Movie Review

José reviews the films listed below according to an alternative set of perceptions allowing you to gain new insight and perspective unique from traditional critiques. He evaluates story lines according to how well they illustrate karmic lessons and agreements.The evaluations explore the activities of the characters having varied maturity levels: infant, toddler, child, mature, and old souls. This sheds light on the manner in which they interact with each other. He analyzes the personality traits of the characters according to the systematic knowledge integral to the Power Path Seminars training models. Occasionally he will point out the difference between the personality traits of the actor playing the part and the character they are portraying and comment on whether or not they were able to successfully fill the role or whether they were cast for the part correctly. When appropriate, he includes notations on how a particular film manifests the larger themes that society and the world cultures are trying to deal with as a whole.

In some cases the films are poorly crafted but do such a good job revealing a particular character type, soul age or life lesson that we recommend watching it just for that reason. In other instances we emphasize when a film has great talent, interesting cinematography and a fantastic musical score, but the screenplay violates all the rules of character consistency.

Glossary of Character Trait or Concept Terms

Five Stages of Perception Characterizing a Person
Infant: survival-oriented
Toddler: baby soul; rule-oriented
Child: young soul; success-oriented
Mature: adolescent; relationship-oriented
Old: adult; philosophically-oriented
Seven Main Types of People
Artisan: the artist—creative, inventive
Sage: the storyteller—humorous, talkative, dramatic
Server: the servant—nurturing, helpful
Priest: the missionary—preacher type person
Warrior: the soldier—active, productive, secures and guards
King: the chief—natural born leader with big vision and impact
Scholar: the scientist—studious, neutral, diplomatic, great curiosity
Karmic Lesson
This is an archetypal experience where a person learns the consequences of their actions over the long term. One can't escape from it—otherwise known as "learning the hard way".

Agreement

A powerful contract that people make with each other in order to have life experiences where they help each other out.

Internal Monad
There are seven of these and they refer to the main life transition points where the greatest lessons are learned. The fourth one is theone most commonly depicted in films and refers to midlife crisis.

Essence Twin
A special long term relationship between two people that brings them together over and over.

Task Companion
A relationship between people who are dedicated to supporting the life work of the other.

Life Task

Each person's life mission or contribution that they have talent for and that they feel compelled to do even at considerable sacrifice.

 

Movie Reviews 2008

Iron Man

Good mindless entertainment and special effects. Essentially this is a young soul presentation of a mature soul idea.  After being kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan Robert Downey Jr. who plays megabrainiac Tony Stark of Stark enterprises has a change of heart and decides that there are better things to do than making highly effective weapons. So he creates an ironman that can battle evil by effectively killing everyone around. That is where the philosophy just doesn’t add up to mature values. He is supposed to be a mature soul but clearly is not. He is still basically still a young soul killer according to the script. Also of interest is his task companion relationship with Gwenyth Paltrow’s character playing his assistant. However what is also interesting and noteworthy is the focus on the heart in this film. Essentially Tony Stark has this high tech lit up battery for a heart that can also power his ironman gear. The bad guys including Jeff Bridges are all comic book evil and get their’s in the end.

Frozen River

This superbly acted independent film is both riveting and extraordinarily realistic. Mellissa Chessington Leo and Misty Upham are extraordinary as two impoverished warrior women with a karmic agreement, one white and one Native American, who partner up to smuggle illegal immigrants. Karma guides their actions as they get deeper into edgy territory while trying to escape from destitution. Both are young souls but old enough to recognize right action when they are confronted with the worst-case scenario. Both have the opportunity to wake up a little bit as a result of their situation.

Happy Go Lucky

Based on the first fifteen minutes of this film I thought it would be a bore but then it unfolded into a very insightful and fascinating story about an idealistic Sage in acceptance, a relationship oriented and emotionally centered woman becoming educated through various experiences bringing her face to face with more difficult aspects of life. Most critics don’t actually understand what is going on in this film and think it is a comedy about an optimist but this actually isn’t it. The film is not afraid to go deep into wounded characters, social misfits struggling to adjust to urban life. Yet it does manage to deal with heavy subjects with surprising humor. Sally Hawkins was nominated for an academy award for her performance.

