#2059 - Friday, February 18, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz
- #2059 - Friday, February 18, 2005 - Editor: Jerry KatzNondual CinemaThis lengthy issue features posts about the movies that have appeared in the Highlights over the years. If there are movies you have appreciated for their nondual message, please let me know. And if you can quote specific passages from the movies, that would be even better. You may comment on the movies listed below and on others:The Last Wave
Breakfast of Champions
Life is Beautiful
Prince of Darkness
Why did Bodhi-Dharma Leave for the West
Life on a String
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter ... and Spring
Talk to Her
Aimee & Jaguar
Songs from the Second Floor
The Meaning of Life
(notably absent are The Matrix, The Thin Red Line, Fearless, various anime titles, The Wizard of Oz, and many others, There are web pages on nonduality.com for those and other titles and genres.)I am pleased to declare that there is now the genre known as nondual cinema. It is distinct from spiritual cinema, which simply isn't always nondual, but tends toward New Age sentiment. However it could be said that there is nondual cinema to be found within much that is more broadly termed spiritual cinema.
who are you?Charlie, the aboriginal elder in Peter Weir's film, "The
Last Wave," chants to the Sydney corporate tax lawyer: "Who
are you? Who are you? Who are you? Who are you?" The lawyer
doesn't know what to say. The life he has lived as a lawyer
has left him with no answer, no language to give voice a
reply to the elder's chant. Charlie repeats this over and
over hypnotically and then chants so that the lawyer, played
by Richard Chamberlain, is in a trance state. Charlie, the
owl, asks Chamberlain if he is a fish, a snake, a man---and
he says no to these choices. He then is asked if he is
"mulcrew" and he nods yes. Charlie then shows him the axe
and warns him: "Don't speak in the court."
This lawyer's representation of the young aboriginal men
charged with ritual murder becomes a maddening search for
an answer and a voice. What he learns along the way about
aboriginal culture, and himself, will take him far beyond
the ready assumptions about his life as a lawyer and the
reality he has fashioned for himself.Tomas Diaz de Villegas:
I got another one for the nonduality movie list- just saw it this
"American Beauty" and, it was beautiful. I give it two thumbs up.
go out and see it- have fun!
Yes, it was excellent.
I also recommend "Breakfast of Champions," with Bruce Willis. It's based
on the Kurt Vonnegut novel about a car dealer and small-town celebrity
who suffers a crisis of identity (early in the film he asks himself "Who
Am I?") and basically goes wacko until he encounters a science fiction
writer whose novel (in the form of a letter written from God to
humanity) explains the mystery of the universe, viz., "I put you here as
a test to see how much you can take."
It is getting lousy reviews, but I enjoyed the concept of the film. I
presume Vonnegut's book is far more complex and I plan to read it.
Michael Read reports on the Taos Talking Picture Film Festival, held April 10-13, 2003
Here's what I saw:
Off The Map with Laud Weiner (a very funny short) Off The Map is the best movie to come along in a long time. The people are real, the acting superb and the story touches your heart. It will be released sometime this Fall. See it and you will thank me. Yup. I was on the set construction crew. Who knew that foam and sticks could look so real?
The Wild Dogs
A dark convoluted story set in Bucharest, Romania. There are 200,000 dogs (yes 200,000) running wild on the streets of Bucharest. There are beggars and slaves and opportunists living stories of survival.
Ah, I can't begin to describe this film. It won't get the recognition it deserves because so much of it is hard to watch. For example, the character Sour Grapes a beggar and slave whose legs were deliberately broken by his parents when he was a baby. His legs are so twisted that he is forced to walk on all fours.
There is the pornographer sent to Bucharest by his boss because the women there do anything. He is told to get shots of small tits and hairless pussy...and comes face to face for the first time with the lowest depths of his industry and his life. There is the diplomatic consultant and his wife and a beggar boy who has managed to avoid slavery despite the fact that he has no legs and scoots around on a roller-skate like contraption. This character steals your heart.
There are about five story lines going on.
The film was funded by a Canadian grant. The director went to Bucharest without a script, only a premise. This is a very important film. We hide ourselves from the rougher side of life here in the West. In the former communist state of Romania the darker side of life is on full display every day.
The 200,000 dogs are the legacy of the former communist regime. Who, decided that the proletariat should not have pets. The dogs were simply turned out onto the street. Now, the people of Romania are working to reclaim thier family and national heritages. To them the dogs are to be saved.
Imitations of Life
See this film. Here's a line, "Though infinity surrounds us, we percieve it through the window of our personality."
Short Stories 3
A collection of shorts starting with one about a Canadian hockey goalie who trys out for American baseball only because hocky has an off season. Yes, he plays baseball in his goalie uniform. Too damn funny!
The shorts end with a disturbing look at the drug smuggling industry when an 18 year old high school boy is recurited to smuggle heroin into America. Chilling.
A delightful film wherein the Iberian peninsula (Spain & Portugal) breaks away from Europe and drifts out to sea. AKA Birdseye with the short L Ulitmo Pistolero
A stupid/funny mocumentry on the American obsession with the small time crooks who somehow become legends. There is a lot of Fred Ward in this film who plays a sheriff obsessed with the kidnaping of a Swiss national in the States without a visa. This is the first effort of two young directors, one Swiss one American. They had a great run in Swiss-land but are still trying to get picked-up in the States.
Vera with the short Rokunga.
Both these films come from Mexico. Rokunga is probably the most visually stunning short animation that you can imagine. Birdlike creatures fly and swim in a race to retrive an egg.
Vera is a most intruiging study of death and symbolism. Shot in the caves of the Yucatan peninsula the setting is captivating as an old man crushed by a cave-in as he mines for gold lives out the symbolism of his spiritual life during his final moments.
