Arts & Entertainment
“The film is a call to consciousness to everyone who sees it, an invitation to accept that there is more to this life than meets the eye.” – Sting & Trudie Style
The documentary movie WAKE UP follows this fascinating story of an average guy who inexplicably developed the ability to access other dimensions. Physicians gave him a clean bill of health and were unable to provide an explanation. What was it? Why was it happening to him? One thing was certain for this 36-year old man – life as he had known it would never be the same.
With his loving but skeptical girlfriend by his side, Jonas crisscrosses the countryas he searches for answers and delves deeper into this thrilling world of the phenomenal and spiritual. Along the way, he encounters an amazing group of religious teachers, scientists, mystics and spiritual healers who help him piece together this intricate puzzle.
The film shows how all of us can search inward for our own peace and happiness while contributing towards a positive shift in global consciousness. WAKE UP is a call to consciousness to everyone who sees it; an invitation to accept that there is more to this life than meets the eye.
WAKE UP had its festival premiere at South by Southwest Film Festival in March 2009 and its New York City premiere, hosted by Sting 2010. It is being released on DVD in September 2010 by Beyond Words, distributor of the acclaimed films “The Secret” and “What the Bleep Do We Know.” The movie is being privately screened throughout the fall of 2010
“Source Code” (2011). Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright, Michael Arden, Cas Anvar, Russell Peters, Brent Skagford, Kyle Gatehouse, Craig Thomas, Gordon Masten, Frédérick De Grandpré, Scott Bakula. Director: Duncan Jones. Screenplay: Ben Ripley. www.enterthesourcecode.com
The gap that has long existed between the worlds of science and spirit has begun narrowing in recent years through the rise of scientific disciplines like quantum physics and metaphysical philosophies like conscious creation. The popularity of those subjects has benefitted tremendously from a variety of developments, including the release of cinematic offerings like “The Secret” (2006), “The Quantum Activist” (2009), “What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?” (2004) and “Mindwalk” (1991). And now another film has joined the ranks of those furthering these ideas, the engaging new thriller, “Source Code.”
Pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) flies sorties for the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Or at least that’s what he thinks he does. So it goes without saying that he’s stunned when he inexplicably finds himself in civilian garb aboard a suburban commuter train headed for downtown Chicago one spring morning. Colter’s flummoxed by his circumstances and by the comments of his apparent travelling companion, Christina (Michelle Monaghan), who’s equally perplexed by the odd behavior of her fellow commuter (whom she calls Sean and with whom she’s evidently been making the daily train trip for some time). But that astonishment is nothing compared to what Colter experiences when the train blows up.
After the explosion’s fireball dissipates, Colter finds himself confined inside some kind of capsule surrounded by stacks of scientific equipment. On a nearby video screen, he sees a uniformed military officer named Goodwin (Vera Farmiga) who asks him cryptic questions about his experience on the train, all the while skillfully dodging his many inquiries about what’s going on. Colter’s initially frustrated by Goodwin’s evasiveness, but he eventually settles down enough to answer her questions, at which point he’s gradually given the answers he seeks.
Colter, it seems, is part of a test run for a top-level military project known as Source Code, the brainchild of quantum physicist Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright). Through this “time reassignment” experiment, the test subject’s consciousness (in this case, Colter) is infused with that of another person (in this case, the train passenger known as Sean (Frédérick De Grandpré)), a portion of which lingers energetically in the environment in the wake of the other individual’s demise, like a sort of psychic echo or apparitional imprint. Goodwin and Rutledge explain that the purpose behind linking Colter’s consciousness with the remnants of Sean’s is so that he can find out who planted the bomb that blew up the train. He’s told that discovering the identity of the bomber is not intended to prevent the train’s destruction—that event has already happened—but to locate the suspect before more damage is done. The stakes are high, too; according to Goodwin and Rutledge, intelligence sources have uncovered evidence that the train incident was intended as just the first in a series of attacks leading up to the detonation of a dirty bomb in downtown Chicago.
So, with that knowledge in hand, and being the good soldier that he is, Colter allows his consciousness to be sent in search of the bomber. In true quantum physics/conscious creation fashion, Colter’s consciousness can be launched multiple times, allowing him to explore different lines of probability with each transfer. There’s just one catch—he only has eight minutes to work with in each iteration (that’s as long as the imprint connection lasts). If he fails on one attempt, he needs to go back and begin again. And he has to work fast, for while he may have multiple attempts to discover the bomber’s identity in the “timeless” world of consciousness, the time frame to prevent a catastrophe in the physical world, where linear time prevails, is rapidly shrinking. Faced with the prospect of a nuclear explosion in a major urban area, Colter has no time to lose.
“Source Code” does a great job of illustrating how quantum physics and its metaphysical cousin, conscious creation, work. With unlimited lines of probability at his disposal in the world of consciousness, Colter is free to explore any of them on his way to completing his task. And, despite the belief limitations we often place upon ourselves about this, it’s a capability we all possess as well—that is, as long as we’re willing to believe in it and draw upon it accordingly when needed. At their heart, that’s what quantum physics and conscious creation are all about.
The film also reinforces the notion that our outer world creations originate from within, the realm of consciousness, ideas and beliefs. In doing so, it shows us how utterly magical the process ultimately is, a practice capable of spawning materializations that mesmerize and startle even the most ardent practitioners. And, as Colter and his colleagues (and viewers) find out, its power is so great that it can exceed even the most inflated expectations, provided we allow it.
It’s truly amazing to see how many recent films have begun exploring subjects like this. After all, who would have thought that quantum physics and conscious creation could serve as fodder for mainstream theatrical releases? Overt explorations of such material have long been limited to the ranks of independent pictures and documentaries, such as those noted in the opening paragraph, but now movies like “Source Code,” “The Adjustment Bureau” and “Limitless” (all from 2011), as well as “Inception” (2010) and “Déjà Vu” (2006), are proving that there’s a viable market for major studio releases that address these topics. While not all of these films have been carried off with the same level of skill, and while it certainly would be nice to see mainstream movies about metaphysics that employ story lines other than thrillers, it’s encouraging to see that pictures examining such subjects are increasingly not just for the art houses any more.
“Source Code” is a smart picture from top to bottom, well written and capably performed (despite Wright’s occasional overacting tendencies). Its special effects, editing and cinematography are fine, too, beautifully showcasing Chicago in springtime (though, as a Windy City resident, I must admit to being somewhat partial on this). It makes for a rollicking Saturday afternoon at the show, an old-fashioned pastime with a new age twist.
As we become increasingly aware of the idea that we create our own reality, it helps to have movies like “Source Code” available to remind us of that. It effectively illustrates our range of options and the means by which we go about accessing the possibilities. And, in the end, the results we get from that process just might surprise us.
Copyright © 2011, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
Tina Dezsi, from the Power of Women Exchange (POWE) and Tamara McKee, from East of the City magazine invite you to join them at Class Act Dinner Theatre in Whitby, ON Canada
on June 7, 2011, for Stilettos for the Cure, a fundraising event with all proceeds benefitting the Heather Griffith Breast Assessment Centre in conjunction with the Oshawa Hospital Foundation. Class Act will be transformed into the region’s largest shoe closet for this very special event.
Stilettos for the Cure will feature a live and silent stiletto auction, dozens of door prizes and many special surprises. The goal is to raise funds for cancer research and support in Durham Region and encourage women to book a mammogram and take charge of their health.
Stilettos for the Cure aims to raise more than $25,000 for the centre, which opens officially on April 7, 2011. Both Tina,Tamara and their dedicated team, are highly motivated and determined to exceed this goal. Already, in its infancy, the event has garnered much support. Sponsorship opportunities exist.
To succeed in their fundraising objectives, they are asking for donations of one or more pairs of your most fabulous stilettos/dress sandals: these shoes will go on auction and the funds raised will go directly toward the cause.
Shoes can be mailed to
Stilettos for the Cure,
c/o Brianna Douglas
110A Ash Street, Whitby, ON Canada L1N 4A9
Help Tina and Tamara as they make a difference in the lives of the women in our community who are being treated for—and surviving—breast cancer.
Tina Dezsi & Tamara McKee
Stilettos for the Cure, Co-Chairs,
For further information visit:
The Elements of Spirit” Our Spirits tend to be more Air, Earth, Water and Fire. On the show today Max will talk about how important it is that we know what element our Spirit resonates with as with those in your life.
“The Adjustment Bureau” (2011). Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Terence Stamp, Anthony Mackie, John Slattery, Michael Kelly. Director: George Nolfi. Screenplay: George Nolfi. Story: Philip K. Dick, The Adjustment Team. www.theadjustmentbureau.com/
Are we free to choose our destiny, or is it fated and beyond our control? That thorny question has perplexed scholars and philosophers for eons, and it’s an inquiry that’s probed once again in the taut new thriller, “The Adjustment Bureau.”