Vitus

I liked this rather slow moving foreign film for its quirky theme about a child genius, an artisan struggling with a success oriented mother, overly identified with his musical talent. Sub-themes are his desire to help his artisan (relationship oriented) inventor father, his romantic fixation on his babysitter, and his old soul grandfather who understands him and imprints him to think freely, broadly, and creatively. The film itself is a bit long but is creative, unpredictable, and has a fun inspired ending.

Rachel Getting Married

This film is superbly acted, phenomenally edited, and manages to capture the million nuances of a dysfunctional but creative family around the wedding of one of two daughters. So natural is the acting and so spot on is Anne Hathaway’s performance as drug addict in rehab trying to use the wedding to heal from her past, that the film will probably be used for training counselors much as Ordinary People was used to teach family therapists.

Anne Hathaway plays a furloughed, narcissistic, wounded and angry drug addict, a relationship oriented warrior who competes with her sister for her overwhelmed and enabling father’s attention. Rosemarie DeWitt plays Rachel, marrying a stable solid older soul to get away from the instability of her family. Both girls struggle to connect with their mom, superbly played by Debra Winger, a remote, uninvolved success oriented woman who is unable to connect with either one of them. The heaviness of the story is lightened by the many real characters and the unusual and excellently captured wedding sequence. At the end it’s hard to know if you’ve been slimed or healed, probably both.

Slumdog Millionaire

This is truly an outstanding brilliant film, weaving an intense tale of three urchins growing up in the slums of Mumbai and one of those urchins who has grown up and managed to get on the Indian version of “Who wants to be a Millionaire.” The film creatively tells the tale of how the boy from the slums came upon the answers to the game show. While the story line is pure Bollywood, it is extraordinary in that it entertains, educates, and deals effectively with some very graphic and serious themes at the same time.

Jamal is the caring, relationship oriented, younger server brother who survives the streets with his success oriented warrior brother. They are accompanied by an artisan girl who becomes the object of Jamal’s affection. His brother follows the path of greed and vengeance but when pressed fulfills his karmic agreements with his brother. Clearly they are a karmic trio who have agreements to help each other out in some very difficult circumstances while staying true to their personality structures.

Australia

This is not what I would call a great movie but I liked it for its shamanic background theme. The aboriginal elder sings the songlines of the land to help the main characters find water in the desert and get out of trouble in other ways throughout the story. He stresses the importance of having a personal song and teaches this to his grandson who in his own way collects and applies songs to his own toolbox of power. This is accurate shamanism. Mostly the film is just entertaining, a bit silly in some places, with a sweeping story and magnificent vistas of Australia.

The Other Boleyn Girl

Although it did not get great reviews, I enjoyed this film about Henry VIII and the little known events involving the whole Boleyn family. Anne, played very well by Natalie Portman, is clearly depicted as an ambitious young success oriented soul from a young soul family and her sister played by Scarlett Johansson is depicted as a mature relationship oriented soul who ends up with the better deal in the end. Henry clearly met his match in dealing with the highly manipulative Anne but in the end he had the power to destroy her, which he did. It is interesting to watch Anne begin to lose her composure as her plot to reach the heights slowly unravels in the face of uncontrollable events. Her anxiety is palpable and there were no antidepressants or tranquilizers at that time to handle the problem. Anne represents the negative aspects of the light feminine and her sister represents the positive aspect of it while Henry portrays the negative pole of the light masculine. When they are unaccompanied by the wise dark masculine or dark feminine all hell breaks loose.

Religulous

Bill Maher risks life and limb to take on various religious teachers, mostly in the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions. His documentary mocks the obvious lunacy of these different traditions and uncovers hypocrisy and irrationality right and left making for a humorous expose of some of the most apparent contradictions. He takes a legitimate stance as an agnostic who does not know what the truth is. However, like many irreverent comics throughout history, he is as unreasonable as the people he is interviewing. He is too concrete in his approach revealing an almost child like quality of trying to understand but not getting it. For example he makes no distinction between mysticism and fundamentalism, or spirituality and hard-core religion, and he does not touch the Buddhists or the Hindus, two of the biggest world religions. If he did he would have to take on the common findings of quantum physics and the Hindu Vedas and more. So he plays it safe by poking fun at the worst offenders and the effect is quite funny at times. His use of subtitles to paraphrase what people are really saying is funny but in fact is unfair because they were placed after the interviews, not giving a chance for the interviewees to defend themselves from looking like fools. Some of them are fools who deserve this treatment and some do not.