The Fast Runner
This film wasn't open to the general public and was only available to the Pueblo folk for a special screening before the festival. Through a mistake in scheduling (mine) I was able to see this film. It was probably the best film of the festival.
This film was funded by a Canadian grant. Shot in the NorthWest Territories by an all Inuit crew and written and directed by an Inuit film-maker, you at first may think you are about to see yet another documentary on indigenous people. As the story unfolds you brought into the lives of people who live thier spiritual understanding. You begin to see that the characters are not only people involved in a story of intruige and murder, they also each represent an icon, a spiritual principle embodied and acting out the drama of life.
THE FAST RUNNER
now on dvd
"The Fast Runner is a masterpiece. It is, by any standard,
an extraordinary film, a work of narrative sweep and
visual beauty that honors the history of the art form
even as it extends its perspective. The Fast Runner also
abounds with humor and sensuality. The combination of
dramatic realism and archaic grandeur is irresistibly
powerful. The Fast Runner includes some unforgettable
sequences. The most astonishing scene has already become
something of a classic, a word that will quickly be
bestowed on the film as a whole."
The New York Times
Just returned from seeing the film "Memento." An interesting
meditation on memory, and the questions "Who am I?" and "Where am
I?" A really good film (highly unusual and well crafted) with a
completely open ending, recommended. Jerry could file this under
the 'nonduality and movies' category.
Phenomenon is an excellent movie... all things being
dual once expressed, I would also recommend the movie 'Powder' about a child
that was born an albino (sp?) and was locked away in the basement in his
grandparents farm with the works of the greatest scolars, poets, and scientists
of our time.... it is an excellent movie that shows another side of the same
concept in Phenonmenon. These movies set up nicely against each other. The stars
are the guy from Millenium, Jeff Goldbloom, Mary Steinburgen (sp?.. Ted Danson's
wife).... it is also on video... I would be interested in seeing what some of
you think about it.
Most here have probably seen the Sci-Fi movie Logan's Run (1976). I see
some nondual parallels in this movie. Here is a very interesting website:
I'd like to add another - the movie "Jacob's Ladder." This movie deals
with dream vs. reality, attachment to "the world," death, and various other
interesting things. Another good "nondual appetizer." I remember first
seeing this movie in the theater, and when it was over half the audience
sat unmoving through the credits, their mouths hanging wide open in literal
fully intending to watch jacob's ladder again, prompted by tim's discussion
of it, i instead have broken my vcr.
this is not an unusual occurance in my home. electronics just go haywire
here. go figure.
i was a bit disappointed, but turned to my last resort, the dreaded
television. jacob's ladder was on the starz channel, and just starting. i
think i shall use above mentioned vcr as a door stop, and start watching the
it occured to me, upon a third viewing of this film that a similar
exploration of consciousness is explored in Ambrose Bierce's short story, "An
Occurance at Owl Creek Bridge." A beautifully haunting film was made of
this-- a man is being hanged, and a mixture of real/unreal goes through his
mind in the instant. older film-- i saw it at school in the seventh grade:)
but here's a link to the Bierce story:
I recently saw the movie "Pleasantville"- a brother and sister get
zapped into one of those 50's black and white father knows best kinda
worlds. It's a cooky backdrop but it was good- the brother and sister
end up completely changing their universe with possibilities they never
considered and soon color begins appearing in their black and white
I think the reactions to the changes in the "Pleasantville", as well as
the effect of these changes on the people, had metaphorical depth-
enough for me to say it had nondual appetizer taste to it.
while I'm on the subject and becuase I saw Tim provide an oldy and a
goody (Altered States), I'de like to offer a few other interesting
video's that I have enjoyed at one time or another (I actually had these
writen on a list I keep):
-Lost Highway (try to figure it out- it's a dark zen koan of movie)
-In the Mouth of Madness (a little cheezy but has some interesting
moments- dark Reality twisting with some cheezy horror thrown in-)
-The Big Labowski (I loved this one- great fun, great characters-
laughed my ass off- it had a jestfull and sweet nondual flavor)
-Event Horizon- (This really freaked me out at the time- I saw this as a
big metaphor for the drama surrounding the fear that must be faced)
Movie: "The Addiction"
This is ostentibly a vampire movie, where a girl studying philosophy in
school is bitten by a vampire and becomes a vampire. The film (1996)
starring Christopher Walken and Annabella Sciorra, is shot entirely in
black and white. This movie explores the nature of addiction and
attachment. At the end of the film, the girl reaches this philosophical
conclusion (after accepting the blessings of a priest and renouncing her
vampirism): Self-realization consists of the annihilation of self (quoted
You HAVE to see this movie! At the end, I shut off the VCR and chills were
running up and down my spine. I was thanking Grace again and again for
what this movie revealed. Please see it! Please
Tim Gerchmez contributes:
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire
off the shoulder of Orion. I've watched c-beams glitter in the dark
near the Tannhauser Gate. All those... moments... will be lost in time...
like tears in rain. Time... to die."
... Rutger Hauer, from "Blade Runner" (partly improvised line)
Bruce Morgen responds:
"Blade Runner" was derived
from the P.K. Dick novel
"Do Androids Dream Of
Electric Sheep?" Good
movie, good book, good
Anyone see that Italian movie that came out earlier this year, "Life is
Beautiful?" It was a comedy-drama about an Italian Jew and his young son
who are forced into a concentration camp. The father helps his son to cope
with the horror by telling him that it is all a game, and that if they
behave themselves properly and do what they're supposed to they get points,
and if they get enough points the son gets a real tank at the end of the
game. It's quite hilarious, and alternately tragic, to watch how convoluted
the father's story becomes as life in the camp continues to deteriorate.
Yet through it all, he keeps up a good face for his son's sake and the kid
never suspects that the horrors are anything but an elaborate "game" staged
for his benefit. The father is a goofy, Chaplinesque character who manages
to bumble his way through some close calls. I won't give away the ending if
anyone hasn't seen the movie yet, but it's bittersweet.
