Movies That Show Us Ourselves

There’s a type of movie I particularly like. By its construction, such a movie helps bring forward what’s required from you to complete it. You give it its definition; that, to me, is a real viewing experience—to personalize it and make it your own, meanings as various as the numbers of people who create them.

It’s easy to identify such a picture by its reviews, which are always in marvelous disagreement as to what the picture is fundamentally about. These movies differ from the straight story types in the same way teaching styles are dissimilar, the didactic method (you’re told or shown what the point is and you learn it; the fair-minded goodness of Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird is an artful example) versus the socratic (you’re led to discover the point on your own). The discovery may just happen to be about yourself, because your interpretation of the movie shows something that you may not have been conscious of. I have four of these “socratic” movies in mind as examples, Agnes of God; All Is Lost and Life of Pi; and last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Birdman, all movies that introduced me to myself more fully, the first exposing a core spiritual value system, the next two the strength of a spiritual belief, the last the depth of my perception. The films cover quite a span of years, paralleling stages of personal development I had to go through to be ready for them.

Agnes of God (1985)

This was the first that made me aware of the type of movie I describe. In it, a newborn is found strangled and disposed of in the room of a young nun, Sister Agnes. She’s the mother of the child, though the Mother Superior says Agnes has no memory of the conception or pregnancy. A court-appointed psychiatrist investigates, trying to determine if the nun is mentally capable of standing trial. Uncovering how psychologically troubled Agnes is, the psychiatrist proceeds in building a case for homicide, while the Mother Superior defends her innocence as a girl manifesting a miracle of God, the most convincing result of which are her stigmata. The clash between the two demands that you, the viewer, resolve the conflict, because the movie never confirms guilt or innocence. Your judgment of whether Agnes is touched by God or by madness solves the mystery and at the same time reveals your sense of values, faith or reason.

For me, it’s reason, which turned out to be an important finding for my future spiritual quest. I began to know then that matters of God must make rational sense to me before I can have faith. Faith for me is determined first by the mind, then the heart. If you question your own subterranean bias, watch this movie and I guarantee your natural response to it will provide the answer.

All Is Lost (2013) and Life of Pi (2012)

I was so affected by All Is Lost, I published a blog shortly after I’d seen it, “All Is Not Lost.” I’d been interested initially because Robert Redford was the star—and furthermore the only on-screen character—and I am a fan. But it unfolded to be vastly more than just a Redford vehicle, and, for the sake of the viewers surrounding me in the theater, I had to stifle the sobs that welled up in my chest because of the final scene, a compelling moment which some viewers would see as proof of God’s salvation.

I was astonished by my own reaction, for I’d not realized how powerfully my God-seeking journey had taken hold until I was faced with deciding the movie’s meaning. A secularist would experience the story as an adventure tale of a man lost at sea, all events and circumstances taken literally at the level of reality only; a spiritualist, which my surprise reaction determined me to be, would take it metaphorically as a soul’s journey, the movie’s rich setting full of symbology and hints at a religious thrust.

The other movie, Life of Pi, presents the same form of interpretive choice. At the end of Pi’s story, however, the selection the viewer has to make as to meaning is made explicit. In contrast to Our Man (Redford) in All Is Lost, where a religious theme coexists implicitly with an overtly secular one, the adult Pi tells two versions of his earlier adventure at sea as a boy, mystical and pragmatic, and then finally asks directly, Which do you believe? The voyage of his soul, sailing in surrender to the vast unknown with his only companion, a God-like Bengal tiger whom Pi loved and feared in equal measure? Or the voyage of his raft? I sobbed all the way home from that film, too, moved beyond words by Pi’s spiritual experience, he a novice seeker so like myself at the time.

Birdman (2014)

This movie posed the toughest revelation, my ability to see. The full title of it is Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance). The subtitle (and veiled by parentheses yet!) should have been a tip-off that the movie was going to be enlightening if I could let it be; for, let’s face it, the only unexpected “virtue” of being ignorant is when you’re not anymore. Yet I couldn’t discern the movie’s real point at first, and I left the theater afterward feeling disappointed by a skimpy black comedy about actors’ pretensions. The movie had had a big promotion budget and therefore lots of pre-release buzz about its Oscar quality. But I felt cheated by the predictable story of a washed-up movie actor’s egomaniacal attempt at career redemption. However, Birdman kept pecking at my thinking, patiently dwindling my ignorance. Finally I got it because I saw this clue: the play-within-the-movie was named “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Well, what do we talk about?

