Category Archives: Movie reveiew

Check out a great historical-fiction TV series on the Danes and Saxons in England: The Last Kingdom

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The Lost Kingdom

England’s history is of special interest to me since it is my ancestry.  My novel, Annoure and the Dragon Ships, opens in 794 A.D. on the east coast of Northumbria, Saxon England, during the second Viking raid on St. Paul’s church and its twin monasteries.

 

Recently I discovered a BBC, British history, series on Netflix. The story takes place in 871 A.D.  In the intervening 77 years between the beginning of the Norsemen’s attacks to 871 A. D., the Saxon swept through Saxon England and conquered all but Wessex in what is now southwest England.

 

The story is told through the eyes of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, Alexander Dreymon.  As a boy his father is killed in a battle of the Saxons against the Danes.  Uhtred is taken captive by the Dane Earl Ragnar who later adopts him.  When Uhtred is a young man, an angry Dane (who was banished by Ragnar) attacks and kills Uhtred’s surrogate family.

 

Horrified by the death of his family, Uhtred wants revenge.  He also wants to regain his ancestral lands, but doesn’t have the means to accomplish either of his goals.  He’s a man caught between two worlds, the Saxons and the Norsemen, and he isn’t accepted by either.

 

I found myself caught up in the story.  It is high budget with attention to historical detail in such things as clothing, hair styles, housing, Viking ships and weapons.  The characters are complex, three-dimensional people and the plot is complicated with many twists and turns.

 

One of the more interesting characters is King Alferd, David Dawson.  He was an important Saxon king and held back the Saxons from taking Wessex.  He was a remarkable man for his time because he went to Rome twice and could read and write English and Latin at a time when few of his contemporaries could read.  He was responsible for raising the level of culture in England.  He also had a vision to unite all the regions into one country.

 

King Alferd is a pious Christian man, whereas Uhtred believes in the Norse Gods.  Their difference in beliefs is a source of conflict between the two men because the king needs Uhtred, who is a great warrior, but he can never trust a pagan completely.

 

The two seasons of the show were released in 2015 and 2017. Netflix joined BBC to make a second series.  It’s yet to decided whether there will be a third series.  The shows are based on a series of novels by Bernard Cornwell.  Cornwell descended from one family line of Uhtred of Bebbanburg, of which there were several.  Little is known about Uhtred, so Cornwell created a fictional account of his life.

 

I highly recommend this series.  As in my book, it shows the clash between the Saxons and Vikings in their religious beliefs, customs and the way they view the world.

 

Please note: The show isn’t for everyone.  It has graphic scenes of violence and sex, so much so that I found myself turning away at times.

 

https://www.netflix.com/title/80074249 (trailer for The Last Kingdom)

 

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Thought Provoking Movie: If I Stay

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If I Stay

If I Stay

If I Stay is based on a best-selling young adult novel by Gayle Forman.  High-school girls are its primary target audience, but both my husband and I enjoyed it.

It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl, Mai Hall (Chloe Grace Moretz) who has a loving family and wonderful boyfriend Adam (Jamie Blackley) who’s in a band. She’s a talented cello player, but is socially inept.  She’s looking forward to a life with lots of possibilities when she’s in a serious car accident with her entire family.  Mai’s badly injured and finds herself out-of-her-body, looking at the accident.  Her body is rushed to the hospital and she goes along and sees herself being operated on.  After the operation one of the nurses tells Mai’s unconscious body to fight to live, but Mai doesn’t know how to do that.

After her operation, she is concerned about her parents and little brother and looks for them in the hospital.  The viewer discovers as she does which of her family members have died.  The viewer also learns about her boyfriend, friends and grandparents as people gather at the hospital.

The story is told through a series of flashbacks while Mai’s body is unconscious. We learn how she and Adam met and fell in love, about her parents, grandparents and friends, and her desire to go to Julliard in New York.

The movie was well done with an interesting plot and great acting.  I especially liked the musical element.  Mai’s father was in a band and was surprised when she became interested in playing the cello at a young age.  Her parents were supportive of her talent even though they didn’t understand where she got her love of classical music. In the movie we hear both her cello playing and Adam’s band.  We see how music can uplift and enrich people’s lives.

I liked the premise of the story where a person has to make the decision to stay in this physical world with all its pain and happiness or move on to the next world.  The author explores what it might be like to be seriously injured and watch your body operated on.  It shows the confusion a person might feel after an accident and the deep sorrow that might make a person decide they wanted to die.

I’ve read many stories about near-death experiences and there are many accounts of people who do see their own body at an accident and/or on the operating table.  This story didn’t explore Mai going toward the light, or into a tunnel, or meeting loved ones on the other side.  Mai was out-of-her-body but still in the physical world. Its focus was more on her life and whether she should “fight to live” or go on.

The story explores the sacrifices necessary to become really good at something.Anchor Mai spends hours every day playing the cello, though she plays more out of love than self-discipline. Her father enjoyed being in a band and also had talent, but he made the sacrifice of giving up being in the band to become a teacher and support his children.  He then discovered he loved teaching and was happy with his choice.

The movie also explores the many options we have in life. In one scene Mai’s not sure what direction to go in as she and her mother stand at the sink doing dishes.  Her mother tells her whatever choice she makes is a good one or there could be yet another path she might follow that would be equally good.

Another theme is unconditional love: both the love between Mai and her family and between Mai and Adam.  Mai’s father sells his musical instrument to buy a cello for his daughter.  Mai and Adam also have to decide what sacrifices they are willing to make for their relationship.

At the end of the movie Mai has to make the final decision to: stay or go.

What choices do you make daily?  Do you live life to its fullest?  What sacrifices have you had to make to do what you love, or support someone you love?

Do you think people have a choice to live or die when they are in a serious accident or have a serious illness? Have you ever had a near-death experience?  I’d love to hear your stories.

Below is the trailer of If I Stay.

 

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The Monuments Men and the Value of Artwork

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11174399_detThe Monuments Men didn’t get great reviews, but I went to see it anyway because I’m an artist and interested in the history of art and because this was a part of World War II I didn’t know anything about.  The film is based on a true story.  Near the end of the war with Germany, the Reich was falling and seven American men (who were museum directors, curators and art historians) were assembled as a platoon to rescue artwork stolen by the Nazis and return it to it’s rightful owners.  There were about five million pieces of artwork stolen, covering a thousand years of history.   Many of these pieces had been taken from the home of Jewish people.   Hitler had plans to build a huge museum to display the artwork, but lost the war before he could.

The film assembled a group of well-known actors including George Clooney (who also directs it), Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, and Cate Blanchett and many others.  Unfortunately, with so many characters I found it hard to feel close to any of them.  However, the movie held my attention because it was like a mystery.  The platoon had to figure out where the pieces had been hidden.  It was also a race against time.  Could they find and save the art before it was destroyed?

The mission seemed impossible as the artwork was hidden behind enemy lines and Hitler had ordered it to be destroyed.  The platoon was set down in Normandy, and then separated into groups as they set off to find, save, and even defend the artwork.

One thing that made the film interesting to me was seeing all the painting and sculptures.  In one scene you see an entire mansion full of amazing sculptures, in another a cave full of paining, in yet another pieces that are part of a church altar.  We also see a cave full of paintings torched.  It’s hard to imagine anyone burning these priceless pieces.

Here is a link to the preview of the film.

After seeing the film my husband came across an article that told about the recent recovery of 1,500 pieces of the artwork in Germany. They were by such master as Picasso, Renoir, and Chagall and thought to be lost during the firebombing of Dresden in 1945.  Cornelius Gurlitt has had them for nearly seventy years.  He is the son of Hildebrandt Gurlitt, a well-known Germany art dealer. Hildebrandt bought many of the paintings for a pittance from Jews fleeing Germany and had control of the Degenerate Art exhibition.  He passed the artwork to his son when he died.

One thing the movie didn’t mention was that Hitler only liked classical art and regarded the Impressionist, Cubist, and Modernist pieces as degenerate.   He held the Degenerate Art exhibition to show people what not to like.

To me it was interesting that all this artwork was found by chance after all these years at the same time as The Monuments Men was at theaters.

Here is a link to the article.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2486251/1bn-haul-art-Picasso-Renoir-Matisse-squalid-Munich-flat.html

The film and recently discovered Masterpieces raises some interesting questions like: Is artwork worth dying for?  How much is lost when a society loses their artwork?    What is the value of art?  Clooney’s character says the art inspires and defines a society.  Do you agree or disagree?

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Crime and Punishment: Movie STONE

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When is the punishment enough?

 

Today I was at a meeting for a non-profit organization that distributes money to Minnesota charities.  A woman named Jennifer sat at our table and she said, “In the US, one out of every four people has a criminal record.”  In Minnesota, my home state, the statistic is slightly better:  one in five.

220px-Poster_of_Stone_(2010_film)

Many crimes are committed by teenagers and are related to drug use or theft (such as stealing a bike out of a garage or shoplifting).  One thing I did not realize is that once there were laws that protected young people so that these indiscretions didn’t go on their record, but this is no longer the case in Minnesota if a youth commits a crime after he’s sixteen. This change has hurt many people’s chances for a successful future. Having a criminal record makes it difficult to get a job, a higher education (some colleges won’t accept people with a record), and rent an apartment.

 

I don’t normally write about social issues, but another statistic that caught my attention was that children of color make up 93% of all children in poverty in Minneapolis today.  More than half of all American Indian, Asian, and Black children living in Minneapolis live in poverty.  Jennifer said the reason many children live in poverty is because their father has a record and can’t get a job.

 

Learning about people with records reminded me of the movie STONE (2010).  I don’t necessarily recommend the movie because it is a thriller with graphic violence and explicit sex.  Yet it has excellent acting with Robert De Niro who plays the part of Jack, a seasoned Christian patrol officer near retirement and Edward Norton who plays Stone, a man eligible for early release for his crime of arson.

STONE-articleLarge

In a scene from the movie, Stone challenges Jack’s right to judge him and asks the question: When is the punishment enough?  Stone asks Jack if he hasn’t ever done something bad. Jack replies he’s never committed a crime, but the viewer knows from the dramatic first scene in the movie that Jack did something shockingly wrong years earlier.

 

While Stone is in prison he comes across a brochure about Zukangor (a New Age religion, which is a take off on Eckankar).  He is intrigued and goes to the library to find a book about it.  He finds the religion teaches about the Light and Sound of God, karma and how to sing HU to uplift your state of consciousness.  Stone tries singing HU in the noisy, challenging prison environment.

 

Gradually Stone begins to change. He sees a bigger purpose to life and feels it doesn’t matter if he stays in prison or gets out on parole.  In either place he is getting the lessons he needs to grow.  He starts to understand the crime he committed in a new light and realizes he never accepted responsibility for committing it.

 

Jack thinks Stone is just playing him with his new spiritual beliefs, but the viewer sees that Stone is beginning to change and grow.  The viewer also sees that sometimes there’s a thin line between a person with a criminal record and those who judge him.  There is so much more to this movie; I’m only covering one aspect of it (mainly to examine the question of who should be locked up and for how long).

 

When is the punishment enough?  Once a person is released from prison how can they be helped to move forward with their life, get a job, a place to live and an education?  It hurts not only the person who has the arrest record, but also their families when this record follows them throughout their life.

 

Do you think a young person’s mistakes should go on their record?  I’d like to hear your viewpoint about this.

 

Here is a trailer of the movie.

 

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Life of Pi and Believing in God

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“I have a story that will make you believe in God. This powerful statement made early on in the movie Life of Pi, is the one that 93853_galsticks with me the most.  The story that will make us believe in God is told by Pi, a middle-aged Indian man, to a writer looking for a good story.

You have probably heard of Life of Pi by now and many of you will have seen it. In the Academy Awards it was awarded best achievement in cinematography.  It is an amazing feast for the eyes in 3-D.   It’s also a film that leaves people thinking about its meaning long after seeing it.  I had read the book (by Yann Martel)  a few years ago and this is one of those few stories that is more powerful in film form.  It has breathtaking scenes such as a school of dolphins, a whale leaping into the sky and amazing sunsets reflecting into the water.  The film takes on a magical quality at times while at other times it deals with the savage brutality that can be brought out by people trying to survive in life and death situations.

