Wednesday, August 16, 2017

On the Radio Today

Tune in for the latest edition of The Cinema Scribe segment on Bring Me 2 Life Radio, today, August 15 at 12:30 pm ET, by clicking here (click on the "Shows" tab). And, if you don't hear it live, catch it later on demand on the podcast!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

‘Normal Is Over’ outlines the need for global change

“Normal Is Over” (2017). Cast: Lester Brown, Charles Eisenstein, Paul Gilding, Michael E. Mann, Ian McCallum, Naomi Oreskas, Vandana Shiva, Heike Brunner (narrator). Director: Renée Scheltema. Web site. Trailer.

The world is changing, to be sure. But the degree of that shift is more radical than most of us probably realize, and, if we don’t take steps to deal with it, we may all be in for a very rude awakening – and much sooner than most of us probably think. That’s the message to come out of the engaging new documentary, “Normal Is Over.”

The subject of climate change has been prominent in the minds of the public for some time now. And, while debates have raged about the exact cause of the phenomenon, the fact remains that change is nevertheless occurring – and rapidly. The implications of this are staggering, from shifting weather patterns to species extinction to all manner of unforeseen fallout, such as social unrest, food and water shortages, economic chaos, and runaway mayhem. But what can we do about it?

That’s what Dutch documentary filmmaker Renée Scheltema has tackled in her latest production. In telling this story, Scheltema delivers her message directly and to the point but does so without resorting to hysterical scare tactics. Instead, she lays out her arguments in a reasoned manner, with a deftly mixed combination of statistics and opinions from experts in a variety of pertinent disciplines. More importantly, though, the film goes beyond just presenting the problem by showcasing a host of practical solutions that can be drawn upon to counter this issue. Most of the suggestions involve questions of sustainability, showing us highly pragmatic (and often surprisingly simple) means for helping to slow, and possibly reverse, current trends.

What’s most intriguing about this film, though, is its take on what really needs to be done to address these issues. And that, surprisingly enough, has more to do with human nature than it does with developing and deploying new technology. To be sure, the practical measures the director outlines are undoubtedly important, but the underlying reason behind how we’ve gotten to where we are has more to do with our outlooks and attitudes. That’s especially true in how we view the nature of our reality and the beliefs we’ve embraced about it, for they have come to shape our behavior in myriad ways, from economic policies to interpersonal relations to even our spiritual views. In many ways, one could say that the climate change and related effects we’re experiencing are, at their heart, merely symptoms of these more fundamental considerations, outgrowths of the basic assumptions about life and our world that have produced them. So, if we’re to get to the real cause of these problems, we need to look underneath – and to ourselves – to find meaningful solutions while we still have time.

This is fundamental to our employment of the conscious creation process, the philosophy that maintains we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents. The ideas we embrace, the philosophy maintains, ultimately become expressed as physical materializations. So, if we embrace beliefs about throwaway lifestyles, for example, sooner or later that disposability aspect of our mindset will become reflected in the world itself, evidenced by such phenomena as environmental degradation, the death of native wildlife, and the disappearance of plant and animal species. What’s more troubling, though, is that we may not be immune from such effects. Their impact could well boomerang on us, perhaps even leading to us becoming the latest casualty of species extinction.

Do we really want such an outcome just for the sake of a little convenience? Most of us would probably say no. But, if that’s truly the case, then it’s time to go back and reassess our beliefs about the type of lifestyle we want to embrace.

But this is not the only attitude shift that needs to take place. A number of other changes need to occur, too, such as seeking to build a society based more on cooperation than competition and implementing economic policies that promote a more equitable world. Ridding ourselves of outmoded notions and myths that simply aren’t true – like having more stuff automatically equates to greater happiness and fulfillment – is also essential. If we don’t make such changes, we could all pay dearly.

To make this happen, though, we must again start with our beliefs, analyzing them in all the areas of relevance and importance. Drawing upon the principles of conscious creation could prove quite useful. And, for some additional metaphysical tips, we might also consider screening the director’s previous film, “Something Unknown Is Doing We Don’t Know What” (2009), which examines a variety of tools and techniques that we might want to tap to help reshape our outlooks – and our world.