Saw "American Beauty" for the third time tonight, and this time was aware
of the nondual "elements" in the film. I pretty much missed these elements
on the first viewing, at least intellectually (I was too enraptured by the
film) and the second viewing was a flop, the day after the first (couldn't
sit through it, it was too soon).
Wowowowowowowowowowowow!!!!!! What a screenplay!! Still #6 on the
Internet Movie Database, an ASTOUNDING achievement (The Matrix is still in
the top 40, as well, for anyone who cares -- also quite an achievement
after being out so long).
For those who aren't familiar with the Internet Movie Database, the ratings
consist purely of the "popular vote," not any professional reviewer's vote.
It's the ultimate democratic rating system.
I urge anyone to watch this film and look for the nondual perspective.
It's there. It emerges as the story progresses.
The main character, "Lester Burnham" (Kevin Spacey) discovers it in the
last few moments of his life. His daughter's boyfriend "Ricky Fitts" (Wes
Bentley) always knew it. He's the "Realized One" in the film. And his
daughter discovers she always knew it, through her relationship with Ricky
Fitts (at least, I *think* that's what's going on).
These are the focal characters in the film, and the rest consist of the
whirlwind surrounding this "Trinity."
There's so much happening behind the scenes and between the lines of this
film, it's unbelievable. The movie isn't even about what it professes to
be about ("suburban angst" and such). It's about beauty. That's what the
movie is about. Everything else is icing.
Recommended Movies, by Gene Poole
I wonder how many NDSers have ever seen the 'horror movie' entitled
"Prince Of Darkness"?
There is a very interesting plot, in which when a person sleeps in a
certain old church, a dream occurs, and everyone who sleeps there,
has the same dream, every night, over and over.
As the movie progresses, you get to see and hear ever-larger snippets
of this mysteriously shared dream. The audio portion of the dream
says, over and over:
"This is not a dream!"
Wierdly, nobody asks themself, "What does it mean to have a dream, in
which, I am told that the dream I am having, is not a dream?"
I have watched this movie a few times, and the dream sequences always
really grab me.
There is a major "Uh-Oh!" moment near the end, which is quite well done.
You can find this movie on videotape, if you are interested.
Major 'B'-movie genre fan,
"The Cannibal Women of the Avacado Jungle of Death"
"Mars Needs Women"
"Split" (very nondual, if you can find it)
Last night I rented "Why did Bodhi-Dharma Leave for the West". It instantly
jumps onto my all-time best list, along with Mayakovsky's "Solaris", and de
Sica's "The Bicycle Thief".
This movie is "about" Zen, meditation, the search for enlightenment. A
young man leaves his ailing mother to go study with an elderly Zen monk in
the mountains. There, he finds that the monk has adopted a little orphan
boy. Together, the three of them form an unlikely household. The elderly
monk teaches the young man with koans and sayings that form the spiritual
background of the lush imagery. The young boy becomes a complex character
in his own right as, left alone for hours by the two meditating men who
care for him, he has adventures with birds, other small children, and an
escaped cow that mature him until, at the end, he almost seems to be a
replica, in miniature, of the old monk.
The movie is long, slow, unbelievably poetic, beautifully photographed.
This movie has the best visual metaphors for spiritual experience I have
ever seen. The ending is incredible but I won't give it away.
Warning: this movie requires patience, especially the first hour when you
are not quite sure what is going on. But it rewards your attention and by
the end it is completely riveting.
A Reviews of Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? is here:
GREG GOODE AND GLORIA LEE
from NoDoer list
One of the best depictions I've ever seen was in a Chinese
film, _LIFE ON A STRING_. A man was born blind, and for many
years studied the banjo with his teacher. Before the teacher
died, one of the last things he told the blind youth was that
when he played the banjo enough to break 1000 strings, he
would be able to see. So he travelled the countryside,
playing for villages and became sort of a psychic seer as he
got older and broke more and more strings in the course of
playing. There is great dramatic tension around the time of
the 100th string. And "seeing" is played with in the film,
both as ocular vision and also as enlightenment.
The film's end brought tears of sweetness and joy to my eyes!
I highly recommend it!
There's also Keanu Reeves' LITTLE BUDDHA but LIFE ON A STRING
is much better!
Wow, I hope to find that movie, thanks Greg. I found a
description of one of those Japanese "worlds of meaning"
evoked by one word, like they do in haikus. This is from Alan
Watts, embedded within a huge talk he gave on emptiness. With
the untranslatable word yugen, you see how its suggested best
Somehow, you know, it's so well-said that it's not so bad
after all. The poet has got the intuition that things are
always running out, that things are always disappearing, has
some hidden marvel in it. I was discussing with someone
during the lunch intermission, the Japanese have a word
_yugen_, which has no English equivalent whatsoever. Yugen is
in a way digging change. It's described poetically, you have
the feeling of yugen when you see out in the distant water
some ships hidden behind a far-off island. You have the
feeling of yugen when you watch wild geese suddenly seen and
then lost in the clouds. You have the feeling of yugen when
you look across Mt Tamapeis, and you've never been to the
other side, and you see the sky beyond. You don't go over
there to look and see what's on the other side, that wouldn't
be yugen. You let the other side be the other side, and it
invokes something in your imagination, but you don't attempt
to define it to pin it down. Yugen. So in the same way, the
coming and going of things in the world is marvelous. They
go. Where do they go? Don't answer, because that would spoil
the mystery. They vanish into the mystery. But if you try to
persue them, you destroy yugen. That's a very curious thing,
but that idea of yugen, which in Chinese characters means, as
it were, kind of 'the deep mystery of the valley.' There's a
poem in Chinese which says 'The wind drops, but the petals
keep falling. The bird calls, and the mountain becomes more
mysterious.' Isn't that strange? There's no wind anymore, and
yet petals are dropping. And a bird in the canyon cries, and
that one sound in the mountains brings out the silence with a
I remember when I was almost a child in the Pyrenees in the
southwest of France. We went way up in this gorgeous silence
of the mountains, but in the distance we could hear the bells
on the cows clanking. And somehow those tiny sounds brought
out the silence. And so in the same way, slight permanances
bring out change. And they give you this very strange sense.
