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DVD Review: Crazy, Stupid, Love

English: Ryan Gosling at the 2010 Toronto Inte...

Ryan Gosling

I know this movie has been out for a while on DVD but I have just now seen it.  I am glad I took the time to watch it.  Film was full of twists and turns that made it funny and interesting.  Steve Carrell is good and I love Ryan Gosling he is so cute and was so macho in this film.  Probably one of his best performances.  The men in this film were the show stealers.  The women were kind of an afterthought and even used by the two co stars of this film.

But that’s okay because everyone comes to their senses in the end and it has a happy ending.   I won’t give this one away because it would really be a spoiler.  Rent it and enjoy it.  It is one of the best comedies of the year and a decent romance but mostly a  comedy or a romcom if you will.

I enjoyed it way more than I thought I would.  No black people in it, no take that back one black woman that Ryan hits on has a brief role.


DVD Review: The Essence of Mahayana Buddhism with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26.8.1919-5.9.1997)...

Mother Theresa

His Holiness begins with an explanation about Mahayana Buddhism: “I cannot express through my English but I will try my best.” With the help of a translator and a patient audience he succeeds in more ways than one in this film about a man on a mission to serve the world.

The chapters in this 50-minute DVD document His Holiness in Britain in 1984: “Basic Mahayana Teaching: The Essence of Buddhism is Compassion“; “Importance of Implementing Buddha’s Teaching in Daily Life”; “Buddhism in Western Culture“; “Questions & Answers.” I will give the gist of a couple of the chapters and an overview of the DVD and in some instances paraphrase for clarity.

His Holiness spoke and said that generally, the essence of Buddhism is compassion. On that basis there must be restraint from hurting others—non-violence. That is the essence of Mahayana teaching. Also it means to go, to help, to serve others, and to do so without selfish feelings. One single person means “one being” but “other” means the rest of sentient beings. He said if you are going to be selfish then be a “wise selfish” because if you help others you will be much happier than before. If you put others first you will be happier in the end, even if you do not expect this benefit. In fact it is better to act without reward or expection of benefit or instant gratification.

About Buddhism in the West, he says that when you start to practice dharma you should not feel great expectation. He mocks, in a gentle manner, the Western way by saying that with your modern facilities you expect everything to come easily and that you create too much expectation at the beginning. Practice and mastery of Mahayana Buddhism takes time. You can lose determination from great expectation and you must understand that progress takes time.

Humanity has religion but the religion does not belong to the country. In the East we think of Hinduism in the East, Christianity as purely a Western religion, and that Buddhism is an eastern religion only. He argues and warns that in the practice of the eastern religions such as Buddhism that one should not isolate oneself from the rest of society. Take the essence and make it adaptable in your environment. It means that if you have a family and a religion that you can practice that faith and remain a faithful member of your family at the same time. That’s a good point because isolationism is often indicative of a cult and that would limit freedom rather than foster it.

He continues, saying that in ancient times, Buddhism flourished in India and then spread to other cultures and countries. It is the same Buddhism today but because of the different cultures we call it Tibetan Buddhism or Indian Buddhism because the religion sits side-by-side with the culture it is found in and adjust to it. Religion can yoke in a Western mode and in the future you can call it Western Buddhism or Scottish Buddhism (laughter). He joked that unless you take some operation to change your appearance then you will be the same whether you are a Buddhist or Christian. Then His Holiness took questions from the audience.

One woman asked if there was any difference in the compassion Mother Theresa practices and exhibits and compassion as Buddhism teaches. His response: the indication of the same result of different teaching; she was from a true Christian teaching, she was such a fine person, a nice lady, but really she was working unselfishly for others. If you compare them then they are the same amount but the cause is not the same, thus the complication. In her case I don’t know unless I had clairvoyance and knew her mind (laughter).

One needs Buddhist compassion but it requires the assistance of wisdom. Buddhists do not accept a creator so there are fundamental differences. Is there a difference in the meaning of your compassion another woman asked. And he answered that without a dictionary he was not sure (laughter). This film concludes with a Q&A session from the audience where His Holiness further clarifies what it means to be a Buddhist who practices true compassion. The world can learn a lot from this holy man who seeks to serve the world with compassion.

first published at: by Heloise

DVD Review: Dalai Lama Series

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dala...

