Aug 28

“Grandma”: Lily Tomlin’s Not Your Grandpa’s Woman

Sony Classics describes the highly liked Lily Tomlin-centered comedy/drama Grandma, written and directed by Paul Weitz:

Lily Tomlin is Elle Reid. Elle has just gotten through breaking up with her girlfriend when Elle’s granddaughter Sage unexpectedly shows up needing $600 bucks before sundown. Temporarily broke, Grandma Elle and Sage spend the day trying to get their hands on the cash as their unannounced visits to old friends and flames end up rattling skeletons and digging up secrets.

Young Sage (Julia Garner) is pregnant, you see, and what she wants is an abortion. Scott Foundas, Variety: “Though likely to be variously praised and pilloried as a pro-choice film, Weitz’s film is really a movie about choice in both the specific and the abstract — about the choices we make, for good and for ill, and how we come to feel about them through the prism of time.”

Watch the trailer:

The Road Trip

June Thomas, Slate: “Since Elle, a poet and occasional academic writer-in-residence, has just $43 to her name and has made a charming, if unmelodic, wind chime from her chopped-up credit cards, there’s only one possible course of action: The two of them whip the cover off Vi’s amazing old Dodge and hit the road, hoping to find a friend who’ll lend them the cash.”

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice:

During this road trip, the thorny, multi-dead-end map of family resentments is laid out. Sage doesn’t dare tell her distracted businesswoman mother, Judy (played, with both sharpness and subtlety, by Marcia Gay Harden), about the pregnancy. Elle isn’t speaking to Judy, either — the two have had a falling-out. What’s more, all three women are still in mourning for Violet, Elle’s longtime partner, Judy’s mom, and Sage’s other grandmother: She died not so long ago, after suffering through an illness…

Scott Foundas, Variety:

…(A)s the characters crisscross the city over the course of the day, their journey becomes an unforced but unmistakably political survey of three generations of independent womanhood in America. Like Tomlin herself, Elle was an out lesbian long before it was widely accepted, and her daughter, Judy, had Sage through an anonymous sperm donor. And now it is Sage’s turn to make a critical decision about her own body and the life of her unborn child — a decision, ‘Grandma’ unambiguously argues, it is hers and only hers to make.

Grandma

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice: “As Elle finds out, even when you think you know everything, there’s always more to learn.”

Selected Reviews

Bob Strauss, Los Angeles Daily News: “It’s a perfectly gay-positive, pro-reproductive rights, anti-economic inequality, almost entirely Bechdel Test-acing and otherwise impeccably progressive movie that always remembers correct thinking people can also be awful and funny and dumb.”

A.O. Scott, New York Times: “There is much to praise…:the way the script captures the speech patterns of the young, the old and the middle age; the way the story feels at once frantic and relaxed, as the two main characters race against the clock and meander through Los Angeles in Elle’s wheezy vintage car; the brief, memorable appearances from supporting performers like Judy Greer, Sam Elliott and Elizabeth Peña (in one of her last roles). But honestly, the wonder that is ‘Grandma’ can be summed up in two words: Lily Tomlin.”

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: “This is Tomlin’s movie, and she obliges with a spiky, refreshingly unvarnished performance.”

Feb 23

Bad Therapy Boundaries and Beyond On TV and Film

Looks as though How I Met Your Mother has finally found a way to get rid of Kevin, he of bad therapy boundaries, he who never should have been dating his former client Robin.

Let me make this brief: Before knowing that she can never have kids, Kevin proposes. Robin discloses. He again proposes. She accepts. She discloses she doesn’t want kids either. He’s unfazed. She insists he really thinks this through. He un-proposes. Done.

So, this has gone the way of all of those inappropriate shrink/client relationships we’ve seen on TV or in movies that eventually crumble because in the end the client realizes he or she’s been exploited or because of other negative effects on the client’s well-being or…

Whoa. Wait a minute. Wait a darn minute. That actually never happened on HIMYM, and…well, has it ever happened anywhere on TV? In the movies?

Back around 1993, a study regarding therapy boundaries in U.S. movies showed that there were 22 that featured female therapists having sexual relationships with male clients; eight had male therapists getting involved with female clients. (In real life, by the way, more male therapists take advantage of female clients than the other way around.)

The psychiatrist behind this film research, Glen O. Gabbard, states: “Dr. Hannibal Lecter in the movie The Silence of the Lambs was probably more ethical than most screen psychiatrists–he only ate his patients.” (For more info, see the second edition—1999— of Gabbard’s book Psychiatry and the Cinema, cowritten with his brother Krin, a literature professor.)

As stated by Dr. Ofer Zur, Ph.D., author of Boundaries in Psychotherapy: Ethical and Clinical Explorations (2007) on his website:

Sexual relationships between therapists and current or recently terminated clients are always unethical and often illegal.

Whereas in real life, most clients who’ve become lovers of their therapists are significantly harmed emotionally, most of the celluloid clients and shrinks seem to suffer no such thing. Many of these films, in fact, have even been billed as exciting “romances” by their producers. And, Zur adds:

What is interesting about some of these movies is that they depict the sexual relationships as effective in promoting health and healing.

Fortunately, more and more of the public is aware that it’s wrong for therapists to develop romantic or sexual relationships with clients and/or clients’ family members. One way that I see this every day, in fact, is in the disproportionately large number of hits to this blog by people searching for info about whether or not the therapist in the movie 50/50 and Kevin on HIMYM have been unethical. It’s as though these searchers already know the answer but need some validation.

I don’t remember if the following scene from The First Wives Club (1996) happens before or after Annie (Diane Keaton) finds out that her therapist (Marcia Gay Harden) has become involved with her husband—probably before—but, in either case, it may serve as some small comfort to those who’ve felt betrayed by their shrinks: