Sunday, October 22, 2017
Thursday, October 19, 2017
I'm pleased to officially announce the release of my latest book, Third Real: Conscious Creation Goes Back to the Movies. This title picks up where its two predecessors left off, exploring the finer points of the conscious creation process (also known as the law of attraction) as illustrated through film. Third Real is available in a print version from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the CreateSpace eStore, with ebook versions coming soon from Amazon Kindle, Nook, iTunes and Kobo Books. In the meantime, to find out more, visit my web site's Third Real page, where you can get all the details, as well as a free downloadable PDF excerpt that includes the front and back matter and the first three chapters! Happy reading and, as always, enjoy the show that is life!
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
Monday, October 16, 2017
Saturday, October 14, 2017
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
The longer we live, the luckier we’re supposed to believe we are, right? But what if that long life is devoid of meaning? In those cases, it seems like we just keep going on and on but without purpose or a sense of what life’s all about. Under those conditions, we have to ask ourselves, is that enough? Does the act of merely biding our time suffice? And, if that’s what’s really happening to us, will we be satisfied with that when we finally reach the end? Those are among the challenges posed to a 90-year-old atheist in the meditative new character study, “Lucky.”
Living life as a recluse in a small town in the Arizona desert is almost as barren as the surrounding landscape. So it is with Lucky (Harry Dean Stanton), a retired World War II Navy cook who has outlived nearly everyone he has ever known. By all rights, outsiders might wonder how he’s managed to live so long, too, given his nearly incessant chain smoking and routine alcohol use. It’s a complete mystery to his doctor (Ed Begley Jr.), who tells the nonagenarian that, by most measures, he should have keeled over a long time ago. Yet somehow Lucky keeps going, probably thanks to his robust walking and yoga regimens, practices that seem to keep him surprisingly healthy for his age. Some would say that’s what makes Lucky lucky.
A wrinkle occurs, however, when a minor unexpected, unexplained health incident strikes Lucky, leaving him and his physician perplexed. With no apparent cause for the episode, Lucky is left to figure out what caused it. But, as he gradually comes to discover, what’s more important than its cause is why it occurred in the first place.
In the wake of this incident, Lucky realizes that he must come to grips with the meaning of life, especially now that its end may be nearing, a preview of which the health scare provided. But, as someone who has long put off ruminating on such issues, Lucky is unsure of how to proceed. What should he look for? Who should he turn to for advice and guidance? And will he recognize the answer when he finds it? That may be rather challenging, given that, as a longtime atheist whose general outlook on life is somewhat dour, he seems to hold out little hope for happiness and salvation, both for himself and mankind in general.
Through a series of everyday encounters that prove to be deceptively insightful, Lucky begins to see glimmers of the insights he’s been looking for. These include conversations with the jovial owner of a local diner (Barry Shabaka Henley) and his kindly waitress (Yvonne Huff); a chance meeting with a fellow World War II vet (Tom Skerritt); frequent interactions with the staff and patrons of a local nightspot (Beth Grant, Hugo Armstrong, James Darren); two intense confrontations with an estate planning lawyer (Ron Livingston); a birthday celebration with a convenience store clerk (Bertila Damas) and her sweet mother (Ana Mercedes); and several dialogues with an aging gentleman obsessed with the disappearance of his elderly pet tortoise (David Lynch). These seemingly innocuous encounters lead to personal revelations that shed light on the protagonist’s mindset – and what he might want to do with it as he heads into his own future.
Lucky is indeed fortunate to have been given the gift of time to sort things out in his life. And, considering that he’s put off doing so for so long, he’s lucky that he has still has the opportunity to figure out matters while he still has the chance. It’s something many of us never get around to, but, fortunately, Lucky seems to be getting it in under the wire. And, as his situation thus demonstrates, better late than never.
As Lucky embarks on this personal journey, he makes his first forays into the subject of conscious creation, the philosophy maintains we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents. Like so many of us, Lucky appears to have spent much of his life drifting through it, engaged in its experiences but not really making much of an effort to understand it. He’s observed his existence rather superficially, looking at its surface qualities but never probing what lies underneath them or how they have come into being. By focusing his attention on these attributes, he doesn’t see beyond what’s present at purely face value. And, even though he’s managed to make it through much of his life relatively unscathed (as his nickname suggests), he’s nevertheless seen his share of others’ pain, suffering and frustration, not to mention the scams that people often unscrupulously perpetrate against others. It’s no wonder that his outlook is rather bleak, and it probably accounts for his belief that divine grace is nothing more than a myth.
