Cinematherapy.com

The Cinema Therapy Newsletter #56
November 2014
Cinematherapy.com
bwolz@earthlink.net

starIn the Spotlight:

Elisabeth Joy LaMotte writes in Cinema Therapy and Robin Williams: "Film's power to help and to heal, and therefore complement that therapeutic process, may be one of the most interesting aspects of practicing psychotherapy. In this realm, Robin Williams has contributed immensely to my professional performance. His characters seemed remarkably human and believable. I've suggested many of his meaningful films to therapy clients: The Fisher King, The World According to Garp, and even Mrs. Doubtfire."

Ofer Zur expresses In Honor of Robin Williams 1951-2014: "In a way, actors and therapists respond to a similar call. We are both called to build a dynamic system of our own emotional regulation that is large enough for us to connect with the huge diversity of human emotional experience while being able to hold to our core strength. Robin demonstrated this time and again. As therapists, we need to support one another in exploring an element of intuition that can help us aid the client and help healing. Part of Robin's legacy is that he has moved people to try to better understand depression and other mental conditions."

starNew Resources:

Danny Pettry created Cinema Therapy: An entertaining feel-good card game for entertainment purposes so anyone can play it. However, it could be used to help
- improve social skills needed for getting along with others and making friends,
- improve communication skills needed to express thoughts, ideas, and feelings,
- understand different feelings and emotions,
- identify what you are feeling,
- recognize emotions and feelings in others,
- have empathy and concern for other people,
- increase self-concept and self-understanding,  
- recognize that you’re not alone in feeling your feelings, and
- identify your hopes, wishes, and dreams for the future

Bart Breen writes in Cinematherapy - Have you ever watched a film that did more than entertain you?: "If you have seen some of these films and you remember that they were particularly impacting in your life, and maybe you haven’t given it much thought as to why, maybe you’ll recognize some themes between movies that have impacted you and through that it might help you to understand by beginning to ask why these films are impacting you."
The author points to film recommendations for childhood trauma and abuse here.

starOnline Certification Programs:

Birgit Wolz

1. For information about all Cinema Therapy online courses, click here.
2. One certification program is designed for mental health professionals - click here.
3. Another, shorter, certification course can be taken by anybody (no prerequisites required) - click here.

- Upon completion of a program, students will receive a ready-to-be-framed certificate of completion for their course of study, "Cinema Therapy."
- These programs can be completed in more than one session over a three-year period.
- Continuing education credits can be earned with either program.

The certificate programs are composed of individual courses, which can also be taken separately.

Continuing education credits are available for all courses for Psychologists (APA), MFTs & LCSWs (CA-BBS), Social Workers (ASWB) and counselors in California and other states. Click here for more information.

starProgram:

On September 11, 2014, Margie Grebin presented a program entitled, Reel to Real Therapy: Therapeutic Benefits of Integrating Cinematherapy into Psychotherapy and Counseling of the Bereaved: "After presenting an understanding of research done on cinematherapy, I then showed a film entitled, “Rebirth,” a profoundly intimate, moving and uplifting film that follows the 10-year transformation of five people whose lives were altered by the 9-11 tragedy." Read more about Margie's background and program here.

starResearch:

In his New York Times article, Action Films May Spur the Need to Feed, Douglas Quenqua tells us that scientists from Cornell University wanted to know whether the type of TV programming made a difference in eating habits: "Previous research has shown that people tend to eat more if they are watching television. ... They gave snacks to 97 undergraduate students and split them into three groups. The first group watched a loud, frenetic clip from “The Island,” a 2005 action movie directed by Michael Bay. The second watched part of a Charlie Rose interview program on PBS. The third group watched the same excerpt from “The Island” as the first group, but without sound.
The first group consumed the most by far — 65 percent more calories than the “Charlie Rose” group (354 calories versus 215) and 98 percent more food (7.3 ounces versus 3.7). The group that watched “The Island” on mute ate 46 percent more calories (315) and 36 percent more food (five ounces) than the Rose group."

