Friday, July 31, 2015

‘Irrational Man’ proves beliefs can be funny things

“Irrational Man” (2015). Cast: Joaquin Phoenix, Emma Stone, Parker Posey, Jamie Blackley, Betsy Aidem, Ethan Phillips, Sophie von Haselberg, Tom Kemp, Robert Petkoff, Kate McGonigle, Susan Pourfar, Paula Plum, Nancy Giles. Director: Woody Allen. Screenplay: Woody Allen. Web site. Trailer.

Have you ever heard someone utter something that seems totally inappropriate or ludicrous, only to find out that the statement in question is one the speaker’s most cherished beliefs? Hard to fathom, isn’t it? Yet such instances are commonplace, since beliefs are highly personal, heartfelt sentiments, notions that everyone holds onto zealously (and that are generally unshakable except under the most coercive circumstances). That seemingly strange though routine proposition gets put under the microscope in the latest offering from director Woody Allen, “Irrational Man.”

The ivy-clad halls of Newport, Rhode Island’s stoic Braylin College are about to get shaken up (or at least that’s what administrators think). Renowned philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) has agreed to join the school’s faculty as a visiting instructor for the summer program. His arrival is heralded as a major coup for the university, given his pedigree as one of the field’s most insightful academics. But his standing precedes him in other ways, too; the handsome young scholar has earned quite a reputation as a ladies’ man.

But, when Abe arrives, many of the foregoing expectations are shattered. He routinely seems moody, withdrawn and despondent, merely going through the motions of his new assignment and frequently reaching for the flask he carries in his back pocket. Moreover, in conversations with peers, it becomes obvious his field of study no longer holds much interest for him. In fact, despite his extensive knowledge of the subject matter, he has generally come to view his discipline as oh so much intellectual masturbation.

Needless to say, Braylin’s faculty is disappointed with the attitude of their new colleague. The same can be said of those who carry an erotic torch for him, most notably married but philandering science instructor Rita Richards (Parker Posey) and doe-eyed undergraduate student Jill Pollard (Emma Stone). Abe’s inability to “perform” frustrates them. But, then, such feelings of inadequacy don’t do much to lift his own spirits, either, especially since they permeate all areas of his life, from his amorous escapades to his ability to write to his classroom experience.

However, Abe’s circumstances take an unexpected turn when he overhears a troubling conversation in a diner. In the course of his eavesdropping, he learns of a disturbing injustice that he believes must be rectified. And, in a moment of supposed clarity, he feels compelled to take matters into his own hands, despite not personally knowing any of the parties involved. By taking action, Abe sincerely believes his life will have purpose once again. He thus proceeds to work on a plan to address the situation, one that’s a real killer – literally.

Upon making this decision, Abe’s life changes in an instant. He suddenly seems more upbeat and empowered, taking charge of his existence. Others benefit from this renewed spark, too, most notably Rita and Jill. But, before long, cracks begin to appear in Abe’s plan. His scheme proves to be anything but the panacea he initially thought it to be. His onetime clarity starts to turn murky, especially when consequences begin to boomerang on him. Abe quickly finds himself in over his head – and sinking deeper with every passing moment. Given what’s transpiring around him, one has to wonder whether he’ll be able to work everything out.

As anyone who has ever studied philosophy knows, there are many different ways of looking at the world. Questions involving metaphysics, morality, ethics and a host of other considerations all come up for scrutiny and take a variety of forms, depending on the lens through which they’re observed. The particular views that we most enthusiastically adopt invariably form the basis of our beliefs. And, as practitioners of conscious creation know, those beliefs, in turn, come to characterize our prevailing worldview and the nature of the reality we experience.

In light of the foregoing, it’s important that we consider those views carefully, for they’ll certainly become reflected in the existence around us. No matter what form our beliefs may take, they’ll inevitably be faithfully represented in our external world, warts and all. And so, to attain outcomes we’re pleased with, we should be sure to take several important steps, such as make use of our power of discernment, understand the responsibility associated with our creations and take time to assess the consequences that arise in connection with them.

These considerations are particularly crucial for someone like Abe. As someone who has come to believe that the philosophical doctrines he once so eagerly embraced no longer work, he’s ripe for something to fill the gaping and vacuous metaphysical void that has opened up inside him. However, while seeking a worthy replacement under such circumstances is arguably a noble pursuit, he must be careful in what he chooses as the basis of his new personal paradigm. In the absence of any prevailing philosophical worldview, crucial elements like those noted above may be missing, too, which could seriously skew the selection process for implementing a new foundational compass.

Given that Abe has found that ideas and intents don’t seem to work for him, he chooses to pursue a radically different alternative – taking action. He believes that the lack of results that comes from merely musing about matters can be effectively overcome by proactively engaging in specific physical acts. He also believes that actions designed to address moral issues and to right wrongs are particularly noteworthy, for they give meaning to their execution.

But do they really? Is such alleged altruism truly enough of a justification for said behavior, especially if it carries moral consequences with it? Abe would seem to think so, because those are the beliefs he now sincerely holds and subsequently uses to create his reality. But are such beliefs the wisest course to follow? While the conscious creation process maintains that all probabilities are fair game for manifestation, does that mean they all should be pursued?

Because Abe has grown disenchanted with the emptiness associated with philosophical rumination, the exhilaration he experiences through the fulfillment of a tangible physical act probably seems quite seductive, especially given the profound dissatisfaction he has endured in his life for so long. Taking action makes him feel alive and vital, a reaction one might even argue results from the inherent density and potency of experiencing existence in physical form.

But has Abe considered the ramifications of those actions? Given how events unfold, it would seem not. This is where the importance of beliefs comes back into play, for even though Abe’s existential actions seem to operate independently of any kind of metaphysical consideration, they still have their origins in the beliefs that gave birth to them, even if unrecognized. If those beliefs are given free rein, without any deliberation of the implications, problems can arise, especially if their embedded consequences end up materializing. And, even if those beliefs are dressed up with moral trimmings, the other elements nevertheless tag along for the ride – and may make their presence felt as full-fledged physical manifestations.

Is this something that Abe (or any of us for that matter) really wants? Only he can answer that for himself. But, if he fails to consider the upshot of his actions (and their underlying beliefs), he seriously runs the risk of practicing un-conscious creation, a pursuit that can carry significant costs. All of which goes to show, as noted at the outset, that beliefs, if left unchecked, can truly be funny things.

The role of consequences in all this is important for another reason: It draws attention to the connectedness of all of the elements that make up existence. No matter how much we might like to compartmentalize the various aspects of our lives and realities, everything is nevertheless linked, and the connections that bind everything to everything else – no matter how seemingly insignificant – are all undeniably present, as Abe comes to discover in the course of his exploits. Even the most ostensibly trivial components and synchronicities of our lives can have surprisingly immense impact. So, because of this, we should carefully assess what arises in our realities lest we suffer the fallout of our inattentiveness.

“Irrational Man” is by no means one of Woody Allen’s best efforts, but neither is it the unmitigated mess that many have made it out to be. In fact, as one of my friends astutely observed, even a bad Woody Allen movie is better than most of the other releases that come out these days. The film admittedly has some pacing issues in the first 30 rather talky, sometimes-repetitive minutes, but it definitely gets better as it goes along. It’s also heartening to see a picture that’s freely unafraid to address the kinds of meaty subjects discussed here. Indeed, how many current films can you name that openly and unabashedly examine philosophical questions? While it’s true there may be some overkill in this regard, I’d rather see a picture that touches on material like this than the mindless pap so many contemporary films do.

Many of the themes present in “Irrational Man” recall those probed in some of the director’s previous works, such as “Crimes and Misdemeanors” (1989), “Manhattan Murder Mystery” (1993) and “Match Point” (2005). The narrative also borrows heavily from the plot of Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment. But a number of elements are refreshingly different, too, such as its setting, with its many beautiful location shots, and its lively soundtrack, which prominently features the music of Ramsey Lewis.

Perhaps my biggest issue with this production, however, has nothing to do with the film itself. Once again, as has been the case with an increasing number of pictures in recent years, the movie has been saddled with a misleading trailer. The preview tends to portray the film as a light, bouncy comedy involving the romantic romps of a troubled university professor who inexplicably manages to turn his life around. It gives virtually no indication of its more serious, darker side. In fact, nearly all of the laughs in the entire movie appear in the trailer itself. This is not meant to disparage the picture or the filmmaker by any means. However, it once more raises what is, in my opinion, a growing issue in the movie business that, if left unaddressed, may well come back to haunt the industry at some point.

The next time you get a wild, enticing thought, take some time to take a look at it before acting on it. Delaying the implementation of a rash notion could spare you and yours ample grief and embarrassment. And, if that’s not incentive enough, consider the experience of Abe Lucas. That may be just what it takes to keep you from becoming irrational in your own right.

Copyright © 2015, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Grab a cup of The CoffeeCast!

Pour yourself a cup of fun! Tune in to the latest edition of The CoffeeCast podcast, where I'll speak with host Tom Cheevers about conscious creation and the movies. Join us for an often-insightful, sometimes-irreverent, occasionally explicit conversation about a colorful, entertaining and enlightening topic. Tune in on Stitcher by clicking here or iTunes by clicking here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tune in to the Radio Out There Podcast

Check out my latest radio show appearance on the Radio Out There podcast, available by clicking here. Join host Barry Eaton and me when we discuss conscious creation and the movies, as well as the recently released new edition of my first book, Get the Picture?!: Conscious Creation Goes to the Movies.

Cover design by Paul L. Clark, Inspirtainment

Friday, July 24, 2015

‘Power of the Heart’ plumbs the capabilities of a remarkable resource

“The Power of the Heart” (2014). Cast: Maya Angelou, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coelho, Marci Shimoff, Gary Zukav, Marianne Williamson, Mark Nepo, Isabel Allende, Michael Beckwith, John Gray, Jane Goodall, Rollin McCraty, Immaculée Ilibagiza, Jamie Ann Burke. Director: Drew Heriot. Screenplay: Drew Heriot and Baptist de Pape. Book: Baptist de Pape, The Power of the Heart: Finding Your True Purpose in Life. Web site. Trailer.

When we speak of something having “heart” or of the need to “follow our heart,” what exactly does that mean? For many of us, such expressions seem warm and inviting but are, nevertheless, understandably vague. However, in the recently released DVD and companion book “The Power of the Heart,” director Drew Heriot and writer Baptist de Pape help to eliminate much of the confusion surrounding this often-nebulous topic, offering clear, concise answers applicable in both practical and philosophical contexts.

As he did in his previous work, the immensely popular DVD “The Secret” (2006), director Heriot presents a series of engaging monologues on the subject at hand, discussing it from metaphysical, spiritual and even scientific perspectives. These insights are then intercut with a series of fictional vignettes and re-creations of true stories that illustrate these principles at work in a wide range of applications, covering such diverse concepts as the role the heart plays in intuition, synchronicities, forgiveness, friendship and love. Discussing these notions are a host of new thought leaders, including Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Eckhart Tolle, Paulo Coelho, Marci Shimoff, Gary Zukav, Marianne Williamson, Mark Nepo, Isabel Allende, Michael Beckwith, John Gray, Rollin McCraty, Jane Goodall and the late Maya Angelou.

Through the film’s various segments, viewers learn about the remarkable capabilities of that tremendously powerful little muscle that resides within each of us. However, as the picture reveals, its truly amazing faculties might be far greater and more significant than any of us generally realize.

For instance, in one of the film’s most intriguing sequences, researcher Rollin McCraty discusses an experiment conducted to measure the heart’s response to various forms of visual stimuli. In the course of that study, McCraty found that physiological indicators can show responses to such stimuli before a subject actually sees them. The implication of this is that the heart would seem to possess some type of intuitional capability that exists outside of what we think of as “normal” time and space parameters.

Awareness of this capability carries tremendous ramifications. For starters, it would lend credence to the very existence of intuition, something many of us tend to summarily dismiss as purely theoretical at best, irrational wishful thinking at worst. Beyond that, however, it also suggests an inherent and immensely beneficial practicality, one that could potentially help us to be alert to – and perhaps even avoid – difficult or devastating situations, perhaps even providing us with an understanding of the mechanism behind the “fight or flight” response. It could even aid in our application of the conscious creation process, the means by which we create our reality through our thoughts, beliefs and intents, elements that are significantly shaped by the input of our intellect and intuition. Indeed, the possibility of becoming a more proficient conscious creator as a consequence of this is, in itself, a wholly worthwhile prospect.

This sort of intuitional awareness also makes us more cognizant of the role that synchronicities play in conscious creation. These so-called “meaningful coincidences” provide us with valuable insights about how to proceed with our endeavors, in essence giving ourselves clues about what to do. Those who recognize the importance of such correlations often refer to them as “gut feelings” or “gut instincts.” But, in light of the results of this research, perhaps we would be better terming them “heart feelings” or “heart instincts,” giving credit where it really is due.

Needless to say, numerous conscious creation applications have the potential to be substantially affected by these revelations. John Gray, for instance, discusses the implications for romantic relationships, particularly when one’s heart synchronizes with that of a significant other. Similarly, those launching new business ventures or creative undertakings may find themselves particularly well suited when they tap into the power of these considerations, as several individual testimonials indicate.