Yugen. The mystery of change. You know, in Elliot's poem,
'The Four Quartets,' where he says 'The dark, dark, dark.
They all go into the dark, distinguished families, members of
the book of the director of directors, everybody, they all go
into the dark.' Life IS life, you see, because, just because
it's always disappearing.
I cried tears of bittersweet joy when I saw these!
"Rikyu" (1989, Japan). About an elderly tea master who shows the way of tea to an ambitious, aggressive warlord. He lives it too. Beautiful in story and style.
Plot summary: http://imdb.com/title/tt0098204/plotsummary
"Life on a String" (China, 1991). About a blind banjo player whose master told him that he would be able to see after he breaks the 1000th string playing the banjo. It takes him 60 years to get that far. The best movie treatment of "enlightenment" I've ever seen.
Plot summary: http://imdb.com/title/tt0101440/plotsummary
- Contributed to NondualPhil by Greg Goode
BRUCE JOEL RUBIN
Screenwriter of Jacob's Ladder
from the documentary on the Jacob's Ladder DVD
This movie is about the dissolution of a man who is
dying. And in that, ... the whole of existence is at
play in his mind and you are watching one story.
...what happens in that journey is the mind goes
thorugh this extraordinary kind of dissolution and
attempt at discovery of what is going on.
And I really believe that in this death process there is
enormous need at the final moment of one's existence to
know what it was, what your life was, what it meant,
how did it come to its conclusion... .
Jacobs Ladder began as a dream, and in the dream I was
on a subway in New York City, and I was travelling
rather rapidly through the bowels of New York, and the
train comes into a station and I get off and I go to
the exit and the exit is chained closed. The ultimate
trap of that dream is that there was no way out. The
only way out was through it and that I had to go down
into the darkness of my own existence in order to find
a way to some kind of freedom and liberation. The great
adventures of all time take you into the underworld,
into the unseen, into the place you can't go. When
you're in the dark what you see is not outside you, it's
inside you, and that the images that start to arise
within you are from somewhere deep within your own
The movie is really a movie of Jacob holding on. it's
Jacob holding onto what he remembers, holding onto his
guilts, holding onto his pleasures, his desires.
Everything that makes us hold onto life and everyday
experience, holding onto your breath, holding onto your
identity, to your sense of self: these are the things
that keep us here. And as that starts to be taken away
from him, and as it's unravelled and he's watching the
unravelling of that, what he experiences is the end of
his being. And that end is something you can fight, or
you can finally say 'yes' to, and because it is so
inevitable in his case, as it will ultimately be in
every one of our cases, we all have to, at some moment,
learn that the release from the struggle is the letting
from the screenplay: "If you're frightened of dying and
you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life
away. But if you've made your peace, the devils are
really angels freeing you from the earth. It's just a
matter of how you look at it, that's all."
It is everyman's journey that we all go through, this
extraordinary process of dissolution in which we are
compelled to hold onto everything dear to us. We're
compelled to hold onto our children, we're compelled to
hold onto to those we love, we feel guilt about the
things we didn't do, we feel the pull of this dark force
coming at us and we don't want to go to it. There's
great denial in our struggle, in our death struggle, in
our movement out of our bodies, out of our familiarity,
out of our breath, out of our mind, out of our
personality. It's a hard leap to make.
Director Adrian Lynes:
"I've had a lot of people write to me about the film. I
had somebody with an AIDS society saying can I use
imagery from within the film because they thought that
the film had helped friends of theirs during the dying
process and that's immensely rewarding I think, if
that's the case, because I hope that the movie helps you
deal with that in some little way."
Petros: movie review, The Fight Club
This is another one of those weird reality-twisting movies that does
have something to say about getting to a deeper experience of life through
trauma and danger. There are some strong mystical undertones here for anyone
who pays attention. (There is a *very* esoteric plot twist towards the end
of the film which is quite startling, but I won't give it away here!)
The movie is basically about an (unnamed) geeky, nine-to-five kind of
guy (Edward Norton) who is beginning to feel the meaninglessness of his
mundane existence until he "accidentally" runs into a psychotic, socially
marginalized guy named Tyler (Brad Pitt.) Tyler is really some sort of
crazy-wise guru or trickster who intends to awaken people by destroying
their mundane lives. He does this quite successfully in the film
through the creation of a "Fight Club" and later a "Project Mayhem."
There's one very interesting scene where Tyler and Norton's character
are sitting at the kitchen table and Tyler grabs Norton's hand and pours lye
over it, causing the flesh to sear and burn. Norton's character tries
frantically to numb the pain with new-age visualization techniques while
Tyler slaps him repeatedly, holds him tighter and calls him to
experience the pain in the present moment instead of trying to escape from it.
"When you lose everything, you learn that you can do everything" is Tyler's
message to the guy.
There's another cool scene where Tyler tries to teach his reluctant
student about trusting the will of the universe (surrender) by stealing a
limosine and going the wrong way down the street towards oncoming traffic.
Norton's character tries to grab the steering wheel a few times while Tyler
insists on asking him -- "If you died right now, would you have any regrets?"
and demanding an answer. The student finally surrenders and admits that his
life has been a waste up until now. He relaxes, while Tyler floors the
accelerator and keeps his hands off the wheel while the car veers to the
side of the road, smashes into another car and goes rolling off the
embankment sending the occupants sprawling -- severely banged up but
much more enlightened.
