Cinema Psychologia Recommends

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This is an ongoing list of film recommendations, organized by themes. The list represents a subjective take on films that would be worth spending some time exploring. Some of these will be linked to a full review; some you're just going to have to take a bigger leap of faith with. Feedback is most welcomed. Enjoy!

.::. A Question of Faith/Life and the Universe
* 2001: A space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968)
* Dekalog (The decalogue; Kieslowski, 1989)
* Grizzly Man (Herzog, 2005)
* Monty Python's Life of Brian (Jones, 1979)
* Nattvardsgasterna (Winter Light; Bergman, 1962)
* The New World (Malick, 2005)
* Stalker (Tarkovsky; 1979)
* Ta'm e guilass (Taste of Cherry; Kiarostami, 1997)

.::. Aging
* A streetcar named desire (Kazan; 1951)

.::. Facing Death

* Det Sjunde inseglet (The Seventh Seal; Bergman, 1957)
* Ikiru (To Live; Kurosawa, 1952)
* Smultronstället (Wild strawberries; Bergman, 1957)
* Wandafuru raifu (After Life; Koreeda, 1998)

.::. Family Dynamics
* Capturing the Friedmans (Jarecki, 2003)
* Fanny and Alexander (Bergman, 1982)
* The Royal Tenenbaums (Anderson, 2001)
* The Squid and the Whale (Baumbach, 2005)
* Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers; Bergman, 1972)

.::. Fear and Violence

* Dai-bosatsu toge (The Sword of Doom; Okamoto, 1966)
* La Grande Illusion (Renoir, 1937)
* Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog; Resnais, 1955)
* The Pianist (Polanski, 2002)

.::. Gender Identity and Sexuality
* Far from heaven (Haynes, 2002)
* Happy Together (Wong, 1997)
* Mulholland Dr. (Lynch, 2001)
* My Own Private Idaho (Van Sant, 1991)
* Tarnation (Caouette, 2003)

.::. In Therapy
* Metallica: Some kind of monster (Berlinger & Sinofsky, 2004)

.::. Intimate Encounters
* A Fei Zheng Chuan (Days of being wild; Wong, 1991)
* Beauty and the Beast (Trousdale & Wise, 1991)
* Before Sunset (Linklater, 2001)
* Chung Hing Sam Lam (Chungking Express; Wong, 1994)
* City Lights (Chaplin, 1931)
* L'avventura (The fling; Antonioni, 1960)
* Manhattan (Allen, 1979)
* McCabe & Mrs. Miller (Altman, 1971)
* Vertigo (Hitchcock; 1958)

.::. Living with illness

* A woman under the influence (Cassavetes, 1974)
* Away from her (Polley; 2007)
* Das cabinet des Dr. Caligari (The cabinet of Dr. Caligari; Wiene, 1920)
* Sasom i en spegel (Through a glass darkly; Bergman, 1961)

.::. Marriage
* Away from her (Polley, 2007)
* A woman under the influence (Cassavetes, 1974)
* In the Moood for Love (Wong, 1999)
* Scener ur ett äktenskap (Scenes from a marriage; Bergman, 1973)
* Solaris (Soderbergh, 2002)
* Sunrise: A song of two humans (Murnau, 1927)
* Ugetsu monogatari (Ugetsu; Mizoguchi, 1953)

.::. Media

* Cache (Hidden; Haneke, 2005)

.::. Parent-Child Relationship
* Hostsonaten (Autumn Sonata; Bergman, 1978)
* Tokyo Monogatari (Tokyo Story; Ozu, 1953)

.::. Political Persuasion/Social Dynamics

* Der untergang (Downfall; Hirschbeigel, 2004)
* Do the right thing (Lee, 1989)
* Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (Kubrick, 1964)
* Metropolis (Lang; 1927)
* Shijie (The world; Jia, 2004)
* Syriana (Gaghan, 2005)
* Talaye Sorkh (Crimson Gold; Panahi, 2003)
* Ten (Kiarostami, 2002)
* Tengoku to jigoku (High and Low; Kurosawa, 1963)
* Zhantai (Platform; Jia, 2000)

.::. Women roles and behaviour

* Cleo de 5 a 7 (Cleo from 5 to 7; Varda, 1961)
* Death Proof (Tarantino, 2007)
* The Descent (Marshall, 2005)
* Kill Bill (Tarantino, 2003)
* Metropolis (Lang, 1927)
* Sunrise: A song of two humans (Murnau, 1927)
* Ten (Kiarostami, 2002)
* Viskningar och rop (Cries and Whispers; Bergman, 1972)