Congressman David Norris (Matt Damon), one of the youngest members ever elected to the House of Representatives, appears poised to make a quantum leap in his career. As the front runner in the New York Senate race, the feisty, charismatic young Brooklynite would seem to be on the verge of yet another political breakthrough. However, the brashness that made him such a popular contender in the first place also has its downside, and that personal shortcoming catches up with him in the waning days of the election. The revelation of an embarrassing incident from his past derails his campaign at the last minute, a disheartening prelude to a bitter loss.
While practicing his concession speech on election night, David has an unexpected, and quite unusual, encounter with a beguiling, enigmatic free spirit, Elise (Emily Blunt). They share insights, and a kiss, resulting in an instant, undeniable attraction, the kind that includes, but ultimately transcends, romance. However, all magic of the moment aside, circumstances force a hasty separation, one that keeps them from even being able to exchange contact information. But, despite the brevity of their encounter, Elise’s liberated thinking leaves quite an impression on David, helping to remind him of who he really is. It even prompts him to scrap his planned remarks and give a candid, off-the-cuff speech that further distinguishes his outspoken style, signaling the voting public that the maverick lives and that his political career is anything but over.
With the election behind him and his Congressional seat lost, David needs to find work, so he takes a job in the private sector with his longtime friend and advisor, Charlie (Michael Kelly). He still thinks fondly about his encounter with Elise, but, since he has no way to contact her, he tries to focus on other pursuits, such as work and a future run for office. And, thanks to the efforts of a team of shadowy, clandestine operatives, that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.
Or is it?
As David heads off to work one morning, he has another unexpected encounter with Elise, one that largely picks up where they left off. Unlike their first meeting, however, this one wasn’t supposed to happen. That’s because one of the operatives charged with ensuring that events unfold “according to plan,” Harry Mitchell (Anthony Mackie), failed to prevent their meeting. With “scripted” events now threatening to fall apart, the operatives hurriedly step in to “correct” matters, but, in doing so, they also inadvertently make David aware of their existence, complicating their task even further.
The operatives’ leader, Richardson (John Slattery), refers to his team of agents as “the Adjustment Bureau,” a group of specially trained, specially gifted individuals responsible for seeing that human destiny plays out as it’s “supposed” to. Richardson warns David not to deviate from the plan any further or to reveal the Bureau’s existence to anyone. But, being the fighter that he is, David refuses to let others dictate his fate. He thus vows to take on the Bureau and to live the life he wants, a tall order given their many talents. He manages to hold his own, though, eventually necessitating the involvement of one of the Bureau’s toughest operatives, Thompson (Terence Stamp), to rectify matters. But, as this battle of wills plays out, a number of burning questions arise as well—for both viewers and characters—such as why does the Bureau exist in the first place? Why is it so vital for David (or any of us, for that matter) to stick to the plan? Can it be changed? And, perhaps most importantly, who wrote this plan in the first place?
The duel of fate vs. free will thus takes center stage in this picture, begging the question, which one will win out? Conscious creation practitioners will no doubt want to place their bets on free will as it’s one of the cornerstone principles of this philosophy and practice. But is that the wisest wager? After all, even those of us who are the most adept at using this skill have been thwarted in manifesting our creations from time to time, producing results far off the mark from what we thought we intended. Incidents like that might even cause the philosophy’s staunchest followers to question its validity and viability.
But what if those seemingly misdirected results are exactly what we’re supposed to manifest? Perhaps they result because of a confused concoction of beliefs—the driver of conscious creation practice—some of which we’re aware of and some of which we’re not. Maybe such incidents are meant to serve as lessons along our learning curves, taking us through “failures” that make us aware of “faulty” beliefs and ultimately help guide us to desired successes. And, as these events unfold, perhaps the people, circumstances or materials we encounter in connection with them are meant to serve as our own personal versions of “the adjustment bureau,” manifestations that doggedly keep us on the path on which we’re supposed to be to get the lessons we need.
Such elements might seem like the product of capricious acts of fate, manifestations that arise from beyond our control. And good arguments could be made in favor of that case, especially when they involve elements that strike us as patently unfair or utterly demoralizing. In light of that, one might even contend that free will is nothing but a pie-in-the-sky illusion.
But, as noted above, what if we draw such elements to us as part of our learning process, even if they don’t seem like they’re for our benefit at the time? Such a realization wouldn’t negate the concept of free will, but it certainly would give us a new understanding of—and appreciation for—it. It could conceivably strip away all notions that any kind of a duel even exists between the notions of fate and free will, enlightening us to the fact that what we perceive as the cruelty of fate may be nothing more than a well-camouflaged aspect of free will, one that’s often integral to the progression of our individual learning curves. It could also bring about a new understanding of the conscious creation process, especially the breadth of its power and the need for responsibly managing it. And, perhaps most importantly, it ultimately might help to shed light on just who really writes “the plan” of our lives to begin with, an answer that might surprise in more ways than one.I enjoyed this movie immensely. It comes across like a fusion of the “Bourne” series of thrillers and such sci-fi offerings as “Inception” and “Open Your Eyes” (the Spanish film on which “Vanilla Sky” was based). The story is captivating, and its translation to the screen is riveting, keeping viewers guessing how it will turn out right up until the end. The cinematography is excellent, beautifully showing off New York for the city that it is. Admittedly, the dialogue could have been a little stronger in some of the sequences, but the performances cover it well, especially those offered up by Bureau members Stamp, Slattery and Mackie.
I was a little surprised by the timing of this release. It could have easily been a summer blockbuster or possibly even a dark horse awards season contender. Sadly, with its debut at this time of year, it’s likely to be forgotten when it comes time to distribute accolades for 2011’s best. I’d like to hope that won’t be the case, given that this is a fresh, lively, satisfying offering (and a welcome one at a time of year when new releases often leave a lot to be desired).
Our ability to choose—and our awareness of that fundamentally important birthright—is something we often lose sight of. We frequently lament that we have no choice in the matters of our lives, that things are fated and beyond our control. “The Adjustment Bureau” provides some profound insights on such notions, that what we think of as free will may be far different than how we typically define it—and that it may offer us, for better or worse, far more than we ever thought possible.
Copyright © 2011, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
In the pre-interview discussion about Positive Media Cynthia and Jordan discuss the power of media and our addiction to living with the adrenaline rush of “the living soap opera.” Cynthia talks about her realizations from the time in her life when she was a television actress. The question that we all have to become aware of is, “What is the effect of putting all that negative energy in our bodies? This is why we are highlighting the work of people who are using media to shift us into a much more powerful, uplifting, and enlightening consciousness.
As today’s pop stars are pumped through the media and into our homes, we find ourselves seeing our singers promoting perfumes, acting gigs, writing memoirs, and even backing various weight loss products. After a few years of mass marketing themselves, we often forget what music it was that put them into popularity in the first place. Where have those artists gone that have a love for making the music? Where has the dedication gone from weaving a tapestry of sound that intoxicates our ears and words that give us the inspiration to live by? Where are the real musicians that are dedicated to the sound and spreading a voice? Can a real musician please stand up?
There is a new revolution of sound hitting our eardrums. Many musicians are now taking control of their own label, marketing themselves the way they see fit and keeping creative control over all of their ventures. Thanks to the internet, blog radio and fan pages online, musicians can now reach out directly to their fans, have listeners from all over the planet, and get instant feedback from each fan without going through a middle man. Marc Arseno from the Raven Black Eyes of Fire is one of these musicians leading the way into a new age of communication with fans, creative control over his label, and giving back to the community that he lives in.
As a young man growing up in Montreal, Canada, Marc had a dream. Like many of us fantasizing of being a star, Marc made his dream a reality. With a unique sound and an appreciation of a wide array of musical interests from old blues players to character singers like Iggy Pop and Jim Morrison, Marc knew he was meant to play. When he first saw Jimmy Page play guitar, which Marc refers to as a “magician”, he was certain that he too, was meant to play guitar. Marc had a unique idea for his European sound. Following his Canadian heritage, he would have songs in both English and French, reaching both sets of fans, and expanding that to Europe. From this premise, he can extend to more people from many cultures and complete his dream of travelling while pursuing his passion of music.
After a fascinating trip to Europe from an invitation of an Indie Label, Marc left his lucrative career as a top 40 DJ in Montreal and signed. With complicated contracts and a company in control of his music, Marc realized that the reality of becoming a star was compromising yourself so much and losing the heart of your music. After two short years, his album was taken off the shelves.
