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Showing posts from May, 2020

REAL

I   hesitated  about  watching  this  movie  because  I  didn't  want  it to take away from the  pleasure  of having  read  the  book .  Th e Britt Marie Was Here follows the general plot of the book about a woman in long-term marriage.  Their  marriage  without  children  would probably be considered “ solid ” by most  people ’s  standard .  Likewise, Britt Marie is a “solid” partner who has invested her time and energy into keeping a nice, clean and perfectly ordered home.  Her husband of 25 years  (or more)  is some kind of salesman or businessman that travels.  They have each other.  They eat nice meals together with nice general conversation.  Then Marie Britt does her “thing” which is clean, and the husband does his “thing” which is to watch soccer.  For this reason Britt Marie has little fondness for soccer.  And although her husband has been watching, soccer all their marriage, he has never explained or she has never asked.  So that’s the storyline until the husband has an

AUNTHENTIC

It’s hard to believe the year 2006 is so long ago; a decade and then some. Likewise, it's hard to believe where the general mindset of the culture, the society, the world was back then. I say that because it seems so much has changed. It’s more than clothes, music or even the amazing advances in technology. But then again, maybe so little has changed for too few. This is one the most noteworthy aspects of the 2006 movie Breakfast on Pluto based on the novel of the same name.  Perhaps a perusal of the Breakfast on Pluto book jacket would disclose some special meaning connected to the title. Or maybe, the connection is obvious in the character of Patrick “Kitten” Braden (Cillian Murphy is excellent.) as a cross-dressing, transgender person growing up in the 1970s. Not only does “Kitten” have to deal with what is now called LGBTQ aspects of life, but there is also the “stigma” of growing up in a little Irish town after being left at the doors of church by your young unmarried. And a

CURIOUSITY

I like to think I’m a curious person. I was that kid who wanted a for-real working microscope, instead of a fluffy bear. They say information is power. And I like to investigate things. Take a chance and find out about stuff. Right? Well, that is until I came across a very different take on curious (curiosity).  In “To Know as We are Known” the section titled, Some Spiritual Virtues it states “When mere curiosity is the source of our need to know, we distance ourselves from truth; curiosity is a symptom of our need to control and master truth rather than letting truth master us” writes Parker J. Parker. Suffice to say, it is always important to read the entire chapter, or at the very least the full section to be clear of the context. However, having read the book several times over the years, I still rediscover, discover, learn something new or maybe understand something differently. Indeed, this idea of curiosity as a “need to control” touched a nerve and gave pause for thought, which

SURPRISE

What a surprise! A pleasant surprise! A refreshing surprise! It’s such a relief not to have to uncover something to bridge a topic of discussion in a movie. Admittedly it's easier to write when I don’t have to search a movie for a hook. Which is not to say, movies that aren’t a surprise don’t have worthy points for essays. To the contrary, it’s the challenge of the writer to write, especially when it's tough to be novel. However, there’s a certain lightness in flow fingers on the keyboard when I get to write about a movie like Girl On a Bicycle because it was such a pleasant surprise.  The plot for  Girl On a Bicycle is a story within a story about an Italian man living in France who proposes to his long-time stewardess German girlfriend who unsurprisingly says yes and everybody is happy. But then over the course of the next few days, the Italian starts seeing a beautiful Audrey Tautou type…drum roll...girl on a bicycle and can’t get her out of his mind. He even sees that G ir

SYNCHRONICITY

That I love music, is a rhetorical statement because music is a resounding theme in many of my essays (connected to any and everything). Nevertheless, I have an audible distaste for musical plays, theatre and movies. But Queen: Mercury Rising did strike a chord. As it turns out, it wasn’t even the movie I wanted to watch. I actually thought I'd be watching Bohemian Rhapsody , which is the most movie about the mega-successful rock group, Queen and the group’s super-star performer Freddie Mercury. Well! I thought, can you beat that! It is all about timing! The aria in this little opera is that if it was a different time, or were I at a different place in time, I would have paid better attention, realizing that my friend had actually recommended Bohemian Rhapsody, the box office hit. And if I had, maybe I’d be writing about serendipity instead of synchronicity. So...what exactly am I drummin’ on about? Synchronicity comes to us by, via, through, with, as a phenomenon of time. It

