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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)
Love and Honesty, Existential Baggage and Self-Realization
THE ONLY BAD ELEMENTS OF THE MOVIE:
o- The cigarettes. They took up too much of the emotional interactions, and tainted the nearly perfect scenery of a beautiful, difficult exploration of very tender sentiments with filth.
o- The paintings composed by two of the main characters, Maria-Elena and Juan-Antonio. I suspect Woody Allen has the same opinion about that vacuous crap posing as "modern art", which is partly why Cristina's artwork is so much more profound, even though at the same time she's shown to be very insecure about it. I'm sad we only get to see very little of it, fleeting glimpses.
o- The ending.
THE REST OF THE MOVIE: It was great, though I have a really hard time forgiving the director for the "bad elements" described above! The way the movie was promoted when it first came out was terrible; it gave a really wrong impression through the promotional clips, "coming attractions", trailers, previews and posters: I vowed to boycott the movie for a few years and watch it only after the commercial and pseudo-intellectual fake excitement had passed.
And so it happened. I'm really glad I watched it - the movie is MUCH better than anything I expected! One element I'm really happy with is that there's a male main character who's actually good for a change, a person to look up to: Juan-Antonio is gentle, cultivated, has real depth, is honest, caring, tender, and even handles tremendously difficult, potentially lethal situations, with emotional flexibility that's guided by true love.
I'm sure that all the three main actresses will receive a lot of praise for portraying really well the primary characters who struggled with nearly impossible situations, handling them through very genuine personas.
It was clear that all four of them worked hard to portray with as much immediacy as possible feelings and behaviours which are either entirely outside the range of "acceptable normalcy" or totally perverted by male-chauvinism. But Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem took on extra burdens: what the movie demanded of them was to convey and bring to the surface aspects of being that only people who have struggled deeply with themselves can do. This is not to say that Penelope Cruz and Rebecca Hall did not act well - on the contrary, they were great! - but their roles demanded only parts of their conventional self, what comes easily and naturally to them.
I was really worried, before watching it, that the movie would have been an ode to the filthiest and sleaziest aspects of authoritarian and patriarchal perversions of male-chauvinist fantasy, "prettified" by Woody Allen into a pseudo-philosophical pretension. I'm so glad I was wrong! The movie really and honestly grapples with some of the most beautiful AND difficult aspects of polyamory - multifaceted relationships built on love, honesty and transparency - that it should probably be one of the first movies on the list of items for shared viewing and dialogue, especially for people who are new to the polyamory community. That dialogue is really needed badly by the community in order to feel itself closer to normalcy while it keeps expanding - pushing outwards - the limits of the "established order" under the present regime of Family, Private Property, the Church and the State.
Close to the Edge of the Transbeyond
When the Goddess was in motion upon the face of the Earth, the young men who vowed to serve her Divine Will as Agents of Consciousness were blessed by her and elevated to Wizards. And then she let loose upon them the Muse; she came into the flesh incarnated as Music. She encarnalized as both a means and a service; a source of inSpiration; a fruit of love's labour and as a thoroughly transformative experience.
They generated music woven by the Elements, cast it into Liberating Spells that permeated through both the established social order and the underground: the musical landscapes they painted, the holographic aural artifacts they gave birth to were at once alive; holistic and ultra-specific; combined the familiar with the utterly alien; blended Emotion, Motion and the Logos. These acted upon us as the universal harmonic keys whose indispensable value transported us en masse during Mass to other dimensions of existence where we repeatedly find ourselves again reborn as Cosmic Beings, as members of La Raza Cosmica, the homeward bound orphaned children of our Sacred Lady of Space and the Mother of All Matter who touched down at Guadalupe and whose perpetuity fills the illusory emptiness between quanta, planets and microseconds, generates Gravity, and whose Divine Love is the medium of both electromagnetic and four-dimensional transtemporal Light.
"Then", they said, "Then according to the man who showed his outstretched arm to space, He turned around and pointed, revealing all the human race. I shook my head and smiled a whisper, knowing all about the place. On the hill we viewed the silence of the valley, Called to witness cycles only of the past. And we reach all this with movements in between the said remark.
Close to the edge, down by the river. Down at the end, round by the corner. Seasons will pass you by, Now that it's all over and done, Called to the seed, right to the sun. Now that you find, now that you're whole. Seasons will pass you by, I get up, I get down. I get up, I get down. I get up, I get down. I get up."
The Holy Mountain (1973)
Brilliant! "Seek and ye shall..."
I experienced more raw, refined and direct emotions with my entire being watching "The Holy Mountain" than I did by watching many hundreds of other movies... my entire organism participated in this experience: my body, heart, mind, plus whatever other faculties may lie beyond their realms.
It's a great movie for Seekers of all levels, all Paths, all orientations, faiths and disciplines.
Something about "The Holy Mountain" reminded me of the movie titled "Eraserhead" (1977); perhaps the level of successfully utilized bizarre imagery. But "The Holy Mountain" does not exploit the bizarre for the benefit of the bizarre alone, nor does it feature the bizarre just for feeding and fueling the Spectacle. There's complex feelings and teachings within every visual detail of the compositions, and within every twist and turn of the plot.
