The Netflix series Bloodline (starring Sam Shepard, Sissy Spacek, Kyle Chandler and Ben Mendelsohn) insightfully explores two critical psychological concepts--the legacy of trauma that can reverberate through the years, and the ties that keep family members bound together, for better and worse.
"Searching for Bobby Fischer" is a movie about greatness in chess. But more than that, it is about maintaining compassion as one pursues excellence. It is also a caution to parents who may be tempted to overly identify with their children's success.
In the movie 'Birdman,' Michael Keaton plays a former movie star who is trying to make a comeback on the New York stage. He also has super powers. Or does he? This movie pulls viewers inside the mind of a disturbed character and makes us ask questions not only about reality but also about what we want reality to be.
A list of great TV dramas of recent times (The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men) reveal many similarities. They are all dark, grim series with anti-hero protagonists who behave badly and challenge viewer identification. True Detective has many of these qualities, yet in the end, offers a vision of what old-fashioned heroism might look like in the modern world.
'The Breakfast Club' (1985) has long stood as a rare film that takes adolescent issues seriously without forgetting to celebrate the positive qualities of its characters. 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower' (2012) joins that good company.
The Oscar-nominated film 'Nebraska,' starring Bruce Dern and Will Forte, makes the daring stylistic choice to shoot in black and white. Some of the psychological advantages of the film's stark images of small towns, highways and relationships in the Great Plains are explored.
What do musician Bob Dylan and reality TV star Honey Boo Boo have in common? They have both been the subject of a documentary style known as 'cinema verite.' While this approach to visual images started as a radical artistic movement, it has been coopted in the modern media, raising fascinating contrasts in audience response to 'reality.'
Some viewers take the Oscar success of actresses in Woody Allen's movies to be evidence of his special insight into the feminine psyche; others are critical of decisions in his own life and his cinematic portrayals of women. Cate Blanchett's mesmerizing performance as a deeply flawed and self-deluded women in Allen's "Blue Jasmine" invites a return to this debate.
While classic movies have had decades to influence the lives of movies viewers, sometimes it is recent movies that have the most impact, especially among younger viewers. New movies (such as "Into the Wild" or "The Perks of Being a Wallflower") are often easier for these viewers to identify with, and they have the power of immediacy and currency.
Do anti-depressants offer the possibility of exceptional happiness and fulfillment? Or do they open us up to a host of side effects and threaten our sense of self? The psychological thriller, Side Effects, evokes both of these reactions and parallels the issues raised 20 years ago by Peter Kramer's non-fictional book, Listening to Prozac.
Can a movie be accurate, inaccurate and profound at once? The multi-Oscar nominated Silver Linings Playbook seems to have all these characteristics in its depiction of mental illness, therapy, love and hope.
As "The Hobbit" is set to appear in theaters, the author reflects on how "The Lord of the Rings" films took him back to early adolescence and Tolkien's novels. Narrative psychology suggests that our self-conscious identity emerges in adolescence, and such stories can have a critical impact on who we become.
Frightening images from film can have a powerful impact on kids. On one hand, they can help children work through anxiety. On the other hand, they can overwhelm and distress kids. Where is that fine line?
How does a liberal-leaning psychologist justify his fondness for James Bond films? Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind helps by providing a broad palette of moral principles that impact people's judgments of everything from politics to movies.
All movies are psychologically alive, exploding with human drama. This drama can be seen from many different angles-in the movies themselves, in the people who make them, and in the people who watch them.