Love in the Time of Cholera

This film, based on Gabriel Marquez famous book, received rather poor reviews from American critics but in many ways it is because they failed to understand the symbolism of the story. Javier Bardem (old artisan) is superb as usual in the role of Florentino, an old soul young artisan living in Columbia. He falls in love with Fermina, a beautiful mature soul whose father arranges for her to marry a successful doctor. Florentino carries a torch for her his whole life but in the meantime beds hundreds of women to distract himself from his obsession with her. This is a classic case of a man who falls in love with his projected anima, the eternal feminine principal that he is trying to integrate and come to terms with. His object of interest, Fermina, serves his purpose by being just out of reach. She is also an important past life friend who has agreed to play his muse while meeting her karmic obligations to her husband. The story has all the humor and grief of real life in a larger than life portrayal.

Charlie Wilson’s War

This is the true story of how a mature soul sage congressman, a young soul warrior CIA agent, and a young soul warrior socialite, acted together to spearhead the most successful and disturbing covert operation in United States history. They joined forces to fund the Afghans efforts to overthrow the Russians during their occupation of Afghanistan during the cold war. The three of them all had past lives in Afghanistan and had an agreement with one another to work together to help the Afghans fight for their freedom. While this is an entertaining and well-acted film with Tom Hanks (mature sage), Julia Roberts (mature artisan) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (mature artisan) the story is has deeply disturbing aspects. It demonstrates the ability of a few individuals to legally use huge amounts of taxpayers’ money for their own agenda without the permission and approval of the American people. While the film seems to be a feel good righteous story it actually shows the idiocy of lack of diplomacy, the hidden agendas that kept the cold war going, and the avarice of arms dealers on the world stage. This entire sorry and destructive event need not have happened at all if real leadership had been displayed by the administrations of all countries involved. Also disturbing are the easy going remarks about killing Russians as if they were non-humans. As long as any nation talks blithely about killing people as a solution to problems, there will be more wars, perhaps more Charlie Wilson’s Wars.

The Duchess

For those who like a lot of action you will find this film slow. If you like character development in a period piece then this film is for you. Keira Knightly, a mature artisan, shines as the Duchess of Devonshire, a young upwardly mobile artisan, emotionally centered, who marries for position and suffers the consequences. As a young woman she enters an arranged marriage with the Duke of Devonshire, excellently played by Ralph Fiennes, also a mature artisan. The Duke is a young soul in discrimination who simply is unable to relate, has no compassion and has no communication skills whatever. The relationship is obviously karmic and quickly devolves into a triangulation with another woman. This is complicated further when the Duchess seeks a love affair with John Grey, who eventually became the prime minister of England. There is manipulation, passion, hatred, jealousy, betrayal, resignation and almost everything you can imagine in this challenging drama of people trapped by their positions and their needs. The false personality again reigns supreme in creating such agony but lessons are learned and despite everything love shines through.

Beowolf

There is a reason that this powerful Nordic saga has stood the test of time and remains an archetypal gritty epic of heroism, arrogance, seduction and tragedy. The story really involves the relationship between the light masculine hero and the dark feminine demon that seduces him, turning him from the positive pole of the idealistic hero to the negative one, which is greed and arrogance. No matter how powerful the hero, he is no match for the negative dark feminine, who when unleashed on the world leaves utter destruction. This is a warning tale, highly disguised by symbolism. It says, develop your own dark feminine power in a healthy way or it will destroy you in the end. The ultra masculine will not prevail unless it becomes balanced by the feminine as represented by the queen. Not only is this a powerful tale but its film execution is magnificent. Warning: It is very violent but then that is the nature of the negative dark feminine and it is presented in realistic cartoon form. Think Kali here, the destructive Hindu goddess.