TRUTH

You never know what you’re going to get with a biopic. Often it feels like I’ve eaten my favorite food only to come away from the table feeling, “Gee that tastes different” than before. Undoubtedly it does. A biopic is a shortened dramatized movie version of a famous (or infamous) life. Ostensibly, this movie version is based on historical and/or factual information. However, this is where the favorite food can start to “taste different” because if the real-life person is dead the facts may or may not be real, exact or proven. Likewise, if the person is still living and has not agreed to the “dramatized” version, he or she may choose not to confirm, disagree or deny the facts as presented in the “based on fact” movie interpretation of his/her life. And finally, if the person is living and actually involved in the biopic movie she/he has every right to tell the story as they lived and experienced their life.  In this scenario, Elton John borrowed the title of one of his best selling so

BALANCE

Movies make it possible for all of life’s painful, uncomfortable, bad circumstances to provide a good and perfect ending. I even considered “Perfect or Perfection" for this title. Yet I know that’s not actually what I got from watching Four of A Kind, an Australian movie production. In addition, I later found out that the movie title (probably) referred to a poker card sequence. The sequence is actually 5 cards, 4 similar and 1 a somewhat wild card. I didn’t research whether the Poker card sequence was actually a play on words about the movie plot. Chances are it's more than a lucky coincidence. I'm not a Poker player, so my characterization may not flush out the exact symbolism of the card reference as it relates to the storyline. With that said, the plot revolves around four women connected to one experience, with one variable outside of their commonality that defines their connection. As the women are introduced into the story in stages, their commonality gradually b

DIVERSITY

It’s been said, “Sometimes the less said, the better” which on occasion may be best. Not in this case. It’s also been said,“Speak up, or lose your voice, and your choice” which routinely suffers dire consequences as history has shown repeatedly. And then there’s that placating suggestion, “Don’t take things so seriously,” which is typically spoken by someone who knows, the thing needs to be taken seriously.  As such, these are the perspectives I find myself struggling with after watching the Belgian film The Brand New Testament by Jaco Van Dormael. So as a matter of course, let's get to the storyline which is “tour de force” for my angst with this movie. We are introduced to a god as an angry, mean, sloppy, loathsome Frenchman with a mousey wife, sponky 10-year old daughter and a dead older son (JC who killed himself).  One day after being severly beaten by her father, the daughter sneaks into his vaulted computer room control center and releases the “die due date” for all the p

SUPPORT

I do understand much of learning happens when we do things we don't like. I don’t like war movies. I don’t like movies about war. I don’t like even like war movies cushion in comedy, romance or love story. And yet, it seems as though every time I venture into a war theme I find great satisfaction. Perhaps that might be expressed better by saying, I find great appreciation for the technical production, the acting, the historical information, as well as the way the story is told. In addition to all of these aspects, I usually come away marveling at all the support it takes to make such movies. Of course, most movies are mega investments of money, of  time, and energy of all the various moving parts and people required to make a movie. Certainly, I applaud all of those aspects, still what I absorb most from war movies Castles in the Sky that focus on the behind the scenes support between, amongst and with people when there is a war to win. Let’s face it, most war movies, includi

RESTORATION

No magic, miracle, fabulous, feel good ending.  No dynamic blast up and blow explosive scenes.  No fast and furious car chase.  No superfluous, gratuitous, casual sex escapades.  In the fact the final scene for the movie T ara House is  grief-stricken, somber and lamentable.  Some might say, this is no way to end a movie.  People go to the movie to get away from sad and trouble, mournful heart-break and disappointment.  Nobody likes a movie with a glum ending.  This is true.  However, the absolute marvel of movies is that there are so many stories that can be told, from so many different perspectives.  It's a good thing we can choose a movie like fantasy to take us away from the real world.  Or check in on Chick Flick for some romance and hugs.  We all need a comedy for laughs and uplift.  And let’s not forget downright, gritty, hit the ground running adventure movies to add some excitement to our life.  As the verse goes, a time and a season for all things.  A movie like Tara Hou