For some reason the film also reminds me of "The Matrix" or "Jacob's
Ladder." There's a lot of what could only be called "psychological
special effects," strange manipulations of the film designed to create a
reality-warping sensation. Some of these tweaks last only a single frame
and you might easily mistake them for problems with the projector but they
are not. The funky psychological twist near the end of the film practically
reverses the movie's whole meaning and I think it would make a second
viewing very rewarding. I'll find out!A Taoist take on the film:
And some heavy psychosocial grokking for the metacritic in all of
"'Enjoy your fight!' Fight Club as a symptom of the Network
Interesting though lengthy article on Kubrick's 2001:
Bowman's ultimate realization that he is trapped is made
symbolically by Kubrick with the breaking of the wine glass.
Even after all that he has been through Bowman still makes
mistakes. The wine glass is like a zen koan that illuminates the
mind in a flash. His own fallibility thrusts the scene towards
it's climax as the old man dies on the bed and sees the monolith
for the last time. The Great Work of the stone is complete.
There is now a man, a human, who understands the greater
universe. This man also understands that he is trapped in a jail
that his own consciousness has designed. With the realization of
his own fallibility, and his own trapped spirit, he is finally
liberated from the realm of the hotel prison, or the world of
illusion. In that instant he understands what the book of stone
is trying to tell him. He lifts his hand in a gesture of
understanding. And in that moment he is transformed - without
dying - into the Starchild.
There is a monolith that appears right after the opening
sequence with the magical, lunar eclipse. But where is it? It is
right in front of the viewer's eyes! The film is the monolith.
In a secret that seems to never have been seen by anyone - the
monolith in the film has the same exact dimensions as the
Cinerama movie screen on which 2001 was projected in 1968. This
can only be seen if one sees the film in it's wide-screen
format. Completely hidden, from critic and fan alike, is the
fact that Kubrick consciously designed his film to be the
monolith, the stone that transforms. Like the monolith, the film
projects images into our heads that make us consider wider
possibilities and ideas. Like the monolith, the film ultimately
presents an initiation, not just of the actor on the screen, but
also of the audience viewing the film. That is Kubrick's
ultimate trick. He slyly shows here that he knows what he is
doing at every step in the process. The monolith and the movie
are the same thing.
by Jay Weidner
However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.'
- Stanley Kubrick
Ironically, two months into 1998, my top three films to date (Sliding Doors, Open Your Eyes, and Dark City) all question the nature of identity and reality. Dark City is much like Open Your Eyes (which was shown at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and will open theatrically later this year in North America) -- both are meditations on the importance of memory to an individual, and how everyone's personality is comprised of the sum total of his or her remembrances. In the way Dark City tinkers with the boundaries of what's real and what isn't, it recalls The Game. Some viewers may also be reminded of Total Recall, although Proyas' film plunges deep into issues that the Schwarzenegger vehicle used as icing for an action-laden cake.
James Berardinelli http://movie-reviews.colossus.net/movies/d/dark_city.html
Last night I rented a new DVD called "Waking Life"
Waking Life is a movie that explores the nature of
dream and reality. I had heard it described to me as a
"Jungian" movie but it isn't that. It is a NonDual
movie. It pushes and pushes towards the dissolving of
boundaries. At one point the lead character - who is
dreaming - is in a theater, watching a movie in which
the two characters discuss the nature of film and
reality and then turn into clouds!
Explore the website here:
The question the main character pursues throughout the
movie is, "How can I wake up?" He discovers, you see,
that he is in a dream and every time he wakes up he is
dreaming that he woke up.
Oh yes, this film is an animated movie. Watching the
sheer beauty of the animation always gives us something
wonderful to look at and gives the film maker a great
deal of creative license to illustrate the ideas the
characters are presenting. The film was shot on a
digital video camera, then animators converted every
frame to animation, preserving the sound track but
having a great deal of fun with the images themselves.
At the end, the main character encounters a man playing
pinball who, it turns out, is the director of the film.
The director starts to tell a story from the life of
P.K. Dick and then the director says, "Well, if you
really want to wake up, why don't you?" At which point
the hero find himself outside his childhood home where
he slowly, gently lifts into the sky and floats off,
higher and higher.
Waking Life is a movie that stays with you.
This morning I woke up and lay in bed for a while. It
was Monday. I thought of all I had to do: get up, wash
face, take vitamins, make coffee, defrost bagel, go
downstairs and get paper, eat breakfast and read paper,
shower, shave, get dressed, and meet the workday. It
seemed infinitely wearisome. But then I finally did get
up and the day started to unreel on its own accord.
Surprises kept happening. I had cereal instead of a
bagel. I did last night's dishes before getting the
paper. I found time to do a bit of yoga to stretch my
In other words, the day unreeled just like a dream,
beyond volition. This is waking life. Things just keep
happening. There is no need to keep up an illusion of
control, nor is there a need to keep up an illusion that
it is happening to anyone in particular. Yes, you
continue to feel emotions and experience things like
pain and pleasure, loneliness and happiness, backaches
and heartaches, but these are just happening too and
will keep on unreeling with everything else. If you
watch long enough they all turn into clouds in the end.
Film review. 21 Grams. "I believe in interior journeys, and that's why I love the characters' journey" in "21 Grams," Inarritu said. "That's why this film is about finding hope (when) confronting such extraordinary losses. "Want it or not, life is a string of losses. We lost, everyday, something. We lost childhood, innocence, our hair, our faith, our beliefs, our health and, at the end, our life. And how we deal with that everyday, and how we can make meaning or give meaning or sense to our lives through hope, I'm a true believer in that." http://www.jsonline.com/onwisconsin/movies/dec03/194596.aspJerry Katz NDS
"DECASIA is a beautiful, challenging and mesmerizing meditation on time, mortality and
man's longing to transcend his physical existence."