Karthikeyan KC write in Cinema Therapy: Why Movies and TV Shows Are Important?: "Movies preserve the culture of our race, besides entertaining each one of us in a different way. ... It’s known to an average person that movies and TV shows have a great impact on our psychological well-being, and they relax us in different ways. But, not everyone knows that they also induce physiological changes in the human body, accompanied by the corresponding mental changes." The autor also explains the effects of horror movies, comedies, romantic movies, action movies, science fiction and fantasy, as well as drama and thriller movies. He says about horror movies, for example: "Several case studies indicates that most of the traumatic memories are remembered in such intense horror scenes, and the cortisol levels are found to be spiked up in those who come out from the theater after watching a horror movie. This affects your mood and health. And moreover, these changes happen when you are stationary in your seat, and that’s not how it’s supposed to happen."

starNew Website:

Growlovelearn.com describes in the article, Cinema Therapy, how movies help teenagers with emotions: "We put in a film and let the emotion flow. This can be likened to art or dance. It is a way to express ourselves. Let's get back to movie therapy and how it can help teens address some issues they may be facing. ... Having a movie or two around that can be discussed as a family is a great way to draw closer together, find out what is on each one's mind and maybe even resolve an issue or two!"

starReviews

Cedric Wood

Cedric Wood reviewed films in the following articles on his Cinema Therapy blog: 'The Giver' a delightful journey to the future, 'Boyhood' shows the pains of growing up, Smart script can't save 'Calvary' from failing and 'Hundred-Foot Journey' worth the trip.

Taryn Southernan

On YouTube, Taryn Southernan, an American singer, actress and comedian, describes and analyzes the following movies in a humorous fashion: No Good Deed, Dolphin Tale 2 & The Drop and As Above So Below, Life of Crime & The Last of Robin Hood and Hercules, Lucy, My Man Is a Loser & Happy Christmas and The Expendables 3, Let's Be Cops & The Giver and Twins, Mazes & Awkward Funerals and The Identical, Forrest Gump & The Congress and Divergent & Muppets Most Wanted and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Step Up All In & Into The Storm and Graphic Novels, Sad Songs & Bonding Road Trips and Neighbors, Moms' Night Out & Chef and Maleficent, A Million Ways & To Die In The West and Non-Stop & Son of God and A Haunted House 2, Bears & Fading Gigolo and 300: Rise of an Empire, Mr. Peabody and Sherman & The Grand Budapest Hotel and 22 Jump Street & How to Train Your Dragon 2 and Addicted, Dracula Untold & The Judge and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Step Up All In & Into The Storm and Noah, Sabotage & Bad Word and Nightcrawler, Saw & Mockingjay - Part 1 as well as Boxtrolls & Badasses.

Thumbnail Reviews by Karin Leonard & Daniel Robin:

Each month, Karin and Daniel select their favorite or otherwise important films. They rate them, subjectively, on a scale from 1 (worthless) to 5 (awesome) in terms of their entertainment and message. They leave the plot details and storytelling to the filmmakers and instead attempt to highlight strengths and flaws, and hint at purpose. You can reach them at movies@innerevolution.com.

Chef

With Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofía Vergara, Oliver Platt, Emjay Anthony

Entertainment: 4 Message: 4.5

Every once in a while a movie comes along with a magnetic mix - no special effects or over-the-top violence, just a fantastic script, charismatic actors with the right chemistry, creative tension, and a genuine, heart-felt story that moves and inspires. This charming, colorful and highly entertaining tale succeeds on many levels, serving up a richly layered fare, spiced just right with meaning, passion and comedy. You may enjoy the mouthwatering "food art" and some feel-good laughs, but there's much baked in: the foil of artistry meets critical opinion (and what not to do about it), a Chef's search for himself, a deepening father-son relationship, and the quest for authenticity. Favreau directed, co-produced, wrote and stars in the tasty concoction ... bon appetite! (1 hr 55 min).

Dawn of the Planets of the Apes

With Jon Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Kirk Acevedo, Judy Greer

Entertainment: 4 Message: 3.5 Warfare and violence

Intelligent and well executed, far removed from the campy and hokey feel of the early versions (long before motion-capture technology) and deeply metaphoric about the many facets of "Us against Them." Here is an intriguing exploration of differences and co-existence. Caesar, again played by Andy Serkis (Gollum in LoTR) with great skill and emotional nuance, demonstrates himself to be a wise leader, protecting his precious home and families. Peace is fragile, easily lost, but here is a blurring of the lines between friend and foe. Rather than the "get the enemy before they get us" fear-based stance embodied by fellow ape Koba, and sadly also too many of the less-evolved humans, a handful of individuals on both sides are willing to tentatively explore peace and mutual trust, realizing their intricate, interconnected and interdependent web. Who is the "enemy" anyway? This Ape world is brought to life with care, creativity and fantastic digital tools (2 hrs 10 min).