“Courage is as often the outcome of despair as of hope; in the one case we have nothing to lose, in the other, everything to gain.” Diane de Pointiers
After watching his music slip away into a mountain of contract negotiations, legal issues and battles, Marc saw his dream evaporate. Devastated but not broken, Marc went to Toronto, Canada to meet Neil Young’s sister, Astrid, and reinvent himself. After recording and using the internet to his advantage, Marc spoke to a lawyer and rebuilt his growing empire. He got his own label, his own uncompromising sound and all creative control and distribution rights. Marc did something that we hardly ever hear of a musician doing when in a process of building. He read. Marc read about the Power of Attraction, philosophies from new aged motivators. He was fascinated by the metaphysical. Marc thrived on the power to change your thoughts, and manifest your individual present. He investigated about religion, and listened to motivational speakers. He channeled all of his energy into his music. He was no longer just a new aged rocker, but a new aged thinker, and thus, a trailblazer.
Rebirth- “Follow your personal legend, your path” Marc Arseno
The question everyone wonders is: without a marketing team, how will Marc reach his fans? The answer is simple. With the advances of modern technology, he was able to test the market through ITunes and MySpace. He reconnected with old fans directly, and quickly learned that the power of globalization would link him to many more, all over the planet. From Wisconsin, USA to Brazil, from Spain to Mexico, Marc was getting feedback from each corner of the globe. He not only had a fan base, but satellites of listeners from all over the world. Radio stations began to contact him and play his music. He made a promise to himself as his popularity was reborn: “I vowed 100% to be real; authentic. I would not compromise because my music had to be something I could live with and I could never sell out to my fans. It may take longer for me to reach them, but it’s worth it.”
However, on his fast path to a growing popularity, Marc took a bit of an unlikely turn. As most growing musicians have more narcissistic aspirations, Marc decided to give back to the community. He held seminars for at risk teenagers to channel their energy into music. He created a monster, a musical monster, possibly spawning many more young musicians with hope and with a dream. His creative control over himself allowed Marc to give back to the community without consulting a label first.
With a new song, New Dawn coming out in April and many opportunities knocking at his door, Marc Arseno and the Raven Black Eyes of Fire have a busy year ahead! Marc’s advice to anyone, whether it is an author, writer, painter, or another aspiring musician is simple. “Whether it is a book or a song, do not stop at anything to get it out there… If the planets align, when it feels good inside and opportunity knocks, you must answer.”
Though he might not be cross promoting himself with products, services or infomercials, this is not what Marc’s message is to his fans. Authenticity, creativity and passion are the three ingredients to following your dreams. “Even if I had twenty more sales, I am doing it myself, this is what it represents. I am laying the foundations…” Marc’s message is quite simple, never lose yourself in the chaos that is life, and never compromise your dreams to reach high. When a door closes a window opens. We all can agree the window is opened wide for Marc, thanks to his authenticity and his drive. With all of the new opportunities on his plate, Marc’s formula is simple: “The music will find the fans, and the fans will find the music.” Indeed they have Marc.
***Want to connect with Marc Arseno? Here’s how:
Facebook: Raven Black Eyes of Fire
ITUNES: Raven Black Eyes of Fire
If you were like me, at some point in your life your parents told you that you needed an attitude adjustment. Usually this is a response to behavior that is not acceptable to the family or society.
Most people learn from their mistakes and go on to be positive, productive, people in society, but then there are people like Charlie Sheen.
This article deals with the positive adjustments he can make to turn his life around and dispel his demons.
Be a positive and responsible father.
Currently Charlie is living the definition that anyone can make a child but not everyone can raise a one.
A father with four kids does not have the time or energy to party hard and develop bad habits. After a day at the park, giving baths, reading bedtime stories and doing the other million things that go into spending time with your children, he would be too wiped out to do anything but sleep.
With four young kids it is time for Charlie to become an active participating father figure.
Having a conscious approach to finances.
We admit Charlie really does have the advantage here. Financially he makes more than the average father and can enjoy a lot of luxuries in life.
He needs to have his money put into a trust that gives him a monthly stipend to live off of. The trust would ensure that the kids are taken care of, the monthly bills are paid, and Charlie never has to fear bankruptcy.
Maybe, Charlie can find ways to entertain the kids without spending money as many families have to do in this economy.
Charlie will begin to learn to live within his abundance and not abuse it.
Make donations to help society.
The trustee should be allowed to take the money that Charlie use to spend on drugs and alcohol and donate it to worthy causes.
A great idea is to give money to habitat for humanity to build much needed low income homes. This way, underprivileged families can get out of the drug infested areas that Charlie now supports through his illicit drug use.
Charlie begins to spend his funds to serve a greater positive purpose.
Donate time and volunteer to help others.
Charlie should start spending his time helping out at homeless shelters, food banks, and community kitchens.
This experience would give him face to face interaction with people who are down on their luck and losing a battle with drugs and alcohol.
This may open his eyes to individuals or families that struggle every day and cannot afford the basic necessities of life.
He can use his time to relate and understand his actions by viewing them through others.
As a sought out entertainer, Charlie Sheen has a lot going for him. Unfortunately in the family and real life departments he seems to be oblivious.
We are pulling for you Charlie, we really are.
Please get clean, get adjusted and continue to entertain us for years to come as your talent is a true blessing.
I AM is an utterly engaging and entertaining non-fiction film that poses two practical and provocative questions: what’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better? The filmmaker behind the inquiry is Tom Shadyac, one of Hollywood’s leading comedy practitioners and the creative force behind such blockbusters as “Ace Ventura,” “Liar Liar,” “The Nutty Professor,” and “Bruce Almighty.” However, in I AM, Shadyac steps in front of the camera to recount what happened to him after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a race, could improve the way we live and walk in the world.
Visit the website: http://iamthedoc.com/
“Biutiful” (2010). Cast: Javier Bardem, Maricel Álvarez, Hanna Bouchaib, Guillermo Estrella, Eduard Fernández, Cheikh Ndiaye, Diaryatou Daff, Taisheng Cheng, Luo Jin, Ana Wagener, Lang Sofia Lin, Rubén Ochandiano, Nasser Saleh. Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu. Screenplay: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Armando Bo and Nicolás Giacobone. www.biutiful-themovie.com/
Sooner or later, the life we live comes to an end. But the conclusion of this life is merely the close of a single chapter in our soul’s journey, with death providing the conduit to whatever comes next. Whenever that end comes, the more at peace we are with the transition, the more we’ll get out of the experience, not only of what we’re going to but also of what we’re leaving behind. Learning how to prepare ourselves for that time is the subject of the emotionally moving new drama, “Biutiful.”
Uxbal (Javier Bardem) is a dying man. Having been diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer, he knows his days are numbered. And the prospect of that impending death scares him, not only because of the loss it represents to him personally but also because of the loss it would mean to the many others who rely on him. He worries that he won’t be able to provide the means to adequately cover their needs for a time when he’s no longer around.
Despite years of experience at navigating the dicey challenges of daily life in Barcelona’s seamy underbelly, Uxbal’s latest ordeal overwhelms him. Even though he’s rather adept at employing a “whatever it takes” approach to get others what they need—be it work, shelter or nurturing—to fill the gaps in their lives (sometimes even at his own expense), he must now make provisions for them for the long term and not just the pressing needs of the moment. It’s a tall order, and he needs to hurry.
Those who benefit most directly from Uxbal’s efforts are his young children, Ana (Hanaa Bouchaib) and Mateo (Guillermo Estrella), as well as his ex-wife, Marambra (Maricel Álvarez), a flirtatious “massage therapist” who suffers from a severe case of bipolar disorder. He also works hard, in conjunction with his brother Tito (Eduard Fernández), as a sort of black market headhunter who specializes in securing employment for the illegal immigrants of Barcelona’s African and Chinese communities, finding jobs for the disenfranchised while keeping the authorities sufficiently paid off. And, despite the many burdens of all these challenges, he’s generally very effective at surmounting them. But, given his own changed circumstances, he now faces the biggest gap he’s ever tried to fill.
In a somewhat ironic twist, Uxbal also has a special gift that many might view as a distinct advantage in approaching the circumstances he now faces—an ability to communicate with the dead. It’s a skill at which he’s quite proficient but one that he uses sparingly, primarily to help lost souls pass over and to provide comfort to the bereaved by relaying messages from lost loved ones, almost as if it were another of his gap-filling talents. Little does he realize, however, that drawing upon this ability more fully now might also help him as he prepares to make peace with his own transition.
The subject of death and transition has figured largely in many feature films released over the past year (“Hereafter,” “Get Low” and “Black Swan,” to name a few), and it’s been interesting to see how they’ve each handled this subject matter. In nearly all cases, the approach has been more enlightening than many films of the past, stressing that the end of this life is not the end of our existence but merely a shift to something new. Such thinking is right in line with conscious creation philosophy, one of whose core principles is that “we are all in a constant state of becoming.” Or, as noted in the paranormal classic “Phenomenon” (1996), “Everything is on its way to someplace else.”
