Thursday, December 19, 2019

Catching up with a little-seen gem from 2017: Galinsky/Hawley/Beilinson's ALL THE RAGE

I've been interested -- and a good deal more than just that -- in the work of the filmmaking team of Michael Galinsky, Suki Hawley and David Beilinson even since seeing their phenomenal activist documentary, Battle for Brooklyn back in 2011 (it was shortlisted as an Oscar contender that year). But I am late in viewing another of their films -- ALL THE RAGE -- that made its debut at DOC NY in late 2016 and was released theatrically in very limited fashion in 2017.  The documentary tries -- and to a good extent succeeds -- in putting us in touch with the groundbreaking work in the field of what we might now call "pain management" by the late Dr. John Ernest Sarno.

Sarno (shown above), who died in 2017 just one day short of his 94th birthday, originated  the medical term tension myositis syndrome (TMS), his name for a psychosomatic condition of repressed feelings (often rage, hence the film's double-edged title) producing chronic pain, particularly in the areas of the back, neck and limbs. Shunned by the medical establishment, Sarno nonetheless practiced his art for decades curing thousands at the famous Rusk Institute in New York City, where founder Howard Rusk was firmly in Sarno's corner, even if, once Rusk left the Institute, no one else there would recommend either Sarno or his work.

Galinsky, who has been helped through his back pain by Sarno, set upon making a film that tries to explain as much as possible Sarno's theory -- even if, as this documentary also makes clear,  each patient must wrestle with that theory, come to understand it, and apply it to him/herself. A few of the famous and celebrated who have done just this -- to pain-free results -- are Howard Stern (above left), Larry David (above, right) and John Stossel, the latter of whom did a now-famous 20/20 episode on the good doctor.

The filmmakers -- Galinsky (above left) co-directed and did the cinematography, Hawley (center), co-directed and edited, and Beilinson (at right) co-directed and produced -- weave together a history of pain, pre-Descartes to present-day, while interviewing Sarno, some of his patients, and others in the medical profession who do agree with his groundbreaking work. The result is a film that fascinates, even if its objective always seems to remain slightly out of reach. What you're likely to take away from the movie is: If you're in need of pain help, read Sarno's book and go from there. Which you may very well do, so genuine and real seems everything about Sarno -- who consistently appears to be smart, intuitive and sanguine -- and his theory.

The documentary is also a hugely personal work. During the filming, Galinsky has a horrible recurrence of back pain, which renders him practically immobile for a time, and we not only feel the filmmaker's pain but some real embarrassment at his having been caught in such a vulnerable light. Oddly enough all this simply adds to the documentary's overall effect of tantalizing us without quite being able to satisfy.

And yet, satisfy, it does, finally. I would not have missed the movie, and I hope you will have the opportunity to see it, as well. As one noted physician, Dr. Gabor Maté, tells us toward the end of the film, it is "despite the evidence, not for lack of it, that we practice (medicine) the way we do." Around the time the film devotes itself to the U. S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, and Pensions as part of a 2012 hearing "Pain in America: Exploring Challenges to Relief" -- chaired by Senator Tom Harkin, who himself experience back pain relief via Dr. Sarno, with Senator Bernie Sanders (above) also part of this hearing --  you'll probably be ready to share this one-of-a-kind documentary with any of your friends or relatives experiencing chronic pain.

So where can you find All the Rage?  Purchase a DVD or stream the documentary for rental by clicking here. Then feel free to share this link -- and the film -- with your friends.

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