Go to http://www.nytimes..com/library/magazine/home/(link may no longer be current) and scroll down to "Clips from "Decasia," a film profiled in the magazine."
First see the video clips, then read the article.
David Hodges NDS
I saw Decasia when it was shown on the Sundance Channel. The name is a combination
of "Decay" and "Fantasia". I think what this writer wrote is somewhat grandiose, actually,
especially the part about "man's longing to transcend his physical existence."
The filmmaker took old film stock that was in various states of decomposition and editted
it together with meditative music. The blotches and spotches in the film, combined with
the varying states of recognizability of the images, do create a very dreamy, hynotic
effect. The visual effect of the movie is quite compelling, whether or not it "means"
I think writers who review things are quick to put in "meaning" into art. Art can stand on
its own without injections of "meaning" from the outside.
But yes, do see the movie. It is beautiful.
Now and Zen: Meditative quasi-Buddhist parable inspires the sound of two hands clapping
by Michael Atkinson
March 29th, 2004 2:20 PM
Is there such a thing as a Buddhist film, and if there were, could you watch it without tumbling into a stupor? For all of cinema's meditative potential in the right hands, it's safe to say that having your eyeballs Rolfed and your attention targeted by movies is the antithesis of authentic transcendental experience—by the same token, enlightenment isn't something you can photograph. This doesn't stop Korean filmmakers from occasionally trying to express the struggle toward inner purity: Bae Yong-kyun's Why Has Bodhi-Dharma Left for the East? (1989), for one, achieved a kind of soporific beauty. Kim Ki-duk, known here for the symbolic-fishhook stomach-flipper The Isle, grabs this ironic disconnect with both hands in Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter . . . and Spring, and ends up with a meta-Buddhist fable, entirely concerned with the quotidian of work and human vice, and in total thrall to the philosophy's poetic juxtapositions.
All the same, this utterly lovely film hard-sells an audiovisual ideal of meditational tranquility that could produce some converts as well as tourists to Kyungsang; the hackles of the devout might also stiffen once they learn that Kim invented most of the rituals and totems himself. (He was, he says, raised as a Christian.) Like The Isle, the film focuses entirely on a shelter floating on a lake—in this case, a hermitage on man-made Jusan Pond, surrounded by lush woodland. The shrine is inhabited by a wizened monk (Oh Young-soo) and his grade-school-age protégé (Kim Jong-ho); with each of the five seasonal chapters, anywhere between 10 to 15 years pass.
The arc belongs to the boy (embodied in the last, grown-up chapters by the director himself), for whom everything turns out to be a koan-esque metaphor for human folly and life's resulting tribulations. After the tyke impishly tortures small forest creatures by tying stones to them, his mentor ties a rock to the boy's torso, a physical trial that recurs and, as in Dogville's penultimate affront, suggests both self-destructive burden and entrapment. As the years pass, the ordeals escalate, but neither the old man nor the filmmaker passes judgment.
Buddhist slummery this might be—the characters obey decorative doorways, including an often flooded gate at the lake's entrance, as if there were walls around them, another parallel to the von Trier film—but the brutal tension between spiritual righteousness and impulsive gratification is clear and affecting. Name a Christian film that does as much. (All right, Diary of a Country Priest and The Last Temptation of Christ. That's about it.) Of course, Spring, Summer . . . is decadently gorgeous, and its cyclical construction is fearsomely neat. But Kim's tone has an ancient simplicity, something like the fundamental eloquence of a silent film or an enduring children's book. And his images have a surrealist integrity: the swimming frog dragging a stone, the monk painting sutras with a mewling cat's tail, the prodigal monk chopping through a frozen waterfall, the Magritte-like woman masked by a scarf arriving to abandon a baby, that same infant crawling across the ice searching for his mother. Far from a maxim-expounding sermon, the film is a fresh spring of irrational visual pleasure.
The Movie website is very rich and descriptive: http://www.sonyclassics.com/spring/shell.html
The movie Talk To Her
I just watched Talk To Her. Has anyone else
seen it? --Marcia
Hi Marcia, I saw the movie when it first opened. It was recommended by Armand diMele from WBAI. For me, the movie was most profound and beautifully passionate. I still want to purchase the sound track. I've worked in healthcare for many years and have come to understand the importance of communication with a coma patient. But, as you know, the movie was much more than just about that. This is the best synopsis I could find:
Talk To Her is a story about the friendship between two men, about loneliness and the long convalescence of the wounds provoked by passion. It is also a film about incommunication between couples, and about communication. About cinema as a subject of conversation. About how monologues before a silent person can be an effective form of dialogue. About silence as "eloquence of the body", about film as an ideal vehicle in relationships between people, about how a film told in words can bring time to a standstill and install itself in the lives of the person telling it and the person listening.
Talk To Her is a film about the joy of narration and about words as a weapon against solitude, disease, death and madness. It is also a film about madness, about a type of madness so close to tenderness and common sense that it does not diverge from normality.
If you live anywhere that you can see foreign films, this one is a
must see! The brief description given here can barely begin to describe the power of
this movie. I find it significant also that such movies are now being made
in Germany by Germans.
"Aimee & Jaguar"
A true story based on Lilly Wust's memoirs, "Aimee & Jaguar" in a lush
epic that captures the eerie atmosphere of Berlin in the first years of World
War 11, where a lively nightlife raged on even as the bombs fell and well
dressed Germans stepped over corpses on their way to the symphony. It was in
this chaos that Felice Schragenheim led a secret life. Although a Jew and a
communist, she used an assumed name and worked for the Nazi ministry of propaganda,
passing along information to the resistance. Pretty and gregarious, she was
just 21 when she saw a photograph of Lilly Wust and fell in love with a woman she
had never met.