The story within a story is about Pi (first time actor Suja Sharm) a sixteen-year-old youth who is in a shipwreck.  He survives alone with Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal Tiger, on a lifeboat for 227 days.  I don’t want to spoil the plot for those who haven’t seen the movie so I won’t go into all the metaphors, symbolism and layers that make up the story.  The truth of the story like the truth of God is up to each of us to decide.  What I will explore is the story’s spiritual side.

As Pi is telling the story of his childhood we find out he was the son of a zookeeper in India who believed in the New India and hard science.  Whereas, Pi is a seeker who is born Hindu, comes to love Jesus and practices Islam.  Each religion has its own myths, fables, rituals and customs and Pi sees their value and comes to realize the underlining essence of each religion is love.

When Pi is alone at sea with only a tiger for a companion his faith in God is severely tested.  He has to endure the pain of losing his family and live with his fear of the tiger.  His struggle for survival includes threats from sharks, starvation, dehydration, storms and loneliness.  He’s forced to find a way to catch and kill fish to feed himself and Richard Parker even though normally he is a vegetarian.

A few scenes stood out for me as major spiritual turning points.  In one, Pi yells out to God that he surrenders. What more does God want from him?  I think all of us can relate to that feeling when we have been tested again and again until finally we let go and surrender to God.  We know we are at life’s mercy and there is nothing more we can do.  The agony Pi goes through leads him to find courage and inner strength.

Another pivotal scene is when Pi accepts that he is going to die with grace knowing he will rejoin his loved ones.  In the scene he and the tiger are staving and dehydrated.  The tiger has collapsed on the bench and Pi sits beside him and puts the nearly dead animal’s head on his lap.   All along he has seen Richard Parker’s soul in his eyes and has come to love the tiger as a companion.   He feels that the tiger has kept him alive as he has had to stay alert to keep from getting killed by the tiger and he needed to fish to keep both of them alive.

In another scene there is a violent storm at sea and Pi stands to face it while Richard Parker cowers under the tarpaulin, which covers half the boat.  All at once the storm clouds open and light shines through.  Pi feels the light is God is speaking to him.  He unhooks the tarpaulin, so he can share the Light of God with Richard Parker.

The story asks many questions about the mysteries of life, such as why does tragedy happen, what is truth and what is our purpose here on earth?  We all go through challenges and tests that seem more than we can endure and yet we are forced to use our creativity and become stronger for the experience.  So perhaps in the end it does not matter if the story makes you believe in God, but whether it makes you think about life, love and God.

If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, share your comments.  Did the story make you believe in God?  Did it cause you to reflect on life?  Were you different in some way after seeing the movie or reading the book in how you saw tragedy, hardship and courage?

Here is the official trailer of the film.

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Movie Welcome and Illegal Immigrants

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Welcome-Have you seem the foreign film Welcome directed by Philippe Lioret?  At one point in the movie we see the image of a mat with the word “Welcome” at a neighbor’s front door, but the irony is that the French are anything but welcome to the illegal immigrants in their country.

 

This powerful movie is a parallel story about Simon (Vincent Lindon) a Frenchman who is going through a divorce and Bilal (Firat Ayverdi) an illegal immigrant.   Seventeen-year-old Bilal is a Kurdish man who has walked for three months from Mosul, Iraq to France.  Bilal comes to where Simon works at a public pool and asks him to teach him to swim.  Simon works with him and comes to care about him like a son.

 

There is irony in this as well because Simon’s wife Marion (Audrey Dana) is leaving him partly because of his apparent indifference to the plight of the men who have illegally immigrated to France.  Marion helps run an outdoor soup kitchen for illegal aliens who are struggling to survive. The immigrants want to get jobs so they can send money home to their families.  We see them being turned away from grocery stores, from the pool (where they want to take a shower) and being arrested.

 

The story is set in Calais, the port in northern France closest to Britain. The cliffs of Dover are visible from Calais.  As the story unfolds we find out Bilal wants to learn to swim so he can swim across the English Channel to the girl he loves. The youth spent three months traveling all the way from Iraq to France by foot and now has to get to England.  He tries to get across the English Channel by getting aboard a ferry but after he gets caught by the police, he decides to learn to swim so he can swim across.

