After having stayed up until 1:30am with class in the morning, I decided to do this review. This film touched me deeply, as it directly reminded me of my own experience in school, and renewed in me an interest in poetry, which I’ve written from a young age.
Robin Williams plays John Keating, an English teacher with unorthodox teaching methods in a conservative boarding school, inspiring in his students a love for the world of poetry, challenging them to seize the day in spite of their otherwise bleak and at times, adverse environment. Several members of the class reform an old society, the Dead Poet’s Society, at which they read each other poems out loud to each other in a old cave off the school grounds after curfew and at risk of expulsion. Each member gradually proceeds towards embracing life to its fullest through their love for words, encouraged by Keating in one of the most memorable and life-affirming films of modern times. Idealistic, yes, romantic, yes, but certainly nothing ordinary. Carpe Diem.
Being a fan of Joseph Campbell and having read ‘Hero With A Thousand Faces’ last year when it was recommended to me by an anthropologist friend of mine, I was excited and intrigued by this film upon discovering it as Campbell has always struck me as a scholar who could explain mythology and ancient cultures in a way which stood in stark contrast to the often vague and shallow interpretations offered by various posts of the new age movement. Also, he’s not magoo in any sense. First off, this film does not in any way touch upon the vast well of Campbell’s life, it only examines the mythological underpinnings of his work, more or less summarising his theory of the monomyth. It gives straight-forward pointers on how to live life more in tune with ancient stories which embody themes common to everyone, taking life story examples with unexpected (but welcome) cameos by pro-skater Tony Hawk and Mick Fleetwood, the founder of Fleetwood Mac.
One of the most profound pieces of advice I gathered from the film was to choose a myth to live by, or in other words, to choose an archetype, god or character from history to incarnate and express itself through you, echoing the idea that we can only live up to our full potential by embodying myths, an interesting meta-program of sorts. I decided to choose Thaelia, Greek muse of music, song, dance and comedy as an experiment, starting today.
Above is pictured the monomyth, the pattern of cyclic stages which every hero passes through on his/her individual quest, themes which are repeated in movies, books, and our lives. It is divided into three stages, ‘Separation’, ‘Initiation’, and ‘Return’. Think of, in the original Star Wars, Luke’s separation from his family after they are slaughtered, his initiation to become a jedi warrior and his subsequent return, in ‘Return of the Jedi’. This is a familiar pattern in the sojourns of many hero stories. Happy watching.
As a part of our Robin Williams week we feature “Patch Adams”, a comedy-drama based on a true story and individuals, about a Medical student who realises that medicine as it stands is not concerned with the individual as and individual, but the individual as a machine to be related to without love and care. From this he elaborates his own method of care.
Although tragic at parts, “Patch Adams” is a funny and lovable movie which has been treated kindly by the last 15 years. It’s based on a real life actual Doctor, which adds to the feeling of excitement as you’re aware that, dramatization aside, you’re watching a transformation that has actually happened, and one that has happened many times in these professions.
Comedy: 6 Drama: 4 Existential: 5When I review and showcase a movie I will give you an idea of what you might find in the movie without giving away the plot by this rating system above. Sometimes we want to unwind with a movie and we’d like to be sure the one we pick suits our mood – happy watching!
As part of our Robin Williams week we feature the 1990 movie “Awakenings” co-starring Robert Deniro. Based on a true story “Awakenings” shows Williams as a doctor, unaccustomed to dealing with actual people, hired to care for a ward of catatonic victims of a 1930′s epidemic. Through a fresh perspective and his knowledge of neurology Williams’ character brings them out of their condition.
Both of our stars in this film play their roles very well, not over-stretching them to give a false impression or blow the cover of this very easily-digested story. I didn’t feel like my emotions were being throttled or the story was being presented as something it wasn’t. In an unpretentious way it dealt with love affair, being a rebel, and issues around self-determination. It hasn’t aged gracefully, but is still very much pertinent and worth the watch.
Comedy: 3 Drama: 8 Existential: 7When I review and showcase a movie I will give you an idea of what you might find in the movie without giving away the plot by this rating system above. Sometimes we want to unwind with a movie and we’d like to be sure the one we pick suits our mood – happy watching!
Directed by Gus Van Sant and starring Matt Daimon and Ben Affleck, the duo who also wrote the script, Good Will Hunting is one of my favorite movies, and is similar in vein to A Beautiful Mind, with the story following a 20 year old South Boston laborer called Will Hunting who is, unknown to those around him, a mathematical genius.
Will Hunting works as the janitor at MIT, one of the most prestigious institutes of technology in the US, spending his weekends socialising with his working-class friends. One evening, field-medal winning mathematician Professor Gerald Lambeau posts an algebraic graph theory question on a board in the hall, stating that whomever answers it will earn appearance in the official MIT magazine. Will answers it quickly during his work hours after lectures finish, yet chooses to remain anonymous about winning the competition. Soon after, Lambeau posts another problem. He catches Will in the midst of solving it, but Will runs away even after correctly interpreting and answering it. Soon thereafter, Will is incarcerated for assaulting a childhood acquaintance by whom he was previously abused. To save him from jail time, Lambeau makes it a condition that Will study advanced mathematics with him and calls on Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) to provide psychological counseling. From here, Sean Maguire gradually and with difficulty unfolds the many complex dimensions forming Will’s past and astounding intellect.