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first published at blogcritics:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama considered the emanation of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara is also the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. This 14th Lama was found by the rituals embedded in the Tibetan culture of Buddhism for finding the next incarnation. The child is confirmed and brought to live within the walls of the great monastery where he will be trained. The present Dalai Lama was given an early Western education which has served him well— a wildly popular guru—sought out by global glitterati for impressive photo ops also as a fount of wisdom and sound advice. Until recently he had political aspirations and indeed those earned him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 but recently retired his political garb. His Holiness made a summer lecture stop in Dallas where the Bushes were seated in the front row and the tickets for the event scooped up in minutes.

His Holiness speaks excellent English—this new series was recorded in 1993 during a UK visit. He sits on stage accompanied by a trusted translator. So these two DVDs are in part Tibetan and part English because some concepts are conveyed in Tibetan and translated into English. I received the first two DVDs in the Dalai Lama series: Contentment, Joy & Living Well; A Practical Way of Directing Love & Compassion. These recorded talks are given with the usual grace of this teacher. It is a bit more challenging to review dialogue rather than action on the big screen. I enjoyed the insight and the wisdom shared, most of which will resonate with Westerners who wonder about the role of wealth, sex and relationships when trying to live a normal but moral life.

The householder lifestyle is preferred by Eastern philosophies because it takes the seeker and the practitioner away from extremes. One’s light and life led is supposed to speak volumes on this silent path. The balance is always the standard. In fact these days Eastern philosophy is less religion and more BYOB-like: bring your own beliefs. We know this is not okay among Bible-belt Christians. This is where the clash of the titan religions is played out. The most famous Westerner to cross this divide and broker the conflict even writing many books elucidating Eastern religionsThomas Merton; spent the last few months of his life in deep pursuit of Tibetan Buddhism and even studied with His Holiness.

The DVD Contentment, Joy & Living Well includes the following topics: “How to Find Happiness and Overcome Suffering”; “Using Our Potential to Balance Intelligence and Compassion”; “How to Utilize Material Wealth as a Cause for Satisfaction”; Distinguishing the Positive and Negative Aspects of Desire; “Responsibility and Commitment in Sexual Relationship and Family Life”; “Using The 6 Perfections to Good Effect in Daily Life”; Questions and Answers. Reviewing these talks is much like reviewing a book. To that end, I chose a few salient words that might appeal to most readers.

From the utilizing wealth for satisfaction talk: His Holiness discusses how man is given many gifts including rebirth, long life, good health factors that create a “good life” but the utilization of them depends in turn on mental faculties. In other words, a smart man lives a smart life. There’s more, leading a good moral life is needed. And when tested how does a person hold up and bear the hardships of life that will come? There are always headlines and media coverage of catastrophic events (or sudden job loss) and one observation often made consists of remarks about the grit and the grace exhibited by those who have lost their formerly happy lives filled with friends, things and sound mental health. How humans bear burdens is a part of spirituality and must be added to the education of this critical mass.

His Holiness continues–with rebirth and freedom from rebirth which starts with attachment; because attachment “creates dirty things from clean things.” In any given life: wealth + health + companions = happiness formula. But material wealth is a causal factor and satisfaction the resultant factor of desire. He said its fruition was wealth: you get what you most desire in life but it may not come in the present one but another day (lifetime) due to our attachments. Ironically when perfect health and material wealth are in abundance it does not guarantee happiness but one factor for satisfaction. He concluded by saying that we call things “desired” positive, and things not desired negative.

The Dalai Lama speaks on sex and family and admits he has never been married but it is part of nature he states and its sole purpose is that of reproduction. Sexual relationships must be coupled with a sense of responsibility and commitment. He mentions that marriage is good but “hasty marriage” not so good because people need time to know each other. Marriage is integral to humanity because without it we would resemble animals (dogs) where the male participates in the mating and pleasure but leaves before the responsibility of the offspring settles in. And adds wryly that birth control is a necessity because “compared to violence sex is better.”