 

Simon’s heart opens (as does the viewer’s) to Bilal who loves a woman so much he walked 4000 km across several countries to get to her, and now is willing to swim across the English Channel.  We also sympathize with Simon who says to his wife, “I couldn’t even walk across the road to get you back.”  Simon still loves Marion and doesn’t know how to heal their marriage.  Marion watches him help Bilal and realizes that Simon has begun to awaken to the plight of the illegal immigrants.  She even worries for Simon who could be arrested and even incarcerated for helping Bilal.

 

I don’t want to give away the story, but rather focus on the topic of illegal immigrants.  Where I live in Minneapolis we have illegal aliens from Mexico.  When men get arrested, they get sent back even though the may be leaving a wife and children behind in Minnesota.  It seems cruel to send them back.  Yet our country is in a recession/depression and there aren’t enough jobs for our own people.  Moreover, how can we afford to educate these children who don’t even speak English?  How do we afford to pay for these people’s healthcare?  Yet our country is based on immigration.  We all immigrated here.  Even the Native Americans immigrated here at one time.

 

Our country is the land of freedom and opportunity.  At least that was what it was called when I was a child.  We have benefitted from hard working immigrants.  How do you feel about illegal immigrants?  What is our responsibility to people from war-torn countries?

 

Here is a trailer of the movie.

 

 

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Examining Rules

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My husband and I spent the week before Christmas in court.  A property we had a small ownership share of was sued.  The jury didn’t rule in our favor, so on Friday night we decided to escape into the pleasure of watching a movie.  The first movie we saw Cider House Rules (1999).  After the movie was over I was still agitated over losing the lawsuit, so we watched Billie Elliot (2000). 

Both movies explored the theme of rules and whether there are times when a person is justified in breaking them.  Our experience in court also involved rules. During our law suit the judge decided many of the decisions in the courtroom like what evidence was admissible in court, and if one lawyer objected to a question the opposing lawyer asked, the judge sustained or overruled the objection.  To some degree the judge influenced our losing the case.  The plaintiff used the court system to extort money from the owners, and the judge seemed more interested in the rules than justice.

ImageCider House Rules explored right and wrong rules. The main character Homer Wells (Tobey Maguire) was raised in an orphanage. Dr Wilbur (Michael Caine) who worked at the orphanage took him under his wing and trained him as his assistant.  Part of the doctor’s jobs was delivering unwed mother’s babies into the world. Sometimes the doctor performed illegal abortions.  Homer helped with the births but didn’t approve of abortions and wouldn’t assist with them. Dr. Wilbur broke the law when he performed the abortions, but he did it to save the life of pregnant girls who might otherwise have an unsafe abortion.

Eventually, Homer decided he wanted to see the world and left the orphanage with an unmarried couple after the woman had an abortion.  They invited him to work at a cider house.  A traveling group of fruit pickers came each year to live in the cider house and pick apples.  The house had a list of rules on the wall, but the migrant workers were illiterate.  Homer was educated at the orphanage and read the first rule loud.  The rule was to not smoke in bed, which one of the men happened to be doing.  The head of the migrant workers told Homer to stop reading the rules as they didn’t apply to them.

The list of rules was only a symbol for the much more profound rules that Homer must decide if he would follow.  He ended up breaking many rules some of which have profound consequences.

ImageThe second movie we watched was Billy Elliot (2000) set in 1984-1985 during a miner’s strike in Durham, England. Eleven-year-old Billy (Jamie Bell) was a miner’s son.  Both his father and older brother work in the mine, which was on strike.  Billy’s mother died and his senile grandmother lives with the family.  Billy’s father paid for Billy to take boxing lessons, but Billy had no interest in boxing.  When a ballet class started meeting in the same building as where Billy took boxing lessons, he found himself attracted to dance even though it’s an all-girl class.  The teacher encouraged him to dance, but insisted that he pay.  Billy skipped his boxing lessons and used his boxing money to pay for ballet dancing.  Eventually his father found out and was horrified that his son was doing something as unmanly as ballet dancing and wouldn’t let him continue. 

Meanwhile the whole town was on edge.  The miners were picketing and the mining company had hired scabs.  Billy’s older brother protested the scabs and got beaten up by the police and arrested. 

The dance teacher believed in Billy and she started teaching him privately for free.  She thought he had the talent to get a scholarship at the Royal Ballet School in London, and helped him develop a dance routine so he could audition. 