Lars and the Real Girl

Some people may not like this strange film about a delusional young man who has a relationship with a life size plastic doll. However if you have an interest in psychology, this is an insightful, well-acted and well-written screenplay revealing several themes. First it is the story of a mature scholar who has been traumatized by his mother’s death during his birth. He has become extremely withdrawn until he develops a fantasy relationship with full size doll originally manufactured for sexual gratification. Through his very public relationship with the doll he learns to love, to reach out to others, to interact socially and to play out his original trauma, eventually reproducing and reliving his mothers death through the doll and freeing himself from the trauma. The second theme is the way his family and the entire town conspire to help him heal by going along with his fantasy. I thought the film was heartfelt and revealed the best about human beings.

Burn After Reading

This Cohen brother’s film is a well-deserved spoof on young soul American society. Everyone is dysfunctional, cheating on everyone else, suspicious, lacking in integrity and greedy in some way. The result, of course, is naturally self-destruction. Internet dating, the CIA, cosmetic surgery, the obsession with gyms and working out are all up for ridicule. On the other hand the cast is great and the script hilarious but a little too violent at times for my taste. John Malkovich, goal of discrimination with cynic attitude, steals the show with his performance as a dysfunctional angry intellectually centered CIA agent in discrimination with a cynic attitude. Brad Pitt is amazing as a moving centered young soul airhead. Frances McDormand is excellent as a young warrior in dominance and greed and George Clooney plays a young sage who never shuts up. Tilda Swinton plays an uptight conniver in discrimination. What a good ensemble cast.

The Dark Knight

No wonder the Dark Knight is such a phenomenon at the box office. It is a perfect tale for the turbulent times we are living in. The story is of course archetypal and symbolic so it appeals to the subconscious. The Dragon for these times is Self Destruction, a result of the inability to find meaning in life. The joker is a natural to represent the self-destructiveness of false personality (translates to destructive to others as well). As a child his father brutalized him senselessly and this resulted in doing to others what was done to him. Truly nothing has meaning for him, which is why he can burn a giant pile of money that the greedy ones so highly valued. He values nothing and so he is extremely dangerous and that terrifies people. As a representative of the destructive aspects of the ego he goes to work on the DA, a man trying to follow the righteous path, and he succeeds in seducing him to the dark side. The DA becomes self-destructive himself. Of course there is Batman trying to right the wrongs but basically Batman becomes a thug breaking necks and dispatching people right and left. He is truly a flawed hero like we all are in our lives. So here are all the main ingredients of our lives. Our Essence wants to follow the path of spirit but the ego seduces us away and tries to get us to despair and become negative and isolated. When this happens we attack instead of having compassion.

Vicky Christina Barcelona

This Woody Allen film is great and I would highly recommend it. It is based on the old classic Jules and Jim and stars Javier Bardem. Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz, and Rebecca Hall (all mature artisans). Rebecca Hall plays a mature soul, intellectually centered scholar, straight, studious, and up tight about to be married to a dull young soul American. Scarlett plays an emotionally centered, mature artisan, sexually adventurous and clear about what she does not want but unclear on what she does want. Javier plays an old soul artisan who doesn’t believe in beating around the bush. He is married to Penelope Cruz character who is an aggression mode, mid-cycle mature artisan, angry and crazy. Both American women get involved with Javier’s character and reveal their character structures through their adventures. Although highly entertaining, the film is brilliant in its depiction of the various characters and how they unfold. There is a wonderful scene where we see the emotionally centered Scarlett get stuck in her intellectual trap. We also see various sides of karma, agreements, and monads being played out.

In Mama Mia there are the classic themes that people can relate to: Loss of love, the memory of romance, rejection, fear of being hurt, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for clearing up a mystery, finding truth in self and in others, struggle to make a living, the fantasy of a sugar daddy coming along to set things right, mother daughter relationship, father daughter relationship, young love, resistance to marriage, desire for freedom and so on. There’s something for everyone here. Basically this is a movie full of sages having fun making a movie and the audience has fun with them as they play out the classic themes mentioned above. I recommend it.