However, given his present circumstances, Lucky now finds himself with an incentive to change direction. He has created conditions, even if unknowingly, that enable him to address the questions he’s long been putting off. And it proves to be an eye-opener, leading Lucky to discover aspects about life – and existence – that he never before considered. He may be coming to these realizations rather late in the game, but, again, better that he get the lesson than not.
To a certain degree, this probably helps to account for his otherwise-inexplicable longevity. On a subconscious level, Lucky may well have understood that he would one day have to examine these big questions of life, reluctant though he may have been to do so. To compensate for this, he thus manifested the gift of time to himself, enabling him to continue living until the time when he was finally ready to take on this task. In this regard, he was practicing his own form of conscious creation without even realizing it, giving himself what he needed until he was prepared to tackle the lesson he knew he would eventually have to address. This represents an excellent example of using this philosophy in a highly practical way, one that effectively gets us what we need when we need it and in a generally inoffensive way at that.
Of course, with his personal odometer passing the 90-mile mark, Lucky also likely realized – again subconsciously – that he needed to get down to business on his introspective odyssey. And that’s where the manifestation of the health scare comes into play. It’s a self-inflicted psychic nudge to shake him out of his longstanding complacency, to finally get serious about what he has long ignored. The episode itself was nothing dire or life-threatening, but it was sufficiently noticeable enough to grab his attention and set him down the path he subsequently pursues. This is another example of Lucky’s blossoming conscious creation skills, the manifestation of a springboard event that pushes him to look at his life more intently and more profoundly than he probably ever has in his 90 years on earth. His experience thus proves that it’s never too late to start something new – and that indeed is possible to teach an old dog new tricks.
Though sometimes a little too cryptic for its own good, this otherwise-reflective meditation on life, existence, mortality and human relations provides viewers with much to ponder about the state of one’s reality and how it’s shaped. With an excellent, career-topping performance by the late Harry Dean Stanton, coupled with a strong supporting ensemble, this quiet, low-key debut feature from actor-director John Carroll Lynch explores the meaning of life and the secrets to help make it fulfilling, both while we’re here and as we’re about to make our ultimate transition. Like the circle of life so aptly addressed in this offering, “Lucky” fittingly represents a promising first effort from a filmmaking newcomer and the crowning achievement of a veteran performer’s repertoire, all wrapped up in one thoughtful, beautifully filmed package.
Taking time to take stock of our existence, even when the clock is about to get us, is always a worthwhile pursuit. And, like the hero of this quiet drama, should we find the answers we seek, we, too, could readily consider ourselves lucky.
Copyright © 2017, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
Tuesday, October 10, 2017
“Blade Runner 2049” (2017). Cast: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Carla Juri, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Hiam Abbass, Lennie James, Barkhad Abdi, Dave Bautista, Mackenzie Davis, Loren Peta. Director: Denis Villeneuve. Screenplay: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green. Story: Hampton Fancher. Book Source: Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. Web site. Trailer.
Our love of freedom is undeniable. But, if we consider it so important, then why do we continue to shackle ourselves and our peers to various forms of enslavement? Some of these permutations may not be readily obvious, but their impact invariably serves that very purpose. And, when we imbue our existence with elements reflective of the foregoing, we have to ask ourselves what kind of reality are we manifesting and what does it really mean to be “human” (even if we dress up their associated manifestations in seemingly palatable packaging)? Those are among the questions raised in the long-awaited (and long-overdue) sequel to a legendary 1982 sci-fi classic, “Blade Runner 2049.”
Set 30 years after its predecessor, “Blade Runner 2049” continues the story begun in its forerunner in which renegade artificial life forms known as “replicants” are “retired” by special police forces, known as “blade runners,” before they can wreak havoc. Designed as servants to their human masters, replicants have long been known to become dangerous and unpredictable as their preset life-spans near an end, despite measures aimed at ameliorating such tendencies. And, ironically, those charged with carrying out the retiring these days are themselves artificial life forms whose stability has been improved upon compared to older models.