“Normal Is Over” is currently playing primarily at special screenings and film festivals (for information about dates and locations, as well as how to set up a screening, visit the documentary’s web site).This offering is quite obviously a labor of love for the filmmaker, both in terms of imparting its practical information and as an expression of the director’s personal feelings, experiences and sensibilities. Viewers can sense both of these qualities as they screen the film, a quality that helps to get its message across at both the collective and individual levels. This heightens the impact while delivering useful ideas at the same time. In this sense, “Normal Is Over” shows us what it could mean to change our world – for the better. However, we must act while we still have time – and an opportunity to make it happen.

Copyright © 2017, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

‘Brigsby Bear’ analyzes how we view our reality

“Brigsby Bear” (2017) Cast: Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Claire Danes, Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins, Ryan Simpkins, Jane Adams, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Alexa Demie, Chance Crimin, Beck Bennet, Andy Samberg, Kate Lyn Sheil, Kiera Milan Hendricks. Director: Dave McCary. Screenplay: Kevin Costello and Kyle Mooney. Web site. Trailer.

Fundamentally we all share a rather common view of reality, don’t we? But what accounts for those who possess their own singular, atypical outlooks? Don’t they suggest the possibility of disconnects between them and the rest of us? And, in light of that, how do we relate to them (and they to us)? Perhaps most importantly, though, what causes those differences to arise in the first place? Those are among the questions addressed in the quirky yet heartfelt new comedy-drama, “Brigsby Bear.”

Twenty-five-year-old James Mitchum (Kyle Mooney) leads what most of us would see as a rather unusual life, but, for him, it’s all perfectly normal. He lives with his parents, Ted (Mark Hamill) and April (Jane Adams), in a partially submerged biodome-like structure in the Utah desert. He spends virtually all his time indoors, protected from the harsh atmospheric conditions in the outside world, where wearing a special breathing mask is required to avoid becoming sick. The quarters are cramped, and the home is equipped with technology that’s about 30 years out of date by our standards. But, not knowing any differently, James seems relatively content with his circumstances – that is, as long as he gets to watch the latest episodes of his favorite TV show, Brigsby Bear, a sort of low-budget combination educational and superhero show featuring the title character battling various evildoers.

That all changes suddenly, though, when James’s remote home is unexpectedly raided by police late one night. James is understandably upset as he watches his parents being handcuffed and taken into custody by the newly arrived strangers. But that fright pales in comparison when he’s led away from his home by those same strangers. He’s particularly terrified when he’s taken outside without being given a breathing mask, prompting him to frantically cover his mouth to protect himself. However, officials quickly assure him that there’s nothing wrong with the air and that he’s going to be fine, especially now that he’s being removed from the company of Ted and April.

James Mitchum (Kyle Mooney, left) has a heart-to-heart chat with his alleged father, Ted (Mark Hamill, right), in their desert biodome home in the quirky, heartfelt new comedy-drama, “Brigsby Bear.” Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

As it turns out, the people who have claimed to be James’s parents all these years are actually kidnappers who snatched the youngster from the hospital where he was born, leaving his biological parents, Greg and Louise Pope (Matt Walsh, Michaela Watkins), distraught and ever searching to find their lost son. Now reunited, thanks to the help of a genial and compassionate police officer, Detective Vogel (Greg Kinnear), Greg and Louise are thrilled that their years of perseverance have finally paid off. The Popes, along with their daughter Aubrey (Ryan Simpkins), welcome James into their home and hope for a new beginning.

However, James’s transition to the outside world goes anything but smoothly. Given his years of isolation, he has come to see life from a very different perspective than what most of us are accustomed to. Many aspects of daily living that we take for granted are outside of his realm of experience and awareness. Elements that are part of our everyday reality are totally foreign to him (and vice versa). He’s somewhat lost that elements of life that he took for granted in his sheltered existence are no longer part of his new world. He’s especially troubled that he hasn’t received the latest episode of Brigsby Bear, something that none of the outsiders have heard of. It makes him sad that he no longer has access to the video companion (and perhaps the only friend) he had had all those many years.

