True Grit movie poster

'True Grit' as a (Strangely) Therapeutic Movie

We expect coming of age films to show an adolescent protagonist grow up, but in the Coen Brother's quirky remake of 'True Grit,' true development is hidden at the end of the film.

Are 'Deadpool' & 'Daredevil' Dangers to Kids?

'Daredevil' and 'Deadpool' have been touted as superhero stories for grown-ups. These entries into the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be good, but they aren't good for kids.

In Anticipation of 'The Force Awakens'

The opening of the 'Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens' is an opportunity to reflect on the cultural and personal meaning of the 'Star Wars' Universe then and now.

'Inside-Out' Goes Deep Inside

Pixar's psychologically insightful summer blockbuster, 'Inside Out,' makes challenging ideas about the importance of sadness and the multiplicity of self seem like common sense.

A Portrait of the Legacy of Trauma in 'Bloodline'

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.

Winning Moves in "Searching for Bobby Fischer"

"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.

Playing with Psychosis in 'Birdman'

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.

'True Detective' Blues

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 Perks of 'The Perks of Being a Wallflower'

'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.

'Nebraska' and the Power of Black & White

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.

Bob Dylan vs. Honey Boo Boo

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.'

'Blue Jasmine' in Full Bloom

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.

Finding Cinematic Inspiration in New Movies

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.

Transcendent Moments: Film in the Age of Social Media

Looking for transcendence in everyday life? It isn't easy in the modern world, but guest blogger, Dr. Bill Bettler, finds it in Martin Scorsese's 'Hugo' using the power of metaphor.

Listening to Prozac While Watching 'Side Effects'

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.

Accuracy, Distortion and Truth In Silver Linings Playbook

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.

Praising The Lord of the Rings in Anticipation of The Hobbit

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.

Fear of Flying Monkeys, Blobs, and Frankenweenie

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?

Twelve Essential Psycho-Political Films

Psychology can be found in even the most political of movies. A psychologist and a political scientist discuss a dozen particularly interesting films from both perspectives.

James Bond & the Righteous Mind

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.

The Dark Side of Movies as Equipment for Living

The complete explanation for the shootings in Aurora during The Dark Knight Rises will likely remain a mystery, but the images from the movie itself are at least part of the picture.

Shawshank, Lions & Gump

What movies matter to Generation Y? A closer look reveals some things you might not expect.

Movies as Equipment for Living

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.