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Noah Asks Us to Look at Ourselves
While the noise around the film, Noah, seems to be focused on biblical authenticity; it seems to really ask the question are we, as humans on earth back to the point of another cleansing? With more than thirty hours of religion classes in college, I began a thirty year quest seeking the sub-text in the bible (sorry folks from Constantine to King James...the bible we read today, is most likely not what was the oral tradition or actually the written word from the days of Abraham to the life of Christ), as well as, other ancient texts.
The cross-cultural references to a great flood, predate the classical biblical story and this film brings all the context of the cradle of man's desire to dominate others, including all the creatures of the earth. Early in the film, we see Noah sharing the ethical challenge with his sons, "We only take what we need", as a clear reference to our over- resourced and over-industrialized global "village". The greatest treat of Noah, is the visual story telling of the creation story, the "Big Bang" is so beautifully crafted.
Throughout the telling of Noah, we feel a pull to ask if we need to be killing other creatures to survive and most importantly, the ethical challenge of literally killing our fellow man or brother. We may all agree we haven't emerged far from the primitive communal fire and this film asks the question are we due for another cleansing.
In the spirit of all those seekers, the film brought me back home from the movie theater to my well worn bible. I am eager to rekindle my quest to understand more fully the beauty of these great stories of miracles found in the Hebrew Old Testament and New Testament. Watching the fallen angels find their way back to heaven, was haunting.
Don't discount Noah by getting hung-up on a true biblical translation. This film is courageous and beautiful in the telling of what we need to be reminded of today, the care and feeding of all creatures and this beautiful earth.
The Friendly Visitor (2012)
'Biting" Satire of Religious Conviction
The premise and the writing of this little gem of an independent film, brings home an often painful meaning of passionate well-intended religious fundamentalists, spreading the "good news". While the film is classified as "horror", it is less gore and more intellectual, in the message of taking rather than giving. The concept is clever and a great new take on the classic "vampire" story. The lead actor, or "visitor" is both hauntingly familiar as he appears to be a very wholesome young man,yet, he is not what he appears to be at first glance. The opening sequence provides a dark subtext, as the dialogue is a great play on words. Conceived, written, produced and directed by then eighteen year old, Adam Gold, this is a must see film about how our beliefs may actually harm other people more than help them.
Julie & Julia (2009)
Every Woman's Story About Finding Meaning and Purpose in Life
While the characters are real and historical, Julie & Julia is a beautiful tapestry of every woman looking for deep meaning and purpose in life.
Nora Ephron's homage to food, the delights of marriage, France and the art of cooking are on full display in this sweet film. Meryl Streep is in her full glory, transforming her voice, posture, inflections all embody the character of Julia Child.
Amy Adams, plays Julie with a quaintness and charm of a woman unclear of her own voice or destiny. With the support of her husband, Julie embarks upon her year-long challenge to prepare over 500 of Julia Child's recipes from her famous book, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in 365 days.
In watching every delicious frame of this film, your appetite is aroused to whip up an omelet and open a bottle of good wine. Fundamentally, the real story here is a true love story.
The love story between Julia and Paul Child's is both romantic and endearing, as they navigate their way through his long diplomatic career and support each other in Julia testing each and every possible recipe. You realize that only through Paul's unending emotional and financial support of Julia, she would never have emerged as the changing force in American cooking.
Today, most women are single and without the necessary financial and emotional support of a dedicated husband or partner to encourage their self-actualization. What I value most about this film is the courage of Nora Ephron to show the transformational power of a positive marriage and partnership.
Bon Appetite dear Julie and Julia!
Beware of the Boogie Man
American politics at it's most revealing, in "Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story", illuminating the most destructive forces at work in American politics over the last thirty years.
The media, candidates, personal friends and colleagues reveal a deeply troubled man, seeking power at all costs. Lee Atwater is a real bully in every sense of the word, using his somewhat smarmy southern charm to both make himself look like "every man", as well as, the candidates he represents.
At one point, the conservative political strategist, Mary Matalin defends Atwater as "brilliant" and appears sentimental about her colleague and his unethical approaches to politics. In every clip, quote and historical reference Lee Atwater appears to be the Devil himself. The scariest part of this film, is seeing Rove groomed to be Atwater's successor.
Rove can attribute every one of his devious political strategies to the mastermind evil genius of Lee Atwater. This film portrays the average American as a sentimentalist, carefully "played" at our most basic fears and prejudice.
Watch this film and share it with others, to awaken your consciousness to what is truthful and real in the dirty world of American politics. What you hear in the next campaign slogan, should be considered carefully, as a probable misrepresentation of the truth.