In the world of 2049, a time in which prevailing conditions have declined even further from the dystopian conditions present in this story’s predecessor, LAPD blade runner “K” (Ryan Gosling) is charged with retiring an aging replicant (Dave Bautista). In doing so, however, he stumbles upon a mystery – one involving the discovery of an ossuary buried on his target’s property. Under the guidance of his superior officer (Robin Wright), K launches an investigation with potentially staggering implications, including the fate of his fellow artificial life forms, as well as the future of humanity itself.
To say more would reveal too much of the plot, suffice it to say that K’s investigation brings him face to face with a variety of issues, including his own origins, the meaning of existence, the role of memory in our lives, our treatment of others and the impetus to rise to our own greatness. And, as he proceeds through this journey of discovery, K encounters an array of intriguing characters, including the head of the corporation that manufactures replicants (Jared Leto) and his trusty but cunning aide (Sylvia Hoeks), a Fagin-esque child slave dealer (Lennie James), an artificial memory programmer (Carla Juri), the leader of an emerging replicant rebellion (Hiam Abbass), and a pair of blade runners from the past (Harrison Ford, Edward James Olmos). What K ultimately uncovers will prove startling, with ramifications beyond imagination.
Like its predecessor, “Blade Runner 2049” explores what it means to be “human,” be it in a natural or artificial form. Is it governed by biology or technology, or is it determined by some other factor, such as consciousness? In light of that, then, is it possible that one form is superior to the other, or is it merely a case of a master-slave relationship? Do the distinctions matter, or are they simply different expressions of an identical underlying principle that just takes different paths to manifestation? Given these considerations, the lines between what many of us might deem distinguishable suddenly become blurred and seem far less important. What does matter, however, is how these materializations arise in the first place, and that’s where the practice of conscious creation comes into play, the philosophy that maintains we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents.
From what takes place here, it’s apparent that humans and replicants both possess consciousness and form beliefs about the nature of their existence. How they each view their reality, however, differs markedly. Natural-born humans see themselves as superior, an outlook that they believe justifies their right to subjugate their artificial counterparts. But, if replicants possess essentially the same cognitive abilities as their self-described masters, is their suppression acceptable? Can we realistically say, as freedom-loving humans, that it’s proper to oppress our manufactured cousins by subjecting them to degrading tasks and imbuing them with traits that constrain their ability to exist and grow? Is that what being “human” is all about?
Such issues crop up in multiple contexts in the narrative of “Blade Runner 2049.” No matter which one gets addressed, these questions repeatedly arise and demand attention, and at the heart of all of them are the beliefs that birth these conditions in the first place. As replicants increasingly grow into their sense of consciousness, as increasingly sentient beings they seek to be able to engage in the same kinds of activities – and to posses the same fundamental rights – as their biological makers. And, if we truly claim to be human, how can we realistically deny them such opportunities? If we do, then we’re clearly something other than what we contend to be.
One of the ways in which this is apparent among the replicants is in their desire to grow and evolve, to push past limitations and become more than they have typically known themselves to be. This is very much in line with the basic premises of conscious creation, which maintain that we’re all intended to exceed the boundaries that define us and to pursue our fundamental birthright that we’re all in a constant state of becoming. They thus seek to engage in some of the most integral activities that define us as human beings.
Aspirations like this probably seem reasonable to the rational and fair-minded among us. But, for those who feel they stand something to lose – such as the perpetuation of a sense of superiority and inflated self-importance – these kinds of ambitions might seem inherently threatening, a challenge to their claim of self-avowed entitlement. Under conditions like this, then, is it any surprise that tensions and conflicts would arise?
What’s even more unsettling is when the oppressed begin to show signs of becoming oppressors themselves. However, if they learn the ways of their tormentors (and adopt beliefs comparable to those who’ve historically bullied their creations), it’s only natural that they might be tempted to mimic the ways of their masters, inflicting on their peers the same kind of treatment to which they’ve been subjected.