Considering the impact Brigsby’s absence has on James, Greg and Louise and Detective Vogel investigate the situation further. They discover that Brigsby Bear was Ted’s creation, an educational tool and entertainment vehicle created just for James, a gift to his “son.” As an eminently creative sort, the once-successful toy designer filmed the show in a makeshift studio and gave James new episodes weekly. But, with Ted now arrested and all of the show’s production materials impounded as evidence, Brigsby Bear would seem to have come to an abrupt end.

Given James’s preoccupation with Brigsby and his despondency over the apparent demise of his favorite character, his parents become concerned about his emotional well-being and call upon psychiatrist Emily Larson (Claire Danes) to help him talk through his troubles. But James won’t settle for such an unceremonious end to his beloved bear; when he learns the truth about the show, he’s convinced that Brigsby’s story needs to be completed – and he vows to be the one to finish it by making a movie depicting the bear’s ultimate adventures.

When reunited with his biological parents, Greg (Matt Walsh, left) and Louise (Michaela Watkins, right), childhood kidnap victim James Mitchum (now James Pope) (Kyle Mooney, center) has trouble adjusting to his new life in director Dave McCary’s “Brigsby Bear.” Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

Seeing how much Brigsby means to James, his parents quietly indulge him, especially when he develops a fervor for filmmaking, something that they believe could help him set a new direction for his life. With the assistance of others, like Detective Vogel (himself a onetime aspiring actor), Aubrey, and newfound friends Spencer (Jorge Lendeborg Jr.), Meredith (Alexa Demie) and Logan (Chance Crimin), James finds an enthusiastic cast and crew to help him with his film. And, with video clips of the original series uploaded to the Internet (thanks to Spencer), the show develops a following, enabling the would-be auteur to launch a successful crowd sourcing campaign to fund his project. James, it seems, is on his way.

Of course, given the unique nature of the director’s early life, there are still many things about the outside world he doesn’t understand, and that carries over into his filmmaking efforts. James experiences his share of logistical production issues, as well as narrative questions involving Brigsby that prove to be quite telling about his own early life experiences. And, when some matters threaten to get out of hand, “concerned” parties seek to intervene in ways that may threaten the very nature of James’s aspirations and his adjustment to everyday life. Will he be able to see through on his mission, allowing Brigsby’s – and his own – destiny to be fulfilled? That’s what remains to be seen.

Based on James’s experience, “Brigsby Bear” sharply brings into focus how we come to view our world, assess our reality and manifest our existence. This, in turn, raises some interesting questions from a conscious creation standpoint, the philosophy that maintains we manifest the reality we experience through the power of our thoughts, beliefs and intents.

So how do these considerations play out in this scenario? James’s early life was obviously characterized by extreme isolation. But how did that sheltered existence come about? Was his reality shaped by the information that was carefully parceled out to him by his captors (a practice many would see as a sick joke perpetuated on an innocent young soul)? Or did he have a hand in how his reality unfolded, based on manifestation beliefs that created those circumstances in the first place? Or was this a joint effort, a co-creation with the input and involvement by both parties?

With the assistance of a helpful police detective (Greg Kinnear, left), childhood kidnap victim James Mitchum (now James Pope) (Kyle Mooney, right) seeks to embark on an ambitious creative project in the quirky, heartfelt new comedy-drama, “Brigsby Bear.” Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

This presents an intriguing chicken-and-egg question. Is James simply reacting to what’s appearing before him? Or is he creating (through his beliefs (and mostly unconsciously)) what shows up on his radar screen, producing acts of manifestation that perpetually prompt responses that lead to new beliefs and subsequent materializations?

Given that James’s experiences affect his views of them, whatever arises in their wake would appear to have its roots in his beliefs about them. And, considering that this process is ongoing, the perpetuation of his reality emerges from this continual sequence of unfolding. Even if James is not aware of the nature of the beliefs behind those creations, he would nevertheless seem to be in the driver’s seat with what emerges.

In this sense, what James goes through is not unlike the experiences of the protagonists in movies like “The Truman Show” (1998), “Being There” (1979) and “Room” (2015). Those characters, like James, experienced their own particular forms of isolation, prompting them to form views about – and to subsequently continue to shape the nature of – their realities, based on the beliefs they hold about them.