“Biutiful” is the latest offering in this genre of enlightened films about death, but its approach is a little different. While its narrative inherently postulates that we are all in a constant state of becoming and transforming, it does so from the perspective of a character who, like many viewers, fears the transition despite an innate knowledge to the contrary (or, specifically in Uxbal’s case, despite the added benefit of the wisdom afforded him by his special gift). Some might find that an odd line of probability for someone to explore, but, as conscious creation practitioners are well aware, all expressions of existence are equally capable of manifestation, no matter how intrinsically incongruous they might seem. Such is Uxbal’s challenge—to validate, and ultimately to freely accept, an outcome that he already knows to be true—and that he need not fear.
As the film progresses and Uxbal becomes more reconciled to the path on which he finds himself, the focus of his concern shifts more from himself to others, with an emphasis on making sure that he gets everything done in time. With his health failing, however, he realizes that there’s only so much he can do and that others will have to learn to get along on their own, as they will have to do once he’s gone. This thus enables a transition that is on his terms, one that embodies the wisdom found on a water color by artist B. Andreas that hangs prominently in my home: “Everything changed the day he figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in his life.”
With his time dwindling, some may question Uxbal’s preoccupation with addressing the needs of others. “Why isn’t he going out and enjoying what little time he has left?” they might ask. But being of service to others is clearly the essence of Uxbal’s value fulfillment, the conscious creation concept concerned with destiny whereby each of us is called upon to do our best, through our actions and our own unique talents, to be of service to ourselves and to the world at large. Uxbal’s sensitivity to the plight of others is profound and no doubt based on his own past, having grown up without a father and experiencing an upbringing where his own needs weren’t met as well as they otherwise might have been. It’s inspiring that he avows this calling so seriously, providing a shining example that we could all learn from, not only in being true to ourselves but also in working for the betterment of humanity.
“Biutiful” is a captivating picture in many respects. It’s a strong favorite to snare this year’s Academy Award for best foreign language film, an honor for which it was also nominated in this year’s Golden Globe Awards competition. Its style is classic Iñárritu, drawing upon elements and approaches that the director has used in earlier works, like “Babel” (2006) and “21 Grams” (2003), but incorporating new touches, especially in areas like cinematography and editing, that allow this film to stand out on its own. Bardem’s Oscar-nominated performance is phenomenal, arguably his best work to date and well worth the many accolades he has received for it. And the film’s haunting soundtrack completes the package, providing the perfect ethereal backdrop to a masterfully crafted piece of cinema.
The soul may be eternal, but its embodiment in flesh is not. Which is why it’s so important that we make the most of the time we have in it, especially when the end draws near, for those who find it in themselves to do so will discover just what a “Biutiful” experience it can be.
Copyright (c) 2011, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
Ever since I was little I loved art. From the vast museums of Renoir’s life posted on the walls, to the smaller showcases of local art and history, my mind was fascinated, even at a very young age, of the dedication and execution of each perfect brush stroke or each sculpture handcrafted with hours of precision. I remember once when Donatello’s works came to my city. As I stared at one of his paintings of a man crying, it looked like he did not paint with oils, but somehow, with lights. I could see the reflection of the fictitious background in his tears. Genius.
Sure, I cannot draw or sculpt any better then the next person, but boy, do I appreciate it. It’s hard for me not to like something. As a writer, you put your soul into each article, reaching out to anyone who will listen, or in my case, read. Each article is a part of me, something fascinating, sad, optimistic, or even confusing. I took articles, my published works, and my books as my attempt at art. So, by knowing how much goes into an article, I could not imagine how much goes into a work of art. That’s why I love it. However, this whole process got me thinking, what is art?
While studying law, I have watched some of the best lawyers in the country unravel cases from many different perspectives. I have seen a lawyer literally act on his stage, acting for the jury to see his or her client’s side to the crime in question. To make people think outside of the box is an art form. In retrospect, I watch my hairstylist understand each different head of hair that comes into her chair. With her scissors placed firmly into her hand like a paint brush, I watch how she listens to what her client sees for their new hairstyle, and I see her analyze their face structure and give them a style that matches their face, and their tastes. Each woman that walks out of her chair looks like a work of art. I see each woman’s confidence rise dramatically with their smile of surprise and satisfaction. That’s art!
Both my husband and my father are numbers men. Excellent at math, both of their positions require them to use their analytical minds for cost recovering and cost projection for their respective companies. The way each of them save their companies money and help many people keep their jobs because of their saving is not only relief for many, but also art work.
Even my dear friend, who is a mother and a wife, moved into her new house with a vision. In only a few short weeks, her home was immaculately decorated, reflecting their tastes throughout the house. Artwork of the artist? I think so!
From my recent reflections, I conclude that everyone is an artist. From the yoga master to the gardener, each person has a mastermind for their craft, and therefore they may be atypical artists, but artists all the same. The yoga master may contour his or her body into artwork, while the gardener takes a vast landscape and makes it into Eden.
Leonardo Di Vinci is one of the worldliest appreciated artists. Why do I think he is so popular? Not just for his masterpieces created from paint, but his innovation in everything from flying crafts to a rudimentary form of dentures. Every blueprint, document, or writing was art. Each of us has a little Di Vinci, so we must embrace our inner artist!
“Black Swan” (2010). Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey, Winona Ryder. Director: Darren Aronofsky. Screenplay: Mark Heyman, Andrés Heinz and John J. McLaughlin. Story: Andrés Heinz. www.foxsearchlight.com/blackswan/
The oppressiveness of limitation can be a living hell to endure, especially for those whose aspirations go beyond merely existing. Escaping the stifling mediocrity of such a state generally requires us to go through some profound form of personal metamorphosis (and subsequent liberation), one that may take us to corners of our being that we never knew existed (including some of a potentially disturbing nature). Such is the challenge put to the heroine of the dark new thriller, “Black Swan.”
Ballerina Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is on the verge of greatness. As an up-and-coming star with a New York City ballet company, she has an opportunity to show off her talents when she’s cast in the lead of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, a demanding role that requires her to dance two parts, that of the lovely, innocent White Swan Odette and that of the darkly sensual, guileful Black Swan Odile. While Nina has no trouble with her portrayal of the graceful Odette (she’s a walking goody-two-shoes in many respects), she struggles with her depiction of the wicked Odile, unable to let herself go and allow her earthy side to come through. This frustrates the driven perfectionist, especially when the company’s artistic director, Thomas Leroy (Vincent Cassel), routinely reminds her that “The only person standing in your way is you.”
As Nina toils to release the Black Swan locked up inside her, others flock to her aid, most notably her doting mother, Erica (Barbara Hershey), and one of her fellow dancers, Lily (Mila Kunis). But Nina also has reason to question their motives. Erica’s overprotectiveness keeps “her sweet girl” repressively sheltered, hampering Nina’s ability to cut loose and get into character. Meanwhile, the sincerity of Lily’s support becomes suspect when she less than subtly vies for Thomas’s attention, who at times openly expresses doubts about his casting decision. These circumstances simultaneously corrode Nina’s confidence while steeling her resolve to succeed, a volatile combination that sets her down a precarious path paved with paranoia and obsession. But, if that weren’t enough, in the midst of all this, eerily strange events begin to unfold that cause Nina to doubt her very sanity. The question thus becomes, can she hold things together enough to avail herself of this career-making opportunity, or will she crash and burn? Or is some other unforeseen outcome possible?
Novelist and poet Oscar Wilde observed that “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Curiously, through Nina’s experience, we’re presented with a story that does some of both, as if the two notions were inextricably linked, not unlike what transpires in the conscious creation/law of attraction process. The external reality she creates for herself through the internal beliefs she holds ultimately gives rise to an outwardly expressed existence that parallels those beliefs. We all essentially do that when we engage in this practice, but the defining quality that sets Nina’s creation apart is that the personal reality she manifests just happens to mirror the narrative of the artistic piece in which she’s a player. Life, it would seem, does imitate art.
Like the character of Odette in Swan Lake—a woman who, because of a sorcerer’s curse, becomes trapped in the body of a swan and is unable to fully experience all that life has to offer—Nina is herself ensnared within the suffocating confines of the self-imposed persona that has come to define her. She struggles to escape that imprisoning cocoon to explore what else life has in store, an especially pressing concern for her now that her ballet role requires her to do precisely that. She seeks the same sort of liberation that Odette longs for, but, to attain that goal, Nina must become more like Odile. Ironically enough, doing so mirrors the metaphors embodied in the ballet’s libretto, but it also poses a challenge that shakes the foundation of Nina’s self-image, not to mention her sanity and even her very existence.
Some may find Nina’s exploration of her darker side a bit troubling. However, according to the underlying principles of conscious creation, we’re each capable of experiencing all of the infinite probabilities available to us, because they’re all part of our intrinsic nature and potentially capable of being expressed. Just as the Universe has its yin and yang components, so also do we have both the light and the dark elements within us. And, sometimes, tapping into our darker side may be just what’s necessary for us to achieve our greatest accomplishments.