That play is the platform that has-been Hollywood actor Riggan Thomson uses to get audiences to adore him again as they did back in his glory days of playing movie superhero Birdman. And there the Birdman still is, in fact, dogging Riggan, reminding him of what used to be, driving him to (at worst) insanity, to (at best) insensitive dismissal of all else but scrambling to the top again. Birdman even whisks him away on fantasy flights high above Broadway, metaphors for Riggan’s obsessive lust for celebrity—that famous stand-in for love—again. By the end, and after a dramatic ironic reversal of Riggan’s rotten comeback luck, Birdman’s left squatting in the bathroom (a darkly humorous symbol for how the past can block and constipate a life) and Riggan is surrounded by the ones who had loved him—really loved him—all along, his daughter, his ex-wife, his longtime agent. Recognizing this at last (not ignorant anymore), Riggan takes off in joyful flight on his own. What we talk about when we talk about love, therefore, is up to us, the genuine, accepting love which is offered right before us, or the fickle, superficial, people-pleasing variety.

Now that’s a meaningful flick. But, with Birdman, it’s up to the viewer to know it, to explore beneath the obvious story line about the conceits and self-involvement of the entertainment industry (movies and the “legitimate”—read “Broadway, New York City”—theater). See it (or see it again), and test your depth perception. Because of my life experience, I found my level of sense; you may find another one, filtering even farther below the story’s surface.

That is the glory of the capital-A Arts. Through the extent of understanding of individual recipients, the significance of works of art is determined. Which, in turn, helps to tell us who we are.

For Great Movies You Need Great Actors

I am a movie addict, I watch movies everywhere and anytime I can. I have been watching movies since I don’t remember, when technology was far away worse than it is today. In those days movies weren’t great because of technology or special effects. They were great because of the storyline, directing and great acting.

I am not saying technology is bad or anything like that, I am just tired of these new movies that are all about special effect and fantasy. Movies about real life are disappearing from circulation. In these days if you want to talk to friends about movies, you have to talk about avatar who had a budget of over 200 million$ with a Pocahontas storyline, and with a leading actor like Sam Worthington(nothing against him, but I think he is an ordinary actor, maybe below the average).

You don’t see people anymore talk about movies like The Godfather, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Forrest Gump, Scent Of A Woman(to name a few), and this is because they do not make movies like those anymore. You don’t see people talk about Glengarry Glen Ross, with a budget of just over 10 million$, but who needs a bigger budget, who needs technology, who needs special effects when you have actors like Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Ed Harris, Alec Baldwin etc playing beautifully those great dialogues created by David Mamet.

I am afraid the way it is going in the movie industry, great actors will become an extinct species, and movies will be played by ordinary actors, or maybe even robots, and we will enjoy only the view and forget what movies are really about. I am sure many of you who are reading this article strongly disagree with me, because you just want to watch a movie and have fun, you just want to give pleasure to your eyes, watching 3D and stuff.

I am not old fashioned, I don’t mind watching such movies once in a while, I think they are entertaining, I just think they make such films more than they should, and the way it is going, after a few years they will only make those kind of movies. Like I said I like to be entertained by a movie, I like to laugh, but I also want to cry while watching a movie. Movies have changed lots of people lives, but these kind of movies, no they wont.

Its All About Magic, Movies and Magicians

These days, there is a wide range of movies which speak loud about magicians, magic or more precisely illusions. They have been around for quite a long time but have proven popular from only some countable years. This is the result of the latest illusion creating technologies, animation science and growing interest in the magicians and movies. Filmmakers today frame up a great drama which drives the audience in to a whole new world of magic, thinking it to be all real and achievable. They push one to make a journey through new zones of capabilities and possibilities.

Magicians in the movies take the breath out of audience with their ability to mislead and slight moves of hand to make the unbelievable, believable. The list of movies about spells and witchcraft is endless and many such movies and TV shows speak volumes about their glory. Some of the famous movies about illusionists and magic are as follows:

To begin with, Bewitched, a movie which was directed in 2005 following a television show with the same title, became highly talked about, the world over. The protagonist is a good natured, naive witch who is determined to part ways with her supernatural powers and lead a normal life for the happiness of her husband.

Two other movies that hit the cinemas a couple of years back are the Illusionist and the Prestige. Though Illusionist did not leave much of a mark on the audience, the Prestige was highly recognized and appreciated. It is about a physicist who develops a machine which can tele-port a man from from one place to another in a fraction of seconds. The plot of the movie is simple but is told in a much complicated fashion. Yet it is a thrilling, intelligent film which surely keep one hooked till the end of the movie.

Talking of these movies about magicians, one cannot skip to mention the Harry Potter series. These movies have gripped a mass of audience through their popular book series. The special effects and the story line keeps all age groups totally attracted.

Hopefully there will come a new era of such exciting movies about magicians in the coming years. With more special effects and better equipment to make the line between illusion and reality finer, chances are surely high, that we will be greeted with spectacular movies portraying magicians, in the future.