Guardians of the Galaxy

With Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Lee Pace, Bradley Cooper

Entertainment: 3.5 Message: 2 Non-stop action, war and violence

Reminiscent of Star Wars films, containing plenty of "seen it before" alongside new characters, some of them even pastel-colored. An entertaining, witty and at times even touching mélange of Sci-Fi yarn, in this newest adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero series. The main villain Ronan, with genocidal tendencies, proves to be quite the match for the Guardians. Ronan and his henchpeople are mostly uni-dimensional, vapid-headed morons, not at all engaging, but once again, the over-the-top and way-too-numerous fight scenes and protracted war violence left us yawning, and yearning for someone to come up with a fresh new twist. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes delivers some of that, without even leaving the galaxy! But the Guardians are an enjoyable motley crew, themselves an uneasy alliance of spunky, funny and tough-but-tender-hearted characters, led by Chris Pratt as rogue adventurer Peter Quill (think Harrison Ford alias Han Solo "lite"). Zoe Saldana (Avatar) adds sassy female spunk. Groot, a humanoid tree-thing, that talks (Vin Diesel), is sweet yet deadly. If you are a Marvel fan, you'll likely enjoy this one (2 hrs 1 min).

How to Train your Dragon 2

Voices of Jay Baruchel, Gerard Butler, America Ferrera, Jonah Hill, Cate Blanchett

Entertainment: 4 Message: 4

Sweet success! The second installment of this series is at least as wonderful as the first, a rare accomplishment in franchise-laden movie-making. Fantastic visuals, great storytelling and engaging characters with lively celebrity voices display emotional depth - not an easy feat in animation - along with a hefty dose of subversive humor, creating a fabulous mix. Amazing flying scenes take you for thrilling rides, while a surprising and intriguing new character delights. Great fun for the whole family (1 hr 45 min).

Lucy

With Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, Amr Waked, Julian Rhind-Tutt

Entertainment: 3.5 Message: 3.5 Note: Graphic violence

Brilliant in concept, exploring the possibilities of full human potential through greater use of brain capacity - what an awesome creative opportunity. And director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element - one of our favorites) delivers, as does Johansson's remarkable performance as female hero, Lucy. Action scenes sell tickets to mainstream markets, but is this a mainstream premise? The "enemy stance" of armed conflict, scapegoating the other while blasting them into tiny pieces, is anything but innovative. If Lucy truly attains superhuman abilities, surely she could come up with something better than vengefully attacking almost everyone that crosses her... how about blasting them with loving kindness, arguably a more powerful force, and helping them up the developmental ladder? An evolutionary future that contains more destructive violence not only paints a dismal picture but it also doesn't make developmental sense - greater capacity opens the door to increased moral judgment. At a time when lose-lose violence abounds, a message of positive potential is needed. Indeed, media can lead culture, not just reflect the worst and darkest our culture has to offer, just to make a buck. Still worthwhile and thought-provoking (1 hr 29 min).

Maleficent

With Angelina Jolie, Elle Fanning, Sharlto Copley

Entertainment: 4.5 Message: 3.5

Powerful, visually stunning and transformative, this retelling and back story to the Grimm's beloved "Sleeping Beauty" fairy tale, organizes itself around Angelina Jolie's magnetic performance as uber-fairy, Maleficent. Never has the charismatic actress been more darkly beautiful and commanding, while at the same time revealing the vulnerable heart of the Wounded Feminine. Updated from her previous Disney movie incarnations, Maleficent represents the archetype of nature scorned, rather than the previous "evil" sorceress. The lovely Elle Fanning (Dakota Fanning's sister) as Princess Aurora, delightful digital Fairy Folk and mythical nature creatures (even the trees get into the act), which seem reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, captivate and enhance the spell (1 hr 37 min).

Sex Tape

With Cameron Diaz , Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe

Entertainment: 3 Message: 2.5

Stupid, but often hilarious, slapstick digital nightmare, following the antics of an otherwise "perfectly normal" married couple making a sadly moronic attempt at re-sparking their sex life by, worst idea ever, filming themselves and allowing "the cloud" to bare it all. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are perfectly inept with a dash of goofy for their respective roles and various contorted positions. A safe, family-style sex farce, though definitely not for young children (1 hr 35 min).

The Equalizer

With Denzel Washington, Chlöe Grace Moretz, Marton Csokas, Melissa Leo

Entertainment: 3 Message: 2 Note: Graphic violence

While this modern avenger thriller can leave you cheering for getting rid of the bad guys, and protecting the victims, it is a long, violent and absurd way to go to find justice. The indomitable Denzel Washington is solid as a rock as quiet retirement seeking CIA agent Robert McCall. However, McCall can't help finding an outlet for his specialized skill set - cool as a cucumber, he kicks serious butt in the name of justice. If you are a fan of this genre, and don't mind a big dose of gritty and graphic violence a la Russian crime syndicate, you are likely to enjoy this one (2 hr 11min).

Guardians of the Galaxy

With Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, David Bautista, Lee Pace, Bradley Cooper

Entertainment: 3.5 Message: 2 Non-stop action, war and violence

Reminiscent of Star Wars films, containing plenty of "seen it before" alongside new characters, some of them even pastel-colored. An entertaining, witty and at times even touching mélange of Sci-Fi yarn, in this newest adaptation of the Marvel Comics superhero series. The main villain Ronan, with genocidal tendencies, proves to be quite the match for the Guardians. Ronan and his henchpeople are mostly uni-dimensional, vapid-headed morons, not at all engaging, but once again, the over-the-top and way-too-numerous fight scenes and protracted war violence left us yawning, and yearning for someone to come up with a fresh new twist. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes delivers some of that, without even leaving the galaxy! But the Guardians are an enjoyable motley crew, themselves an uneasy alliance of spunky, funny and tough-but-tender-hearted characters, led by Chris Pratt as rogue adventurer Peter Quill (think Harrison Ford alias Han Solo "lite"). Zoe Saldana (Avatar) adds sassy female spunk. Groot, a humanoid tree-thing, that talks (Vin Diesel), is sweet yet deadly. If you are a Marvel fan, you'll likely enjoy this one (2 hrs 1 min).

The Hundred Foot Journey

Helen Mirren, Madame Mallory, Manish Dayal, Hassan Kadam, Om Puri, Charlotte Le Bon

Entertainment: 4 Message: 4.5

No special effects, no violence, just cultures clashing in this delightful culinary love story. An unlikely tale of an Indian family landing in a small town in Southern France, cannot possibly work out well. The established restaurant has much to lose, while the newcomers across the street have everything to gain - 100 feet away yet worlds apart. But what if they could "work it out", would a cross-cultural gumbo be the result? The story is so tasty and enticing-a mélange of snooty, Michelin Guide-rated French gourmet meets spicy, daring and exotic - that we were charmed, and you will be too, even though you might guess where it is all heading, and the syrup gets a little thick, the results are nonetheless irresistible (2 hrs 35 min).

This is Where I Leave You

Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Kathryn Hahn, Jane Fonda

Entertainment: 3.5 Message: 3

Nothing like a funeral to get the dysfunctional family together, especial a Jewish burial with the tradition of sitting Shiva together for 7 consecutive days! Gather the entire crazy family in close quarters, add some spice, shake it all up - and then milk it for all it's worth. Voila! Though exaggerated and a bit stilted, the resulting concoction is at times hilarious and slapstick, as well as heartwarming and even tear-jerking, all while making light of what is often a difficult time. Don't take the plot and characters too seriously, and you can experience comedic relief. Watch for an amazing Jane Fonda, and an all star cast (1 hr 43 min).

Birgit Wolz:

Flight (Trailer)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Screenplay: Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes, Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, Kelly Reilly, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood, Melissa Leo
MPAA Rating: R
Year of Release: 2012

This movie offers an example for Alcohol and Stimulant Cocaine Use Disorder according to the DSM-5. Symptams that indicate these disorders are highlighted in bold letters.

Airline captain Whip Whitaker wakes up in his Orlando hotel room with flight attendant Katerina Márquez after a night of sex, alcohol, and little sleep. He uses cocaine to stay awake when he boards SouthJet Flight 227 as pilot to Atlanta.

After Whip threads the plane through severe turbulence at takeoff, he asks copilot Ken Evans to fly the plane while he secretly mixes vodka in his orange juice and takes a nap. He is jolted awake by a mechanical failure triggered when the copilot initiates normal descent. The aircraft's elevator jams and throws the aircraft into a steep dive. Because the engines fail, he is unable to correct the situation by normal means. Whip rolls the plane upside down to arrest the dive and eventually maneuvers it right-side up just before executing a forced landing in a field. Whip loses consciousness on impact, is dragged out of the aircraft by a passenger, and awakens in an Atlanta hospital with minor injuries.

This film chronicles Whip Whitaker’s expert handling of the situation, and shows him to be a man brimming with psychological resilience. Jeremy Clyman writes in his article, Flight: Why Heros are Drug Addicts Too. - Examining a conflicted hero and the psychology of drug addiction: “With the broken plane crashing to the Earth and death staring him in the face, Whip remained calm. He triumphantly managed his anxiety so as to execute a dazzlingly intelligent plan that safely landed the plane and saved most of those on board; a plan, I might add, that he succeeded in executing only because he also succeeded in soothing and guiding his co-pilot and flight attendant into performing heroically as well.”