Wust was the wife of a Nazi officer, away on active duty. The mother
of four, she so epitomized the Aryan ideal that she had been given the bronze
"Mother Cross" medal. Introduced by a mutual acquaintance, Lilly and Felice
lived a two-year love story until Felice was captured by the Gestapo and
When "Aimee & Jaguar" premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 1999,
Maria Schrader and Juliane Kohler were co-winners of the Best Actress Award
for their brilliant performances as the doomed lovers Aimee and Jaguar, their
nicknames for each other. Wust later divorced her husband and raised her
children as Jews.
In 1981 she was honored by the German government for her efforts to
shelter other Jews after Felice's capture, and last year she joined Oskar
Schindler as one of the few non-Jews to receive Israel's "Righteous Among the
Now 87, Wust still keeps a candle lit beneath a photo of Felice on her
wall. Unrated, 125 minutes.PETROS: 'HOLY SMOKE' AND OTHER MOVIES
This is a really cool movie which should be opening in wider
release this month. It stars Kate Winslet as a young
Australian girl who gets brainwashed by an Indian guru
(obviously modelled on Rajneesh from his Poona era), and is
kidnapped by her family and forced to undergo deprogramming
by a misogynistic American exit counsellor played by Harvel
Keitel. Three days in a desert hideaway turns into an
existential battle of the sexes, and the tables are turned
. . .
I saw this movie twice. The first time around I found
myself identifying with Keitel's character. The second time
I saw the story through the eyes of Winslet's character, and
it was like watching a whole different movie. (Kinda like
'Fight Club,' which seems like a different movie the second
The film is not primarily about spirituality or cults, but
focuses on the contrasting attitudes of men and women and
how society forces gender roles upon us. Emotionally it's a
very complex movie and there is no "good guy" and "bad
guy." I won't give away any plot twists, but it turns out
that the super-macho deprogrammer has a soft side, and the
'spiritual conversion' of Winslet's character is eventually
shown to be little more than a superficial defense covering
up her selfishness.
Excerpts from Interviews with Harvey Keitel
On Acting and Art
Acting is a storytelling process, and to play those stories, we must invest ourselves profoundly in the place of the story. Perhaps it's not so much acting as it is being. Without that being, there's no way to convey the importance of being a human being.
The idea of art is to reveal, to let us know an experience we didn't have a moment ago. The experience to struggle to understand. Given a choice between a soul and a Mercedes, people will generally choose what they can feel. My challenge has always been not to sell my soul for that Mercedes, although now that I own one, I hope that I retain my soul.
H.K.: ... nine out of 10 Hollywood directors do not know how to rehearse. And most actors do not know how to rehearse. The rehearsal process is a very important part of the creation. And it will do directors and actors a lot of good to study the craft to learn how to rehearse. To learn how to do their homework. To learn what to do as homework.
TR: Specifically, how does one rehearse?
HK: ... Well I cannot teach a class here now on acting. ...They have to immerse themselves into it. I can tell you that if you do not take the training that a Marine takes, and you are thrown into the jungle, you're probably going to die. If you do not take the training an actor needs to take when you are put into that human jungle of cement and palm trees, you are going to die. You need your craft to support you, to guide you, to sustain you. I can only advise your directors to study acting. And your actors to study acting.
So what was the initial driving force that took you into acting? Was there an epiphany at some point: 'I could become an ACTOR!'?
Or was it simply something you thought you were good at and could take further?
No, I didn't think I was particularly good at it but I wanted to be, I had a strong will to be good at it. And it was my need to know, my need to draw my pictures on the cave walls about what my fears were, what my needs were. Somewhere in there. I was in a cave and I needed to draw some pictures on the wall about what my journey was, and that drive, that need, led me to acting. I wasn't good at it, but I had a deep, intense desire to be good at it, and all my failings didn't stop me. I had that will to learn that kept me going through all my effort, through all of my struggle. ------------ When we were talking about your part for the Jane Campion film, (The Piano) I remembered that sparkle in your eyes when you were describing the gestation of this character. When did you first see that sparkle, that mystery that you described, coming from within yourself?
Probably when I met this girl once upon a time and I looked into her eyes, and what was in her eyes somehow moved me in such a way, that I couldn't understand it, and I put together these boxes that were strewn about, and she was walking down the street and I jumped over these boxes to try and impress her. But there was snow on the ground and I slipped and I fell on my ass. I was probably about five years old then! ---------
They weren't living the life of actors, they were just playing the part?
Yes, that's why I'm trying to say. Because if you really want to be an actor you have to live the life of it, as you say, which means doing things. It doesn't just mean giving yourself a title, a star, success. All success is in the struggle, and in the work itself, not in the result. The result's wonderful, I don't want young actors getting it wrong reading this, but the real success is in the struggle.
Have there been instances where you were satisfied with the struggle and not with the final result?
[Laughs] Yes! In other words I'm thinking about creating a role, or creating a play, and struggling very hard in the work, maybe coming up short of answers that I felt were right. But consider the interweaving of feeling success in the struggle and realizing you didn't get the result that you perhaps hoped to get, and yet you feel very good about the struggle, very successful about the struggle.
Somehow it strikes me, and I'm still exploring, that if I could commit myself to the doing, free of results, and accept what occurs in the doing, then that's the place I think I want to be in. When I become more proficient at this, come back and ask me the question again.
What do you mean by more proficient?
Being able to stand there on the stage in my own place. In me. Be able to paint bamboo.
Did I tell you the story about the bamboo? I was reading in some book of Zen philosophy about a painter, and in this Zen artist's way of work, he was describing that before feeling he could paint bamboo, he had to look at the bamboo and touch the bamboo and eat the bamboo and sleep with the bamboo and then he felt that he could paint the bamboo. -------
Even if some of those notes are raw, I think the music is strong enough to overcome a wrong note. I think the positive nature of things will always overcome the less positive nature of things. If the music is on, the music is beautiful; it will be heard I think no matter what the interference is. It's like if I'm looking at a Van Gogh, and there's some jackhammer going off outside the place, I think I'm still going to get the music of the Van Gogh – and hear the jackhammer at the same time.