Mama Mia

Ok, so Pierce Brosnan can’t sing worth a damn and the story is unbelievable. So what? Most people I have talked to loved this movie and I enjoyed it too. It is silly, fun, mostly lighthearted and funny, and it leaves people happy. Everyone in the theatre I went to applauded at the end and people left laughing and smiling. I didn’t see anyone doing that after “No Country for Old Men.” So what is going on here? People used to love musicals and then they fell out of favor in the States and were replaced by more grim fare because mature souls thought movies should deal with heavy issues and young souls liked violence and crime themes to excite them. But think about it, musicals didn’t go away, they just got short and were called music videos and young people watched them by the millions. Then something else happened. Bollywood surpassed Hollywood as the movie making capital of the world and Bollywood makes musicals. So reluctantly Hollywood looked at that and said, hmmm. They are making money with this corny stuff. Maybe it’s time to revisit the musical? Look for more musicals in the future.

In Mama Mia there are the classic themes that people can relate to: Loss of love, the memory of romance, rejection, fear of being hurt, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for clearing up a mystery, finding truth in self and in others, struggle to make a living, the fantasy of a sugar daddy coming along to set things right, mother daughter relationship, father daughter relationship, young love, resistance to marriage, desire for freedom and so on. There’s something for everyone here. Basically this is a movie full of sages having fun making a movie and the audience has fun with them as they play out the classic themes mentioned above. I recommend it.

Akeelah and the Bee

I thought this film would be just another spelling Bee movie, a theme that has been popular in the last couple of years, but this film is so heartfelt that it made me cry in several places. Yes, it is formulaic and predictable but the way it is done and presented makes it stand out and it is truly worth watching. Not only is it entertaining but it is inspirational as well. The film successfully gets across some very powerful ideas without being preachy, one being that what we are truly afraid of is not failure but being powerful.

The film also does an excellent job of portraying an older soul scholar (played fabulously by Keke Palmer) contending with a younger warrior mother and brother. Through her accomplishment she manages to bring together and heal an entire community. She is also instrumental in healing her tutor, a suffering mature sage played by Lawrence Fishbourne, with whom she has a task companion agreement to study with.

No Country for Old Men

A fabulously well made film, excellent acting, horrifying content. Cormac McCarthy, author of the book, is a scholar with a cynic attitude and thus he is able to portray exceptionally dark storylines in a brutally realistic way. The film, totally faithful to the book, offers no relief, no saving grace, no redemption. It is the story of a drug deal gone bad, a young warrior, played by Josh Brolin, who finds money amid the carnage, and whose life is ruined by his decision to take it. He is relentlessly pursued by an infant soul, played by Javier Bardem (mature artisan), a man without a conscience, who appears insane but is actually acting logically according to his own value system. It is an academy award winning portrayal of an infant soul. In a way Cormac and the Coen brothers have shown us where we have ended up as a society run entirely by the false personality, and perhaps that is a warning. On the other hand who needs to be brutalized by this horrific storyline? It will give you PTSD and disturb your dreams. Only see it if you are a film aficionado.

Michael Clayton


This is a powerful and well-acted film about corporate corruption and life gone out of control for those in a world where control is essential. Fitting with the theme of the times that untenable structures will fall apart left and right, Michael Clayton is all about a young soul world losing control. George Clooney (Old Sage) plays a character who is supposed to be in total control, a fixer for a prestigious law firm, called in when things go wrong but behind the scenes we see a man whose life is anything but in control. His life is falling apart. Tilda Swinton (Mature Artisan and excellent actor) plays another character (young warrior in dominance and greed) who is supposed to be in absolute control yet we watch her spinning quickly and desperately out of control as a deadly crisis builds. Tom Wilkinson (sage) is terrific as the brilliant lead defense counsel who has a manic episode and loses control of the case. Actually he experiences an essence breakthrough and can no longer justify what he has been doing. I felt this was the best film I have seen in a long time.

There Will Be Blood


There is no doubt that Daniel Day Lewis (mature artisan) is extraordinary as Daniel Plainview, a turn of the century silver miner turned oilman (young artisan in discrimination, a cynic with aggression mode and chief obstacle of greed and self-destruction, the theme for 2008). Daniel Plainview’s personality is about as difficult as you will ever find and it is almost inevitable that he follows the path to total self-destruction. Paul Dano (artisan) is superb as Eli, a fanatical baby soul zealous priest who spars and ultimately loses to Daniel Plainview’s ambition and hatred. The film does an excellent job of portraying the rise of oil in America, the greed, the betrayal, the plundering, and the corruption of the early days. One of the themes that the movie develops so well is the relationship between Plainview and his adopted son. Clearly Plainview is in need of intimacy and love but at the same time he finds the boy an advantage in his business deals. Ultimately, because of his goal of discrimination, he rejects his son and loses his last connection with humanity. This seals his demise.