Passion and conceit, for instance, are often looked upon as components of our darker nature, yet both may be precisely what’s needed to ignite the emotions and self-confidence required to manifest our most heartfelt creations, including those that have the noblest and most beneficent intents behind them. These qualities frequently provide the juice that drives such creations, even if their inherent natures are tempered along the way. In fact, were it not for such qualities, some of our most magnificent materializations might never see the light of day, be they in the arenas of art, philanthropy or charity.
That’s the epiphany that Nina comes to discover through her own metamorphosis, one that results in the ultimate expression of her art, an act of liberation that metaphorically illustrates the freedom that accompanies such an attainment. We might not necessarily agree with how she chooses to express that freedom, but we can be moved by the feeling of liberation it affords.
The path to liberation can have its scary moments, too, as Nina clearly finds out. However, the greater the reward, the greater the risks we often face. Facing fears and living heroically are all part of the conscious creation process, especially when we veer into unfamiliar territory, as Nina does constantly throughout the film. But, if it weren’t for such challenges, the summit of accomplishment might never be reached. Anyone who has fulfilled a particularly daunting goal can certainly appreciate this.
“Black Swan” is a hauntingly mesmerizing movie that takes viewers on a rollercoaster ride of emotions from start to finish. The pacing is a bit slow in the first 30 minutes (not unusual for a Darren Aronofsky film), but thereafter it takes off like a shot that keeps viewers riveted to its thrilling conclusion. Portman, Kunis and Hershey are terrific in their respective roles, and the ballet sequences are beautifully filmed without overshadowing the rest of the picture. For its accomplishments, the film has deservedly been lavished with recognition in a host of awards competitions. It earned four Golden Globe nominations, including best dramatic picture, best director and best supporting actress (Kunis), as well as a Golden Globe win for Portman as best dramatic actress. Look for it to fare equally well at this year’s Oscars, too.
Taking flight is something most of us probably need to do more of. Thankfully, “Black Swan” metaphorically provides an emotionally stirring example whose inspiration we can all draw from as we seek to ascend the skies of our true potential.
Copyright © 2011, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
Amanda Roit is my pick for Talent of the Month! Featured here are Amanda Roit and her parents Alex and Stella at Cove City Sound Studios in Glen Cove New York owned and operated by Richie Cannata.
Amanda is currently recording two songs with Eren Cannata and Chris McDonald which are also being turned into a video recorded by Frederick C. Galfas of Fort Gate Films, Unlimited Inc., to pursue her professional career. It was great being in the studio to hear her sing. Really great stuff. This young lady has the passion and the vocals to become the next young actress/singer that she is determined to be. Amanda started singing at the ripe old age of 7. After seeing her youtube videos, the producers of the Italian version of “American Idol” which is called “lo Canto” invited her to Milan to audition for the next season. Amanda and her mom Stella flew Italy.
Amanda did get casted, however because it was an 11 week taping, it was decided by her parents to make a guest appearance during one episode if the dates work out said Alex Roit as mentioned in Newsday.
She just finished up two current plays at the Cultural Arts Playhouse. She had the two lead roles in “The Wizard of Oz” and “Annie”. It is refreshing to see this young lady hard at work in her craft with the support of her parents. Amanda wants to perform on Broadway or the Disney Channel.
Amanda has many favorite artists. One of her favorites is Selena Gomez. Maybe one day they will meet. Wishing her much success on her future endeavors! You can follow Amanda’s journey on her website www.amandaroit.com.
As I woke up so peacefully this morning at 5AM, I had an urge to watch something inspirational. Since I have just recently subscribed to an internet service called, Netflix an on demmand movie site, which is absolutely amazing and has an enourmous library of films and documentaruies. I came across a documentary of a man I have heard spoken many times on my recent journey in self discovery by the name of Ram Dass.
The documentary gives insight into his life with a focus on his recently challanged journey due to a Stroke causing him to be challanged both physically as well as with his speech.
If you are not aware of who Ram Dass is he is a Spiritual Guru who started his journey born to a highly educated and wealthy Jewish family and continued on to become a Harvard Professor all before his enlightened trip to India, which sparked an enormous spiritual movement and a book by Ram Dass himself titled “Be Here Now” which to date has outsold almost every piece of literature outside The Bible.
This decumentary took me on exactly the journey I expected. His story, his journey and his truth touched my heart and once again opened me up to the understanding of our divinty. It brought me to a place of understanding and comfort and as his book titles states to “Be Here Now” and to fully understand with all of my heart and soul, that every experience is a blessing, an opportunity for growth in order to gently guide us back to the truth which is our purest nature.
To know as Ram Dass says “This moment is alright, This moment is alright”
Please enjoy this beautiful journey through spiritual Guru Ram Dass
Click here to purchase the documentary >
“Rabbit Hole” (2010). Cast: Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart, Dianne Wiest, Miles Teller, Tammy Blanchard, Sandra Oh, Giancarlo Esposito, Jon Tenney, Stephen Mailer. Director: John Cameron Mitchell. Screenplay: David Lindsay-Abaire. Play: David Lindsay-Abaire. www.rabbitholefilm.com/
Part of the process of coming to know ourselves involves learning to recognize (and honor) the multidimensional nature of our greater being. This requires us to acknowledge the aspects of our being that we like and know, as well as those that we don’t. While many of us readily embrace the “good” parts, we frequently avoid the “bad” ones and ignore or overlook the “unknown” elements. But since all of these aspects are part of our innate greater being, sooner or later we must come to terms with all of them, for better or worse. Exploring the qualities we’d rather shun or that we don’t know about might seem like a daunting, overwhelming prospect, but if we leave ourselves open to experiencing them genuinely and with the same fervor we give to the aspects we cherish, we just might find that they spawn curious transformations in us, a premise probed in the new drama, “Rabbit Hole.”
In the wake of their young son’s tragic death, an upscale Yonkers couple, Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart), struggles to understand their loss and their responses to it. They flail about emotionally, looking for answers that aren’t to be found in life’s little handbook. Should they feel sad? Angry? Guilty? Indifferent? And who’s at fault for the accident that claimed their son’s life—the teenage driver who struck and killed the child as he chased the dog he so adored into the street? The mother who left her child unattended momentarily to answer a ringing phone? Or is it the father who gave the child a dog to playfully pursue in the first place? When it comes to questions like this, there are no clear or easy answers.
Seeking the comfort and counsel of others doesn’t help much, either, as attempts at consolation often deteriorate into discussions that reopen old wounds or raise frustrating new challenges. Becca’s conversations with her mother, Nat (Dianne Wiest), for instance, frequently recall the death of the drug-addicted adult son she lost years earlier, a tragedy Becca is willing to acknowledge but unwilling to compare to her own loss. Attending support group meetings for grieving parents is another option, but even though Howie takes some comfort from these gatherings, they try Becca’s patience, especially when the sessions evoke discussions involving religion, a particularly sore subject for her. And, if all that weren’t enough, Becca and Howie must now wrestle with the revelation by Becca’s sister, Izzy (Tammy Blanchard), that she’s pregnant, news that serves as a constant reminder of their departed child’s noticeable absence.
With their world falling apart and the couple growing ever more distant from one another, Becca and Howie investigate other avenues to relieve their unrelenting sadness. Howie continues with the support group on his own, developing a close friendship with fellow group member Gaby (Sandra Oh), a long-term attendee of the sessions whose husband recently left her. Becca, meanwhile, develops a bond with Jason (Miles Teller), the driver of the ill-fated vehicle that killed her son. He’s an aspiring graphic novel artist who’s created a work called The Rabbit Hole in which the protagonist explores the infinite probabilities made possible by quantum theory (and conscious creation) to resolve the dilemmas in his life, an adventure through which the story’s hero meets other versions of himself. Becca finds the budding author’s ideas intriguing, because they speak to her in ways that other, more conventional sources of solace can’t. But, as promising as these coping measures are, the question remains, will they be enough to help Becca and Howie resolve their feelings and heal their hearts?
Followers of conscious creation principles (and their related quantum physics concepts) know that we’re each more than just the “localized” or “indigenous” selves with whom we’re most familiar. They’re well aware of our intrinsic multidimensionality, with different aspects (or “fragments”) of our greater being busily exploring different (or parallel) probabilities of existence, some of which we might be able to envision (and draw inspiration from) and some of which are wholly unfathomable unless or until we interact with them directly. Some of those probable existences are pleasant, while others are not, and others still lie somewhere in between, thereby spanning the whole spectrum of reality capable of being experienced. And what’s the ultimate mission of these widely dispersed selves? To engage in different expressions of reality, doing “field work” about various aspects of existence and reporting their findings back to the greater being of which each is a part.