Any Human Heart (2010)
Very Human and very much "any" individual's story....
What a delicate human story of a real man and his very real and messy life, filled with all of the missteps into discovering the world and himself. While it is at once sentimental, it isn't overly romanticized or filled with self-pity.
A curious and fascinating sub-plot around the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, took me into an internet search to learn more around a historical incident involving all the characters.
Filled with flashbacks of Oxford friends, wives, lovers and children are the cast of characters illuminating our main character, Logan's, mind. Every flashback moves us through Logan's life, as he seems to outlive all of the unfortunate illnesses and accidents of his friends and family. The extensive ensemble of actors play their characters, with the grace and elegance you expect from such highly acclaimed actors as James Broadbent.
The real thread of sweetness, in this series, is seeing how we assign value to our relationships and perception of the world. This is a story for every person, to feel connected to their own humanness and find purpose and human connection at every stage of their lives.
A Little Reality in the Fantasy of Austenland
What a great way to spend a very hot August afternoon in Dallas, Texas than to enjoy this little fantasy about an "Austenland" play ground for romance starved modern women, looking for their "turn around the garden" with Mr. Darcy.
Little did I know, but the fantasy Austenland is filled with the cold realities of all fantasy-lands with strict playground rules and actors all around. What I loved most about our Jane "Erstwhile" is how truly obsessed she is with Austen and of course, Mr. Darcy. Her fantasy has taken over every aspect of her simple life and she is now unable to enjoy modern life, until she decides to immerse herself in a pricey English wonderland, called Austenland.
Jane soon learns she has only purchased the entry level, "Copper Package" and while she feels a little sorry for herself, behind the scenes all is playing out according the plan she has purchased. Lots of fun with all the characters filling in their parts perfectly.
An extra special treat is the entire rolling end credits scenes. They are a must see with a great remake of the modern rap tune, "It's Getting Hot in Here". Enjoy this sweet little gem of a film and discover how much reality is often in our fantasies.
A Revolution without a sword but a simple "Apple"
This is a little piece of history about one of the greatest technological inventions of our time. While yes it is a film about Steven Jobs, it is so much more a slice of time and how a man with the vision to rally a few willing techno-geeks around some circuits and plastic, changed the world.
While other "critics" in this forum would like to see more blood-letting for the infamous nasty temper and manners of Jobs, his behavior is irrelevant to the real story of bringing vision to industrial design, form and function.
Like Frank Lloyd Wright, in his day, Jobs could see as he said, "the big picture" when small minded thinkers weren't willing to literally see "out of the box".
For the younger audience, raised on a daily dose of computers, video games, MP3 players, this film illuminates a time in the 1970's when we still typed those college papers with paper, carbon typing ribbon and liquid paper (another big invention ;-) Computers were big "Main Frame" mysteries for only the elite programmers and the idea of literally creating a written or word document and storing it electronically, sounded like something out of George Orwell's 1984.
Like this film, Jobs, 1984 became a fun year of real personal computing possibilities. Yes, Steven Jobs proved to be nasty to his co-founders of the company (except for Woz) and yes, he paid the ultimate price for his carelessness.
Watch this little gem and realize the beauty in how all our lives changed with the intensity of Jobs vision and force of nature. I wonder what other amazing market disruptions Steven Jobs had in him before his untimely death. Let's celebrate the genius that was Jobs, human and all.
Blue Jasmine (2013)
"Streetcar" in San Francisco
Watching this uncanny adaptation of "A Streetcar Named Desire", set in the beauty of the San Francisco Bay area brings the tragic lives and choices of these archetypal characters into painful focus. While I wanted to watch and hope the characters would redeem their basic natures, it becomes clear, with each and every frame of Blue Jasmine the classical tragedy/drama goes on. Each character is carefully constructed with all of Woody Allen's favorite nuances of halting speech, personal ticks and hesitation. Every actor in Blue Jasmine gives their best performances, bringing the script to life with their exceptional acting skills. Andrew Dice Clay is real, raw and vulnerable. However, Cate Blanchette offers us the opportunity to hold both compassion and contempt for the way Jasmine chooses to treat others and negotiate her way through life. As always, Mr. Allen's latest film left me considering how we all may react with the opportunities placed before us, like each character in Blue Jasmine, chooses to cope with everyday life and the human condition. I relish each new Woody Allen film, as a look into how we navigate our way through the basic needs of creating a self-actualized fulfilling life, set in some wonderful new urban setting. Next stop on the streetcar...maybe Seattle, with some new variation of the human drama set within a computer geek's everyday world. I can't wait for the next surprise.