While the film is outstanding as an American epic it is certainly depressing as it follows to its inevitable conclusion. The feel in the theatre at the end was like a funeral and it did not sit well with me. Here is an example of an outstanding film whose subject is so dark that it is leaves the audience in an equally dark place. I can’t say I recommend it for entertainment unless you are a true movie buff and want to see a well-crafted movie.

Juno

This is a sweet relationship oriented film about a sixteen year old girl, played by Ellen Page, a mature artisan, who become pregnant by fooling around with her artisan essence twin. She keeps a karmic agreement to carry the baby to term and then give it to a woman, Jennifer Garner, another mature artisan, who desires a baby but cannot have one. The film has the usual teenage angst but has a beautiful script filled with honesty and straightforwardness, a lot like people actually talk. There is no violence, only a lot of love. What is particularly refreshing is the parents whose characters, based on older souls, are supportive and loving and not assholes. This goes to show that a script can be successful even if it does not follow the usual formula of conflict, violence, vengeance, conflict, etc.

La Vie de Rose

This is an extraordinary film about the challenging life of Edith Piaf, relationship oriented sage, well known French singer during the thirties, forties, and fifties. Abandoned and abused as a child, Edith was helped by various people who had agreements to help her not only survive but develop her talents and become famous. Although she became a highly successful and acclaimed singer, because of the abuse she experienced as a child, she herself was abusive of others. In addition she developed the dragon of self destruction that caused her to drink too much and lose her health to severe arthritis at an early age. In addition she lost the love of her life to tragedy and this signaled the beginning of the end of her lofty career. The acting in this very moving and inspiring film is simply superb. The story illustrates the power of the life task, the destructiveness of the dragons, and the cooperation among her task companions to make her talents known.

Atonement

An excellent film overall, this is a sad story about karma and the ravages of guilt in a mature soul. A young girl, a relationship oriented sage, distorts what she sees into an accusation that then has horrific consequences for all involved. She herself then pays a terrible emotional price and even her attempt to resolve the karma is just another fantasy, something that does not actually repay it. Yet, in the end, she does appear to learn the lesson about the importance of telling the truth. The script, the acting, and the editing is outstanding except for a sequence on the beach of France, a kind of distraction from the main story.

Water

This is the third part in a 3-part series by Indian director Deepa Mehta about Mature soul themes in India. Water deals with the traditional plight of widows in India focusing specifically on a child bride of eight who is relegated to a corrupt ashram to spend the rest of her life among other cast off widows. The problem actually represents the much bigger phenomenon of the subjugation of women during the young soul reign of the planet these last several thousand years. Because a shift is now taking place the unacceptability of women’s status in many parts of the world will be coming to the fore.

The Golden Compass

This is the first movie in a 3-part series based on the books by Philip Pullman, a highly creative tale of the hero’s journey, a girl looking for freedom from the tyranny of organized mind control.
One could make a case for the warrior polar bears representing the struggle between the false personality and essence and essence being restored to the throne after having been exiled for a long time. Mrs. Coulter, excellently played by Nicole Kidman, also represents the false personality working with the forces of control. The Daemons represent shamanic allies. What is of particular interest is the young actress Dakota Richards who plays Lyra, the heroine. She is a king and therefore commands the screen, the perfect role for 2008, a king year. She is a powerhouse and practically carries the film by herself. Given the disappointing ticket sales, there is a question whether the two other films will be made. Unfortunately people have come to expect too much of films and the critics have been overly harsh with this thoroughly entertaining epic. Just a couple of years ago this film would have been considered fabulous.