Interestingly, though, James, like all of those predecessor characters, undergoes a significant life change that causes him to radically shift courses, a development that naturally raises the question, “Why?” To be sure, only James can answer that query with certainty, but several possibilities come to mind. For example, perhaps he simply wants a change. On the other hand, maybe he senses that there’s something more to life than the limited reality he’s allowed himself to experience, thereby expanding his consciousness, opening new vistas for existence and providing him with options for living that he hadn’t previously considered. There’s also the possibility that he wants to be able to bring a part of himself from his old reality into a whole new world, as evidenced by his introduction of Brigsby to an entirely new audience. Whatever his reason, though, he’s in charge of what happens.

Still, if James is willing to undergo such a drastic shift, why does he experience such difficulty in making the adjustment to his new reality? It’s almost as if he doesn’t want to let go of what he’s leaving behind. Perhaps it’s because he’s conflicted about his early life, a time that some would say was “traumatic” (given his abduction and the fraud that was perpetrated on him) but that he also might have seen as pleasant (given that it introduced him to the joys of his beloved video pal). It would seem he needs to reconcile these contradictory feelings about his past before he can fully immerse himself in his new world, a far-from-easy adjustment. And maybe that’s what making the Brigsby movie is all about, a project that eases his transition and brings closure to his past, a creation squarely in his own hands, no matter how others may try to “help.”

Aided by his new friend, Spencer (Jorge Lendeborg Jr., right), childhood kidnap victim James Mitchum (now James Pope) (Kyle Mooney, left) seeks to make a movie featuring the title character from his favorite TV show in the offbeat new comedy-drama, “Brigsby Bear.” Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

As one of the most creative, thoughtfully written comedy-dramas to be released in recent years, “Brigsby Bear” takes viewers on quite a journey, one that has to do with the formation and perpetuation of our worldview, the path to creative fulfillment, the process of healing and forgiveness, the search for closure, and the process of rebirth. That’s quite a full plate for one film, especially one with a relatively short runtime. What’s even more remarkable, though, is how well it addresses all of these themes as effectively as it does. It provides a search for meaning in all of these areas and does so with ample heartfelt feelings, a wealth of surprisingly fine performances, and lots and lots of laughs. And, the closer you pay attention to this one, the more you’ll see, a truly gratifying moviegoing experience.

After watching “Brigsby Bear,” you may well come to a new appreciation for what’s behind the experience of your own unique reality, seeing and savoring it in ways you hadn’t previously considered or thought possible. But, then, that’s one of the joys of coming to understand what it means to be you, and we can thank James and Brigsby for helping to show us the way. Hooray for the bear!

Copyright © 2017, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

This Week in Movies with Meaning

Reviews of "Brigsby Bear," "Normal Is Over" and "Queen of Katwe," as well as a radio show preview, are all in the latest Movies with Meaning post on the web site of The Good Radio Network, available by clicking here.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Check out Reviewers Roundtable

Looking for some good new thought-provoking movies and books? Then check out this quarter's installment of New Consciousness Review radio's Reviewers Roundtable, available by clicking here, here or here. Join me and fellow reviewers Miriam Knight and Cynthia Sue Larson for a look at some great new material!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

'Third Real' now on social media

You can now follow the latest about my soon-to-be-released new book, Third Real: Conscious Creation Goes Back to the Movies, on social media! Follow Third Real on Facebook by clicking here and on Pinterest by clicking here.

The new addition to the Brent Marchant family of books will be available this fall in print and ebook formats from all major online retailers.

Social media banner and cover designs by Paul L. Clark, Inspirtainment

The challenges of self-preservation

In a totalitarian state like North Korea, virtually every aspect of life of virtually every citizen is rigidly controlled. So how does one preserve one's sense of self? Find out by reading "'Under the Sun' chronicles the challenges of self-preservation," my latest film review post on the web site of Smart Women's Empowerment, available by clicking here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Catch the premiere of The Cinema Scribe

Tune in for the premiere edition of The Cinema Scribe segment on Bring Me 2 Life Radio, Wednesday August 2 at 12:30 pm ET, available by clicking here.

This Week in Movies with Meaning

Reviews of "Detroit" and "Remember" and details about a new social media page are all in the latest Movies with Meaning post on the web site of The Good Radio Network, available by clicking here.