Getting into the academy in London would not only be a chance for Billy to dance, but also a chance to break out of the bleak future of becoming a miner.

Billy broke his father’s rules when he used his boxing money for dancing lessons.  Even after his father found out and forbid him to dance, Billy disobeyed his father and continued to take dance lessons because he loved dancing.  He said dancing was like he had this fire in his body, flying like bird, like electricity.

Both of these outstanding movies had powerful stories and great characters.  Billy Elliot also has fabulous dance sequences. Both movies caused me to think about rules long after I’d watched them. Rules are needed in a society by parents, teachers, governments,  etc. and most should be obeyed.  Yet some rules are bad ones or there are legitimate reasons for breaking them. 

What rules have you broken in your life?  When is it all right to break a rule and when is it wrong?  I’d enjoy hearing your feedback.   

Billy Elliot trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhyktCYtc1g

Billy Elliot dance scene

Cider House Rules trailer

 

 

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Listen to Your Heart- Movie Review

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I had a friend over one evening and we were both going through a rough stretch.  A member of my extended family had just died of cancer and I thought let’s watch a cheerful, light romance.  So we searched through the movies on Netfix and found Listen to Your Heart.  It had a couple on the cover.  They looked happy and in love.  Romances have happy endings—right?  Unfortunately, this one didn’t, but it was still a wonderful movie. 

 

The movie opens with the line, “Music is a powerful thing, a song could change your mood, make a memory.”  Danny says this to his best friend as they stand at the storefront looking at a recording set Danny is saving up for to make a demo.  His friend doesn’t understand or support Danny’s dream.  The two young men work at café that has a piano in it that Danny can use to write music on.

 

Arianna and her mother come into the café where Danny works and he serves their table.  He’s immediately attracted to Arianna.  When she leaves, he gives her a piece of paper with his phone number on it, not realizing she’s deaf.

 

Two weeks later Danny expresses his disappointment to his friend that Arianna never called.  His friend says if a woman doesn’t call in 48 hours forget her. 

 

Finally Arianna shows up at the café and Danny discovers she’s deaf.   Arianna communicate with Danny by writing notes to him.  She never speaks.  They start dating and quickly become deeply involved. 

 

Danny’s friend tries to warn him that he’s too attached to Arianna, but Danny says, “I’m not going to miss out on something great because it’s also hard.”

 

Danny learns sign language so he and Arianna can communicate more easily and he shares with her his love of music.  They sit at the piano and she puts her hand on it and can feel the vibration. She even plays notes on the piano as he plays a piece.

 

Arianna’s controlling mother wants her to be an accountant, which Arianna is currently studying in college.  Danny encourages her to listen to her heart and take control of her life.  He tells her she can even be a musician like her father was.  Her father, like his, died when she was young.

 

When summer comes and Arianna returns home, her mother forbids he relationship with Danny.   

 

Every romance has to have conflict, so I’m fine with this.  I figure the young couple will somehow overcome this obstacle and find happiness.  I was wrong; the movie takes an unexpected sad twist.  I won’t spoil the movie by telling you what it is. 

 

I recommend this movie because of the theme of listening to your heart and following your dreams.  Don’t let obstacles get in your way.  Even when it appears that you can’t do something, like being a musician because you’re deaf, there might be a way you never thought of.  In this movie, Arianna is transformed into a more self confident person.  At the end we see her walking down the street with a happy smile.  The last line of the movie parallels the opening line.  “Music is a powerful thing.  One song could change your life.”

 

I also recommend this movie because music is the sound current, it is one of the ways God speaks to us.  Listen to the music around you: the birds singing, the frogs chirping, the dog howling, the wind blowing through the trees, a baby cooing.  Listen to music that opens your heart and connects you to something higher.  It can transport you when you’re going through the challenging times like I’m going through to a higher place where there is love, beauty and light.

Here is a trailer of the movie:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB5ag2hswmo

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TWILIGHT SAMURAI- Movie review

By | Movie reveiew | 13 Comments

My husband and I were looking for a good movie to watch on Netflix one night and TWILIGHT SAMURAI caught my attention.  I like films about the Samurai and it had more stars than most of the others movies, so we downloaded it. I was drawn into this quiet, but deep movie that slowly unfolds. The movie is set in Japan a few years before the Meiji restoration about 1868—a time period when the place of the Samurai was being questioned in a changing society.