The gifts of the heart are among its most important attributes. The heart’s capacities for generosity and forgiveness, for example, are especially noteworthy, as illustrated through the re-creations of two true stories. In one, the parents of a young woman killed in a tragic accident comply with their daughter’s organ donation wishes, making her heart available to an older woman in need of a transplant. By following their hearts to see their daughter’s wish fulfilled, they allow the generosity of the heart to come pouring forth, an act that is subsequently returned to them many times over when they become friends with the recipient of this treasured gift.

In the second story, Immaculée Ilibagiza (Jamie Ann Burke), a survivor of the Rwandan civil war who lost most of her family during that insane genocide, tells how she managed to outlast the horrors of the struggle. While in hiding during the conflict, she experienced profound personal revelations that helped her cope with the prolonged and ghastly conditions of her circumstances. Most notably, she learned how to tap into the heart’s power of forgiveness, something many of us might find difficult to fathom given what happened. However, by being able to follow the admonition “to forgive those who trespass against us,” as noted in the Lord’s Prayer, and absolve those who committed atrocities against her and her family, Immaculée was able to free herself from the emotional shackles that might have potentially kept her a prisoner of her own pent-up feelings for the rest of her life. It also enabled her to share her experience with the world, providing an example for all of us to draw from when faced with our own forgiveness challenges to overcome.

Immaculée Ilibagiza (Jamie Ann Burke), a survivor of the Rwandan civil war who lost most of her family during that insane genocide, tells how she managed to outlast the horrors of the struggle in the engaging documentary, “The Power of the Heart,” now available on DVD.

“The Power of the Heart” is a surprising little gem of a movie, one that hasn’t garnered as much notoriety as it deserves. The production’s overall style is reminiscent of the filmmaker’s previous work, stylishly produced and beautifully presented. And, despite a tendency for some of the story sequences to go on a little long, the film makes for worthwhile viewing, particularly for anyone who earnestly wants to learn how to harness the power of this remarkable biological and spiritual tool, one that’s with us at all times and can be put to use in countless miraculous ways.

When all of the foregoing is considered collectively, the heart would appear to be one of our most valuable personal resources, one that we might cherish more than we do if we were to be more aware of everything it can accomplish. Thankfully, that’s where this film comes in, providing us with an inventory of these attributes – and an opportunity to develop a new appreciation for all it does.

Copyright © 2015, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Holy Glowing Endorsement!

Holy Glowing Endorsement, Batman! My Twitter Tweets about my "Batkid Begins" review have been retweeted/favorited by director Dana Nachman, Bay Area Make-a-Wish Foundation Chapter director Patricia Wilson, the movie's official Twitter feed and Batkid himself! Thanks for the recognition and kind words, everyone!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Explore 'The Power of the Heart'

When we speak of something having “heart” or of the need to “follow our heart,” what exactly does that mean? Find out more by reading my review of the new DVD, "The Power of the Heart," available on the New Consciousness Review web site by clicking here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

‘Batkid Begins’ showcases the generosity and power of the masses

“Batkid Begins” (2015). Cast: Miles Scott, Natalie Scott, Nick Scott, Patricia Wilson, Eric Johnston, Mike Jutan, Phillip Watt, Sue Graham Johnston, Ed Lee, Greg Suhr, Hans Zimmer, Stefania Pomponi. Director: Dana Nachman. Screenplay: Kurt Kuenne and Dana Nachman. Web site. Trailer.

It’s truly inspiring to witness the outpouring of generosity, compassion and support for someone in need. That’s particularly true when these efforts are writ large, thanks to the energy, enthusiasm and empathy of the collective. And now an excellent example of such traits is on display in the heartwarming new documentary, “Batkid Begins.”

A cancer diagnosis is devastating news for anyone, but it can be especially heartbreaking when the patient is a child. When young Miles Scott was diagnosed with leukemia, his parents, Nick and Natalie, sprang into action to attend to his medical needs. And, even though his prognosis for recovery was good, there were no guarantees, a potentially cruel prospect for someone barely starting out in life. Being robbed of one’s childhood just seems so patently unfair. But, then, that’s what good guys are for, and they more than came to the five-year-old’s rescue.

Enter the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The mission of this nationwide nonprofit organization with chapters throughout the U.S. and its territories is to fulfill the dreams of children diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses. So, to make sure that Miles would have an experience to remember, his parents and the Foundation’s Bay Area chapter teamed up to make the young patient’s most heartfelt wish come true. Little did anyone know what they were about to create.

Miles’ wish was to become Batman for a day. As a big fan of the classic 1960s TV show, he developed a strong affinity for the action hero known for taking on the bad guys and saving Gotham City. Miles’ parents were actually quite pleased by this, too, believing that their son’s fascination with Batman’s exploits helped him psychologically in his cancer battle, prompting him to take on the illness with the same fervor that his hero did in matching wits with Gotham’s evildoers. The effect of living out his captivation with Batman, they observed, couldn’t do anything but help lift his spirits, so they were completely behind seeing his wish made real.

But how does a five-year-old assume the role of action hero? That’s where Make-a-Wish stepped in. The executive director of the Bay Area chapter, Patricia Wilson, decided that she and her colleagues would turn San Francisco into Gotham City for a day. They would stage an adventure in which the young hero, to be known as Batkid, would join forces with an adult buddy, Batman (portrayed by inventor and acrobat Eric Johnston), to save a damsel in distress (played by Eric’s wife, Sue Graham Johnston), capture the bank-robbing Riddler (Phillip Watt) and foil the plans of the Penguin (Mike Jutan) in his attempt to kidnap the San Francisco Giants’ beloved mascot, Lou Seal. Batkid would get his crime-fighting instructions in pre-recorded video messages from San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, and, as a reward for his heroism, the young Caped Crusader would be presented with the key to the city from Mayor Ed Lee. It was an ambitious undertaking, one that the organizers were sure would leave a lasting impression. Never in their wildest dreams, however, did they envision how much of an understatement this would prove to be.

In organizing the event, Wilson brought in a number of collaborators, such as Stefania Pomponi, founder of the social media strategy agency Clever Girls Collective. When Pomponi heard about the plan, she prepared an online promotional campaign that quickly went viral. Wilson, who had hopes of securing the support of 200-250 volunteers, suddenly found herself with more than 10,000 who wanted to take part. And it only got bigger from there.

Before long, support for the plan positively mushroomed. Make-a-Wish received valuable communications assistance from Apple and Twitter. The San Francisco Opera’s costume department was tapped to create authentic-looking outfits for the villains. Composer Hans Zimmer, who wrote the soundtracks for the most recent “Batman” film trilogy, penned a special theme for the event. And, to ensure the Dynamic Duo had a proper ride, the owner of a black Lamborghini volunteered his vehicle to serve as the Batmobile, complete with the hero’s famous emblem emblazoned on the front hood.

Support for the event poured in from all over the globe. Well-wishers from Norway to China sent greetings and words of encouragement. Public figures got into the act, too, including President Barack Obama, who sent a video message just for Batkid. Even the actors who played Batman in the character’s various incarnations offered their best, including Adam West, Val Kilmer and Ben Affleck.

On the day of the event itself, throngs of onlookers and well-wishers turned up at the various venues for Batkid’s adventures, with visitors from the world over flying in for the festivities. Needless to say, this created a crowd control issue for the San Francisco police. But, in the spirit of the event, officers volunteered in droves to provide their assistance. The result was a day that both the Scott family – and the City of San Francisco – would not soon forget.

Batkid’s big adventure was quite an event, to say the least. It epitomizes what’s possible through the conscious creation process – the means by which we manifest our reality through our thoughts, beliefs and intents – when applied en masse through the collective consciousness. So many voices lent themselves to this chorus of co-creation to produce a mass event of remarkable proportions.

This event was especially inspiring because it demonstrated what’s possible when intentions are applied to the materialization of a positive creation. Not only did the festivities come off as hoped for, but elements that might have potentially caused problems – such as larger-than-anticipated crowd sizes – never became issues. When onlookers were asked to move to make way, for example, everyone did so freely and cooperatively, never posing a hindrance to the event’s unfolding. It even prompted Police Chief Suhr to observe that, while he ordinarily dislikes flash mobs, he would gladly support such gatherings if they all turned out like this.

But, as grateful as organizers were for the absence of logistical hiccups, they were ecstatic at the recognition that came from the event, not only for the joy it gave a little boy, but also for the possibility it symbolized. Batkid’s adventure and the outpouring of support behind it served as a model, one that could be emulated for other charitable events – and not just those sponsored by Make-a-Wish but for those put on by any organization in support of virtually any worthy cause. One can’t help but view this and observe “Look at what good we can do when we put our minds together!” What’s more, those who habitually focus on what’s wrong with the world need only look to an example such as this to counter that outlook.

