The Big Issues of Living: Three Recent Indy Films

I keep thinking the three odd, non-mainstream movies I’ve seen recently, “The Tree of Life,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, and the newly released “Margaret,” (a 2002, post-911 film whose distribution was delayed), all have something crucial to tell us. Or rather, show us, because we have to figure out their messages for ourselves.

Or, these films are, at the very least, a reflection of part of our new century’s collective consciousness, as well as bulletins from our collective unconscious. I was drawn into the films though they were not as much “entertainment” as they were stimulants for difficult thought, and it is a bit if a challenge to articulate just what the three may have in common.

The first, Terence Malik’s “The Tree of Life,” I found so mesmerizing in lyrical imagery that the fragmented narrative didn’t bother me at all. And yes, there was a story there, a typical family drama of the early sixties. Brad Pitt is the father of three boys and we are perceiving mostly Jack’s world, the older boy’s, perspective, his chaotic and bewildering coming-of-age through adolescence to manhood under the somewhat stern dominion of the father played by Brad Pitt.

The ethereal Jessica Chastain is The Great Earth Mother beneath whom the three sons are sheltered, and the tensions between the parents, and the father and his sons, are fraught with the same incongruous conflicts many of us recognize from the emotional throws of growing up in small town America.

In the middle of the film there is an interlude of dazzling imagery, an explosion of nature’s growth and time’s passages, throwing us into thoughts of the Big Bang, the violence of earth’s natural movements, the tossing of seeds and leaves and light, atoms and molecules, sperm and ovum, the sense of time immemorial, infinite time and the great questions of time’s purpose. It doesn’t segue into or away from the narrative well but it gives us some hints as to the ambitious nitty-gritty of the film.

Jack is a poetic soul, struggling to understand his own existence, and the middle son is the sensitive would-be musician whose life is cut short by the Vietnam war. As the brothers grieve and the parents suffer and wound one another, we feel the vicissitudes, the anxiety and threats that persist alongside daily living. We believe in the “Tree of Life” of the title, the welling together at the root, the battering of the branches, the dappled summer light that brightens the buds of the heart and awakens the body’s mortal awareness.

How does one capture and interpret the secret of what it means to be human on this particular planet, to know the Self writ large? Who Are We? Jack wonders in voiceover. Can the far-reaching, archetypal symbol of the Tree hold us all, thread and root us into an interconnected whole?

Most of us never question why we’re here, but then, again some of us question constantly. As a poet, I read all sorts of approaches that speak to this question along with shapely and sinuous answers. And Malick’s film itself is poetry, and poetry’s response is often layered down to the bedrock, twisting with wishes, as on a Mobius strip.

Despite critical raves, in theatres throughout the country people walked out on this film, frustrated no doubt by the alternate mumbling and blaring of the soundtrack and the lack of linear storytelling, perhaps unwilling to give the film the attention it needs. I saw it twice, not wanting to miss any of the pieces the first time, and the second, to focus on how the pieces were put together. I found it visually astonishing and the acting excellent, earning Pitt an Oscar nomination. Pitt takes on a deeper dimension of himself as the frustrated father, and Hunter McCracken, plays Jack with universal truth in his every move.

In the finale of the film, a strange, surreal place (meant to be heaven?) emerges, complete with beach and lapping waves, for what seems a city population coming and going as if the sand itself were a New York sidewalk. The family we watched coming apart, comes together again in reconciled affection. Sean Penn, is the older Jack, who has found himself as a modern architect, and appears with his younger self, his lost brother, the mother who never ages, and Pitt as a more tender father. Between the shifts of light, the shapes, the colors, the abstract landscapes and the faces of the figures, it appears Malick is paying homage to our whole experience as beings on and of the earth, nothing less than eternal in the sheer mystery of soul travels.

Like “Tree of Life,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” is also told from a child’s viewpoint. This protagonist, an untrained star of amazing power and depth is played by six-year-old Quvenzhan√© Wallis, a fascinating child to watch. In fact, the entire cast is without acting experience, and yet, each tapped into a larger self and found his or her character’s perfect center. As for plot, this movie possesses even less than Tree but is equally provocative.

