The doctor believes he is on to something, and in a way it’s hard to disagree. The average insurance plan will cover a few months of therapy, at best, but as long as you pay late fees, your Hollywood Video card will always be there for you. Therapists must grow weary of recommending that patients read William Styron’s Darkness Visible. Why not pick a movie instead? Just look at our houses now — the fetishizing of the home theater, the DVDs with THX SurroundSound. Solomon tells me he thinks a Cinematherapy Channel would be a big hit; I think American Movie Classics is already being used as a kind of regressive drug therapy.
In the vaunted, required-viewing-for-all-smarties The Sopranos, there is even cinematherapy vérité: Tony Soprano’s shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco), now spills her own problems to Dr. Elliott Kupferberg (Peter Bogdanovich). But no one, upon reflection, does cinematherapy better than the bearded, sensitive duo of Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. They invented the form in the 1980s with the TV series thirtysomething, which dealt with so many issues and feelings that it forced half the nation into complete ookiness (while the other half watched). They followed that in the 1990s with My So-Called Life, which featured a delicious smorgasbord of teen and adult hangups. Now, with Once and Again on Wednesday nights and Traffic (which they produced) in movie theaters, Herskovitz and Zwick are building toward crescendo: Every moment is meant to make you feel like a participant instead of a mere observer. Sela Ward, in reflective, black-and-white moments on Once and Again, speaks to the camera like it’s a therapist. This was still not enough: Zwick himself has taken on a recurring role in the show, as a salt-and-pepper-bearded therapist, Dr. Rosenfeld, who counsels a teenage character with an eating disorder. Zwick nods and listens, and when he speaks, it’s with the smart, comfy voice of God. I’ve never had an eating disorder, but I now know what to watch to get through one. (Dr. Solomon, on the other hand, recommends Fatso, starring Dom DeLuise.)
Before we finish, I tell Solomon, quickly, as a final lob, that I’m having some intimacy issues. I’m having problems connecting to the men I’ve been dating. It’s very here-and-there, off-and-on. Solomon advises a regimen of the inner Meg, beginning with When Harry Met Sally, and I immediately feel depressed.
Cahiers du Co-dependency
The following are among the movies recommended by Reel Therapy’s Dr. Gary Solomon for those who would like to explore co-dependency, which he defines as “supporting a person or persons in their dysfunctional behavior or relying on another person to identify your feelings or needs”:
The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz Avalon The Bad Seed Bastard Out of Carolina The Best Years of Our Lives Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Casablanca Come Back, Little Sheba Corrina, Corrina Drunks East of Eden 84 Charing Cross Road Fatso The First Time (1983) Fried Green Tomatoes Home for the Holidays The Hustler I’m Not Rappaport Inventing the Abbotts Jeffrey The Joker Is Wild Klute L.A. Story The Lady Gambles Leaving Las Vegas Lenny Like Mom, Like Me Little Man Tate Love, Lies and Lullabies The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Mask Mildred Pierce My Left Foot Ragtime The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe Single Bars, Single Women Stand and Deliver A Star Is Born Stuart Saves His Family Tales of Ordinary Madness A Thousand Acres 3 Men and a Baby Trading Mom A Tree Grows in Brooklyn The Vanishing (1993) The Verdict (1982) Waiting To Exhale What Ever Happened to Baby Jane (1962) The Women’s Room Zoot Suit Reprinted with permission of Lebhar-Friedman Books ©2001
Hank Stuever is a staff writer atThe Washington Post.
REEL THERAPY: How Movies Inspire You To Overcome Life’s Problems By DR. GARY SOLOMON | Lebhar-Friedman Books | 274 pages $13 paperback