 

The story is about Seibei Igulchi a low level samurai.   Seibei’s wife has just died and he is left to raise his two daughters and to care for his aging, senile mother.  The family lives in poverty and Seibei is in debt from paying for his wife’s medicines.  He works as an accountant, and his co-workers make fun of him when they go off to socialize after work and he hurries home to care for his children and work his small farm. 

 

The strength of Seibei’s character is revealed gradually.  He enjoys watching his two daughters grow up and compares it to watching blossoms open.  His younger daughter asks him why she should learn Confucianism at school.  She understands the value of knowing how to cook and clean, but not studying Confucianism .  He tells her Confucianism will help her learn to think and she’ll always be able to work if she can think.  As he interacts with his daughters we see how much he loves them.

 

One day, Seibei’s friend tells him that his sister Tomoe is returning home after divorcing her abusive husband.  Tomoe comes to visit Seibei and enjoys playing with his two daughters.  She tells the girls that she and Seibei were childhood friends. 

 When Tomoe’s x-husband shows up and hits her, Seibei challenges him to a duel.  Duels are forbidden, so Seibei fights with a stout stick against the x-husband’s sword.  Seibei wins the duel by knocking out the x-husband.

 

As a result of the duel, the men at work have a new respect for Seibei, and Tomoe gives him a letter to thank him.  She starts coming to his home to clean and help care of his daughters. Feelings blossom between them.  Tomoe’s brother asks Seibei if he would like to marry her, but Tomoe is from a higher social status and Seibei doesn’t want her to live in poverty because he saw how hard it was for his first wife. 

 More complications arise when Seibei is forced by his clan to try to kill a Samurai who has refused to commit seppuku. Seibei doesn’t want to fight him, because he wants to provide for his family and not risk being killed. Moreover he has become a quiet family man and no longer has the sprit of a warrior. Yet he is an honorable man and must do as the clan orders.  Much depth was brought to this action sequence, which plays out in unexpected ways.

 One of the things that struck me about the movie is how Seibei was able to accept his life of poverty and even find happiness in it because of his love of his daughters.  He always acts with grace and integrity despite his hard life. 

 After watching the movie I researched it and discovered in 2003 the movie swept the Japanese Academy Awards by winning in twelve categories including best picture, best director, best actor and best actress.  My own feeling that is was an exceptional film was confirmed. 

 I highly recommend this movie.  The photography is remarkable, the story is captivating, and acting fabulous.  I also liked the historical aspect of it.  The costumes, buildings, and settings are authentic and the story gives the viewer a glimpse into that time period and culture.

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ASTRAL CITY A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY – Movie Review

By | Movie reveiew, Past lives | No Comments

Recently I watched an extraordinary movie called ASTRAL CITY A SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.  It is a Brazilian film based on the best selling book NOSSO LAR (“our home” in English) by the medium and psychic Chico Xavier.

The story is about Andre Luiz, a doctor, who dies suddenly to find himself in purgatory, a world of horrible suffering and pain.  He begs for help and is rescued and delivered to the spiritual Astral City where he begins a journey of self-discovery and transformation. He comes to realize that he could have lived a better life on earth as he learns about the afterlife, love and peace.

Andre is worried about his family on Earth and wants to visit them. Before he’s able to he has to learn certain lessons, so he starts to work in the astral hospital to assist with people who died violently.  He gradually learns the laws that surround death and that everyone gets reborn into the physical world.

Part of the enjoyment of the film is the stunning photography and seeing the astral world come alive. Chico Xavier said the story was authored by a spiritual entity  who used his body to write the book.  Perhaps this is why the visions of the astral world are so detailed.

Chico Xavier is a well known medium in Brazil.  He wrote 412 books by psychography.  There was a Brazilian movie made about his life In 2010, a entitled Chico Xavier, directed by Daniel Filho.

Here is a movie trailer of Astral City:

Here is a movie trailer of Chio Xavier.

chio xavier movie trailer in English

You can also read the book on line for free.

http://www.geae.inf.br/en/books/ac/

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