The girl lives alongside her father on a small barrier island in New Orleans’ gulf, an area bordered by levies, called “The Bathtub.” The young child, “Hushpuppy,” narrates as we watch her alcoholic father’s health fail in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Her mother “swam away” one day, though Hushpuppy still sees her in her minds’ eye, and calls to her from the water’s edge.

Her father raises her like a boy, won’t let her cry over his illness, (though both do at the unsentimental end) calls her “The Man” and exhorts her to stand up and cheer for herself, showing her “guns” (muscles). The film takes place in just a few days.
In the back of Hushpuppy’s imagination are the arctos, ancient, mythic creatures, huge in her fantasies. And when she finally meets several of them nose-to-nose, she is like Alice grown tiny. Yet through her confidence and self-reliance, Hushpuppy is able to dispel the enormous spirit-creatures with her own magical powers. As a metaphor for her own wildness, one could say these wild beasts further represent her own smoldering independence.

The film is disturbing. The ragtag group who cling to what’s left of their junky homes are nothing like proper parents. By any middle-class measure, these children would be taken away for their own safety. But though it disturbs us that Hushpuppy suffers both abuse and neglect, her father’s love for her is real, and vice versa. While he tries to shelter her from his illness, Katrina swings in, and the inhabitants of the island find themselves cut off from their self-sufficiency. Everything is dying around them. And when they fight the help they’re offered by government agencies, they are like primitives who can only survive in their natural habitat, preferring to die in it. While she observes her father under doctors’ care, Hushpuppy ironically remarks that when people grow sick here, “they plug them into the wall.”

After their escape from the hospital, she cremates her father and sends him off to a burial at sea on a homemade float just as the ancients did. One remembers the rituals of Avalon, and that the Nature that threatens this community’s life is also a part of its soul. The film speaks for a kind of Libertarian independence, against an intervening government civilizing society. The motley crew slips away from the Red Cross camp, and Hushpuppy conquers the primitive creatures in one triumphant moment of staring them down.

This is her fantasy of course, the way she sees herself, a girl-child raised like a boy, a loyal, devoted daughter, who grieves the loss of her mother and father equally. But Hushpuppy knows who she is. She tells us the scientists will look back 100 years from now and “they’ll know there was a Hushpuppy who lived with her Daddy in the Bathtub.”

Will she survive? Not by any dint of current cultural standards. But then, as she earns our respect and captures our hearts, we wonder about our own world, held as we are in its tightening, grip, more and more alienated from Nature. What if we don’t need banks? And lawyers? Or the Federal Drug Administration? What if we didn’t rely so heavily on the Powers-That-Be, those that seem to be serving themselves more than their constituency? Wise men tell us that this is now the era for us to outgrow the ubiquitous crumbling systems and shallow values of our over-materialistic world.

Hushpuppy is mythic, a magical child. She shows us an alternative life we would never choose for ourselves. But still, we sit in our silent tears at the end of the film, find strangers in the restrooms afterwards wiping their eyes as well. We know something’s been lost in our world that is not lost for Hushpuppy. She’s free and she’s confident and yes–she’ll probably grow disillusioned as she ages–but her faith in her strange foundation is steadfast. We’re sure we don’t want to live like her, but we’re not sure, how in our modern lives, we can find what’s been lost.

A few days later I picked up a movie in the supermarket on Redbox. I’d heard an NPR program on “Margaret,” and because of its length among other reasons, it had been held back from release. Based on a play by Kenneth Lonegrin “Margaret” tells the story of a fatal bus accident and the privileged, teenage, West Side Manhattanite, Lisa, played ferociously by Anna Pacquin. Lisa causes the accident by distracting a bus driver with her flirtatious interest in his cowboy hat. The bus driver, (Mark Ruffalo) runs a red light and runs over a woman, (Alison Janey.) As “Monica” dies in the girl’s arms, Lisa, (if she hadn’t discovered it by 911 already) learns that life can change in an instant. Although she readily admits to her math teacher (Matt Damon) that she cheated on his test, Lisa begins to think about “right” and “wrong” in absolutes.