For those who are new to these concepts, it’s often hard to imagine that anyone would willingly want to experience probable existences that plumb the darker sides of life. The idea that anyone would freely sign up for a battery of unpleasantness seems implausible and counterintuitive. But, given that our greater selves ultimately seek to experience all that life has to offer, sooner or later we must also probe the negative sides of existence. Obviously that can be quite painful to endure, as Becca and Howie discover, but, in the end, it’s all part of the aforementioned metaphysical education process.
Ironically enough, such unpleasantness may play a significant role in helping us better understand the full scope of probable existences. Difficult conditions frequently prompt us to observe, “There must be a better way,” a notion that itself is often enough to open our minds to envision other, more palatable lines of reality. An awareness of such parallel paths of existence may suddenly seem much less far-fetched—perhaps even attainable.
Becca discovers this for herself in the film through readings of The Rabbit Hole and the book that inspired it, Parallel Universes, by author and quantum physicist Fred Alan Wolf. (Interestingly, the title of Jason’s graphic novel is reflected in the subtitle—“Down the Rabbit Hole”—of the DVD release of “What the #$*! Do We (K)now!?” (2004), the groundbreaking cinematic treatise on quantum physics and conscious creation in which Wolf serves as one of the featured experts.) These books open doors for Becca that she hadn’t previously considered, ultimately making it easier for her to cope with her circumstances, a lesson we could all stand to learn from.
Exploring the notion of probable existences might seem like an odd element in the narrative of a film like this. Who would have thought that such an arguably esoteric concept could legitimately occupy a place in a story of personal tragedy? However, that may just be the point behind its inclusion, for it helps to show the way out of seemingly overwhelming conditions when other means of coping don’t. In fact, if we were to apply this idea to the trials and tribulations of our own everyday experiences, we just might find that life can be considerably more manageable and fulfilling than we thought possible.
Admittedly, including a theme like this in the narrative of a story like this definitely took some courage, and I certainly applaud the nobility of this attempt at shedding light on an inventive approach to solving problems that seem to defy resolution. Unfortunately, the treatment this tactic receives in the screenplay is also the picture’s undoing, keeping an otherwise-promising movie from fully living up to its potential.
From this summary, it would appear that this theme occupies a dominant place in the film, but that’s not the case. To keep such an unconventional element from overpowering a narrative that’s essentially a story of personal tragedy (and a rather formulaic one at that), the writing downplays the metaphysical material, timidly working it into the script. By giving this aspect of the story such kid gloves treatment, its presentation almost seems like an intrusion or afterthought, and that’s unfortunate, given the crucial role it plays in helping Becca resolve her challenges. Instead, the screenplay focuses more on the conventional aspects of the story, turning the film into an often-predictable tearjerker. It loosely links a collection of “moments,” many of them clichéd, yielding an uneven mixture of pathos, comic relief and pregnant pauses, with smatterings of alternative philosophy thrown in along the way, often awkwardly or offhandedly.
The film’s acting is uneven, too. Despite her Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a drama, Kidman turns in a mixed performance that includes a number of scenes where she positively nails the material, along with others where she clearly knows she’s in front of the camera. Meanwhile, Teller’s portrayal of the guilt-ridden teen is so understated that he looks like he’s sleepwalking his way through it. Thankfully, Wiest, Blanchard, Oh and, most notably, Eckhart turn in some of the finest work of their careers, making the most out of their material (and often making it look better than it actually is).
Regrettably, “Rabbit Hole” comes up short of what it could have been. By mishandling the metaphysical subject matter as they did, the film’s creators missed a prime opportunity to both entertain and enlighten. One can only hope that there’s another version of this picture out there somewhere, down the rabbit hole of one of those other lines of probability, that makes up for this shortcoming.
Copyright © 2010-11, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved
When I was just a little girl
the Truth was clear to me
Magic was all through the world
in every rock and tree.
I’d lay my head upon the earth
and gaze up to the sky
and wonder what life would be like
beyond the stars and smile.
But as I grew and time went on,
the magic round me died.
I lost that feeling long ago, and
never knew just why.
Like Peter in his fairy tale
the world became so bleak
I dreamed about life’s ending for me.
The darkness, the stillness, the peace.
A shot through the heart,
I became aware, my senses regained their power.
I sensed a presence, by my side
silently whispering, “You are MY Child.”
“How can I possibly ignore
the splendor of your soul?
My creation is perfect, I’d never want for more.
My daughter, my child, my girl.”
A light was born into the room
and permeated through.
Color came into the world, the likes
I never knew.
My heart was filled with love so strong
I thought I had already gone
until I saw that this is how we were meant to be,
love and joy in a physical realm,
brilliant, elegant and free.
“The King’s Speech” (2010). Cast: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Derek Jacobi, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Claire Bloom, Jennifer Eble, Freya Wilson, Ramona Marquez, Eve Best, Timothy Spall, Anthony Andrews, Roger Parrott. Director: Tom Hooper. Screenplay: David Seidler. www.kingsspeech.com/
The journey to find ourselves nearly always involves the search for our own voice, usually figuratively, but sometimes quite literally. It can be a terribly painful process, one that requires tremendous courage, stamina and fortitude. But the payoff that comes from successfully locating that often-elusive expression of ourselves can be beyond words. Such is the case of a reluctant, stammering monarch who is unexpectedly thrust into leading his nation during wartime in the compelling new biopic, “The King’s Speech.”
England’s King George VI (Colin Firth) might best be described as “the man who wouldn’t be king.” In fact, he often eschewed the public eye due to a debilitating stutter that seriously hampered his public speaking abilities. However, when his older brother, King Edward VIII (Guy Pearce), abdicated the throne to marry the love of his life, twice-divorced American socialite Wallis Simpson (Eve Best), George was next in line to ascend the kingship, a prospect that, because of his condition, terrified him. But, if that weren’t enough, he assumed his reign not long before England entered World War II, a time, ironically enough, when his country looked to its sovereign for a voice of confidence and reassurance.
In the years before he became king, “Bertie” (George’s nickname in royal circles, a derivation of his given name, Albert) had undergone countless forms of treatment for his stammer but to no avail. After many futile attempts at overcoming his condition, Bertie was ready to give up. But, thanks to the patient, persistent support and clandestine resourcefulness of his wife, Queen Elizabeth (who in later years would affectionately come to be known as the Queen Mum) (Helena Bonham Carter), the future king would enter treatment with an unconventional speech therapist, Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush), an Australian transplant who brilliantly worked his magic on the hesitant heir to the throne.
Unlike Bertie’s prior speech therapists, who focused exclusively on attempting to alter the mechanics of his speaking voice, Logue quite astutely searched for the psychological and emotional reasons underlying his condition. This was a tall order, however; coaxing a stiff upper-lipped royal to open up about his personal life to a commoner was like trying to pry open a padlocked box with a paper clip. What’s more, Lionel’s capabilities and qualifications were called into question, particularly by perfunctory, brown-nosing insiders like Archbishop Cosmo Lang (Derek Jacobi), who saw the upstart outsider as an opportunistic interloper and sought to have him removed from his appointment. But, given how much Bertie wanted to overcome his linguistic challenges, and because Logue insisted that George play by his rules, the hesitant patient went along with his therapist’s unusual techniques. In doing so, Logue forced the future king to face the fears driving his stutter, many of which stemmed from the stringent demands placed on him by his late father, King George V (Michael Gambon), and the mercilessly cruel teasing that he experienced at the hands of others, including royal family members. It was a painful process for Bertie to undergo, but the effort paid off at a time when he—and his entire nation—needed it most.
“The King’s Speech” explores a number of significant conscious creation/law of attraction principles, and it does so quite effectively. Most notably among them, as already discussed, is the fear factor, specifically learning how to overcome them in order to move forward in one’s life. Had Bertie not been willing to do so, one can only imagine how he would have handled himself as king, particularly at a trying time when his country so desperately needed a strong leader. Facing fears is crucial to have the courage to change one’s circumstances and live heroically, and that’s precisely what George’s odyssey exemplifies.
In the process of the king facing his fears, viewers are simultaneously given a glimpse of how our outer world reflects the inner realm of our thoughts and beliefs. This becomes especially apparent when Lionel presses Bertie on revealing the reasons behind his stammering. The fear-based beliefs that the king had allowed to become stubbornly internalized rise to the surface, thereby revealing the source of his stutter; their subsequent internal rewriting, in turn, enabled the outward alleviation of his condition.
In a similar vein, viewers also get to see how Lionel and Bertie serve as mirrors of one another. For instance, even though Logue had achieved a reasonable degree of success as a speech therapist and elocution expert, his real passion was to appear on stage as a Shakespearean actor, a dream that nearly always resulted in disappointment. This is illustrated, quite ironically, in a scene when Lionel unsuccessfully auditions for the lead role in Richard III, the tragedy of another English king who, like George, is afflicted with a disability. The mirrored circumstances in this are anything but coincidental.
