Nov 22

“Lady Bird”: Pre-College Teen Navigates Her Identity

A heartfelt coming-of-age story that perfectly captures the bittersweet transition from adolescence to dawning adulthood, [Greta] Gerwig’s directorial debut is a joy from start to finish, a warm, generous snapshot of teenage vulnerability and exuberance. Review of Lady Bird by Lara Zarum, Village Voice

Lady Bird isn’t a movie about any searing issue; it’s just a wonderful, rare character study of a young woman figuring out her identity, and all the pitfalls that follow. David Sims, The Atlantic

For what it’s worth, Lady Bird is the highest-ranking film ever on Rotten Tomatoes, with a perfect score.The 17-year-old lead character, as described by Sims:

Christine McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) is someone cursed with that familiar, often painful, gift of youth—absolute certainty. She feels everything strongly, expresses her opinions loudly, and both wounds and charms the people around her without meaning to. On the brink of adulthood, she’s resolute enough about her desire to go to college on the East Coast (far from her home of Sacramento) that she tosses herself out of a moving car when her mother Marion (Laurie Metcalf) tries to dismiss her ambitions. Another movie might frame that moment as frightening or foolish, but Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird celebrates Christine’s teenage will, no matter how extreme it can sometimes be.

Sims emphasizes the importance of the connection between Lady Bird and her mom:

Lady Bird is a powerful illustration of the temporary tenuousness of the mother-daughter bond in the later teenage years, and the surprising strength of that connection even during times of total conflict. Gerwig knows how easily children can wound their parents and vice versa, and the film’s best moments spring from those (often accidental) blow-ups.

As does Zarum, who notes “it’s in many ways Marion’s story, too”:

Gerwig nails this dynamic, the subtle manner in which Marion’s little criticisms, small and sharp as a pin, poke into a daughter’s psyche the way only a mother can; or the way weeks’ worth of argument and hostility can drift off like mist when, on a shopping excursion, mother and daughter both spot the right dress at the same time.

In her article “Why the Mother-Daughter Relationship in Lady Bird Feels So Real” (The Cut), Anna Silman states, “Lady Bird is a story of personal growth, but it’s also a story of attachment: of a mother and daughter struggling to navigate their boundaries at a time when a mother’s fear of abandonment and a daughter’s desire for independence are particularly at war with one another.”

Silman points out that many of the mother-child issues have presumably emanated from Marion’s upbringing with an alcoholic, abusive mother. Although we viewers know this from a brief remark cast off by Marion, her behavior seems to indicate a major lack of insight into the ways she’s developed as a result.

Other of Lady Bird’s fraught relationships include those with her older brother Miguel, whose girlfriend also resides with their family, her best friends—both real and wannabe, and a couple of first boyfriends.

A more secure attachment, on the other hand, is what Lady Bird has with her father (Tracy Letts), who’s depressive and currently unemployed but a giving and loving dad.

Some other plot elements include her love/hate connection to her hometown of Sacramento, her shame over residing in a section of the city that’s not the coveted wealthier one, and her eagerness to leave her Catholic high school for a good college in the East despite her lackluster academic performance.

Rex Reed, New York Observer: “Self-assured, fastidious, unusual, written with sass and directed with sensitivity and style, Lady Bird is a year-end surprise that lands in 2017’s pile of mediocrity like a stray emerald in a pile of discarded rhinestones.”

Watch the trailer below:

Dec 24

Christmas Eve: Sitcom Mishaps Illustrate It’s Not All Fun and Games

The following sitcom clips, plus a special infographic, address the incidence of various Christmas Eve mishaps. (Hope your own day goes better than this.)

I. “It’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” from Roseanne

In the following Roseanne clip from 1992, some of the Conner clan plan not to be with the family on Christmas Eve. Featured are Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr), her younger sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), her daughter Darlene (Sara Gilbert), her mother Beverly (Estelle Parsons), and her grandmother Nana Mary (Shelley Winters).

Update: the clip is no longer available on YouTube.

The quick quip about Jackie quitting therapy because her boyfriend says she’s able to make decisions on her own indicates, of course, that she may not yet in fact have this down. No wonder—Roseanne, who’s always been the controlling older sib, freely admits that she needs to be the one with the final say in Jackie’s affairs.

What’s not seen in the clip is that a snowstorm later traps Roseanne, her sister, and their elders at the diner, while Darlene gets stuck at her boyfriend David’s place. David’s home life is revealed to be seriously dysfunctional—he’s being emotionally abused by his alcoholic mom.

II. “My Own Personal Jesus” from Scrubs

On this Scrubs episode, Christmas Eve is not all fun and games at the fictional Sacred Heart Hospital— particularly for Dr. Turk (Donald Faison). A “Twelve Days” spoof:

III. “Holiday Hellth”: An Infographic

That Scrubs episode is (kinda) no joke. Take a look at what health care workers do encounter at the holidays:

Holiday Hellth

[ SOURCE: Carrington College – Holiday Hellth ]

Apr 18

Sisters Therapy: Roseanne and Jackie (“Roseanne”)

Season Four (1992) of the hit sitcom Roseanne gave us an episode called “Therapy” in which Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) is asked by her sister Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) to join her for a session with her therapist (Rondi Reed). Sisters therapy.

The background: Roseanne is three years older than Jackie, who’s been in individual therapy largely because of Roseanne’s controlling and interfering ways. Art is a guy who does Roseanne’s (and husband Dan’s) taxes. Roseanne wants Jackie to date him, but Jackie deems him too boring.

By the end of the clip below, it’s a total family affair—Roseanne’s husband (John Goodman) and kids have also joined in on Jackie’s therapy.

UPDATE: The video has been removed from YouTube.

Nov 30

Internet Addiction: An Increasingly Serious Problem Worldwide

Internet Addiction might wind up as a diagnosis in the next edition of the DSM, though it’s controversial and still under consideration. Meanwhile, people all over the world have documented the existence and prevalence of this burgeoning issue.

Take this article from just a couple weeks ago, for example. It’s about Kenya’s growing awareness of the incidence of internet addiction—to virtual porn, sex, and relationships. Apparently it’s seen as particularly problematic for youth, including 20-somethings, and it’s more prevalent than drug and alcohol addictions because access to cybercafe use is cheaper.

And here’s a report from the United Kingdom:

Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., an addiction researcher in Los Angeles, recently posted a blog article in which he weighs in on the subject of compulsive internet use. He includes info from around the world and adds:

…the answer to the question of whether or not Internet addiction is the same as substance abuse is obviously not yet, and may never be, crystal clear.  However, according to everything we know right now, it seems obvious that for at least a small subset of Internet users, online life can become disruptive to normal functioning. The question is how to minimize that sort of risk as our society becomes more and more globally dependent on technology.

Consider checking out the questionnaire he provides to see if you may be experiencing issues related to your own internet use.

Finally, a humorous look at this topic from 1996 (mind you), that occurred on the sitcom Roseanne. Jackie (Laurie Metcalf), Roseanne’s sister on the show, gives us a priceless visual take on how susceptible some people are to losing themselves in cyberspace: