Blog Archives

Movie Review: Like Crazy

I saw this movie “Like Crazy” with the new Jewish idol who plays the boyfriend turned husband at the Modern film fest.  It was okay.  I liked it a lot.  It’s another movie with a strange ending and you don’t know what happened.  But the two in the film get busy. She’s from London and he’s from Santa Monica.  They get busy but it is not in your face.  They do it in LA and in London and think they can’t live without each other until they do and until they get married to each other.

He cheats like a big greasy dog on her and she cheats on his with her neighbor and they even get engaged.  What is the use of saying you love someone and then fucking someone else’s brains out?  That’s what this movie is about in a few words but only they keep the explicit sex off the screen.  The music was absolutely fabulous though.

Portman Won’t Win the Oscar for Black Swan (spoiler and language alert)

It may be a done deal that she will be nominated for an Academy Award. But damn,  that film was so disappointing I can’t tell you how much I did not like it. How much I cringed. It should have been a full-blown Phantom of the Opera or a remake with ballets and that would have been the bomb. Throw in some intrigue and you’ve got a damn good movie with dancing.

My beef is that there was no dancing and a very long, over sexed lesbian scene that will make older folks cringe. I felt like I was taken hostage to this lesbian shit and did not appreciate it. So I am warning you that there is a graphic lesbian scene in it.  I think it was the Vain Stream Media that put this film over the top. She’s Jewish, Barbara Hershey who played her mom is Jewish and I think she got the Jewish vote and the sympathetic vote for not wanting to play a Jew! Irony abounds here.

Anyway, do not go see this fucking movie. Wait for the DVD because the mystery such as it is, is never solved. I mean did Mila Kunis set up the sabotage or did her mother.  And then there is the seductive director who wants to fuck Natalie but does not succeed because he tells her she is a freakin cold fish. And that’s it. She’s cold and nothing else ever comes across. So white folks have rewarded this woman for being a cold, dark fish who can’t dance.  She did NOT dance in this movie. Just looked like she was getting ready to throughout the whole movie.

I want my money back and I want to see a good movie about ballet and dance.

Movie Review: Hereafter

Hereafter DVD on Amazon when available

 
Article first published as Movie Review: Hereafter on Blogcritics.

The movie review that follows this new introduction took a lot of heat. People thought it was a bad review. Clint Eastwood is on CBS News Sunday Morning and when asked what happens after death he replied “I haven’t the foggiest idea.” That’s how his movie reads too.  But  I did not want to give it a bad review but a totally ambiguous review.

At The Trough the link “The Daily Lama” was inspired during my visit to New Mexico this summer (I have posted photos of the stupa with me standing in front) where I stayed with my elderly aunt. Well she is not elderly exactly, but 11 years older than myself. She was my bulwark growing up, my defender, my friend from many past lives.

We were Satsangis together for over 20 years, now she was a Buddhist which is not a far leap from Sant Mat. I asked her why she was so absorbed into Buddhism these days.  Her response ” I want to be ready for my death.”  That is what Buddhism is all about going to your next life after death. Is there an intermediate stage? Yes, it’s called the Bardo. But for the advanced the goal is to remain conscious from one death to the next body that Buddhists and myself KNOW is waiting.

There are reasons why some do not go directly to a new body but most do. I tracked down the laws that govern the soul’s journey from one body to the next in my book  Dinner With DaVinci, It represents over 30 years of study and journaling about my life which I was able to mine for divine knowledge about my past lives and how the laws are the real change agents. The laws take us from here to there.

The original review:

 You will meet a tall, dark psychic in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter. He has done it again and adds to his film hit list by creating another gifted genre movie about uneasy psychic George Lonegan (Matt Damon).  Peter Morgan’s screenplay fares well under Eastwood’s direction.The film follows the lives of three individuals in different cities in different countries, seeking answers to life’s greatest paradox: is there life after death? The seekers have never met and on the face of it, not a part of the same equation.

George, the loner, worries about job security in San Francisco. In France Marie Lelay (Cecile De France), the journalist, fears the boot by France’s biggest publisher Didier (Thierry Neuvic) and worries about her job security. In London a mom worries about keeping her job as mother to identical twins Marcus/Jason (Frankie McLaren and George McLaren ). Clint’s job is to connect this people bazaar with karmic ties that land them in the same city meet-up at the end.

Death-and-loss themes run through this film but Eastwood keeps it at arm’s length. That’s a good thing because Clint is reassuring his audience while raising directly death at every age. He introduces the idea of reincarnation or rebirth.  Here Clint paints with flat finish rather than a shiny one that only a psychic can divine. Speaking of divine—God does not have a role in Hereafter. He is never mentioned nor is there love for Asia after the tsunami. No eating in George’s cooking class in Frisco and just a wisp of praying at a funeral in London.  

So how does Eastwood introduce reincarnation and life after death? One way is through George. He is obsessed with and falls asleep to the readings of Charles Dickens. That love changes his life in unexpected ways. And where does George get this ability in the first place? He explains it as an operation gone badly. Simultaneously, in France, there’s talk of a “silent conspiracy” against those who make clinical studies of the NDE or near-death experience.

The recreation of the December 26, 2004 tsunami is a heavy piece of history that most recall. The tsunami event, in an unnamed city, explores the NDE in beautiful sequences. Here Marie dies and recalls something while she is gone—a very hazy vision and feeling of floating.  Is that all? I did not get it. I found it to be no more than a mediator’s forgotten dream experience, unconvincing, nice try.

This film is set in the present and is more about how distraction or obsession with death is not a way to win friends or influence people. Life moves upside down for the three protagonists: a young twin will lose his brother, a French journalist will lose her job, and George’s dock job will dry up. He tries to take up a normal life and new line of work, but can’t escape his calling to talk to the dead.

What conclusions does Clint profess? He presents nothing different from what most orthodox religions believe: that people go somewhere but can still be reached somehow by the right psychic. In this case, George needs only hold hands to make an instant connection to pivotal events in a person’s life. Some  unnerved while others beg for his touch.

I have to tell you that Matt’s George is a beautifully nuanced performance. He is an ordinary person with an extraordinary gift: connecting to the dearly departed. While there is nothing original about Eastwood’s premise that the dress rehearsals for death aka NDEs are new. I do not find much merit in the so-called NDE. So why dwell on it?  

On the other hand, in Clint’s film the NDE does not even make sense to this psychic. In fact while I know that the only way that people can have the type of karmic ties portrayed in Hereafter is if they were forged in former lives, That is my problem with this film from a spiritual point of view. I think Clint should have been a little bolder in addressing reincarnation and take a more critical look at the NDE instead of this uncertain approach to a certain event–death.

SPOILER ALERT

Matt Damon as George does not find love in this film, not even a kiss. What’s up with these movies? He does meet a woman at a cooking class where they DO NOT EAT  but taste foods and have to tell which is which. She begs him for a date. They go to his apt. in San Fran and when he touches her hand after she demands a reading, he reads that she has been molested by her father and that her mother is dead.

Interesting that is what happened to me also. I was molested and my mother died young. The woman freaks out and they never see each other again.

The other people in the story ARE in no way related to each other.  At the end they all meet up in London but it is a real stretch. He is after the women who, Belgian actress, who claims a NDE after drowning and being revived in a tsunami. She gets fired from her job because she can no longer concentrate and writes a book about her NDE instead of a book about politician Francois Mitterrand. They are mad but she writes a book that does get published and goes to the book fair in London.

Here’s where they all meet. Matt tracks her down to her hotel room and leaves her a 3 page letter. He waits for her in an outside coffee house. Again, that is part of my story because I met a man in India with whom I had a lot of  karma and stayed with him in Paris the next summer. But nothing came of it.

So, in this story, Matt sees them kissing in a vision as she approaches. He stands up and they meet outside and  that’s the end. No kissing, no sex, no conclusions at all about life after death. Clint you need  me.

Movie Review: Inception (get it while it’s hot)

Article first published as Movie Review: Inception on Blogcritics.

Inception is an intense, high-octane, high-powered sci-fi thriller from the mind and pen of Christopher Nolan, director of Dark Knight and other blockbusters.

Everything about Inception works and it works on every level and with every sequence. It’s an ambitious, dreamy film where illusion becomes reality. It’s all about the dreams and nail-biting adventure lurking within shared dreams. No doubt, in the hands of an amateur a dream film would be a nightmare, but with good research, great acting, good writing, and a solid storyline, Nolan has given the audience a clear alternative to 3-D, making his film the first important one of a new decade and the summer of 2010.

Inception opens and ends with a spinning talisman indicative of the dream state, with Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) explaining his mission in clear terms: “inception” is the planting of an idea into another person’s unsuspecting mind so effectively that they must believe the idea their own. Shared dreaming is the vehicle of choice and the thrill goes to the bone. Inception runs 148 minutes but I can sum it up nicely in six words: “birds on a tether dream together.”