As this intensely personal story unfolds, viewers also witness a larger story play out, with George and Lionel serving as metaphors for bigger issues. For example, each character clearly symbolizes his social status, and their sometimes-incendiary interactions unabashedly reveal the disdain that existed between their respective classes. Similarly, the often-tense relationship between Logue, an Australian, and Bertie, a British native son, effectively illustrates the prevailing arm’s-length association between the homeland and the colonies, a connection not unlike what existed between them with respect to class status. Fortunately, the clashes slowly give way to understanding; with the fading of animosity, amicable relations evolve, both on the micro level of the protagonists’ relationship and on the macro level of class and nationality. Indeed, as with Rick and Louis in “Casablanca,” the experience gave rise to a beautiful friendship.
“The King’s Speech” is a flat-out winner on many fronts. The acting is superb, the writing is crisp and witty, and the production values are all top shelf. It takes a story whose premise might ordinarily be seen as dry and uninteresting and elevates it to the level of a real crowd-pleaser. And, for its efforts, the film is being lavished with all kinds of recognition, including seven Golden Globe nominations for best dramatic picture, best dramatic actor, best supporting actor and actress, best screenplay, best director and best musical score. I’d say it’s a fair bet that it will fare equally well when it comes to Oscar nods. But, after viewing this picture, it’s easy to see why: It’s a thoroughly entertaining movie with plenty of humor, emotion and warmth. And who knows—in the end, it just might leave you speechless.
Copyright © 2010, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
“Fair Game” (2010). Cast: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Noah Emmerich, Michael Kelly, David Andrews, Bruce McGill, Liraz Charhi, Khaled Nabawy, Adam LeFevre, Sam Shepard, Polly Holliday. Director: Doug Liman. Screenplay: Jez Butterworth and John-Henry Butterworth. Source Books: Joseph Wilson, The Politics of Truth, and Valerie Plame, Fair Game. www.fairgame-movie.com/
What is truth? That’s a question that philosophers, theologians and scientists have pondered without resolution for centuries. And when that question is examined in a conscious creation context, a philosophy that maintains we each create our own reality, definitive answers become even more elusive, for if we’re each responsible for manifesting what we experience, one could argue that truth is a relative matter, not a universal one (even if that goes against what most of us would like to think). That being the case, then, what we ultimately see as “truth” is something that comes down to the beliefs we hold, the fuel that makes conscious creation possible. That notion provides a significant metaphysical undercurrent in the story line of the new political thriller, “Fair Game.”
“Fair Game” recounts the back story of “Plamegate,” an incident that captured national headlines during the administration of President George W. Bush. The affair centered on Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), a covert CIA operative whose identity was publicly revealed—by name—in newspaper reports stemming from what were believed to be apparently intentional leaks by high-ranking (though never definitively identified) administration officials. Those leaks were allegedly initiated in retribution for the actions of Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), who blew the whistle on the administration’s faulty pre-war assessments of Iraq’s WMD arsenals shortly after the 2003 U.S. invasion began.
In the run-up to the Iraq War, the Bush administration attempted to use trumped-up “facts” about Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities, including the supposed acquisition of huge stockpiles of yellowcake uranium from the African nation of Niger to be used in nuclear weapons production, to justify its pre-emptive military actions. Wilson, who had firsthand knowledge that the administration’s contentions were grossly exaggerated, brought the misinformation to light in a New York Times op-ed piece, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa,” an act that allegedly led to the leaks shortly thereafter. As a consequence, Wilson’s reputation and new business venture were seriously harmed. But, even worse, Plame’s cover was compromised, leaving her exposed and endangering the lives of her contacts in the field, including some who were in the process of gathering sensitive intelligence information on the ground inside Iraq at the time (Liraz Charhi, Khaled Nabawy).
In addition to recounting the events that made headlines, “Fair Game” also shows the incident’s impact on the family’s home life. The film thus takes a very public news event and brings it down to a personal level, showing the struggles that the couple experienced as a result of the administration’s hard-ball tactics and the incessant, biased press coverage that followed (much of which painted the couple as unpatriotic, at best, and traitors, at worst). Death threats, phone harassment and constant media scrutiny ensued, making everyday life impossible. Eventually, however, the incident prompted a grand jury investigation and government hearings at which Plame testified, bringing the whole ugly affair to light. While no one in government was officially indicted for leaking Plame’s name, the probe did result in an investigation, and subsequent conviction, of Vice-presidential Chief of Staff Scooter Libby (David Andrews) on felony charges related to the incident.
As viewers watch the narrative unfold on screen, it’s quite intriguing to see the role that beliefs play in the film’s story line, both from a theoretical standpoint and in relation to the particulars of the plot. As in everyday life, we’re posed with choices on what beliefs we choose to adopt and which ones we opt to ignore.
For example, on the one hand, we witness intelligence-gathering insiders diligently working at attempting to develop accurate assessments of what was going on inside Iraq, based on what was thought to be reasonably reliable field information. From that, they sincerely came to believe that Saddam Hussein’s weapons capabilities were far less menacing than initially thought. In going about their work, they simply did their jobs of collecting data and assessing it to arrive at conclusions based on the impressions they received. They operated in true conscious creation fashion, drawing upon their intellect and intuition to shape the beliefs they would use in making official recommendations to higher-ups.
By contrast, we simultaneously witness an administration hell-bent on going to war, pursuing a course of action that it was willing to justify by virtually any means, including the manipulation of data to formulate “beliefs” that allegedly supported its objective. It then unhesitatingly sold these beliefs to the public (even if the underlying information didn’t support their viability) to gain support for their materialization. Anyone who didn’t buy in to this “official” view was suddenly demonized (including the intelligence experts who were charged with gathering the information to be used in formulating official policy in the first place). Since Wilson’s actions ran counter to the official beliefs that everyone was supposed to accept without question, he and anyone closely associated with him (such as his wife) were suddenly “fair game” for ridicule, retribution and unfair scrutiny. The negative public reaction to their allegedly disloyal actions, in turn, lent more support to the administration’s official stance, further strengthening the beliefs behind it—that is, until the supposed sources of the leaks were themselves revealed.
In both sides of this incident, the power driving their associated beliefs was palpable. That’s important to recognize, not only here but also in any situation we encounter, for the impact that results from that kind of power can be significant, as both of the foregoing scenarios illustrate.
So which set of beliefs was “correct” in this controversy? It’s pretty obvious from the film (and the way events ultimately played out) which one prevailed, but no matter which side each of us came down on at the time these events unfolded, it’s important to realize that the views we each held about the war and this scandal were, at their core, based on our individual beliefs. Each of our respective “truths” ultimately rested with whatever contentions we bought into at the time.
Regardless of how one views this incident, the Plamegate affair (and its depiction here) nevertheless helps to illustrate a significant conscious creation principle: Considering the power of beliefs and the fallout that can materialize from them, it’s vital that we gather and assess the input of our intellect and intuition carefully, thoughtfully and genuinely to develop informed beliefs. This is especially important when the stakes are high, and given the magnitude of the stakes involved in matters as critical as war and peace, personal and professional reputations, and even one’s peace of mind, it’s easy to see why.
So how accurate is this film in depicting the events that transpired? That’s hard to say, since movies such as this always bill themselves as “based on actual events,” a disclaimer that provides some convenient wiggle room for invoking cinematic license. That issue is further compounded by the fact that I (and probably most viewers) neither know the principals personally nor was a party to the story’s particulars. And even if I had been closely acquainted with the situation, who’s to say that I would have been able to discern the “real” truth of things; after all, many of the characters in this film are involved in the murky world of intelligence gathering, a process often rife with intentional deception and misdirection, as illustrated by Plame’s own chameleon-like ability to easily adopt fictional personas and to convincingly pass herself off as a mild-mannered suburban housewife while all the time engaging in highly secretive activities, circumstances sure to affect whatever beliefs I might have held about all this. In the end, then, I guess the degree to which one assumes that a picture like this is presenting an accurate portrayal of “the truth” ultimately depends on the beliefs one holds going in and subsequently forms while watching the movie. From where I stand, I believe it presents an accurate depiction of events (and does so quite well). But then that’s just my opinion.
“Fair Game” is a gripping political thriller, as well as an excellent examination of how a married couple holds up under pressure, an unusual fusion of narratives, but one that works well. Its script is clear and concise, especially in its presentation of the complicated political and intelligence-gathering maneuverings. But its real strength rests with its performances. Watts’s portrayal of Plame has Oscar nomination written all over it, and her fellow cast members, while effective in their roles, were wise enough to let their lead shine.