Scenarios like this thus illustrate the importance of the role responsibility plays in the conscious creation process. When we engage in a particular type of activity or seek to create a particular outcome, the results carry consequences, some beneficial, others questionable. The objectionable ramifications are often bad enough in themselves, but, when the impressionable begin to emulate them, we leave a legacy that’s doubly troubling. Again, if we contend we’re beings who ascribe to principles that make us human, we must carefully consider our perspectives and the intentions underlying them. With a lack of foresight, there’s no telling what might ultimately manifest.
In many ways, “Blade Runner 2049” is a significant cautionary tale to us all, with important messages on multiple levels, advice we’d be wise to consider in terms of how we treat one another and what we should demand to expect for ourselves. Should we ignore these warnings, though, we may well put ourselves on the path to the kind of future depicted here. Is that what we really want? If not, we’d better pay attention.
Stylistically beautiful and imaginative, impeccably well acted, and incredibly intelligent in its narrative, “Blade Runner 2049” hits many of the right notes right on the head. It’s especially impressive that the film does not place an overreliance on special effects or action sequences to carry the story. Major props go to Gosling, Ford, Wright and Leto for their outstanding performances, some of which are easily award-worthy.
However, despite these many strengths, a few of the picture’s elements feel forced and decidedly off. Several unduly intrusive subplots and narrative twists needlessly dilute the main story, impinging on the main thrust of the film. Certain elements also seem deliberately aimed at setting up a sequel, with questions left decidedly unresolved. And, with a runtime of 2:45, the film easily could have used some judicious editing. Director Denis Villeneuve’s effort is so well executed in so many ways that it’s unfortunate these shortcomings keep this offering from achieving the true cinematic greatness it otherwise could have attained.
With all that said, however, “Blade Runner 2049” is still worthwhile viewing. If we truly hope to grow into an enlightened and hopeful future – one far removed from the world depicted here – we need to take a good, hard look at what we believe makes us human and start living up to it. We’re at a critical juncture in our evolution at the moment, and we could easily go one way or another. Let’s hope we draw from the messages of this film to help us make the right decision.
Copyright © 2017, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
Monday, October 9, 2017
Reviews of "Lucky," "Blade Runner 2049" and "Life, Animated," as well as book, web site and radio show previews, are all in the latest Movies with Meaning post on the web site of The Good Radio Network, available by clicking here.
Thursday, October 5, 2017
Please note also that this Blog will be migrating to the new site in the near future, available by clicking here. This page will remain up during the transition period, and all of the existing posts on this site have been incorporated into the archives of the new site. For more information about this or any other site features, free free to email me at email@example.com.
My sincere thanks to my webmaster, Rob Kruss of Bear Creek Apps & Media, for a great job and a beautiful design. Here's hoping everyone enjoys the new site!
Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Friendships are one of the most precious, enjoyable and special elements of life. They’re especially prized when they take on magical qualities, those that involve acquaintances who are seemingly unlikely, perhaps even mismatched. So it was when a humble Indian servant met a powerful but lonely, aging monarch trapped by the rigidity and responsibility of her title, a fable-like tale depicted in the new biographical offering, “Victoria and Abdul.”
When Abdul Karim (Ali Fazal), a clerk at a local prison in Agra, India, is unexpectedly called upon to present a ceremonial coin to long-serving Queen Victoria of England (Judi Dench), he’s both intimidated and overwhelmed at the prospect. Having been chosen largely because he meets the physical requirements dictated by royal protocol, he’s plucked out of his civil servant job and whisked off to London with his new friend and cohort, Mohammed (Adeel Akhtar), for what is supposed to be a short trip and an even shorter ceremony.
In preparation for his task, Abdul is rigorously schooled in what’s expected of him, most notably what he should and should not do. In particular, he’s repeatedly advised never to make eye contact with Her Majesty. However, when the two meet – and the unthinkable serendipitous gaze transpires – a connection is made, one that blossoms into a solid bond of familiarity and, eventually, friendship.
As the relationship between Abdul and Victoria unfolds, she’s captivated by his wisdom and charm. He teaches her things about life and culture in his homeland that she never knew – quite an irony given that, in addition to being Queen, she also bears the title of Empress of India, a land she rules but has never visited. In short order, Abdul begins teaching Victoria about the Koran and the linguistics of Urdu, among other subjects, all of which fascinate her. And, as a consequence, Abdul quickly becomes one of the Queen’s most trusted confidantes.
Victoria’s acquaintance with Abdul involves more than just being a student of subcontinent culture. He also provides good company, something she craves, given the demands of her title, the incessant obsequious posturing of her family and staff, and her profound loneliness. Having outlived the two great loves of her life, as well as many others who were special to her, she feels alone, and Abdul fills a huge void in her day-to-day existence.
However, despite Victoria’s comfort with her new friend, others don’t share her sentiments, most notably her eldest son and heir apparent, Bertie, Prince of Wales (Eddie Izzard), Prime Minister Lord Salisbury (Michael Gambon), and members of the royal household, including chief of staff Sir Henry Ponsonby (Tim Pigott-Smith), primary physician Dr. Reid (Paul Higgins), and house matrons Lady Churchill (Olivia Williams) and Miss Phipps (Fenella Woolgar). All of them look down upon the “unseemly” commoner, convinced that he’s gaining too much influence with Her Majesty. They fear for their standing with the Queen, but they also express concern that a foreigner – and a Muslim one at that – may be somehow trying to co-opt the leader of the British Empire and the Church of England. They’re convinced that something must be done – before it’s too late. However, they also underestimate the power of their adversary – and I’m not talking about Abdul.
In light of this (and many other instances, both on- and off-screen), there’s no denying that Victoria was a formidable woman, one fully comfortable in her own skin, as well as her own sense of personal empowerment. Having been the world’s longest-serving monarch at the time, with roughly a billion citizens under her charge, Victoria was clearly in her element when it came to her circumstances. She wielded her power confidently and had grown completely comfortable to getting her way.
This is undeniable proof of someone in command of her conscious creation skills, the means by which we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents. Even if Victoria had never heard the term or studied the philosophy, she was nevertheless a natural at it, as evidenced by her impressive accomplishments both on and off the throne.
Yet, even with all her aptitude at this, Victoria still faced her share of challenges, perhaps to test herself to keep her conscious creation skills in top form. For example, she routinely drew to herself circumstances where she had assorted cronies nipping at her heels, proposing schemes and attempting at manipulate her decisions in ways that served their own positions while claiming that they were merely making recommendations in her best interests. For her part, though, Victoria readily saw through these ruses aimed at undermining her authority and diluting her power and never hesitated to dress down the upstarts behind such ploys. She firmly held onto her personal power whenever it was challenged. Such discernment skills proved a saving grace on many an occasion and made her a more effective conscious creator in the long run.
This became particularly problematic for Victoria when it came to her personal life. One could argue that such scenarios are understandable in matters of state, but, when it came to unofficial capacities, that was something clearly in her own interest and control, and those who attempted to interfere with it did so at their peril. When the royal family and members of the household staff began to question Her Majesty’s friendship with Abdul, for example, Victoria never hesitated to rise to the occasion to slap them back and assert her own discretion. But, then, given her effectiveness as a conscious creator, she had the power and conviction of her beliefs behind her to realize the outcomes she chose for herself.
Such capabilities even went into the creation of her relationship with Abdul in the first place. As someone who was constantly beset by those pushing agendas and seeking to advance their own circumstances, and as someone who lost so many whom she so dearly loved, Victoria was lonely and craved the company of someone authentic. That’s where Abdul came into play, and, fortunately for the Queen, she managed to forge the beliefs that successfully drew someone like him into her life. He was just what she needed, and she relished the time she spent in his company.
Whether or not Victoria knew about conscious creation, it’s interesting to note that, despite her seemingly rigid, unfeeling exterior, she had a strong interest in spiritual and metaphysical matters. This is apparent through her success at drawing Abdul into her life. As someone who was well-versed spiritually, Abdul introduced Victoria to religious concepts she had never before considered, broadening both her worldview and that of the wider world of reality. For someone who was responsible for leading one of the planet’s largest religious institutions, it was no doubt in her best interests to keep an open mind about all things spiritual to rule such an organization effectively – even if others didn’t share the same view. Abdul provided the perfect mentorship, and she never hesitated to avail herself of his wisdom.
