Archive | Movies RSS feed for this section
The King’s Speech? We analyze the King’s pain

The King’s Speech? We analyze the King’s pain

Loving someone hurts when we can’t slay their monsters. The King’s Speech is about coming through the worst of it alone.

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE – Movies want audiences to sympathize for their characters, and I usually oblige. My heart sank right along with Leonardo DiCaprio in the Titanic. I ached for Jamie Foxx as his character battled schizophrenia and homelessness in The Soloist. I even mustered some emotion for Angelina Jolie as she screeched about her stolen son in The Changeling. Pretty heavy subject matter compared to public speaking – yet I have never felt such agony for a character as I did for Colin Firth in The King’s Speech.

The actor reportedly had a similar response when he watched a newsreel of the real King George VI stammering through a speech. Though the King did a good job of making his stutters sound like dramatic pauses, his obvious struggle brought tears to the eyes of Firth and director Tom Hooper.

This isn’t a story about someone being mocked for his impediment. The King had support. The British masses in stadiums and in their livingrooms sat with bated breath, respectfully rooting for the King. Yet all of their collective good will and that of his loving wife and daughters could not help His Majesty get those words out smoothly and painlessly. For me, it’s a story of not only the King but those who loved him.

Read more

Hollywood milks Mayan Armageddon

Global warming, Mid-East nukes and economic distress? No worries! It’s only the end of the world as we know it, in Roland Emmerich’s third disaster movie. This time, it gets spiritual

BY SOUL’S CODE — When Spanish adventurers, centuries after the Conquest, stumbled upon Mayan ruins in the jungles of present-day Mexico, they surmised that the monuments were created by Mediterranean transplants — survivors of Noah’s flood, or perhaps trans-Atlantic commuters who sailed between ancient Egypt or Rome and meso-America.

When archeologists completed the decryption of Mayan hieroglyphs after World War II, they proved beyond a doubt that the lost civilization was indigenous, and that the region’s Indian tribes were its descendants.

The Mayan mystique was born: their biggest pyramids are essentially giant sundials and calendars. The inscriptions accurately forecast solar eclipses to this day, and document the orbits of Mercury, Mars and Venus.

Read more

What is the most spiritual movie, ever? Here are 12 nominees

We’ve expanded our slide show, Transcendental Movies, from 9 classics to 12. Our new additions: Fur, Being John Malkovich and Last Year at Marienbad

BY SOUL’S CODE — That last choice, Marienbad is set in a mid-century, is a 1961 classic by the French “new wave” director, Alain Resnais). Set in an upper class Grand Tour-like spa in Germany, it is the oldest film in our pantheon of spiritual cinema — and about our favorite because of its parallels with an ABC TV series that came along four decades later.  LOST

Read more

Decoding America’s favorite psychopath, Showtime’s Dexter

The sub-text of the award-winning cable TV series has a lot to say about a society that bred Enron, Dick Cheney and Real Housewives

MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE: “Sociopaths can’t feel psychic pain but they can feel physical pain,” says narrator Dexter as on-screen Dexter plucks a hair – with gusto – from the head of a likely serial rapist and killer. It’s for a routine DNA test but the viewer, along with Dexter, feels pleasure when the bad guy says, “Ow!”

The bad guy somehow is not Dexter Morgan, hence the mastery of this Showcase series now in its fifth season. A man with an irrepressible urge to kill, Dexter (played by Michael C. Hall) is not an antagonist for the hero to catch. He is the hero.

From Enron and Wall Street graft to the White House — both occupants on the inside like Dick Cheney and crashers from the outside like the reality-show Salahis — psychopathic behavior in the world around us seems to be at a collective high. Dexter serves as a sympathetic benchmark for the mental miasma in our midst.

Read more
Intervention? That’s not reality. Try this new documentary about an addict’s spiritual journey

Intervention? That’s not reality. Try this new documentary about an addict’s spiritual journey

Mark Hogancamp’s alcoholism was literally beaten out of him. Now his trauma and transformation are on the big screen in the new documentary, Marwencol

BY MICHELLE MORRA-CARLISLE — I started dancing, really dancing, at 38. Until then, that ultimate form of stepping-out-of-my-shell was too much like stepping out of Michelle. My turning point came four years ago at Halloween when I donned a mini-dress with a wild psychedelic print, a big blonde beehive wig and electric green gogo boots. As it turns out, the alter ego I created — “Gogo Batgirl” — can dance, and not in a lame, white-bread way. She has no fear, moves gracefully and is a lot more fun at parties than my official “me.”

As freeing as that costume was, I was okay with storing it in a box afterward and going back to my everyday self.