She’s traumatized by Monica dying in her arms. In the aftermath of the accident, exchanging looks with the bus driver, she tells the Police the light was green. But Lisa develops an obsession about her lie and confides in her actress mother who has her own distractions as the star of a new Broadway hit.

We see Lisa in and out of school, arguing, manipulating and seducing teachers and friends. She lives an “entitled” life and most teenagers, she is passionately idealistic. When she tries, with the help of Monica’s cynical friend, to administer justice for Monica’s senseless death, by amending her statement, incriminating the driver and starting a law suit against the MTA, she only succeeds in drawing them into a settlement which benefits Monica’s greedy, distant cousin.

Still the driver gets to keep his job despite a previous record of reckless driving. But does Lisa recognize in herself the mountain of guilt she has projected onto him? Though she makes one admission that the accident was her fault, she has not taken full responsibility for her own reckless behavior, which continues throughout the film to the point of losing her virginity and claiming to her teachers that she has had an abortion. We do not think this is true.

Meanwhile Lisa’s mother is being courted by a rich Columbian man who dies of a heart attack shortly after she breaks up with him, leaving both mother and daughter finally with some things in common: guilt and grief. In the last scene mother and daughter attend an opera at Lincoln Center and at the sound of the diva’s voice, they are reduced to tears. Then sobs, then hugs. For the first time we see the love between them shows.

Lisa’s aware that the world isn’t fair. She is a feisty and courageous, persistent and operatic herself. The world seems to her a series of random events such as her mother’s lover’s death, the horrible accident and the ever-present memories of 911, which the filmmaker emphasizes by numerous pans of the skies over NYC.

All three of these films tell us something about the difficulty in reconciling the many opposing forces in our modern society. Tree of Life looks back with nostalgia for a simpler time as much as it looks through the eyes of a young man toward an unsettled future. Beasts gives us a young child’s endeavor to come to terms with her lost mother and dying father, and to transcend her immensely disadvantaged life with hard-won inner strength. “Margaret” (named for the a young woman’s realization of death in a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins) gives us the thin-skinned, self-centered insecurity of another dramatic young woman with scary close-ups of an adult world that offers no answers to injustice. The precariousness of living in our times is stated in each. Something’s not right with our world.

“Escape From Planet Earth”: Fun for Kids and Adults

Family comedies often focus so much on entertaining kids that the films forget about the adult viewers. “Escape from Planet Earth” provides enough laughs that kids and their parents will enjoy the film.

Scorch Supernova (Brendan Fraser, “The Mummy”) is an astronaut loved by people of all ages. Whenever an alien planet kidnaps a person, Supernova rushes off to help. He gets help from his brother Gary (Rob Corddry, “Hot Tub Time Machine”), who stays close to home at Mission Control. When a distress signal comes in from the Dark Planet, Supernova thinks he should immediately rush to help, while Gary thinks his brother should stay back and let someone else go.

Supernova goes against his brother’s wishes and runs off to the Dark Planet. Once there, viewers learn that the Dark Planet is actually Earth. When an evil military man decides to take Supernova hostage, Gary discovers that he’s the only one who can save his brother and defeat the evil lord of the Dark Planet.

Films aimed at children tend to keep their content light, but “Escape from Planet Earth” actually has a few darker moments. A spaceship traveling at high speed crushes a man, and a few scenes involve cannibalistic aliens. After Supernova reaches the Dark Planet, he encounters a general who often teases and tortures aliens who have found their way to Earth. Those scenes might be a little too dark for smaller children, but they keep this film from being just for kids.