For his part, Abdul obviously had an impressive command over his conscious creation skills, too. As someone who firmly believed in being of service to others, he manifested circumstances where he could fulfill this mission in a grand way and by someone who sincerely appreciated his efforts. That’s quite a creation as well, one that we should all hope to emulate.
In spite of the many pressures placed upon them, the Queen and her youthful mentor collectively materialized what many would see as an enviable friendship. It had an undeniable harmony and intimacy associated with it, qualities that successfully helped it withstand all attempts at trying to undermine it. Even during times when the bond was threatened – sometimes with seemingly credible evidence worthy of raising legitimate suspicion – the connection managed to endure, thanks in large part to the underlying beliefs that manifested it in the first place. Now that’s the test of a real relationship and what it truly means to call someone “friend.”
Though somewhat slight in substance and likely tinged with more than a little present-day political correctness, “Victoria and Abdul” nevertheless serves up an eminently entertaining story about the forging of a bond between unlikely companions. Director Stephen Frears’s breezy, endearing tale features top-shelf production values and gorgeous cinematography, capped off by delightful portrayals by Dench and Fazal in the title roles. It makes for a package that’s sweet, funny and thoroughly enjoyable, even if a bit suspect historically speaking.
All too often we take friendships for granted, not fully appreciating what they mean to us and how truly valuable they really are. That’s sad, especially when we see those who desperately reach out to forge such connections when they’re absent. Fortunately, we have the example of this improbable duo to help show us the way. Should we follow their lead, we just might find ourselves sufficiently amused.
Copyright © 2017, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
Monday, October 2, 2017
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Monday, September 25, 2017
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Getting ahead in life can be fraught with obstacles that keep us from moving forward. But, no matter how formidable these limitations may appear, they’re all meant to be overcome, provided we believe in the possibility. That can be challenging, especially when the barriers appear on multiple fronts, but it’s by no means impossible, as demonstrated by the new sports biopic, “Battle of the Sexes.”
In September 1973, the nation’s attention (if not that of much of the world) was captivated with, of all things, a tennis match. But, in many ways, it was no ordinary tennis match; it was a contest with wide-ranging implications in the sports world and society at large – the Battle of the Sexes, featuring 55-year-old Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) squaring off against 29-year-old Billie Jean King (Emma Stone).
With both players having won championships at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the French Open, the talent was considerable on both sides of the net. However, Riggs, as a self-avowed male chauvinist, embodied the opinion held by many of the professional tennis world’s movers and shakers that women couldn’t compete with men when it came to skill on the court. Tennis promoters and commentators like former pro Jack Kramer (Bill Pullman) contended that women weren’t as physically adept and, hence, not as interesting to watch. And this, they claimed, justified the smaller prizes paid to women in professional tournaments. So, when Riggs challenged King to a one-on-one match, she accepted if for no other reason than to prove him and his peers wrong.
“Battle of the Sexes” chronicles the events leading up to the big match, both from personal and professional standpoints. These back story items are crucial to the narrative, for they explain some of the motivations of the characters and spotlight the significance of the main event, both in the tennis world and further afield.
For example, viewers witness Riggs’s struggle as a compulsive gambler, an addiction that frequently caused issues in his marriage to his wife, Priscilla (Elisabeth Shue), and that helped bring out the natural Barnum-esque huckster in him. Meanwhile, audiences are let in on King’s efforts to launch a professional women’s tennis tour – one free of the constraints dictated by the sport’s male-dominated hierarchy – with the assistance of Gladys Heldman (Sarah Silverman), founder of World Tennis Magazine, and sponsored by Virginia Slims cigarettes, one of the first brands of smokes specifically marketed to women. In addition, the film also examines King’s personal struggles in accepting her emerging homosexuality through her clandestine involvement with her lover and hairdresser, Marilyn Barnett (Andrea Riseborough), an incident that created tension in her marriage with her husband, Larry (Austin Stowell), and that sparked whispers among sponsors and fellow competitors, like Australian powerhouse Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee).
What’s more, the film also delves into the media spectacle that was the Battle of the Sexes, one of the first high-profile public events accorded such unrelenting hype and over-the-top promotion. In many ways, the match set the standard for similar events that would follow in the ensuing years – and that remain part of the media culture and fabric of society to this day.