His old friend Charlie Anderson, who represents the airline's pilots union, and a cocaine drug dealer, Harling Mays, visit Whip in the hospital. Harling sneaks the pilot away. Whip drives to his late father's farm and dumps out all his alcohol. A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) official informs him that he had saved 96 out of 102 people on board, but Katerina was among those killed. His attorney Hugh Lang explains that the NTSB had performed a hospital toxicology screen while he was unconscious, showing that Whip was intoxicated. This test has the potential to send him to prison on alcohol, drug, and manslaughter charges.

Hugh Lang finds a possibility to get the toxicology report voided on technical grounds. The night before the NTSB hearing, Whip is moved into a guarded hotel room to ensure he does not get intoxicated. His minibar has only nonalcoholic beverages, but upon opening a mistakenly unlocked door to the adjoining room, Whip discovers it has a full minibar. Charlie and Hugh find him the next morning passed out drunk. They call Harling, who revives him with cocaine for the hearing.

The lead NTSB investigator explains that a damaged elevator assembly jackscrew was the primary cause of the crash and asks a series of questions about Whip’s sobriety to which Whip lies. Then she asks a final question about an empty vodka bottles found in the trash of the plane. Since Katerina Márquez's toxicology report showed evidence of alcohol, the investigator asks Whip if it is his opinion that she drank it. Rather than lie and permanently taint her good name, Whip admits to drinking the vodka, flying intoxicated and also that he is intoxicated at the hearing.

Thirteen months later, an imprisoned Whip, serving a minimum five-year sentence, tells a support group of fellow inmates that he is glad to be sober and does not regret doing the right thing, because he finally feels "free." He also tells them that he lost his piloting license, but he didn't lose his way.

Jeremy Clyman also writes:

“Throughout the film Whip is confronted with a storm of intense emotions. There’s the fear from having just barely managed to escape death during a fiery plane crash; there’s the anxiety of a looming congressional hearing that threatens to annihilate his professional life, and, more broadly, there’s the guilt at having abandoned his ex-wife and adolescent son. Whip can handle problems of the cockpit but he has no idea how to effectively manage all these overwhelming emotionally-charged events. Unfortunately, the same developmental process that taught him to hate himself also taught him to avoid the conflicts in his emotional and interpersonal life.

So, instead of soothing his stress with social support, he spends the movie isolating and withdrawing. He avoids the adoring media, keeps at arms-length those who want to love and support him, and lashes out at those who want nothing more than to ensure that his public image remain intact.

His personality structure is grounded in faulty interpersonal beliefs that other people can’t be trusted to help.

This is where drugs come into play. Drugs can be an incredibly appealing solution or problem-solving strategy for someone like Whip. Drugs offer an escape, a short-term silver bullet. Alcohol benders and cocaine rebounds serve to block the pain of self-hatred, albeit briefly, and exist as the only logical option to reduce emotions. Unfortunately, drug abuse doesn’t solve problems, it only delays them. Moreover, in a self-fulfilling prophecy, drug abuse is a habit that begins to reaffirm the dangerously maladaptive ideas Whip harbored about himself. For instance, it’s Whip’s long-standing drug addiction that likely estranged himself from his family in the first place, and it’s the unresolved pain of this familial unrest that reinforced that core belief of failurer; and it’s this accumulating amount of psychological pain that, in turn, overwhelmed coping resources that were never properly developed to begin with.

In the end, after struggling with addiction every step of the way, Whip achieves the impossible – he effectively treats his drug problem.”

This and other articles can be found in:

DSM-5: Diagnoses Seen in Movies: Using Movies to Understand Common DSM Diagnoses
Movies are particularly well suited to depict psychological phenomena. The combination of images, music, dialogue, lighting, camera angles, and sound effects in a film mimic thoughts and feelings that occur in our consciousness. The viewer experiences what a character sees and feels. Since characters in many popular films portray persons who live with mental disorders, these depictions offer a unique learning opportunity.
This course provides up-to-date information about common DSM-5 diagnoses by exploring the most relevant changes in the diagnosis of psychopathology from the DSM IV-TR to the DSM-5. It offers an effective tool to help clinicians use the DSM-5 for effective treatment planning, and for communicating with colleagues as well as with insurance companies.

 

starThanks for reading. I encourage and welcome feedback.

Birgit Wolz, Ph.D., MFT
Author of E-Motion Picture Magic
Loch Lomond, CA, USA
bwolz@earthlink.net

 

 
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