.::. Youth abandonment/Growing Pains
* Dare mo shiranai (Nobody knows; Koreeda, 2004)
* Hotaru no haka (Grave of the fireflies; Takahata, 1988)
* L'enfant (The Child; Dardenne and Dardenne, 2005)
* Les quatre cents coups (400 blows; Truffaut, 1959)
* Lilja 4-ever (Moodysson, 2002)
* Riri Shushu no subete (All about Lily Chou Chou; Iwai, 2001)
* Sen to Chihiro no kamikakushi (Spirited Away; Miyazaki, 2001)


Cinema Psychologia Category Definitions

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Arts of Cinema: There may at times be articles or posts that focus more on the construction of a film than specific psychological principles at work. Film is a visual experience and an art form, and it will sometimes be appreciated and analyzed as such here.

Best of Cinema: What constitute 'best' in such an interactive, subjective province like cinema? In some psychological research, when researchers investigate a phenomenon that can be interpreted multiple ways, they would first define it. As long as you operate under defined parameters, what you mean is clearly communicated, there's some kind of internal validity the readers can rely on. The best of cinema, to me, constitutes some of the followings:

- Achieves what it sets out to do, as evident by what can be pulled out of the picture and the effect on the viewer (me)
- The story, a performance, or the picture itself achieves a significant emotional impact on the viewer (me)
- Obvious craftsmanship, as intended (purposeful shaky cam, graininess included)
- Some attempt at originality, though this is not always required

Character study: Any biography or story focusing on a single character, fictional or real life icon, falls under this category. Also in this category are essays analyzing particular characters in a film, based on some psychological principle or theory.

Cognition:This term refers to the informational processing view of one's psychological functions in psychology. In layman terms, it refers to thoughts and thinking. It is currently the mainstream paradigm from which many psychology researchers and practitioners operate. Its usage here includes Metacognition, which refers to - in plain English - the process of thinking about thinking. Any film that deals with human thought process or inner narrative will be categorized under this heading.

DSM Disorders: This strictly refers to what the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) deems as mental disorders. Films that feature at least one main character dealing with at least one diagnosable disorder and the social and/or personal ramifications of having the disorder will be categorized under this heading.

Existential: In psychology, existentialism refers to a particular school of thought that deals with issues of existence and the meaning of life explicitly. It is a branch of humanist psychology. Films that question or address the process of being human and our role in the bigger picture will be categorized under this heading.

Film News: Upcoming releases, awards, box office notes, trailers.

Gender: This term refers to the social and psychological construct of the feminine and the masculine. It goes beyond the biology of being male and female, and into the realm of self-identity. As the field of psychology moves to position itself in a post-modern paradigm, questions regarding the binary nature of our sociopsychological constructs bring forth some gender role confusion - and in many cases, liberation. Any film that features gender role and identity as one of its main themes will be categorized under this heading. A film with gender-challenging roles may or may not be included under this category, depending on whether or not this theme is touched on in the film.

In Therapy: When therapy sessions and/or therapists are a major part of a film, the film will be categorized under this heading.

Intimate: Love, or intimate relationship, is considered one of the major life experiences and social engagements of human beings in many psychological theories. Films that deal with intimate issues - including sexuality, marital conflicts, and feelings of affection - will be categorized under this heading.

The List: An ongoing list of recommended films of various themes.

Social Relations: It is emphasized in many psychological theories (such as Adlerian Psychology, Critical Psychology, Cultural Psychology, Interpersonal Psychology, etc.) that human beings are social animals living within social systems and cultural contexts. The current movement is to situate the individual within his/her surrounding, and understand the individual as a whole. Social systems and our relationships within them help shape who we are. Any film that raises a concern about a social issue or examines a set of cultural interactions or a particular structural system will be categorized under this heading. This will include media and politics, as they are major areas of our social relations.

Truth and Fiction: Articles discussing specific details presented in a film with regards to its relations to the off-screen world. Do they actually exist in real life? In which context do they unfold? What is the current understanding of an issue or a specific detail presented in the film?

Updates: Site news and announcement. Discussion of feedback would likely be included in this category.



Recently Seen (out of *****)

  • One night in Miami (King, 2020) ***
  • Mank (Fincher, 2020) ***1/2
  • Coming 2 America (Brewer, 2021) **1/2
  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Wolfe, 2020) ***1/2
  • I care a lot (Blakeson, 2020) **

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