The event was also inspiring because of its inherently playful nature. Because of Batkid, much of an entire city that would ordinarily be focused on the mundane routines of everyday life suddenly allowed itself to have fun for a day. How great is that! In that regard, Miles’ contribution to the creation of this event – the very idea itself – was remarkable, reminding us grownups of what many of us have lost sight of – the need to play. In many respects, this echoes the sentiments of author and conscious creation advocate Jane Roberts, who, in collaboration with her noncorporeal channeled collaborator, Seth, noted, “If you know how to play, you do not need to know how to work.” (Thank you, Batkid.)

As noteworthy as the event’s public rewards were, however, there were also significant benefits realized on the personal level. Witnessing Miles’ transformation from a bashful lad into a personified superhero is truly a sight to see. Upon donning his cape and mask, he became Batkid, a bona fide superhero who wasn’t afraid of being at the center of attention, someone who was truly empowered in his own skin. He set an example for us all, especially for children who are more often told to pipe down than to give voice to their true selves.

Miles was not the only one to benefit, though. For example, as Eric Johnston observed, he made a new friend as a result of this experience. What’s more, the outpouring of public support resulted in generous financial contributions earmarked for Miles’ outstanding medical bills and the city’s unanticipated costs in supplying extra services, both of which were covered completely by donations. And, needless to say, the notoriety of Make-a-Wish was raised substantially, too.

If it’s not obvious by now, “Batkid Begins” is one the best feel-good movies to hit the big screen in quite some time. It tells its story well, with no puffery or padding, and it does so without falling into the trap of cloying, over-the-top sentimentality. Its stylish comic book-style graphics lend a fun and colorful enhancement to the narrative. It’s the kind of “good news” movie that does justice to the genre; it’s just unfortunate that there aren’t more like it.

It’s also unfortunate that the film has become the target of some highly uncalled-for criticism, disparagements that, regrettably, elevate cynicism to an art form. Some have contended, for instance, that the film is little more than an overlong infomercial for the charity at the heart of the picture’s story. Others have assailed the intent behind the staging of this event, calling it exploitative. Some have even suggested that the recipient of this outpouring of goodwill wasn’t deserving of it, given that there are so many other children who don’t even have their basic health care needs met, let alone become the beneficiaries of such celebrated treatment.

Comments like this remind me that some people have far too much time on their hands. While I’ll concede that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, I find these assertions incredibly sad. Would Miles be better off if he had been denied this experience? Would children in circumstances like his fare better if there were no Make-a-Wish Foundation to give them a little hope and happiness under trying circumstances? Would we, as viewers, still be as likely to get behind initiatives like this if we were unaware of the example set in this film? But, perhaps most importantly, isn’t it wonderful that this event’s high-profile visibility may very well have helped to raise awareness about an organization that may now be able to make such dreams come true for a larger number of deserving kids? The cynics might want to take a second look at their positions in light of these considerations.

The film is currently playing in limited release in theaters specializing in independent and documentary cinema. It is also available for preordering for Internet streaming. In either instance, it’s a celebration of life well worth a view.

On the surface, “Batkid Begins” may be the story of a little boy living a big adventure. But it’s more than that – much more than that, one of the most inspiring and important films of the year thus far. The feelings it engenders are infectious, showing us what we’re capable of – and how good it can make us feel.

Copyright © 2015, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Flow of Consciousness

Anyone who’s an artist—regardless of the medium in which one works—knows that getting into the flow of one’s consciousness is essential to successfully create finished works. Tapping into this rich resource of inspiration and knowledge provides access to the makings of all sorts of completed materializations. To find out more, read "The Flow of Consciousness" on, available by clicking here.

Friday, July 3, 2015

‘Time is Art’ seeks to reshape how we see reality

Think you understand how reality works? Are you sure? The answer may not be as simple – or as clear – as you’ve been led to believe. When such uncertainty begins to creep into one’s worldview, it may be time to search for a new understanding. That’s precisely what’s behind a bold new film project currently in development, “Time is Art.”

When writer Jennifer Palmer underwent a profound experience as a result of the passing of a loved one, the once-spiritually skeptical scribe set off on a new path of self-discovery. In seeking to define this new awareness, Palmer found herself investigating a variety of metaphysical and spiritual disciplines and practices to look for answers. The process brought her into contact with an array of enlightened teachers, practitioners, artists and activists, all of whom she engaged in a series of thoughtful conversations that have been documented in this film.

Palmer’s dialogues cover a range of topics and the benefits they potentially afford. Among the subjects addressed are dream work, ancient mysteries, cosmology and intuition, to name a few. Speakers include such new thought luminaries as Rupert Sheldrake, Daniel Pinchbeck, Graham Hancock, Amy Lansky and Jocelyn James.