Something about "The Holy Mountain" reminded me of the movie titled "Circle of Iron" (1978); it also is a story of Seeking, of being on the Path for spiritual self-realization; transcendence... but "The Holy Mountain" definitely goes deeper, and addresses the Seeker~Viewer from multiple, well-informed points of departure all at once.
I found the music wonderful. I found the voices of the characters... superb, matching a genuine presence they conveyed that most modern actors today have a hard time rendering. In this respect the movie matches many movies of the counter-culture and the underground created during the revolutionary of the sixties-seventies. Most of the people in "The Holy Mountain" are so real that it's hard to distinguish if they are just regular people pretending to be actors, or actors so deeply aware, so brimming with artful dexterity that they appear to be just regular people. Echoes here of "Zabriskie Point" (1970), in the sense of having actors who are totally real - so real, that the movie might as well be a staged documentary. "Obscured by Clouds / The Valley" (1972) also comes to mind easily because of this quality (and for the them, a journey of discovery and Seeking): and for those who were disappointed that "The Valley" did not show enough naked flesh, there's plenty of honest nudity it in "The Holy Mountain": probably more than most viewers can handle.
The photography is very high quality, and so is the editing. To be honest, I wanted the movie to be longer. And as soon as it ended I wanted to watch it again!
La vallée (1972)
Light and Joy are our Birthrights ~ One of the very best movies ever
I've seen thousands of movies. I searched for this one for decades, finally found it, struggled a lot within myself to find just the right frame of mind to start it, and have just finished watching it.
. ~ * ~ .
It's truly difficult to find words to express what a masterpiece, what a gem this is. Seductive, upsetting, inspiring, liberating, mind-boggling, a catalyst for direct immersion into the Otherness; the Dreamtime.
It provides opportunities to get a taste of total and complete absence of a sense of self, both the kind that's embedded in protean, archetypal ways of being AND that which is the goal of contemporary "civilized" humans who are struggling to deconstruct and shed their social and personal conditioning in order to experience the freedom of Being that's free from the dysphoric awareness of being we are trained to carry with us throughout our lives.
"Obscured by Clouds" can only be appreciated if one watches with an open heart. It's only then that you can experience the way in which the movie can hold your mind's attention toward a point, a quest, an enigma, and suddenly flood your senses with totally unexpected torrents of fragments, messages, entire sequences from natural existence; from the Other Way; and from the Transbeyond - all at the same time.
The movie itself is both the journey and the Valley. Homer and Cavafis (the poets) would have probably embraced director Barbet Schroeder without a moment's hesitation.
. ~ * ~ .
Please contact me if you'd like to discuss this; I'd like to write a longer review if there's interest.
Methodical, Scientific Mind Control Operations...
Over several decades, GG and I have engaged in many types of anti-capitalist struggles, including mass mobilizations, protests, occupations, strikes, etc.; radical journalism; group studies and production of various forms of in-depth analyses of the global Empire's political economy, ideology, consumerism, dogma, military and diplomatic dynamics, and economics. We often critique politics within the Left, including theory and practice of progressive, radical and revolutionary organizations and individuals.
GG: "This is presented as a North Korean production, but some of the comments suggest that it's a fake. Any thoughts?"
Petros: "You have an incredible sense of timing, as always. Events around us keep bordering on catastrophe, while brutality, misery, and ignorance induced by the global Empire are at an all time peak.
And now you send me this movie about the system's methodical and scientific mind control operations..."
GG: "One glaring inaccuracy: It depicts the British Invasion (i.e. the Beatles) as happening after the anti-Vietnam War protests, not before. Otherwise, if in fact it is a production of North Korea, it demonstrates an encouraging sophistication in terms of its understanding the mass-psychology and propaganda system of the imperialist West.
What the documentary does very well is depict the average westerner's brain as occupied territory. It reminds me of the Gospel of Mark, chapter 5, which depicts Jesus exorcising a "Legion" of devils from a man who lived among the "tombs." Legion is code for the forces of the Roman Empire and "tombs" is code for the "Scribes and Pharisees," i.e. the church and state of the Jews (see Matthew 23:27). I think it's saying that the Empire has occupied our souls with the complicity and acquiescence of the local authorities. What we need is a mass exorcism!
But this time, I don't want to see any more pigs suffer because of the shameful condition of our species."
Petros: "I kept pausing the movie in order to contain my excitement. They articulate so well, so much that I want to say! Here's a few thoughts that might serve as a foundation for a future Critical Review.
If I were to pick on ONE cultural-political item today to explain to someone what the Liberation Movement is all about I'd pick this movie.
"Propaganda" has some shortcomings and deficiencies, but they are miniscule.
For example the thing you point out about the British Invasion. It's true of course that the most massive and militant anti-Vietnam war protests began after the Beatles' British Invasion. But protests against the war had already begun in 1960 and kept growing massively. So strictly speaking, there's no anachronism in the movie.
The number of homeless they gave, "38 million homeless Americans" sounds a little steep even for my sense of reality.