Inception is an education within an education. It is a teaching, talking tool that does not preach or overreach. On the other hand, it is boring. Boring like a crochet needle poking a tiny wormhole into the psyche that pulls and traps the watcher into its labyrinth. Inception uses physics inherent in the meditative and dream states. The characters discuss and teach each other and the audience simultaneously, seamlessly the inner workings of dreams. On the physical level no one can escape a law discovered and discussed by Buddhists and meditation practitioners for centuries — a previously little understood phenomenon Einstein dubbed “time dilation.” The film explains the concept and to its credit maintains that aspect during all the dream sequences.

Time dilation and “the kick” are both key events in the second half of the film. They must be understood by the audience for full effect. This requires good writing. We must buy the explanations on faith. The trailer for Inception describes an event that is integral to dreams — the “kick.” In my journals, I use a simpler term, the “wake-up dream,” dreams designed by the brain to wake the dreamer up, warn of danger, or prevent him from moving into a dream too deeply. Time dilation and kicks are used by director Nolan to decided effect. With dialogue he avoids undue confusion and thereby overcomes two common pitfalls of many films: lack of background information and story development.

Inception is about the science fiction and the detailed story. However, the cast ensemble is exceptional. Ellen Page and Marian Cotillard are the only women in the film and their interaction occurs only through Cobb. DiCaprio is Cobb, a product of a self-imposed exile, a man without a country he needs to get back home. He is a mentalist who practices what I call “dream control.” He is master of the dream.

Inception takes the audience into the real world of dreams where dreams within dreams are carefully built in the first half of the film, sequences which scaffold the second half of the film. In the movie Cobb is married to Mal, the star and Oscar winner from La Vie en Rose, Marian Cotillard. Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is the son of a billionaire who becomes the target of Cobb’s gambit to return home. His partner in crime co-star Ellen Page (Ariadne). She delivers a solid, stellar performance and holds her own next to megastar DiCaprio. DiCaprio has grown as an actor and rocks the thriller genre. Bravo, well done. I was ready to watch it again.

5/5 STARS

short spoiler alert below

 

 

*****************************

SPOILER ALERT:

Cobb’s wife Mal is actually dead.  Mal left a letter accusing him of murder so he fled and wants to get back home. He wants to see his two kids again. He takes Ellen to where she lives. He messed up her mind and she jumped out of a window.  I’ve studied dreams for 30 years and this is how they work according to therapists and physicists. Loved it. Good film, really good.

Movie Review: Edge of Darkness (spoiler alert at end)

New Zealander Martin Campbell, who directed Casino Royale and a long list of other films, directs Mel Gibson in the action-packed Edge of Darkness, based on a 1985 BBC series by the same name.

Set in modern-day Boston, Mel Gibson is detective Thomas Craven whose activist daughter eviscerated by a sniper’s bullet before his eyes. He believes that he’s the real target of the hit and demands to be put in charge of the investigation of her death despite this going against protocol. Automatically, the incident is under investigation by the department because it involves an officer. Craven presents the argument you know he will win. So with a green light, Mel Gibson, in top form, hits the accelerator as the director puts his detective character through paces and chases on the byways and highways of Boston.

Gibson maintains a weak Bostonian accent to reflect his working class roots and blue-collar career as a suspicious cop. Their house in Boston is the scene of the first crime, when his daughter comes home for a visit and while on the porch, winds up murdered. Emma Craven (Bojana Novakovic), a nuclear physicist, works at a high profile nuclear facility called Northmoor that overlooks Boston. She becomes her dad’s conscience and creates welcome memories as he continually “sees” her once again as his little girl. But his real job is to track down her adult associates and piece together the puzzle of her professional life in nuclear research.

Detective Craven and a mysterious Englishman, Jedburgh (Ray Winstone) meet, greet, and kill some unlikely players in a cat-and-mouse game where everything is classified. The loose ends that consume Emma’s life are slowly revealed and we get a glimpse of what she knew. When the mystery is revealed, her dad is left shaken and even more determined to find her killers.

Campbell directs a modern-day Wild West meets Placid East Coast tale with enough murder, suicide, car chases, and sudden death to earn a strong R rating and to satisfy its mostly male audience. This is a real crowd pleaser that may not make the best romantic date outing. Campbell is a veteran director who either gets lost in the complexity of this tale or simply does not care. His audacity is evident in that he takes his audience along for the ride anyway. It’s a somewhat implausible Mel Gibson who plays James Bond for a day, if you will, no doubt making Gibson the real draw for this movie. The cast is unremarkable except for the mysterious Brit Jedburgh, played by British actor Ray Winstone. He alone lends an air of authenticity to the film. The rest of the cast is busied with the job to either kill or be killed.