And what conclusions did the tour guide of this metaphysical journey discover? That’s the real beauty of this work. Realizations about our inherent connectedness, our evolving mindset, our vastly underrated capabilities and the value of synchronicities become clear, all helping us to frame a new world – and a new future – for ourselves. In moving away from a materialistic way of living to one that’s inherently more focused on expressing our innate creativity, we’re witnessing a significant paradigm shift in which the prevailing thinking is changing from the notion that “time is money” to, as the film’s title suggests, “Time is Art.”

Having been fortunate to screen an initial version of the film, I can say that even this rough cut is something worth seeing. It delivers an important message, one that we can each benefit from, and it does so in a compelling, beautiful package with stunning visuals and an engaging soundtrack. And, even though many worthwhile films in this genre have been released in recent years, “Time is Art” could well prove to be one of the most important offerings in this vein.

The film is produced and directed by the husband and wife team of Joél Mejia and Katy Walker of Things are Changing Productions. The filmmakers are currently seeking to secure distribution, but, in the meantime, they have launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $25,000 to bring the picture to completion for a worldwide release in three languages on November 11, 2015 (11/11/15). Considering what the filmmakers have come up with so far, I can hardly wait to see what the finished product looks like.

Given the state of flux that our world is currently in, we can use all the guidance available to us. The wisdom of those featured in this film can aid us tremendously in helping us discover (and live up to) our potential for bringing about an existence truly worth experiencing, one in which the artist in us all is at last given license to express itself in all its glory.

For further information, click here or follow the project on social media.

Copyright © 2015, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

‘Land Ho!’ celebrates the vitality of life

“Land Ho!” (2014). Cast: Earl Lynn Nelson, Paul Eenhoorn, Karrie Crouse, Elizabeth McKee, Alice Olivia Clarke, Benjamin Kasulke, Christina Jennings, Emmsjé Gauti, Amy Yoder, Halldóra Guðjónsdóttir. Directors: Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens. Screenplay: Aaron Katz and Martha Stephens. Web site. Trailer.

Keeping life interesting is something we’d all like to pursue. But that can become challenging, especially if we allow impediments and limitations to get in our way. It’s under those sorts of circumstances, then, that we must make a concerted effort to maintain the excitement and enthusiasm. So it is for a pair of retirees in the delightful, award-winning independent comedy, “Land Ho!”

Life is rather lonely for Mitch (Earl Lynn Nelson), a divorced, retired surgeon who’s having some trouble adjusting to being on his own with too much time on his hands. He finds he can spend only so much time on housework and cooking and looks desperately for some kind of diversion to bring a little excitement into a life whose days are, for what it’s worth, beginning to wane. Ironically enough, upon receiving some sad news, he gets an idea.

When Mitch learns of the passing of his ex-wife’s sister, he gets in touch with her surviving husband, Colin (Paul Eenhoorn), not to just to express his condolences, but also to put forth a proposal. The two brothers-in-law, who had once been quite close, drifted apart when Mitch and his wife separated and when Colin’s wife became ill. To rejuvenate their routines and get back into life, Mitch announces that he’s sprung for an all-expense-paid trip for the two of them – to Iceland.

“Why Iceland?” Colin asks. “Why not?” Mitch responds. It’s quite a departure from what one might expect out of this duo. But then Mitch, an unabashed Southerner, and Colin, a reserved Australian, are a seemingly mismatched pair to begin with. So now, as they head off to a destination about which they know virtually nothing, the seeds of an adventure waiting to unfold have been firmly sown.

Mitch and Colin begin their journey in Reykjavik, where they tour a contemporary art gallery, sample upscale fusion cuisine and partake of trendy nightlife. They also spend time with Mitch’s young cousin, Ellen (Karrie Crouse), and her friend, Janet (Elizabeth McKee), both of whom just happen to be passing through Iceland at the time. They then take off on an SUV road trip across the island, visiting geysers, black sand beaches and a luxury spa. During the course of their adventure, they also meet a host of colorful characters, including a pair of young newlyweds (Benjamin Kasulke, Christina Jennings), a nightclub reveler fascinated with glow sticks (Emmsjé Gauti), an attractive Canadian photographer intent on taking their pictures (Alice Olivia Clarke) and a pair of flirtatious hot springs companions (Amy Yoder, Halldóra Guðjónsdóttir). For two aging gents with little excitement in their lives, the trip proves to be affirming, rejuvenating and, above all, fun.