My favorite part of this film is the manner in which friendship is analyzed. Will is at a crossroads, where he may possibly reach his full potential by acknowledging his almost inhuman gifts, or stagnate by refusing to move on from those he knows and his familiar hometown. It also makes a clear distinction between ‘intelligence’ and ‘genius’, with genius being the combination of both a remarkable intellect and unforeseen originality. Some characters Will encounters, including professors and students, could be considered intelligent, but only in the sense that they are knowledgeable of topics which are already known in parts of the public sphere. All in all, a fantastic film, and one which draws you deep in Will Hunting’s world right up until the end.
Notably, Elliot Smith has 4 tracks which appear throughout the film, which was a massive bonus since I’m a huge fan.
The story of the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) as he was discovered in an outer province of Tibet and brought up in the midst of the slowly developing Chinese invasion. A beautiful film depicting the ways and attitudes of Tibetan Buddhism.
Neither of us care very much for the current Dalai Lama, and in fact think he should be held accountable to some things. Usually that means we’d throw a movie out, but not in this case. It still earns a place as a Movie of the Week (no matter how minor that position is). Beautiful imagery, music, chanting, honesty and attitude makes this movie worth the while.
Comedy: 2 Drama: 8 Existential: 1When I review and showcase a movie I will give you an idea of what you might find in the movie without giving away the plot by this rating system above. Sometimes we want to unwind with a movie and we’d like to be sure the one we pick suits our mood – happy watching!
A second-generation Indian immigrant who grew up in New York decides to assume the identity of a Guru and bring his wacky made-up Yoga and spiritual wisdom to Arizona in the hopes of better understanding why people choose to follow Gurus and to impart an important lesson on those who follow him.
Kumaré is my favourite Guru ever. And this is the most ingenious documentary I’ve ever watched. Armed with a Hindu background via his family, years in college studying theology, and having already made a documentary about Gurus and Yoga in India, Vikram Gandhi sets out to prove that anyone can successfully pose as a Guru and that everyone has the seed of Divinity within them and are perfectly capable of being happy. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh some more, and then you’ll have an “aha!” moment. 11/10 rating from me. Watch this now!
Comedy: 3 Drama: 6 Existential: 8When I review and showcase a movie I will give you an idea of what you might find in the movie without giving away the plot by this rating system above. Sometimes we want to unwind with a movie and we’d like to be sure the one we pick suits our mood – happy watching!
Philadelphia is a 1993 American drama film, written by Ron Nyswaner, directed by Jonathan Demme and stars Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. It was the first mainstream hollywood film to acknowledge the HIV/AIDS phenomena occurring amongst homosexual men and is therefore a landmark piece of art, which stars Antonio Banderas, Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington.
The film’s plot revolves around Andrew Beckett, who works for a successful law firm and his partner Miguel Alvarez (Antonio Banderas). From the beginning, Beckett’s condition is unbeknownst to him, his family and lover, and he prides himself upon his success in the law firm for which he is working and his rapport with its senior members. However, as the film progresses and symptoms of AIDS begin to show in Beckett, which he attempts to hide from co-workers, our protagonist is fired from the firm . Thereafter Beckett enlists the help of the reluctant Joe Miller (Denzel Washington), a personal injury lawyer who is apprehensive of homosexuals, if not outright homophobic in order to summon his ex-employers to court for discrimination.
The film is a beautiful description of the reconciliation which can occur between the homophobic and the gay community through shared experience and a passionate, daring critique of discrimination in the workplace due to sexual orientation – in short, one which I highly recommend.
Game of Thrones fans will not want to miss The Black Death, which stars Sean Bean, who plays Eddard Stark in the HBO series. The film is set in 1348 in medieval England, which is being ravaged by the plague. Osmond, a young novice monk, has secretly fallen in love with a young girl named Averill. Believing it no longer safe for her to remain near the monastery, he sends her home. He longs to join her, but feels conflicted because of his vows. Soon after Osmund prays for a sign for guidance, Ulric, a knight (played by Sean Bean) and a group of soldiers enters the monastery, looking for a guide to a village not far from where the place where Averill was to wait for him. The remote marshland village which they seek has been suspiciously untouched by the plague, and they believe that there is necromancy and witchcraft involved. Interpreting Ulric’s request as a sign, Osmund agrees to act as their guide.
The Black Death is a disturbing thought-provoking film that explores the conflict between Christianity and the more ancient traditions that preceded it, the relationship between fear and faith, the nature of people’s belief in “miracles” and supernatural events, and the corruption of idealism and innocence.
The Black Death unflinchingly depicts the cruelty, violence and suffering of the period, and some parts of the film are rather gory. However, none of the gore is gratuitous. I personally have a soft spot for films that depict active resistance and opposition to Christianity, and which dramatize those who fought back against the persecution of those who were deemed to be “heretics” and “witches”. The Black Death is a complex multi-layered film that will raise many questions in the minds of its viewers, and shouldn’t be missed.
Comedy: 0 Drama: 7 Existential: 5When I review and showcase a movie I will give you an idea of what you might find in the movie without giving away the plot by this rating system above. Sometimes we want to unwind with a movie and we’d like to be sure the one we pick suits our mood – happy watching!
A lot of people were disappointed by this surreal and only slightly funny movie that dissects the marketing mentality and explores the potential spiritual implications of becoming “branded”. Sure “Branded” isn’t life-changing, full of explosions, and highly dramatised scenes, but you’d have to have no life to expect such things from every movie. This one has a special message and involves quite a bit of Russian humour (which might explain why most thought it dry).
Our hero protagonist is a self-made marketing tycoon who finds himself being used by forces both secretive and unseen to unleash an ungodly horror upon the people of Post-Communist Russia and then the world.
When I review and showcase a movie I will give you an idea of what you might find in the movie without giving away the plot by this rating system above. Sometimes we want to unwind with a movie and we’d like to be sure the one we pick suits our mood – happy watching!