The DVD A Practical Way of Directing Love & Compassion includes the following topics: “Like a Mother and her Child;” The Exact Meaning of Love and Compassion;” “Importance of Developing Equanimity & Affection;” “Buddhism Emphasizes the Unity of Wisdom & Compassion;” “Compassion is a Source of Inner Strength.” In both DVDs His Holiness repeats his default advice “attitude it everything.” I found the most impactful statements from the talks on the exact meaning of love and the nature of “pure profits.” I think His Holiness was on to something what’s more showed prescience in his 1993 observation about “the right and wrong demarcation” created by human compassion. For example, he said that Tibetans believe that the warmth of the doctor’s heart is the healer. And when a cure is not affected the doctor is blamed. That thinking wouldn’t wash in the West.

The other challenging issue in compasssion was what he called “economics.” But he could have easily said “capitalism.” His prescience involved something that most investors would not see coming: dual bubble crashes of the housing market and big banks in 2008. Was lack of compassion the root cause here? Was it criminal and irresponsible? The Dalai Lama lands a punch when he speaks of and dares to compare the world of common drug dealers (or drug cartels) to those who find themselves in business and concerned only with “pure profit.” By aligning the business man with the drug dealer His Holiness makes a bold comparison. His caveat is simple: if a person seeks commercial ventures for pure profit irrespective of the consequences to humanity then that person is equally criminal or as rogue as a thuggish arms dealer. He also waxes on events to come in the world of wealth that would rock the economic foundation of first-world countries. He labels it: “dangerously irresponsible.” His statement arises from an amazing state of clarity. While nothing as widespread as the 2008 market meltdown is simple as the “right and wrong demarcation” he speaks of but many asked where was the compassion when people were thrown out of homes and bilked out of life savings which juxtaposed outright billionaire profit-taking with those just out of work.

I found both DVDs and talks by His Holiness the Dalai Lama interesting, full of unplanned witty moments, insightful and another chance for this spiritual leader to demonstrate to the world his full capacity to grasp Western complexity. He has more than enough eloquence to comment on them. However, if you don’t like Buddhism or Eastern wisdom, or advice from men in orange robes that’s okay too, as long as you recognize that “attitude is everything” and I would add so is an open mind.

I don’t want an email I want my Netflix back

DVD 2394729743289

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The other day I too got an email in my inbox explaining how Reed messed up.  I don’t give a crap if you messed up.  I don’t want no stinkin email dude.  I want my Netflix back with unlimited streaming.

What’s more the new site that will be for the DVDs only is not even up and running.  The pure streaming which will remain Netflix is there but your queue will be in two different places and if you do both you will have two entries on your bill.

We need to split Reed in two for what he has not been thinking about.  How to build a better business and not wreck or wreak havoc on the brand that is or was worth millions. 

WTF? Netflix splits in Two

In 1998 Reed Hastings founded Netflix, the lar...
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Hell, we need to split Reed Hastings in two for this debacle that will cost jobs and his bottom line. Also the streaming is limited: also from

CNN: As website Stop the Cap points out, Netflix has always had a policy that limited streaming, with those on a single DVD or streaming-only plan limited to streaming one film at a time.

But it appears as if Netflix just started enforcing this rule on September 1. The changes seem to coincide with Netflix’s price hike, which took effect on Sept. 1 as well. Now, if you attempt to launch two movie streams, Netflix will block it and tell you that your membership plan doesn’t support multiple movie streams.

This is the kind of shit that makes subscribers really mad.  I had to change my package and I will miss unlimited streaming.  I will see if it improves and if so will go to that now on a new site! Again, WTF is up with that move? They say it is to better improve.  No, I take that back, Netflix will be where the streaming is found and Quixster will be where the DVDs come from.  How stupid.  I don’t buy the explanation either.  Yeah the CEO made a big mistake and he admits it but it could also sent Netflix stock reeling and even sound the death knell of the brand.

Netflix is rebranding its 12-year-old movies-by-mail service as Qwikster and adding video games to its catalog, Reed Hastings, the company’s CEO, announced Sunday night. The Web-streaming portion will continue to be called Netflix, he wrote on the company’s blog.

After the separation, people who subscribe to both services will have to log into two separate websites, and, to manage their movie queues and account information, Hastings wrote. Customer reviews and ratings from Netflix will be ported to Qwikster for the launch, but after that, people will have to rate and search for movies on each site separately, he wrote.

Qwikster’s site currently presents a landing page that says it is “launching soon.” Hastings did not offer a timeline for Qwikster’s debut. Andy Rendich, the operations chief and 12-year veteran of the company, will run the new mail-order arm.