And why shouldn’t it be fun? Many believe that the elderly should be content to sit back in their rocking chairs and keep still. But many seniors would beg to disagree, especially Mitch and Colin. As the film begins, Mitch may be a little more eager to pursue adventure and new experiences, but, as the story progresses, Colin definitely gets into the swing of things.

Seniors looking to create more active lifestyles for themselves can assuredly do so as long as they believe they can, thanks to the conscious creation process, the philosophy and practice responsible for manifesting our reality. In many ways, this requires that we embrace beliefs that push through perceived limitations, not only in terms of what we think we can accomplish, but also in defying the expectations that others hold about such intents. It can be easy to allow others to paint us into belief corners, but those circumstances need not become consciousness traps, as long as we choose to prevent that from happening.

This becomes undeniably apparent in the dynamic duo’s often-outlandish behavior. For example, Mitch isn’t afraid to express himself with well-placed expletives, openly comment on the physical attributes of the women who cross his path and even light up a joint now and then, actions that many might find appalling coming from someone who’s expected to behave in a reserved fashion. But Mitch (and eventually Colin) won’t hear of it; he’s determined to be himself and refuses to let belief limitations and expectations hamper him from enjoying himself.

It’s refreshing to see the release of more films depicting seniors in a different light, and the number of pictures showing them more engaged in life well on into their supposed sunset years has been steadily increasing in recent years. Besides “Land Ho!,” one need only look to such other examples as “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” “On My Way,” “Le Weekend,” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and its sequel. As the population ages (especially those of the Baby Boom generation), this is a most welcome development.

In addition to its alternative portrayal of senior life, “Land Ho!” also provides a different take on road trip movies, the filmmaking genre that’s particularly effective at exploring our personal evolution, what conscious creators refer to as our constant state of becoming. In this picture, that notion particularly applies to Colin. As a lonely widower, he initially seems content to live out his life in quiet solitude. But, as someone who appears remarkably vital for his age, Colin is far too young to rot away in seclusion, and Mitch realizes this. He successfully encourages his partner-in-crime to adopt a renewed outlook, one that re-engages him with life and reveals that the joy we experience is directly proportional to the effort we make to see it realized in our everyday existence.

In a similar vein, the film’s narrative maintains that we should always be explorers, no matter how old we get. Most conscious creators would agree that part of the reason we have chosen to incarnate physically is to explore the various experiences that this form of existence has to offer, so, naturally, we shouldn’t hesitate to avail ourselves of the opportunity. While this is certainly true for all of us who become physical, some would contend that this is an especially important concern for the male of the species, particularly as the clock begins to wind down. Living the life of an explorer, metaphorically speaking, helps to keep us vital and young at heart, especially for those who may be losing sight of the value of such pursuits.

Exploration also enables the joy of creating and having new experiences. Again, this is at the heart of living life as physical beings, and, as Mitch and Colin demonstrate, it’s something to be relished. When all is said and done, our time in this realm of existence goes by so quickly that it could be easy to miss out if we don’t take advantage of the opportunity. Mitch, in particular, realizes this now that his days are dwindling, and he vows to make the most of it while he still has the chance. It’s a belief mindset we should all consider, particularly if we foolishly start to take it for granted.

“Land Ho!” is a surprising little gem of a movie, full of unabashed fun, even if it’s not always particularly politically correct. Some might see it as little more than a buddy movie involving a pair of dirty old men, while others may just as easily see it as a victory lap for a pair of fun-loving adventurers. Personally, I choose the latter interpretation, especially in view of the conscious creation principle that maintains all probabilities for physical existence are possible, with this story merely representing just another of those infinite permutations.

The picture’s playful protagonists and beautiful cinematography, as well as much of its improvised dialogue, make for an enjoyable viewing experience. The results are especially impressive given that the film was put together on a shoestring budget and a tight time frame. It obviously impressed, too, given that the film received this year’s John Cassavettes Award in the Independent Spirit Awards competition, an honor that recognizes the best feature film made for under $500,000. The movie is available for viewing on Blu-ray disk and instant video streaming.

The next time you’re tempted to think that life has lost its luster, think about the example set by Mitch and Colin. The geriatric adventurers may not be able to do everything they once did, but they’re certainly willing to make the effort to keep things interesting. That’s not too much to ask of ourselves, especially when we consider the alternative. So grab that walking stick, get your swagger on and enthusiastically set sail for the escapades that are sure to await. You’re unlikely to regret it.

Copyright © 2015, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.