Truth is something that we all must ultimately decide for ourselves, and this picture shows just how important it is for us to get things right with regard to it. If we don’t, one day we just may find ourselves to be our own fair game.
Copyright © 2010, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
It’s that time of year, when the world falls in love….those are the beginning words of one of my favourite holiday songs. Honestly, Christmas has never been my favorite time of year. There was always some drama or trauma that left me with sad and dispirited at this time of year. The one thing I always loved and the one thing I looked forward to was the music. The choir practices were a safe haven and the seasonal music always seems to soar and lift our spirits up into the winter winds, dancing on the snowflakes.
As the years passed and my yearning for ritual has changed, my search for music has been more about the sounds of the season. My most stunning solstice was standing alone in the High Park Labyrinth, listening to the winter silence and the fox or coyote singing. It was a surreal moment, feeling completely isolated and enfolded by nature and knowing I was only minutes away from a bustling city. I think the spirit of John Howard, the founder of High Park was with me beneath the moonlight sky.
I still love the traditional music I sang in choir and mix it with new songs, jazzy mixes and instrumentally etheral sounds of walking on air. For me the season is all about moods. Have some fun mixing up your playlist.
On my winter season playlist is:
- Walking in the Air, Kenny Loggins
- Rituals of Winter, Dan Gibson, Solitudes
- Beneath the Moonlight Sky, Dave Koz & Friends
- Breath of Heaven, Amy Grant
- December Makes Me Feel This Way, Dave Koz
- Silent Runnng, Dan Gibson Solitudes
- Grown Up Christmas List, Amy Grant
- Greensleeves, Solitudes Christmas
- Ave Maria, Paul Horn
- Angels in the Snow, Kenny Loggins
- Frosty the Snowman, Ella Fitzgerald
- The First Snowfall, Carlos Nakai, William Eaton
- Silent Night, Nancy Wilson & Kimiko Itoh
- Universal Child, Annie Lennox
- Snow, Loreena McKennit
- Jingle Bells, Richard Tee
- It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Amy Grant
- Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree, Amy Grant
- La Ronde des Bergers, Andre Gagnon
- The Snow Lay On The Ground, David Bruce Smith
- Magnificent, Paul Horn
Sonic blissings to you and enjoy the sounds of the season, Anny
Anoushka is organizing a Solstice/Lunar Eclipse moon watch on December 21st. To find out more, go to www.anandasound.com
“Hereafter” (2010). Cast: Matt Damon, Cécile de France, George McLaren, Frankie McLaren, Derek Jacobi, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Kind, Steve Schirripa, Thierry Neuvic, Marthe Keller, Jean-Yves Berteloot, Lyndsey Marshal, Rebekah Staton, Declan Conlon, Niamh Cusack, George Costigan. Director: Clint Eastwood. Screenplay: Peter Morgan. http://hereafter.warnerbros.com.
What happens when we die? That’s one of the most intriguing, mystifying and, for some, frightening questions that we face in life. And given that death is the one common fate—or common experience—that we all share, it’s a question that’s understandably important, even if it’s one that some of us would rather ignore. All angst aside, however, coming to terms with the afterlife seems to be an increasingly crucial concern for the mass consciousness these days considering how many recent films have been released that address the subject from various perspectives (“Get Low,” “Infinity: The Ultimate Trip” and “A Single Man,” to name a few). These films have done a fine job of exploring the issue, too, but now a new offering has come along that examines it in a comprehensive, highly considered way, the thoughtful drama, “Hereafter.”
“Hereafter” tells three stories that span the globe, not unlike the 2006 release “Babel.” The difference here, though, is that all the stories in this film deal with different aspects of death and the afterlife and how they play out in the characters’ lives.
* George Lonegan (Matt Damon) desperately wants to find his life. He’s a factory worker in San Francisco who takes night classes in the culinary arts. But most of his time is spent alone, quietly brooding about his circumstances. It wasn’t always like that, though. For years George worked as a professional psychic with the ability to help connect the living to their departed loved ones, a talent that brought him abundance and notoriety. But while most people saw George’s ability as a gift, he saw it as a curse, one that affected his relationships and his outlook on life. He had difficulty reconciling how to live a life whose primary focus was on death. Nevertheless, even though such realizations helped him discover what he didn’t want, they brought him no closer to finding what he did, and so now he searches endlessly, looking for answers that perpetually elude him.
* Marie LeLay (Cécile de France) is a highly successful French TV journalist. She has a great job and a devoted beau (Thierry Neuvic). Life is good. But that all changes one morning. While on vacation in the South Pacific, Marie is swept up in the enormous wave of a destructive tsunami that strikes the island paradise. She’s carried away by the powerful surge, drowning and losing consciousness, eventually lapsing into a near death experience. Remarkably, she’s rescued and resuscitated, but she’s no longer the same person she was before, a challenge she wrestles with in the aftermath of the tragedy and upon her return to Paris. She struggles to find her place in a scheme of things she no longer sees the same way. Her search for answers thus begins in earnest.
* Jason and Marcus (George McLaren, Frankie McLaren) are identical twins living with their drug-addicted mother (Lyndsey Marshal) in a gritty London neighborhood. Despite being identical twins, the siblings are not totally alike. Jason is a courageous, gregarious, take-charge young man, while Marcus is a quiet, reserved lad in search of guidance and support, most of which he gets from his twin brother. So it should come as no surprise that Marcus is devastated when Jason is killed in a tragic accident, a problem compounded when he’s placed in foster care while his mum undergoes rehab. Marcus longs to find his departed brother, but what he really needs to do is find himself.
Not surprisingly, all three stories eventually intertwine, culminating in London as a result of an intriguing string of synchronicities. And it’s through such interactions that answers are at last provided, offering the possibility of new beginnings for all concerned.
As the stories unfold, viewers are treated to a rich tapestry of ideas on the nature of death. Perhaps the most notable of these is the notion that death is an inherent part of life. It’s woven into the fabric of our everyday experience, because it’s the one eventuality that we all share. But as the notion is depicted in the film, death isn’t some horrific, dreadful occurrence to be feared but a simple transition from one state of being to another, almost as if one were exchanging one suit of clothes for another. And when viewed through the lens of conscious creation/law of attraction philosophy, death is essentially an expression of one of its core principles—that we’re all in a constant state of becoming. The transition that death provides, then, is merely a means for making that transformative state of becoming possible.
Since death is a part of life, and since it’s essentially an embodiment of the concept of “transition,” it’s also apparent, as seen in the film’s three stories, that we all die a little each day in our waking life pursuits, sometimes literally, sometimes figuratively. One door closes, and another opens, with the death of the former giving birth to the latter. Of course, how we respond to the new circumstances that arise is ultimately what’s most important, for, as every conscious creation practitioner knows, the outcome we experience will depend on the beliefs we hold going in (besides, whatever changes ultimately appear came from us, too) . We get what we concentrate on, even when making transitions such as this.
The intrinsic connectedness of all things—even those that seem permanently separated by the wall between the worlds—is another conscious creation theme addressed in this film. Our connections to the departed may be less obvious than when our loved ones were still amongst the living, perhaps taking on forms that are more metaphorical, symbolic or synchronistic than literal, but those connections are tangible nonetheless, especially when we make the effort to make ourselves aware of them. In that sense, then, we need never feel as though we’ve lost those we love; it simply means we may need to connect with them in ways we never thought of before.
And then, of course, there’s the character of the afterlife itself, which, as explained in the picture, sounds like a conscious creator’s dream come true, a metaphysical playground where the limitations of physical existence are removed and the potential for creative expression knows no bounds. It’s a joyful way of being that makes monodimensional reality seem mundane by comparison. Think of it as an amusement park for your consciousness, and you’ll have an idea of what the departed are talking about—and what we have to look forward to.
“Hereafter” is a beautiful meditation on its subject matter, presented in a quiet, subtle, deftly layered package. It’s not the kind of picture one might readily associate with Clint Eastwood, but the director has turned in a fine effort with this offering, easily his best work behind the camera. In particular, Eastwood’s efforts at getting emotion out of his characters (and evoking it amongst its viewers) easily set this picture apart from his prior works, which I’ve often found leave much to be desired in that regard. I was also blown away by the realism of the tsunami sequence, an incredible technical accomplishment. I especially liked the film’s use (or, in some cases, absence) of sound in this sequence (and elsewhere in the film for that matter), some of the best work I’ve ever heard in this area. The film’s pacing at times is, admittedly, a little slow, but as the story progresses and viewers are drawn into the three stories, that issue dissipates completely.
When it comes to life, none of us is going to get out of it alive. But then maybe that’s a blessing, for if we never died, we’d never grow and evolve, either, stagnating in an existence of stifling sameness. “Hereafter” helps us appreciate the value of this mode of transition, both in our daily life and for the one that awaits us. And for that, we should all be grateful.
Copyright © 2010, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.