Netflix don’t push us to say “F You!”

In 1998 Reed Hastings founded Netflix, the lar...

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Customers reacted angrily when Netflix announced earlier this month that it’s hiking prices on plans that include DVDs and streaming, in a move that highlights the company’s shift from physical discs to online video.

“It is expected and unfortunate that our DVD subscribers who also use streaming don’t like our price change, which can be as much as a 60% increase,” Netflix said in its earnings release.

The company acknowledged that “some subscribers will cancel Netflix or downgrade their Netflix plans, [but] we expect most to stay with us.”

Okay, I’ve been a fan of and used Netflix now for two  years.  I have the unlimited streaming and because I love Jews, documentaries, black people, French films, foreign films, HBO and all things niche market I found a lot to stream.  I got August to do a marathon watch before I have to decide.  I am going for this hike, no I’m not.  I checked and my present bill would go up almost six dollars to keep what I have.  I will probably downgrade to something else and then change up to another Netflix package so that I can get my fill.

I might do extra DVDs for a while to get caught up and no streaming, while I will be caught up on streaming, then when I get caught up on my DVDs change to streaming or a combo.  But I am trying to keep my bills down as I pay ATT for cable and high speed internet and that’s enough.  So my advice to Netflix don’t push us to say “f off.”

Reel Short Takes: Company Men

I did not see Company Men with Ben Afleck at the theaters but watched the DVD last night.  I liked it a lot for its direct and simple line drawn from the 2008 meltdown to the huge CEO salaries to the loss of millions of jobs.  The CEOs thought nothing of cutting out the heart of the company and downsizing with its employees.  No one is safe in this scenario including Ben.  It’s about how he gets his act together after losing everything but his family. He works in Boston at a huge shipping yard that builds ships, I think, not sure.  But it was shuddered when stocks tanked.

He lives in a fancy house and drives a Porche and must sell everything when his lifestyle is tied to his nearly 200K annual salary. While Wall street fat cats are off the hook, raking in millions in bonuses etc. while ordinary families suffer.  Too bad, so sad.  CEOs couldn’t care less about you and me.  But the feds seem to care about them. 

Movie Review: Nine

Daniel Day-Lewis is Guido. And Guido has a problem with too many women and too much writer’s block. I did not see in the theatres and I think that’s about right.

The first half of the film concerns itself with Guido and his girl magnet self. The many women but no muse. He looks for his muse in everyone, even his wife played by Marion Cotillard. She’s the best thing in the film.  Penelope Cruz is also good as the sex pot married mistress of Guido. But she’s no muse rather a steady diet of whining for his attention.

Finally, Guido comes clean with the press that there is no movie.

The second half of the film Guido must restore his lust for life and writing and making a movie, any damn movie. But who will a-muse him best? That is the question. The same women re-enter the film’s second half. They will play the roles running around in his childhood-reliving head. There is much music and “Be Italian” is a good number.  Sophia Loren is mom to Guido and she just kinda appears on set here and there.

My take: who wants to be stuck in writer’s block with a writer? No one, and the crux of the problem why this film did not go over well. It would have been better as biopic of Fellini’s life with some real Italians in it next time.

I must have slept more than I thought because the credits are running LOL.

It’s rentable, watchable (with a catnap here and there) but not memorable. 3/5 stars.

DVD Review: Virtual JFK

“Every time history repeats itself, the price of the lesson goes up.” Anonymous

From the title Virtual JFK I expected a synthetic pseudo-documentary about how the world would be changed if JFK had lived and not expired when his first term did. Instead, filmmaker Koji Masutani asks “what if?” on the issue of Vietnam and JFK’s strong stance against it. It is virtual history on trial.

Koji puts the virtual in JFK by stringing together press conferences, staff meetings, and calls that were germane to two decisions: 1) to stay out of Vietnam, and 2) to avoid the assassination of President Ngo Dinh Diem. These two efforts by Kennedy failed. The film, however, reminds us that Jack Kennedy the man and JFK the president changed everything. In 1961, President Kennedy sent 16,000 military advisors and some ships into Vietnam, while President Johnson sent in over 500,000 troops just a few years later.

JFK was a master of the game. During one pivotal meeting with his joint chiefs of staff, he asks them quietly what they want and they all agree — troops. He said he would agree to advisors and some ships and then asks them what else they want. They were speechless. JFK dropped a bomb on his joint chiefs instead of allowing them to drop a bomb or send one fighting man into Vietnam.