The line between self and alternative-self is not so clearly defined for Mark Hogancamp.

A part-time illustrator and full-time drunk living in Kingston, NY, he was severely beaten outside a bar in 2000. When he woke from a nine-day coma he remembered nothing of his former life — not even that he liked the taste of alcohol. Instant recovery from his addiction, however, was only small solace for the brain damage that cost him his memories and fine motor skills and forced him to relearn to eat, walk, read and write.

Read more
Spiritual Surf: Lindsay + Linda Lovelace; Lady Gaga; Skinny men “in”

Spiritual Surf: Lindsay + Linda Lovelace; Lady Gaga; Skinny men “in”

Lindsay seeks a new Inferno; A year without sex?; Deepak mentors Gaga; Evangelicals and oil

Inferno: Lindsay Lohan set to star in porn-star-turned-feminist Linda Lovelace’s bio.  Lohan’s character (Linda Susan Boreman, aka, Linda Lovelace) descends into the fire pit of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Can delayed sexual gratification lead to greater intimacy? Hephzibah Anderson’s new book Chastened, recommends women slow down the freight-train of sex without intimacy.

Lady Gaga and her bizarre Illuminati dreams: Gaga confides in Deepak Chopra, Rolling Stone interview reveals. Lady Gaga’s performances are a dream come true in more ways than one: Gaga relates how her morbid dreams provide material for the stage.

French stripper’s “tribute” to aboriginal culture: Motives for topless dance on Ulura Rock questioned

The skinny man movement: More men dieting and seeking surgery to be thin

Evangelicals take on Gulf oil spill: Distance from Creation = distance from God

Read more

The Dalai Lama and his teen rebel without a cause

The Dalai Lama confirmed a boy from Spain as his reincarnation and successor as the guiding spirit of Tibetan Buddhism. Then Osel Hita Torres turned his back on both His Holiness and his way of faith

BY DAVID RICKEY — In the story of  Osel Hita Torres, a young spiritual prodigy was chosen by the Dalai Lama as a reincarnation. Torres then turned his back on the Buddhist order.

Which in no particular order raises two interesting questions:

Did they get the right boy?

And is there such a thing as karmic regression?

The process of finding and choosing a reincarnated lama is complicated — and I say that as a professional priest schooled in an Episcopal seminary and so-called “high church.”

Read more

Why Byron Katie kicks Oprah’s ass

“I’m a woman without a future — I don’t need one.”

SOUL’S CODE —  We don’t mean that Byron Katie is literally beating up on Oprah. The only reason we make the comparison between the two is that Byron Katie, who is a post-modern mystic, made a rare live appearance in the San Francisco Bay Area the same day that Oprah’s show hyped the movie The Secret and its gospel, the “law of attraction.”

The difference between Oprah and Byron Katie is that Oprah explicitly caters to America’s victim-culture — millions who don’t like their looks, their job, their love-life, their personal history, etc. Oprah pitches a grocery list of prescriptions to fix the personality’s grievances.Byron Katie, on the other hand, offers a radically different way out of pain.

Why would you care? Katie, as she goes by, comes as advertised. We won’t write that she has ‘achieved enlightenment’ — that is, a person who is free of internal conflict — because we can imagine her rejoinder. Katie would turn one of her famous four questions back on us, and ask:

“How would you know? Can you absolutely know that that’s true? Do you have any proof?”

Read more

Spiritual Surf: Armaggedon, Lindsay Lohan, Hare Krishnas, and Religious Violence


The new film, “Waiting for Armaggedon“, is an hour-long documentary examining how some US Evangelical Christians are awaiting the end-of-days. Their highest hopes are aligned with planetary destruction, a rapture of Christians up to heaven, pre-tribulation with the Anti-Christ’s one-world government, all before a millennial reign of Jesus on earth.

Is this typical Christianity?  To paraphrase Harold Bloom’s critique of the “American Religion”: Christianity in America is not so much Christian as it is American.

Read more

Avatar’s art direction draws on the 1970s’ most spiritual band: Yes

James Cameron’s floating islands of planet are inspired by Roger Dean, a pop artist famous for creating mystical album covers like Close to the Edge and Fragile

BY PAUL KAIHLA — Reviewers insist that the story-line for Avatar owes a lot to Pocahontas but the visual universe that James Cameron created for the planet Pandora owes more to British artist Roger Dean and the portfolio of album covers he created for the progressive rock band, Yes. The ensemble’s front man, Jon Anderson, was influenced by advaita teachings and the early 20th-century Indian spiritual teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda.

Read more