Stardust

The film is an entertaining rendition of a fairytale about a young man Tristan, played by artisan Charlie
Cox, who must undertake the hero’s journey to a nearby land of magic in order to prove his value to the woman he is infatuated with. He starts out as the negative light masculine. On the way he matures, weans himself from the false personality, discovers true love and in the end his essence reigns supreme as the positive dark masculine. He is helped by a fallen star, played by Claire Danes (mature artisan), actually his own anima or feminine side, who shows him the way to truth. She is the light feminine, filled with star light just as our own essences are filled with light if we just raise our frequency enough. In the end she succeeds in assisting Tristan to do just that. The wicked king and his seven sons vying for the throne represent the various distractions of the ego and the witches are of course false personality itself. Michelle Pfieffer plays an absolutely fabulous wicked witch, the negative dark feminine. In the end the fallen star becomes the positive dark feminine. There are  many interesting side characters and subplots to flesh out the story. I would recommend this film for sheer entertainment value.

Sweeny Todd

If you can get past the extreme gore and the Gothic theme of a serial killer, Sweeny Todd is an excellent film with a powerhouse performance by Johnny Depp, mature artisan with an attitude of stocism. It should be noted here that stoic actors are often great because of their mysterious held back quality. Marlon Brando and Alec Guiness were both stoics.

The theme of Sweeny Todd has to do with revenge and the inevitable karma it brings to the table. Sweeny Todd is overtaken by false personality and its total focus on self-destruction. Clearly he is insane in a strangely focused way and attracts to himself a totally self-deceptive but oddly maternal woman who joins with him in his twisted obsession. The female lead is played by Helena Bonham Carter, a mature artisan who is great at playing the dark and the light sides of the female artisan.

The Namesake

The Namesake is a powerful film by East Indian director Mira Nair. It tells many stories but the main one is about a young man, a mature artisan of East Indian origins, born in New York City and trying to come to terms with his biculturalism and his name. Like so many of us, he comes to value his heritage only when he has tragically lost that which he has ignored and rebelled against. It is a story about family, alienation, reconnection, betrayal, and mostly unconditional love.

After the Wedding

This is an outstanding Danish film with a truly excellent screenplay and strong character development. Without giving away the secrets here is the basic storyline. A Danish man is helping to run an orphanage in India. They are in financial trouble and he is sent back to Denmark to follow a good prospect for raising a great deal of money. He meets a philanthropist who is considering funding him with millions of dollars and while he is there he is invited to the philanthropist’s daughters wedding. By attending this wedding the man’s entire life is turned upside down and he must make some very difficult decisions about his life. The philanthropist’s wife turns out to be an old flame and their daughter, well. I’ve told you just enough.  After the Wedding is well worth seeing with fabulous acting and a great plot.  It includes unfinished karma, agreements, betrayal, and redemption. There is nothing corny here.

Kadahk

A Mongolian film with much promise with a plot involving a shaman helping a young man to heal from epilepsy. This effort started out strong and then deteriorated to gobbledeegook. No matter. It will probably never show up in your neighborhood anyway. If it does, save your money.

However, as long as we are on the topic it should be noted that throughout history epileptics have often been chosen to become shamans. The reason for this is that people with epilepsy have a tremendous amount of power and energy at their disposal. Deep in their subconscious they are afraid of this energy and try to put a lid on it. The result is a seizure or fit. When they learn through shamanic training to allow their power to find a productive outlet they cease being epileptic and become powerful healers instead. This should put a new light on how you see epilepsy.

The Kite Runner

Based on the book by the same name, this film is an outstanding portrayal of a number of themes. It exposes the underbelly of the modern Afghan culture, expresses the plight of their civilization, and illustrates in an exceptionally powerful way the manipulative machinations of the false personality at work in relationships. Although much of its content is not pretty, the film manages to express the power of love and atonement for misdeeds done. There is great beauty and redemption in the midst of tragedy and ugliness. To get the full impact one must read the book because only so much could be included in the film.

Amir, a mature scholar, grows up in a privileged household in Kabul but does not feel accepted by his warrior father, a successful businessman. Like many scholars he withdraws in the face of conflict and is bullied. Hassan, his friend and son of the family servant, is an old soul server who would do anything for Amir. This attitude and tragic events cause Amir to feel so guilty that he projects his self loathing onto Hassan and their friendship is destroyed. Amir carries his guilt and shame to America where with his father he escapes the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Although he becomes a successful writer he is unable to shake the pain of his betrayal. Eventually he has the opportunity to atone for his karma, something he does at quite a price. I highly recommend this film.