MUSIC

We've all experienced the powerful pulse of music as its effect on us and in our movement, dance, memories, relief, release, restoration, comfort, song, inspiration, motivation, joy and yes, sadness. So true is this, that it can set the tone, keep the cadence and even carry the base of a storyline as it did for The Bookshop movie. So poetic is the part of the Alfonso de Vilallonga classical compositions, that it seemed at times the music could tell the whole story with no actors. Beautifully haunting, lovely and lonely, sad and courageous the music was as essential as the actors who composed the cast. As I listened, I was swept away by the classical music that accompanied The Bookshop which is set in the late 1950s at English seashore village. Truly affected, I wondered if Vilallonga’s compelling compositions could have carried the storyline if it were set in modern times on seaside a neighborhood like Bayridge or Coney Island in (the old) Brooklyn where I grew up. I do believ

FRIENDSHIP

There is a reluctance in most of us, a caution, a fear if you will, to branch out beyond our own little potted comfort zone. Perhaps it's natural, or something left over from the centuries of evolution which helped us stay safe from the unknown world. And yet, because this amazing world exists as it does today, there had to be those that parted the wall of shrubs to see through to the other side. Be it overwhelming curiosity, bravery or unbearable loneliness, some ventured beyond the safety of their own garden to find a flourishing fantastic world and the beauty of friendship. That’s just one way to look at the movie This Beautiful Fantastic with its bright storyline. In this delightful movie I saw several seeds for  subjects of discussion.  Among these were the “What It Means to Be Different” and “How Hurt People, Hurt People" and “Thank Goodness for the Sanctuary of the Library!”and"Bloom Where You're Planted"and last but not least“Stop and Smell The Ros

CLARITY

I’ve heard it said in different contexts that “Human beings are lazy” and prefer easy, even if easy is stacked, stuffed and satiated with confusion and insanity. Unfortunately, this predilection toward being lazy seems especially prominent in romantic relationships. There’s no end to the stories you hear and read about folks being, pursuing and doggedly remaining in relationships that are rooted in confusion, complications and are recognizably unhealthy. Yet, as many folks will readily admit, it’s easier to stay, meaning less work than to seek other options. Thus as suggested in a chapter titled, Entropy and Original Sin , in my well read first edition of The Roadless Traveled, “Laziness is love’s opposite” and usually the path of least resistance which by no means pilots the best path. There’s a kind of oxymoron in the movie title Go With Le Flo reflected in the confusion which directs the route of this romance/comedy. Perhaps, as the cliche goes, something gets lost in translat

CHANGE

No sooner do you make a passionate statement against the grain, then you find yourself either eating your words or in this case, defiant in defending your deeply held conviction. Well, perhaps it’s not that serious when it comes to movies, so there’s a lot less at stake to defend. Still my belief that even bad movies have “a message” or lesson within a pitiful plot or that there is indeed some element of serendipity in sitting still for 93 minutes watching a silly imbecilic movie. In truth, as a matter of full disclosure, I couldn't even watch all of the movie. I did watch the idiotic plot setup and quickly realized I would not be able to watch it all the way through. Thus, I skipped to 15 minutes before the end. This was still too much time spent watching Holy Matrimony, (1994)  which also included a very young Joseph Gordon-Levitt. As fate would have it, the movie didn’t mark his career for ruin, which as it turns out is one of my “There has to be something more here” take-away