Official numbers in the US are usually one tenth of that (about 3,5 million). But then according to "official" numbers Canada comes out with more homeless per capita than the US! Clearly the US is under-reporting homelessness, but I don't think the real number is more than 10 to 15 million.
Another deficiency is that "Propaganda" hints at, but has no understanding of how perverted (manipulated) sexuality sustains a culture of ignorance, commodification, and brutality. According to Wilhelm Reich, MD., author of the very best scientific analysis of Fascism on the basis of oppressed and degenerated sexuality, all these constitute "secondary drives" produced by authoritarianism. One reason that the creators have a partial blind spot on sexuality is that stalinism, which is very strong in North Korea, is itself bound up with anti-sexual politics.
Then there's the image of North Korea, itself. Most EuroAmerican Leftists are embarrassed by it. Imperialist media keep presenting North Korea in such a bad light that it's impossible to defend it, even in the eyes of "rational" people - propaganda and distortion is so vile that any rational discussion about North Korea is condemned before it even starts.
Therefore, their discomfort with the movie, influenced by the country's image peaking out through the movie introspectively, is invalid. Most Leftists in the advanced industrial world usually are unable to perceive reality in their own countries, never mind North Korea.
I found that the movie is an astounding improvement over Guy Debord's "Society of the Spectacle", which is the pinnacle of the Situationists' critique of modern society on the basis of the Spectacle, the newest form into which alienation (in the marxist sense) congeals in our era.
Alienation, the separation between products and producers, is no longer just a need driving us to market. In our era, alienation congeals into something material, experienceable: the Spectacle, more than just urging us to the market, creates our own image of ourselves within our heads, defining our reality.
And as our friend Sue S. pointed out, "Propaganda" has overtones from Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent" and from Naomi Klein's work. Still there's something unique in this movie; it has character and personality; often one can discern the hand of masters at the editing tool.
Also I was shocked to find mention of the Truth about September 11 in the movie! A taboo that came up so naturally...
I definitely agree with you about the need to (re)exorcise that demon named "Legion" who plagues our society; I'm with you! The movie gets a zero in making a differentiation between authoritarian religion (enforced bondage to church), and a freely chosen Spirituality embodying Liberation Theology, a moral force of the revolution. Also, they fail to see that the Bible contains some spiritual, scientific and historical Truth of great value along with all the dogma, hatred, falsifications, distortions and mind-numbing irrelevancies.
Still, with all of its weak elements or deficiencies I'd gladly promote "Propaganda", and perhaps a critique such as this might empower its message.
House Made of Dawn (1987)
I was blown away by this movie
I saw it around the time when it first came out.
I felt it was full of things that can not be articulated, can not be represented, and remain choked up within one's awareness - or even worse, lodged within one's subconscious pushing up to be vomited in a thoroughly cleansing experience...
The cinematic language it uses is a little weird, and might have been an innovation in its time. It has not caught on (other directors don't use it) so it feels like an "odd" movie.
A previous reviewer here wrote about the character of the priest, and I also wish to underline that, yes, there's a quality about that particular character that has stuck with me all these years. Perhaps his presence in the movie stimulated my perception of some archetype that I have not yet identified?
My Sister's Keeper (2009)
Saw the movie yesterday. I'm still crying.
"My Sister's Keeper" triggered a state in me that's beautifully unbearable.
I keep being tossed into memories from my own past and that of other people; keep being tossed into bouts of ultra-perception of other peoples' emotional and metaphysical realities. And of my own.
Those eyes opened up a tunnel of love, light and awareness into which I kept getting drawn, wanting to follow the path they opened up and tumble, drift, soar-glide toward the penultimate source of four-dimensional Light.
But whose eyes where they? Where they her eyes? The girl's? The woman's? The eyes of the Goddess? They drew me right to the transition boundary between universal OverSoul and personal psyche - who'd want to leave that?
You said all this and I understood it directly. Or was it me talking to myself? Or a voice embedded subliminally into the movie? Or did the movie open up a channel of consciousness into which the Voice of pure love can pour through and directly into our awareness?
So much more I want to say about it and what the movie induced in me. But I'm still where "My Sister's Keeper" left me: Speechless.
UPDATE: I published this review with photos (easier to see The Eyes), on the Cyprus IndyMedia website; please use the search tool there to find it. Thanx!
The Prestige (2006)
Excellent, but David Bowie was for me the unexpected triumph
I loved the film for many reasons. But one of them is an element of the film that will probably be ignored by most other reviewers so I feel the need to underline it: David Bowie in this movie did the unbelievable. He performed a character who is *more* conventional in every possible way than he himself is. The way he found to totally camouflage his own outstanding (exceptionally weird) self and to invoke an entirely different self who beamed a totally different intensity is ...obscure to me. Astoundingly artful.
In a way, he captured the greatness of the character he had played in the "Man Who Fell to Earth" by being someone entirely different. And (coincidence?) the character he plays in "The Prestige" (the real historical person) is also rumoured to have "fallen to Earth". Plus he had a similar lifepath to the character David Bowie played in the "Man Who Fell to Earth" - but a radically different persona, a mesmerizingly stable, solid presence with intent and intensity.
A perception bender. Prestigious prestidigitation.