Most importantly, though, the film is an exercise in illustrating what it means to rise to one’s own greatness, to push through barriers and limitations that hold us back, as well as those facing similar circumstances. This is certainly true in the professional arena, as evidenced by King’s efforts to level the playing field in the world of women’s sports (not just tennis), but also to promote wider social acceptance of alternate lifestyles. Clearly this was an event about more than just a tennis match.
So how did the Battle of the Sexes grow to be as significant as it was? It comes down to the fact that everyone who had even a remote connection to the event wanted to see it succeed to promote their particular agendas – aims driven by their beliefs, the cornerstone of the conscious creation process, the means by which we manifest the reality we experience. These co-creations (or “mass events,” as many conscious creation advocates term them) embody many diverse elements and outlooks, each seeking materialization thanks to the belief power underlying them.
For champions of the old order, for example, the event had the belief energy of figures like Riggs and Kramer propelling it toward manifestation. By contrast, the new paradigm had the backing of King and all of her many followers, both in her personal and professional life, to catapult it to success. And, through it all, as noted earlier, the belief energy aimed at surpassing personal limitations was suffused throughout the event, both at the time of the match and in the incidents preceding it.
In many ways, the Battle of the Sexes served as a centerpiece event in the larger social changes that were taking place at the time. It served as a sort of lightning rod in which impassioned proponents on each side of the issues at stake sought to bring their hoped-for manifestations into being. The ceremony and spectacle associated with such considerations were created to draw the concerns in question into sharp focus for all to see – and to witness which side would come out the winner. And it ultimately demonstrated that, as conscious creators steadfastly maintain, we’re all in a constant state of becoming, ever evolving to something new. (Adherents of old, worn-out ideas, take note.)
Those of us who were around at the time these actual events played out will appreciate the authenticity of this well-crafted cinematic time capsule. “Battle of the Sexes” superbly re-creates one of the biggest sports and social spectacles in recent history, thanks to excellent performances by Stone and Carell – both of whom practically channel their characters – and masterful period piece production values that effectively capture the look and feel of its subject matter. Admittedly, the picture tends to drag slightly in the first 45 minutes, but, this shortcoming aside, the film otherwise delivers in every other regard. As directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have demonstrated in such previous works as “Little Miss Sunshine” (2006) and “Ruby Sparks” (2012), they know how to pick good stories and tell them well on the big screen. Game, set, match.
When we set our sites on achieving a particular objective, it can be difficult to hold us back, especially if we’re hungry enough and back those passions with adequate belief support. However, if we waver in our enthusiasm and drive, or if we allow doubts or fears to creep into the mix, we can set ourselves up for disappointment. Yet, if we maintain our resolve and focus, there’s no telling what we can accomplish. Just ask Billie Jean King.
Copyright © 2017, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.
Getting away from it all – even under less-than-ideal conditions – can sometimes work wonders, particularly if there’s much weighing us down. But what we do with such opportunities when they present themselves is most important. That’s very much the case for a pair of searching protagonists in the new, thought-provoking drama, “Columbus.”
While on a national lecture tour, a renowned, aging, Korean-born architect collapses, falling into a coma. With no one to attend to his needs, his longtime aide, Eleanor (Parker Posey), springs into action, summoning the ailing icon’s son, Jin (John Cho), to come care for him. Having been estranged from his father for quite some time, Jin is far from enthused about being called upon now, given their unreconciled feelings and the fact that it will seriously impinge upon his job as a book translator. However, considering the expectations thrust upon him to be the dutiful son, he reluctantly makes the journey to join his father. The one saving grace in this, though, is that Jin must travel to a place of beauty and inspiration, the architectural mecca of Columbus, Indiana.
By all rights, Columbus might initially strike outsiders as little more than a nondescript Midwestern town, yet it is much more than what initially meets the eye. Located roughly halfway between Indianapolis and Louisville, Columbus has long been home to an array of innovative structures designed by some of the world’s leading architects, such as Eero Saarinen. And that attribute is what has made this community more than just another easily overlooked stop on the interstate. It also explains the reason behind Jin’s father’s visit.
