The period between the end of the summer movie season, with its big-budget special effects extravaganzas, and the start of the cinematic awards season, traditionally dominated by films vying for coveted statuettes, is a sort of celluloid vacuum. It’s a time when a lot of also-ran offerings are released, leaving die-hard movie fans with few choices for quality viewing. And, for those in search of pictures with meaningful content, the pickings can be even slimmer.
It’s at times like this when serious moviegoers should be grateful for the invention of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. They come to the rescue for those on the brink of celluloid withdrawal, providing access to fare that effectively helps bridge the gap between the two primary movie seasons. But which selections make for the best viewing options, especially when it comes to movies that deal with conscious creation/law of attraction themes?
There are certainly many worthwhile choices available, but everyone has his or her favorites. Here, in no particular order, are 10 of mine:
“Stranger Than Fiction”: What happens when a novelist meets one of her fictional characters in physical form? And what if creation and creator are at odds with one another about the creation’s fate? A hilarious look at the nature of reality and what drives its materialization. (2006; Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Emma Thompson, Queen Latifah, Dustin Hoffman; Marc Forster, director; Zack Helm, screenplay; 1 Golden Globe nomination; www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/strangerthanfiction/)
“Solaris”: High strangeness abounds aboard a space station launched to study a planet with unusual qualities—and capabilities—an experience that brings crew members into contact with their innermost thoughts and feelings in ways that startle, astound and enlighten. Remake of a 1972 Russian film of the same name. (2002; George Clooney, Natascha McElhone, Viola Davis, Jeremy Davies, Ulrich Tukur; Steven Soderbergh, director; Stanislaw Lem, book; Steven Soderbergh, screenplay; www.imdb.com/title/tt0307479/)
“Whale Rider”: A young Maori girl lives out her beliefs (and, by extension, her value fulfillment), rising to meet her destiny as a tribal leader, despite cultural obstacles that would hold her back. A gorgeous and moving offering from New Zealand. (2002; Keisha Castle-Hughes, Rawiri Paratene, Vicky Haughton, Cliff Curtis, Grant Roa, Mana Taumaunu; Niki Caro, director; Witi Ihimaera, book; Niki Caro, screenplay; 1 Oscar nomination; www.whaleriderthemovie.co.nz/)
“Bread and Tulips”: A bumbling housewife, trapped in a bad marriage, creates a new life for herself by taking off on an impromptu Venetian holiday, an opportunity that allows her to believe in herself—and blossom—in ways she never dreamed possible. A lively Italian romantic comedy. (2000; Licia Maglietta, Bruno Ganz, Giuseppe Battiston, Antonio Catania, Marina Massironi, Felice Andreasi, Vitalba Andrea, Tatiana Lepore, Tiziano Cucchiarelli, Matteo Febo, Lina Bernardi, Ludovico Paladin; Silvio Soldini, director; Silvio Soldini and Doriana Leondeff, story and screenplay; www.imdb.com/title/tt0237539/)
“August Rush”: A young boy, put up for adoption at birth, uses his art—and his conscious creation wherewithal—to discover the truth of his background and to fashion the life he craves. A heartfelt, inspiring, metaphysical melodrama. (2007; Freddie Highmore, Keri Russell, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Terrence Howard, Robin Williams, William Sadler, Marian Seldes, Mykelti Williamson, Leon Thomas III, Jamia Simone Nash, Bonnie McKee, Alex O’Loughlin, Aaron Staton, Ronald Guttman; Kirsten Sheridan, director; Paul Castro and Nick Castle, story; Nick Castle and James V. Hart, screenplay; 1 Oscar nomination; http://augustrushmovie.warnerbros.com/)
“The Visitor”: Ever feel like a stranger in your own skin, unable to tap into “the real you”? Figuring out how to reach that elusive inner self is the task of a lonely widower, who journeys into the depths of his soul, while on a business trip to New York. An encounter with a Middle Eastern musician, an event far afield from the protagonist’s typical routine, sends him down a path of self-discovery and personal reinvention. A riveting performance by Richard Jenkins in the lead role. (2007 (production), 2008 (release); Richard Jenkins, Haaz Sleiman, Danai Gurira, Hiam Abbass; Thomas McCarthy, director; Thomas McCarthy, screenplay; one Oscar nomination; www.thevisitorfilm.com)
“Shrink”: A preeminent Hollywood psychiatrist is on the verge of losing it all, having slipped into a deep depression, driven by a personal tragedy. Perpetually adrift in the stupor of a self-medication program, he slides through life until he’s posed with the challenge—and the opportunity—to heal others and, by extension, to heal himself, a process through which he sees his inner world reflected back to him through his outer reality, particularly through the patients he treats. A dark comedy with intriguing psychological and metaphysical overtones. (2009; Kevin Spacey, Mark Webber, Keke Palmer, Saffron Burrows, Jack Huston, Pell James, Dallas Roberts, Jesse Plemons, Robert Loggia, Joel Gretsch, Laura Ramsey, Robin Williams, Gore Vidal; Jonas Pate, director; Thomas Moffett, screenplay; www.shrinkthemovie.net; see my complete review of this film in a January 2010 blog at www.getthepicturebrentmarchant.blogspot.com)
“The Nines”: The lives of a troubled actor, a frazzled reality TV show writer and a successful video game designer, intertwine in intriguing ways, revealing sublime truths about their—and our—very nature. Give this one a little time to unfold; you’ll be richly rewarded. (2007; Ryan Reynolds, Melissa McCarthy, Hope Davis, Elle Fanning; John August, director; John August, screenplay; www.lookforthenines.com)
“World’s Greatest Dad”: Ever form an opinion about someone that you later discover is far different—perhaps even the exact opposite—of what others have of the same person? Such is the metaphysical conundrum posed by this edgy comedy about a high school poetry teacher who struggles to tell the truth about, while simultaneously protect the reputation of, his dead teenage son, an ungrateful brat and self-centered social misfit. In doing so, we see two sides of both father and son emerge with unexpected results. Don’t let this film’s warm fuzzy title fool you! (2009; Robin Williams, Daryl Sabara, Alexie Gilmore, Henry Simmons, Geoff Pierson, Evan Martin, Jermaine Williams, Lorraine Nicholson, Tony V., Deborah Horne, Toby Huss, Mitzi McCall, Bruce Hornsby; Bobcat Goldthwait, director; Bobcat Goldthwait, screenplay; www.worldsgreatestdadfilm.com; see my complete review of this film in a January 2010 blog at www.getthepicturebrentmarchant.blogspot.com)
“Starting Out in the Evening”: One’s ability to create successfully, depends on one’s beliefs to do so, for better or worse (or, in some cases, both). For an aging writer, who had two early successes but later became convinced that he’d lost his way, the challenge to create anew in the face of a rapidly approaching end, gets put to the test through his interaction with a young graduate student. The key question is, will he rise to the occasion? An excellent, superbly acted character study.(2007; Frank Langella, Lauren Ambrose, Lili Taylor, Adrian Lester; Andrew Wagner, director; Fred Parnes and Andrew Wagner, screenplay; Brian Morton, book; www.roadsideattractions.com/Catalog/FilmLibrary.asp?ProjectID=%7BECD239F2-668A-4AEE-858E-E26751721E52%7D&BusinessUnitID=%7B7533CDA9-E7C5-4586-AAA5-14ABF2E3F6B2%7D)
Copyright © 2010, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.