Critically, one gets the sense that there is a lot of story that goes untold in the two hours this film runs, i.e., loose ends that we are never privy to. That sense of loss is validated when we know that it is based on an entire BBC series! While Edge of Darkness keeps you on the edge of your seat, the story keeps you searching your mind for an answer: what’s this film really about? We are never quite sure.

If bullets were stars I would have to give this film three out of five bullets for fast-paced action and intrigue potential.

*************************

SPOILER ALERT:

Every frickin body including Mel Gibson dies at the end of the movie. No kidding! He walks off arm in arm with his daughter who dies at the beginning. I guess that’s the edge of darkness?  They even  kill a John Kerry Senator character too. The Brit is badass. Mel’s daughter is a whistleblower and left a CD with the whole truth on it. That the US was making nuclear material that would not be traceable back to the US.

Movie Review: The Book of Eli (spoiler alert)

The landscape and story behind The Book of Eli is sparse. Its lunar-like landscape adds an air of desperation that you know is coming.  There are no lush colors or bright moments in this film. It is dark and gets darker. Directors Albert and Allen Hughes spin an Apocalypse with no catastrophe!

Eli and the Bible are the stars of this show. And Denzel Washington’s Eli is a tall, tan, taciturn, killing machine. He dispatches his enemies and stalkers with bow and arrow, machete, and Lugar.  His sidekick is an illiterate, skinny white girl Solara (Mila Kunis) whom he rescues from a life of lust as she is pimped out by her mother’s boyfriend Carnegie. Gary Oldman’s Carnegie is a delicious villain. He is not all bad because he wants to possess the book that Eli protects with his life.

Mom is Jennifer Beals. She is blind.  Once the happy lesbian in The L Word is now the angst-ridden handmaiden of a madman who is looking for “the book.”  That book is the  King James Version of the Bible. Here’s where The Book of Eli gets preachy–fast. I am not sure if the R rating is to warn us of the wholesale violence that streams through this movie or warning that you will believe that the good book is the source of civilization. And it is the root of man’s humanity, goodness and rebirth.

Unlike the movie 2012 the viewer spared the special effects that lead to the end times that begin in a desert and end at Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay.  No kidding. I recognized the Island, the Bay and the Golden Gate bridges from my trip there this summer. That made me feel better toward the end of the movie. Even I began to believe the spin and saw a glimmer of hope at the end of the last printing press in the world (I’m guessing).

Since we are spared the detail of destruction we must imagine what happened until Eli fills in the blanks with Solara. This film is painfully short on detail and long on murder in macabre style. Eli walks the desert (New Mexico).  He recounts how he has walked for 30 years since “the war.” This opens into one scene where Eli opens up about “life before” and “the sky opened up” and “The flash.” That sums up the detail of  what happened.

The landscape is strewn with the wreckage of life before where everyone has too much. Survivors, a few, cannot read and cannot recall the meaning of morality. The practice murder, rape and looting. That is their faith, their religion in the new world.

Eli however is no paragon of virtue. He too must kill to survive. But above all he must stay true to “the path.” Whatever that is. Perhaps this is one positive critique about The Book of Eli. That the viewer gets to imagine his own reasons for the end of the world.  Did people have to change because the script lines read “People threw away more than  they needed?” “Or what people kill for now was simply thrown away in the past?” Solara gets to contemplate these pearls of wisdom from Eli on the road. Solara enthralled joins his mission to place the book in safe keeping to jumpstart the world. You guessed it–this movie totally lacks originality and a well-told story in a time when folks are hungry for well, the end.  

If you are long on imagination with  little tolerance for talking heads then this is your kind of movie.

Ending Spoiler:

Eli it turns out is blind. And the Bible he is carrying around is in Braile. So he must dictate the contents of Eli’s book to the people in, where else but San Franciso, who have a huge library and printing press. They take down his dictation and print the book, The Bible, and put it on the shelf. Then Eli is shaved and dressed and white while he is dictating the book.

How I would have done The Book of Eli

If I were doing this movie I would have them be the two witnesses. And have them as lovers: one Christian and on a Buddhist monk. The monk returns from Tibetan and the world ends. The two witnesses roam the world just before the end predicting it.  The monk returns to his Christian roots when he realizes that he and his woman are the two witnesses who fulfill the book of Revelation.