The filmmaker took few liberties with Kennedy’s image. He was not inventive or loose with the facts. Masutani used many hours of film footage from Kennedy news conferences, private meetings, taped telephone conversations, and even a letter he wrote to Jackie, his wife, to tell a tale of peace that was never bought. Much of the footage is either new or rare press conference meetings.

Masutani’s purpose, undisguised, in making this film was to clarify what he believed was resounding evidence that Kennedy did not want war with Vietnam contrary to much current revisionist history. And that Kennedy did not want war regardless to the “Red threat.” Furthermore, it was his premise that Kennedy would have changed the world because he had no intentions of initiating or escalating Vietnam. When his many advisors said yes, Kennedy said no.

Midway through VIrtual JFK comes that Fort Worth press conference, his last. The first couple are happy with each other and the day as they dress and appear before a small crowd in Fort Worth. When Jackie enters the room someone comments on her lovely pink and black suit and what fine material it is made of. This second half closes with the assassination in Dallas, and a retrospective look at young Jack in color stills, home movies during college, and early political days.

The second half of the film focuses on LBJ as president, presider and decider on Vietnam. It includes his hawkish approach and the policies that brought the USA into the war. LBJ used JFK’s words to sell the war in a speech to Congress; where he assures the listeners that Kennedy had no intention of blocking Vietnam, that Kennedy believed it to be domino-like. The world was just waiting to fall apart if we withdrew from Southeast Asia. The facts and not Johnson’s pitch, however, speak for themselves — six times Kennedy avoided war when confronted with it, according to this film.

Virtual JFK does not ask the viewer to genuflect before Kennedy nor to mock President Johnson for his policies as commander-in-chief. It does take a bold stand and draws a deep line in the sand between what big military advisors wanted and what Kennedy wanted. I was a bit disappointed that the whole film was not about Kennedy but soon realized that to fully make the film’s point it had to drag in Johnson and his 180-degree involvement with the escalation of the war in Vietnam.

The film continues to recount intermittent speeches by Johnson as troop death tolls mount from a mere 500 to a whopping 16,000. It does not bother with messy and bloody scenes of war. And it includes the same Johnson who later bows out of the 1968 election cycle. One can say with certainty that Jack hated war. One cannot say that with as much certainty that Johnson, whose hands were painted red with the blood of 58,000 US soldiers, also hated war. The narrator states that Johnson and Kennedy both hated Vietnam — it killed them prematurely. But not before it killed 58,000 Americans and two million Vietnamese under Johnson’s presidency.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

This film was nominated for best pic in the foreign films cat. But it did not win. Man on Wire won. I’ve finally seen both. I live in Fort Worth what do you expect? We get few indies and even fewer artistic films. But with the Modern we are at least getting them.

BOY is a nice looking film. It is about a family that is torn up during the Final Solution. In a year described by non-Holocaust films this is another one. The surprise ending was truly a surprise.

BOY is about two boys: one the son of a high-ranking SS officer in charge of one of the death camps. The men and boys who inhabit the place wear those infamous striped pjs. The other boy wears the garb of a Jew caught up in the Final Solution…he is waiting to die but he may not know it.

The officer’s son resists Nazi prop and interpretation of who the Jew is exactly. So this is a foreshadow of what is to come in terms of his love of the Jew, despite being taught to the contrary.

This was a critically acclaimed movie. Many Holocaust movies leave out the families who found themselves on both sides of the Jewish argument. Like the Civil War in America families don’t always agree with the fatherland and with Hitler.

Could there have been more about the Holocaust and the Jews themselves? I think so. But maybe there is a new examination of quieter paths that led Germany to destroy a culture and Euroopean Jewry. As a student of the Holocaust and Jewish history I found it a good addition to this genre.


I did not see the death of the officer’s son coming. The barb wire fence separated the two boys who tried to play games despite the wall that separated them. One day one of them got the idea of the German digging under the fence and putting on the uniform of death. They are presesd for time because the wife and kids are going to move away leaving the dad to finish off the Jews.

The day that the tunnel is dug is the day of liquidation of that particular bunk. We see both boys hearded up like dogs to their death by gas. The parents are beside themselves with grief. The end.