“Let me tell you why you are here. You are here because you know something. What you know, you cannot explain. But you feel it. You have felt it all your life. That there is something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it is there. Like a splinter in your mind, driving you crazy. ” -Morpheus, the womb
This is not a list of movie reviews and it is not complete. These are just a few notes on some movies that I think are helpful in waking up and why, or not, and why not. With understanding tools, the bad is often better than the good.
The main themes represented on this list appear to be these:
– Captive / Captor
– Teacher – student
– Nature of the self / man
– Death / rebirth
– Cataclysm / Epiphany
– Distrust of mind / memories
The only thing I could advise with regard to movies and books is that you elevate the material to the level where it is valuable to you. Orwell could have been writing an anti-communist manifesto, but Nineteen Eighty-Four is much more interesting seen as the struggle between man and his confinement. Apocalypse Now is about more than Vietnam, how to get ahead in advertising is about more than rampant commercialism, etc.
::: American Beauty
“I feel like I’ve been in a coma for the past
twenty years. And now I’m waking up. “
I have included American Beauty mainly because of what is wrong with it. Lester’s major death / rebirth transition shows promise, but what is he transitioning to? Backwards to teen shit, not forward in any sense. A regression based on fear. Stupid car, stupid drugs, stupid vanity, stupid skirt chase. Not at all redeemed when Lester sees his own insanity near the end or by the voice-over of a corny / flattering dead guy.
The film is slightly redeemed by the presence of the near-mystical neighbor boy and his video of a bag blown by the wind:
“That was the day I realized there was a lifetime behind things, and this incredibly benevolent force that wanted me to know that there was no reason to be afraid, ever.”
::: Apocalypse now
“In a war there are many times for compassion and tender action. There are many times for ruthless action, which is often called ruthless, which in many circumstances can be just clarity, clearly seeing what needs to be done and doing it. straight up, fast, awake, looking at it. “
You’d think Apocalypse Now Redux, the director’s cut, would be the version to watch, but all the things that were properly cut from the original have been incorrectly replaced. (Raising the interesting point that directors and authors often do not understand the higher applications of the stories they are telling.) Stick with the original in both Redux and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Apocalypse Now is all about horror. A journey of discovery, to the heart of darkness, reaching this horror. What is horror? How do you get there? Why would someone take such a trip? Should you take that trip? Why or why not?
Consider the powerful epiphanies that drive the movie. The letter from the first murderer home, (“Sell the house, sell the car, sell the kids …”), Dennis Hopper’s youthful exuberance, Kurtz’s diamond bullet, Willard’s “… Ya I wasn’t even in their army. “
::: Being there
“Spring, summer, fall, winter … then spring again.”
A beautiful movie ruined by a stupid trick of walking on water added to the end. Without that nonsense, the viewer would be free to think, decide, wonder. Instead, the movie closes with its clever little goofy twist. Hit the stop button when Chauncey is straightening the sapling, before the ruinous denouement, and it’s a fun and charming movie.
::: Bounty hunter
“I have seen things you would not believe. Attack burning ships from Orion’s shoulder. I have seen the C-beams glow in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die “.
Were you born five minutes ago? Of course not, and you have the memory to prove it. You would know if they were artificial implants, because, uh …
“I couldn’t even kill myself the way that
wanted. He had no power over anything. “
If a man screams on a desert island and no one is listening, does he make a sound? Is it enough that he hears it himself? If not? What is left when you take everything off?
This movie raises many intriguing questions about the substance of the self, or the lack of it, and includes some very Zen praise.
::: Society of Dead Poets
::: Harold and Maude
“Vice, virtue. It is better not to be
too moral … Aim above morality. “
American Zen, teacher and disciple.
“For years I was smart … I recommend nice.”
Elwood P. Dowd, wise man. A sweet description of a higher order being misinterpreted as a lower order of beings. Would we recognize the Higher Man when we saw him?
::: How to advance in advertising
“Everything I do now makes perfect sense.”
A frustrated bet for freedom. A failed attempt to overthrow Maya. Enjoy the madness of the epiphany.
::: Joe vs the volcano
“Nobody knows anything, Joe. We will take this leap and
we’ll see. We will jump in and see. That’s life, right? “
Death and rebirth. Unlike American Beauty, it’s about moving forward, “away from the stuff of man.”
::: Man looking southeast (Man Looking Southeast)
Pay special attention to the visual poem of a man collapsing a human brain in a sink while searching for the soul.
“Like everyone else, you were born in captivity, you were born into a prison that you cannot smell, taste or touch. A prison for your mind.”
Plato’s cave for the people. As allegorically lucid as Joe vs. Vocano, Pleasantville, and Star Wars.
::: The Life of Brian from Monty Python
“No, no! It is a sign that, like Him, we should think not
of the things of the body, but of the face and the head! “
Sacred Cow-tipping at its best.
“Meaning of life” also belongs to this list.
“If you want a glimpse of the future, Winston,
imagine a boot stamping a human face, forever. “
This movie is unique in that it is as good as the book, which is an extremely intimate portrait of the captor / captive relationship, Maya / man. Compare this to Moby-Dick or One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which are excellent books but useless movies.
::: One flew over the cuckoo’s nest
As with Moby-Dick, Hollywood castrated the book. They stripped it of its archetypal dimensions and reduced it to a pointless fight between McMurphy and Nurse Ratched. Great entertainment, but for meaningful information, read the book.
“There are some places where the road does not follow a circle. There are some places where it follows its path.”
A joyous story of heresy in which no one is burned at the stake and the new paradigm is finally accepted by all.
::: Razor’s edge
“The dead seem terribly dead.”
The razor’s edge is what makes it interesting; Seeing Larry balancing shakily on the fine line between what he was and what he’s becoming. Walk the boundary between two lives. Bill Murray’s version is a bit out of focus … stick with Tyrone Power or read the book.
Maugham allegedly used Ramana Maharshi as a model for the holy man in the novel.
::: Star Wars
“The force will be with you, always.”
The first, where Lucas makes the transition from flesh to spirit.
The hero’s journey.
::: The thin red line
“Perhaps all men have a great soul
a part of, all faces are the same man. “
A sublime investigation into the spiritual nature of man. More of a sad / sweet song than a narrative movie.
::: The thirteenth floor
“So what are you saying? Are you saying
that there is another world above this? “
Layer after layer. Turtles on top of turtles.
::: Vanilla Sky / Open Your Eyes
“Open your eyes.”
If you like Vanilla Sky, check out the original, the Spanish movie Abre Los Ojos. These two films may be the best of the bunch for our purposes; the closest thing to an allegory of enlightenment.
Of course, the interesting thing about lighting is getting there, not being there, and that’s what these films are about; wake up from a false reality, open your eyes. It is not so much about what is real as what is not.
It is the story of the journey one takes to get to the place where anything, even jumping off a tall building, would be better than continuing to live a lie, even a beautiful and happy lie.
Be aware of the presence of the true guru, explaining in clear terms why jumping off the building is the best thing to do and waiting patiently for it to be done.
::: Life awake
“They say dreams are only real while
they last. Couldn’t you say the same about life? “
Wide-ranging philosophical research. Provocative. Fun. Potentially disruptive.
::: Wings of Desire
“When the child was a child, it was time for these questions: Why am I and why not you? Why am I here and why not there? When did time begin and where does space end?”
A charming, intelligent and thought-provoking film. Can the awakened being return to the dream state? Would he want to?
Some other movies that reward thoughtful viewing are The Wizard of Oz, About Schmidt, What Dreams May Come, Total Recall, All the Mornings Of the World, and of course many more.