wozniak when they were paid for their work, a pattern they apparently continued later in life. .

Perhaps the most important and revealing relationship shown in this film and well described in the previous book and movie is the one with his daughter Lisa. Early on Jobs consistently denied his paternity of Lisa. When it was eventually proven by genetic test, he reluctantly paid minimal support for the struggling mother and child despite the fact that at that time he was worth at least $440 million. We see Jobs wrestling with his feelings about Lisa in this film and his ambivalence towards her and her mother.

The dialogue written by Aaron Sorkin was typical of his fast-moving style in both the words and the physical movement of the characters. The film did not attempt to be a biography of Steve Jobs. Instead, the storyline showcased three specific product launches of the Apple computer. It revealed the behind-the-scenes interactions of Jobs and other important people, particularly with his daughter Lisa played very well by three different actresses, Mackenzie Moss when she was five, Ripley Sobo when she was nine and most significantly by Perla Haney-Jardine when Lisa was 19. Lisa’s mother was played Katherine Waterston.

There was one very interesting foray in trying to show some psychological insight of the origin of Jobs’ self-centered personality. This occurred when Jobs was interacting with John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) the Apple CEO who was originally hired by Jobs and then participated in firing Jobs at a later point in time. The discussion was about how Jobs was treating his daughter and how it might be related to his own childhood relationships. Jobs related how he was adopted as an infant but his new mother wasn’t sure that she would be allowed to keep him for certain complicated reasons, so she withheld her love during his first year so she would not become too attached to him. If that were true, it might explain Jobs’ apparent defective ability to relate to others despite his genius, unusual vision and talent in bringing his products to the world.

Credit has to be given to Michael Fassbender in his role as Jobs and to director Danny Boyle. A key role was also well done by Kate Winslet who played Joanna Hoffman an important member of the Mac team. The film will give the  moviegoers the experience  that they are transported back in time, and are seeing this iconic figure up close during some of his historic moments in the birth of the Apple computer. (2015)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, History

Bad Words

March 13th, 2014 — 06:37 pm

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Bad Words-sp  This is  Jason Bateman’s directorial debut starring Jason Bateman. It can be described as a mean or subversive comedy. The main character says and does cruel things to other people including a bunch of preteen kids which although they are “funny” they are not very nice.We meet Guy Trilby (Bateman) as a 40 year old guy who is entering the national spelling bee contest which he is determined to win and claims the right to be in it since he meets the criteria of never completing the 8th grade.He is accompanied by a reporter (Kathryn Hahn)  doing a story about his endeavor for a web site. He overcomes the objections of Dr. Bernice Deagan  (Allison Janney), one of the administrators, and confronts the founder of the contest, Dr. Bowman(Phillip Baker Hall), who are both furious at him, as are all the parents of the young other contestants. Trilby plays distracting mean tricks on some of the kids to get them eliminated from the competition. He does befriend one of the kids, 10 year old Indian boy Chaitanya Chopra with whom there is a hint that he identifies with him. We see terrific chemistry between the two and a great acting job by a young boy by the name of Rohan Chand. And now for an announcement SPOILER ALERT which is necessary although we probably knew the secret for 1/5 of the film and still enjoyed it. The question, of course, is why would a 40 year old man undertake this mission? The answer has something to do with the fact that we learn that the founder of the contest, Dr. Bowman, actually once as a traveling salesman met Philby’s  mother and became his biological father but never stayed around and of course does not know this fact. Philby had found this out recently just before  his mother died and now is on the mission to screw up the good doctor’s prestigious spelling contest. In the end this makes for an interesting, funny and ultimately a feel good movie that many people will enjoy seeing.  But his film fascinated once of us (MB)  because we have observed some variation of this theme is numerous movies played out in different ways, as well as having seen it in several real life situations. But in each case the motivation and the actions of the person searching for his or her biological parent or child is different. It certainly is not always vindictive as in this story and sometimes it is to establish a meaningful connection. Here are some films and our reviews where this was the main theme:

Philomena -Elderly British woman who had child out of wedlock in convent goes to US to find out what happened to him. Stars Oscar nominated Judy Dench

The Kids Are All Right– Two lesbian parents are raising two teenage kids who decide to search out their sperm donor biological dad. Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo

People Like Us – A man and woman never realized they were from the same parent Elizabeth Banks , Chris Pine and Michelle Pfeiffer

Stories We Tell – Documentary by a woman  who uncovers secrets of her family and that she was not her father’s child. Sarah Polley

Admission– Assistant Dean of Admissions realizes an applicant is her child given up at birth- Tina Fey, Lily Tomlin and Pail Rudd

Mother and Child   Mother child relationships . Children given up for adoption and fantasies of children who want  to reunite with their mother. Annette Bening and Noemi Watts

I have also written about three cases from real life in my PsychiatryTalk.com blog  (http://www.psychiatrytalk.com/2012/07/discussion-of-the-phenomena-of-unknown-family-members/)       (2014)

 

 

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy

Like Father, Like Son

January 24th, 2014 — 06:03 am

***images

Like Father, Like Son- sp  This Japanese film with subtitles was an extremely successful in Japan earning so far more than 30 million dollars and is about to be released in the United States. It won a major award at the Cannes Film Festival where Steven Spielberg was the Chair of the committee that gave the award. Spielberg then optioned the rights to it and plans to make an English version. What is it about this movie that seems so captivating? In Japan it helps that the male lead is played by one of most popular singers and actors currently in Japan and that is Fukuyama Masahuro. Just as important is the screenplay written by the director Kore-Eda Hirokazu which presents a fascinating human dilemma which rarely happens in modern times but one to which just about everyone can relate. Early in the film, a young married couple with a six year old son, who is a bright, very delightful boy, learn that their son was switched at birth with another child born in the same hospital on the same day. They meet the other family and the differences between them, especially the fathers become very apparent. They must decide what will they do (in addition to suing the hospital). Will they switch children and how will they come to this decision? As we try to relate to the dilemma and see how the parents and children react to this situation, we get the impression that some of the responses seem to be culture bound. Of particular note was the depiction of the passivity of the women and the obedience of the 6 year-olds. In a post film discussion, we learned that in the 1970s when hospital practices in Japan in labeling newborn children were not as exacting as they are today, there were incidences such as the one depicted in the movie. Interestingly, we were told that 100% of the children were returned to the biological parent even in cases of 6 year olds! Director Hirokazu did a sensitive job of showing us the evolution in the thinking of one of the fathers as he leads us to the ultimate outcome of this dilemma. He also brought to the screen two delightful children who played the kids who were switched at birth.

The theme of this movie is a variation of the successful 2013 film Philomenaas well as other movies which we have reviewed and discussed this interesting psychological variable . These include The Kids Are All Right, People Like Us Stories We TellAdmissions, and Mother and Child. One of us (MB)has also discussed this elsewhere with real life case examples (Psychiatrytalk.com). Each of these movie reviews and the psychiatry blog can be reached directly by clicking the words in this paragraph. (2013)

 

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama, Foreign

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