With his father unresponsive, Jin’s vigil soon turns into an extended visit, one that leaves him with plenty of free time on his hands. One afternoon, while strolling in the gardens of the bed and breakfast where he’s staying, he meets one of the locals, Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a recent high school graduate who works at the local library. They strike up a conversation and quickly discover that they share somewhat similar circumstances. Just as Jin is caring for his father, Casey is doing the same for her mother, Maria (Michelle Forbes), a recovering meth addict.
Through their times and dialogues together, Jin and Casey address a number of topics of mutual interest, sharing views and serving as sounding boards for one another. And they do so, ironically enough, while touring the local architectural sites, contemplative venues that give them perfect environments for collecting their thoughts. Jin, for example, vents much of the long-simmering resentment he’s been harboring toward his father and the rigid ways of his culture. Casey, meanwhile, quietly expresses the frustration she’s been experiencing in looking after Maria, especially since doing so has caused her to set aside her own dreams of becoming an architect, a talent at which she seems extremely well suited.
As their conversations play out, Jin and Casey have an opportunity to cover a variety of subjects, including life, love, art, healing, forgiveness, personal growth and human relations, to name a few. Their talks give them much to think about, both in terms of where they are and where they wish to go in their lives. The question is, of course, will they heed their own revelations and insights?
When we take stock of our lives, it often helps to place ourselves in circumstances where we can devote our uninterrupted time and attention to such matters. This is particularly true if we’re dissatisfied with our situations and need to take steps to alter them. That can be difficult to accomplish, however, if our minds are cluttered with the day-to-day flotsam that distracts us. That’s where creating a respite for ourselves can work wonders.
To achieve that, though, we first need to understand how we’ve gotten to where we are and how we can manifest the conditions needed to materialize that much-needed reprieve. This is where the conscious creation process comes into play, the philosophy that maintains we realize the existence we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents. And it’s a discipline in which Jin and Casey are about to get a profound and thorough education.
The solitude of a small, quiet Midwestern town characterized by beautiful buildings, dynamic public artworks, elegant parks, magnificent gardens and lush landscapes provides a perfect setting to clear our heads to think things through. That’s especially true when it comes to assessing the beliefs that we’ve been holding onto in creating the reality we’ve been experiencing – and what we might want to do to change the nature of the game as we move forward. An introspective milieu like this thus enables us to implement needed adjustments in various areas of our lives, such as healing ourselves, repairing our relationships and taking steps to live up to our personal potential.
Of course, to make this happen, there must be a willingness on our part to proceed with such tasks, and that, too, depends on our beliefs. If we remain close-minded, we’ll remain prisoners of our own self-imposed limitations, unable to see past the barriers that obscure the possibilities open to us.
This, again, is another instance where our environment can help to work wonders. In a venue like Columbus, where the architectural landscape is peppered with structures that defy convention, one finds oneself surrounded by inspiration. It’s especially interesting to note that such inspiration is found in an artform like architecture, one that has an inherent “structure” in its finished works. When that structure assumes inventive forms, as it does throughout Columbus, it thus shows the myriad ways in which it can take shape, offering us tangible options as to how we might do the same in conceiving and realizing creative new structures of our own. That’s one of the true beauties that conscious creation – and Columbus – have to offer.
As movies go, “Columbus” is a nearly perfect film in virtually every regard. This quiet, cerebral, cinematic meditation gives viewers much to think about, especially when facing life’s hard choices. The film’s exquisite, Kubrick-esque cinematography, ethereal, haunting score, and deft use of sound provide elegant wrapping for this sometimes-humorous, sometimes-heartbreaking, frequently mesmerizing tale. Don’t expect much action from this one; in fact, don’t be surprised if you often find yourself wondering where the story is going, given its often-cryptic dialogue. But sit back, let the film wash over you and take it all in – you’ll likely be very pleasantly surprised, especially by the award-worthy performance of John Cho, who demonstrates talents not seen in any of his previous roles.
Central Indiana may not be the first locale that comes to mind when we think of places to get away from it all. But, then, sometimes we might be pleasantly surprised with what comes out of the unexpected, be it in literal or figurative terms (or both). It’s with that in mind, then, that we should all consider going on explorations of our own to discover the Columbus within each of us – and the new world it represents.
Copyright © 2017, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.