BEYOND

Maybe the acting is bad. Maybe the Director of Photography didn't get the lighting perfect. Maybe the plot was absolutely implausible. So what! And maybe if Steele Wool would have had half the budget of one of those failed superhero serial films (especially those of the last decade); it might have succeeded where those films flopped. Yes, a budget of $200 million dollars might have made this indie movie “better” for some; those unable to see beyond the “indie film” label to its success. In this dark comedy, a deaf wife (Cameri Valera as Wool) gets rid of her abusive husband without getting caught. When the leader of a professional assassination group finds out who interfered with their hit and their payment, they make her an offer she can’t refuse. As it turns out, Wool is excited to take the deal and without checking, she ropes her old ex in as her partner for her new gig as a professional assassin. Yes, the plot is a bit tangled, but so were movies such as “Get Shorty” and “

FUN

Agatha Christie is one of my favorite mystery writers. No kidding Sherlock, join the crowd is probably the reply to such a statement. With that said, I’m sure I’ve read all 78 books (I can’t say for sure because some of the stories I know because I watched on PBS). Nonetheless, I’ve read the most famous books, among those being Murder on the Orient Express which has been presented in every form possible including play, movies, movie remake, and now audiobooks. Like many of her other books it’s never been out of print.  The plot is a true Agatha Christie, “Who Done It?” because there are certainly enough suspects. In this fabolous formula fitting classic mystery, a murder is committed on a train called of course, The Orient Express. Of her famous detectives, it is Hercule Poirot who is called upon. The famous Belgian, not French detective mind you, is unexpectedly on the train having been called to London for a special case and is asked by the train executive, an old friend to solv

SANCTUARY

Sanctuary isn't a word I speak often.  In fact, it's probably been a year (at least the ) since last leaving my lips.  It’s a beautiful word.  Sanctuary.  A psalm.  The sound of what it means.  There is a comfort, safety, peace in sanctuary.  So how then does sanctuary connect to a movie like Thappad which in its translation is the very opposite sanctuary. Recently released (in the US) Thappad has received critical acclaim and positive reviews.   However, this has little to do with why I attach the word sanctuary to this movie.  Much of the support and positive feedback for  Thappad stems from its social change message regarding domestic abuse.  The word "Thappad'' translates as “The Slap” the movie focuses on a young Indian couple married for several years. The couple, or rather the husband is a successful businessman and his beautiful and dutiful wife cares for his mother who lives with them in suburbia.  The viewer is given to understand that although the wi

TIMELESS

It's divine to know we can still feel those feelings even in our oldest mind...our heart can remain young in awe of love. There is “this'' love of which no matter how much time passes, or even what passes between that time, "this" love lives on. Yes, The Notebook is a sappy movie, a pull-the-heart-string movie, but there’s no rule that says sappy can’t be real, true, honest. In fact, anyone who has truly loved, knows the heart does ache when you’re not with one you love, the one you ought to be with, but for many and less than many reasons you can't be together. That's the story of The Notebook in a heartbeat. I remember years ago having a conversation with a buddy one night over drinks. By that time we were both well beyond our college years, but still not interested in the quintessential magic piece of paper to end all our late night guy/gal buddy just hanging out chatting sessions. What he said went something like this, My mom keeps telling me that

REGRET

I have always thought the word regret a pretty useless word. Moreover, the threat implied in the statements “You’ll regret if you don’t” or “You’ll regret it if you do” are cruel. I mean in all honesty how can one have any reflex, any sensation other than pain behind such words. Call me “sensitive” (because I am), nevertheless, I’ve always found these threats veiled as concern or good advice to be insensitive. Music, like magic, can divert people’s attention. For this reason, people (officials) will allow musicians to travel and go places where other people (citizens) may not. On such a trip, we travel with The Band’s Visit (co-starring one of my most admired actresses, the late Ronit Elakabetz) for a brief and touching look at our human-ness, community, and a measure of regret. Naturally, this is done with beautiful music playing a prominent role. Although a fictional story, it could easily be a true story about a band (all male policemen) who take a kind of cultural exchange trip