With a string of acclaimed performances, Keitel has become recognized as one of the most celebrated (and busiest) actors in recent years, in both Hollywood and independent film, including THE PIANO, BAD LIEUTENANT, RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION, SMOKE and BLUE IN THE FACE.
"Acting is like trying to get at some certain truth, some common denominator, some exchange, some connection, that makes us feel a certain truth in ourselves. The way of acting that you really try to finally learn is how not to act. That's where it's at. Acting is not acting."
- Al Pacino
Samasara: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0196069/Nondual Movies
David: And who is writing or is going to write the great NonDual
story/narrative/myth? Does anyone have any examples of NonDual stories?
Gyan: Greetings David,
The one movie that comes to mind is the Richard Linklater's "Waking Life ".
This film is foremost a series of dialogues served through different
vignettes having truth and illusion as main topics.
This animated feature may feel like a koan quest or a satsang supper.
You get 'stuff' ;-)
Ben Hassine: American Beauty
Michael Bowes: THE VOID
Mark Otter: Treasure of the Sierra Madres?
Love, Bogie We non-dualists don't need no stinking badges....( momentary identification
for sake of joke)
Greg Goode: I vote for "Life on a String" Dir. Kaige Chen (1991). Look it up on www.imdb.com. It was great!
David Hodges: I guess my top vote would be for "Why Has Bodhi-darma Left for the East",
written and directed by Yong-Kyun Bae. It casts a spell (unless you fall
Imdb.com says: "Three people live in a remote Buddhist monastery near Mount
Chonan: Hyegok, the old master; Yong Nan, a young man who has left his
extended family in the city to seek enlightenment - Hyegok calls him
Kibong!; and, an orphan lad Haejin, whom Hyegok has brought to the
monastery to raise as a monk. The story is mostly Yong Nan's, told in
flashbacks: how he came to the monastery, his brief return to the city, his
vacillation between the turbulence of the world and his hope to overcome
passions and escape the idea of self. We also see Hyegok as a teacher, a
protector, and a father figure, and we watch Haejin make his way as a
curious and nearly self-sufficient child."Gyan:
Yes ! This is a film I have purchased on DVD and gathered some meditators
friend for an evening of zen seventh art quality time; definitely not a
blockbuster in the usual sense of the word but sure can bust a block. This
movie is quite a meditation.
While we're on this topic, maybe Alejandro Jodorowski's 'El Topo' is a
classic when it comes to initiatory movie.
'Songs From The Second Floor' by Roy Andersson had me quite intellectually
stimulated; has anyone else seen this movie ? Some strong messages neatly
Sam: I vote for "King of Hearts"...
Michael Bowes: Has anyone seen "The Void"?
Greg Goode: No, but I did see The Black Hole, Disney.
diane: Wait. Is this a trick question?
Greg: No, it's a real movie. Check out:
In the tradition of all memorable storytelling
WITH "Alexander," "National Treasure" and "The Polar Express" currently competing for the precious
pesos of local moviegoers, homegrown bet "Santa-santita" would most likely fade away. But if it's
still in theaters, you might want to see it. It would be a shame to miss this movie.
"Santa-santita" delivers all that one could ever hope for in a movie, whether foreign or local, and that makes it well worth squeezing in between the smorgasbord of Hollywood blockbusters I mentioned. In fact, if your budget can accommodate only a couple of movies from among those now showing, make this one of them.
What "Santa-santita" lacks in physical size and scale, it more than makes up for on an emotional and spiritual level. This is a movie that's as true to its own heart as any you're likely to see.
The movie is set in present-day Quiapo, where the everyday human carnival is immersed in a zesty Roman Catholic sense of sin and redemption. As the movie opens we are introduced to Chayong
(Hilda Koronel), a single mother who makes a living praying for others inside Quiapo church. She prefers to call it a panata or devotion but nevertheless accepts monetary donations for it.
Fire in her eyes
Chayong's only child, Malen (Angelica Panganiban), tries to help out by selling rosaries and scapulars outside the church but it's obvious she isn't exactly thrilled about the job. She's a soon-to-be woman who has set her sights outside the world of Quiapo.
We can read so much from the way Malen walks, how she talks, how she gets castigated for the way she dresses by Chayong and she doesn't even care. There's that light, or maybe fire, in her eyes that says she's desperate for something to happen to her life. She knows that her self-belief and native street smarts can take her someplace else, somewhere her mother's zealot friends can't frown upon her and where there are no stupid boys to make lewd remarks every time she passes-which the boys in her neighborhood do, if they're not gaping open-mouthed at her heaving torso.
One day Malen meets Mike (Jericho Rosales), a tourist driver who uses his job to hustle for other things and who is not above prostituting himself in the process.
Mike is hustling for a better life, maybe for his sick son who's in the care of his uncle (Berting Labra), but also maybe because he knows essentially he's just strong enough and unscrupulous enough to earn it. Mike may share the same yearnings of Malen but it is clear he's operating out of a different dynamic altogether.
He's a guy who's used to running the show, accustomed to wielding his grassroots toughness to get what he wants. Early on in the movie he also shows subtle, startling glints of poisonous malevolence that tells you his descent, in time, would be inevitable.
A living out of praying
What Malen sees in Mike, though, is a kindred soul, someone who can give her a glimpse of that other world she dreams about. When she goes against Chayong's admonitions and runs away from home to be with Mike, she literally breaks her mother's heart, and causing her mother's death.
Left alone to fend for herself and knowing no other way to make a living, Malen takes over her mother's prayer practice inside Quiapo church, much to th
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