HEADLINES / TRENDS l STATS l RESEARCH l MEDIA l PEOPLE

November/December 2013

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Films in 2013 Tackled

Emotional Wellness

jude

Emotional and physical illness, and (sometimes) recovery, in the realms of both conventional and complementary healing, have been themes and the stuff of plot lines in films for years, from “A Streetcar Named Desire” to “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest,” “Terms of Endearment” and beyond. We found this year’s most poignant films dealt with emotional well-being. Here are our picks of compelling 2013 films with a health subtext.

Touchy Feely

At once heartwarming and funny, “Touchy Feely,” directed by Lynne Shelton, examines
a family rediscovering itself as roles suddenly change and identity crises ensue.

Abby (Rosemarie DeWitt) is a spirited, popular massage therapist while her brother Paul (Josh Pais) is happy leading the routine dullard’s life of a dentist. Abby suddenly finds herself repulsed by bodily contact, while Paul develops the magic touch, filling what was heretofore a largely empty waiting room.

As a Reiki instructor who gets caught up in this dysfunctional family’s romp through self-discovery, Allison Janney takes a far more comedic turn in “Touchy Feely” than she did as an overbearing mother living with cancer in 2011’s “The Help.” The scene with Janney and Pais navigating her massage table is priceless.(Janney trained under a prominent Los Angeles-based Reiki instructor to prepare for her role.)

“Touchy Feely” prompts its audience to ponder the ups and downs of living in and out of one’s comfort zone. Nice touch by filmmaker Shelton.

The Moment

The sizable number of veterans returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder has aptly put wartime emotional distress in the spotlight. “The Moment,” which premiered at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, does a good job showing how emotional traumas might rear their heads worlds away from a battlefield.

This psychological thriller from Jane Weinstock is a perfect vehicle for star Jennifer Jason Leigh. The actress does edgy characters well, and she doesn’t disappoint in “The Moment.”

She plays a wartime photojournalist named Lee who escapes death in Somalia and, recuperating in a US hospital, meets a fellow patient, John (Martin Henderson), who is recovering from a car crash. The two become lovers, but the tension rises as Lee discovers John has also been seeing her daughter Jessie (Alia Shawkat). It is not long before John disappears, leaving the unstable Lee to question her role in the mystery.

“The Moment” excels at keeping the audience guessing alongside Lee as she tries to find the threshold between reality and illusion. Beyond that, touching scenes between Jessie and her mother seem to point to at least one potential solution to emotional woes and distress: family.

Side Effects

This Hitchcockian thriller by Steven Soderbergh has enough rogues to go around, but its biggest
villain might very well be prescription drug abuse.

Excessive prescription drug use is central in the mystery that unfolds around the emotionally distressed Emily Taylor (Rooney Mara) after her husband Martin (Channing Tatum) returns home from a few years behind bars for financial fraud.

Emily is put on prescription pills by her psychiatrist, Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), but the mystery deepens and the debate grows more public after Emily commits a horrendous act. Was she responsible? Were the pills?

As Banks investigates Emily’s past to salvage his sullied reputation, there are clever, unforeseen twists and turns that make “Side Effects” a maze worth entering.

But it is the characters whose ghosts shadow “Side Effects”—from Elvis to Michael Jackson to Whitney Houston—that add another layer of unnerving poig­nancy to the film. Prescription drug abuse works well as a plot point here because it is too real a plague. —A.R.

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Resveratrol May Shrink Fat Cells

wine

When you lift your glass this holiday season you may want to propose a toast to resveratrol: The phytonutrient that gives red wine its healthy reputation has shown the potential to reduce the size of fat cells in a recent study.

A team of researchers in the Netherlands gave either 150 milligrams of resveratrol or a placebo to 11 men who were obese but otherwise healthy. After 30 days, the participants went through a four-week washout period, in which no supplements were taken, before switching to the other group for another 30 days.

While taking resveratrol, the size of the volunteers’ adipocytes, or fat cells, showed significant reductions in size, according to results published in the International Journal of Obesity.

In addition, resveratrol affected the way the men’s genes were expressed, turning on genetic pathways that led to fat breakdown and interfering with the formation of new fat cells.

The researchers speculated that these changes may explain why resveratrol has been linked to increased insulin sensitivity, a sign of better blood sugar control.

Previous laboratory research had linked resveratrol to a number of health benefits, including possible protection against cardiovascular disease and the inhibition of cellular processes associated with cancer development.

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RESOURCE

Rethinking School Lunch Guide

think

The Idea:

This report (available from the Center for Ecoliteracy as a free
PDF download) outlines ways for parents and school officials to

improve school

lunches both

nutritionally and

environmentally

Contact:
www.ecoliteracy.org

 

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RESOURCE

Losing Vision

eye

14 Million

Americans age 12 and older who are visually impaired;
11 million correctable with glasses

 

21%

Increase in impairment due to retinal problems, cataract and glaucoma
(which glasses won’t help) from 1999-2002 to 2005-2008

 

22%

Increase in prevalence of longstanding (10+ years)
diabetes, a major risk factor

Source: JAMA

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