ROUTINE

Some things bring comfort and safety to our lives and others just can’t understand why or how. And it doesn’t matter if they don’t. It doesn’t matter if others don’t understand you prefer chocolate ice cream on apple pie, or that you stop by the bar every Friday night after work, or that you always run at sunrise. It’s your routine and it provides comfort and safety. I was introduced to Dane Edith Evans by way of Whispers, another foreign film. Surprisingly, I can't readily call to mind watching Edith Evans in prior films. Nonetheless, she did an excellent job in this movie portraying an indignant old woman, Mrs. Ross, living alone in the world of her impoverished neighborhood. Albeit she has the constant disruption of fighting and arguing of her upstairs neighbors, as well as their crying baby, Mrs. Ross is essentially living alone in the world. In addition to the loud arguing of her upstairs neighbors, there is the roar of a train close by, a constantly dripping sink and as th

HISTORY

The movie I watched recently, 10 Rillington Place had a crummy ending. Sure, I’d read the snippet about the movie, and I did hesitate, not sure I was in the mood for his type of movie, but I decided to watch it anyway. I reasoned it was both foreign and about history. Well technically, it might be called historical, that is to say it was a movie about an event that actually happened. As opposed to a movie about history as in a war or a discovery of some great medical cure. But this aside, I decided to watch 10 Rillington Place and yes it was a story about an actual event that took place in England. When I’m writing about a movie, I refrain from telling too much about the plot so as not to intentional color or discolor, persuade or dissuade someone from checking the movie out. Instead, I prefer writing about what I got out of the movie, whether I like it or not. From that viewpoint what I got out of watching 10 Rillington Place, or more to the point what I was left with after watc

ACCEPTANCE

I’m not sure why I enjoy foreign movies (and books) so much more, perhaps because it is like travel - which I enjoy immensely.  More to the point, foreign movies offer a different perspective on culture including food and dress, as well as jobs and how people make a living, as well community, religion, science, technology, art all the things that make up a life. Of note and seemingly most popular is the perspective different cultures offer on relationships. More than anything, I think the most “successful” (widely distributed) foreign movies are those which focus on relationships, and specifically intimate (couple) relationships, more commonly labelled romance. There’s no genius in this, namely because from time we’re old enough to understand what a “couple” is, most of us begin falling for the “fairytale” and looking for that “perfect” relationship. And there’s nothing wrong with loving and wanting to love (although there are dynamics of the way we “do love” that have been and contin

REASONS

Sometimes after spending an hour and 30 minutes (or more) watching a movie, I shut it down and wonder why. I don’t mean I wonder “Why did I spend time watching that movie?” I wonder WHY someone made THAT movie. Now that just about anyone can “make a movie” from the comfort of an armchair in their own home. Granted it's a wonderful thing folks are getting on board with the technology. Moreover, the technology is empowering for diversified populations to not only tell their story, these armchair movie-makers can now tell stories from their point of view. However, I’m beginning to wonder if “anybody can do it” technology has made motion picture movie makers lazy, lackadaisical and languorous in their profession, with their art. Certainly, I’m not forced into watching those badly acted, slovenly coordinated, or poorly directed movies. So what motivates doing something I’m almost certain isn’t something I want to do? Although Sparrows Dance centered around a woman resolutel

LIVE

I love the movies. Or should I say, I used to love the movies?And more to the point, I loved going to the movies. Indeed, it was the one thing I was willing to include, embrace as a “welcome” expense even as the cost of movies continued to increase and increase and increase to insanity price for a limited (non-engagement) experience. I can remember my first time going to the movies on my own. It was amazing. Transformative. I dare say, “transcendent” (perhaps that’s a bit much, still that’s how I felt).  The movie was Carmen Jones and though I didn’t realize the movie's significance at the time, it starred Dorothy Dainridge and Harry Belafonte. WOW! Yes, with those two starring, I can stand by my interpretation of amazing, transformative and transcendent. There I was alone, in a small, dark (probably dingy) old movie theatre in the heart of The Village staring out at a black and white screen ... and that screen looking back at me. Notwithstanding, the enormous implications,

THIS MOMENT

Breathe. The goal, purpose, direction is forward as we create better balance on the path of progress and peace.   “ The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” Buddha . “ If you are depressed, you are living in the past, if you are anxious, you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu “ To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.” Thich Nhat Han h