The humor in the film falls on the shoulders of Fraser and Corddry, and they do a great job of keeping the laughs going. Corddry superbly plays the straight man, while Fraser does a brilliant job of playing the action hero. Fraser clearly draws from his work on films like “The Mummy” and “Journey to the Center of the Earth,” and while he voices a character that looks nothing like him, adult viewers will find themselves picturing him every time the character opens his mouth.

Adult viewers will also get a kick out of General Shanker, who runs the Dark Planet. Voiced by William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame, the General is crazy and funny. While the script calls for a dark and sinister General, some viewers may be reminded of Shatner’s work on commercials for Priceline.com and smile whenever he starts talking. Shatner injects just the right amount of humor, and the General becomes one of the most memorable characters in the film.

Some viewers may feel put off by the stereotypes portrayed in the film. Nearly every female character is a sweet and loving woman who stays at home to raise the kids and cook dinner for her husband. The scientists don’t get off easy either. Even Gary, who is clearly the star and heart of the film, is a down-on-his-luck man who others tease and call a nerd because he likes science. His own son gets the same treatment, and some might find those scenes a little hard to watch.

“Escape from Planet Earth” is the type of movie where viewers need to listen closely when characters are speaking because the cast contains many quality actors and actresses. Ricky Gervais (“Ghost Town”) turns up as Mr. Bing, while Jessica Alba (“The Fantastic Four”) plays Lena. Viewers will also hear the voices of Sarah Jessica Parker (“Sex and the City”) and Sofia Vergara (“Modern Family”) popping up in the film. Those actors and actresses add plenty of laughs, playing characters similar yet at the same time completely different from their other on-screen roles.

” Escape from Planet Earth ” is at heart a sweet story about two brothers. Nearly everyone who watches the film will think about their own families, and in particular, their own brothers. Gary is the brother who is so afraid of the world outside Mission Control that he doesn’t know what to do with his life, and he even has problems forming a relationship with his own son. Supernova is so busy saving others that he doesn’t realize he has problems at home. When Gary finally steps up to the plate and heads off to save his brother, some viewers might want to walk out of the theater and call a loved one.

The comedy in “Escape from Planet Earth” is suitable for all audiences. It’s the type of film that parents can watch with their kids without dreading boredom from childish humor, and they won’t need to worry about their young kids encountering adult jokes and situations. “Escape from Planet Earth” is a heartwarming story with plenty of laughs for all the family.

Watching Adult Sex Videos Together – Movies Make Magic

Although they still have a stigma for many people, watching adult sex videos with your spouse can be a really great way to improve your marriage sex. Available in as many different varieties as there are types of people in the world, you can watch everything from very basic, “soft porn” as it is called to more graphic and experimental types of adult films. Sensual and erotic imagery is both visually and mentally arousing and may even plant an idea or two in your minds for what you would like to try with one another. Rather than being something that only single men watch in the dark, by themselves, while they masturbate, adult films are actually a really effective type of foreplay for many married couples.

Many couples may secretly want to watch an adult film together, but are hesitant because they are afraid to suggest it to their mate. For some women, there is a fear that their husband will find the women on film more attractive than they find them. For some men, there is concern that their wives may be turned off or find fault with their arousal. The reality is that watching adult films together can be a real bonding experience. It may take several tries to find a particular genre of adult film that works for you both, but in most cases, just the simple act of being “naughty” and watching other people getting physical is enough to start something fun for the married couple watching.

If you and your spouse have decided to watch an adult sex video together, then you should discuss what kinds of films are “OK” and which ones are “off limits”. For instance, your spouse may be uncomfortable watching a film that depicts more than one partner at a time. The object of watching an adult sex video together is to get one another turned on, not turned off, so be sensitive to one another’s preferences. One of the benefits of watching a sex video together is that you may get ideas for positions to try out. Also, having the noise in the background may also help lower your spouse’s inhibitions when it comes to expressing their pleasure vocally.

Turning Best-Selling Books Into Films

Every year, studios and production companies look to books for new ideas for films. Often, these books are blockbuster hits with a large fan following, which is almost a guarantee there will be plenty of interest in a film. All it takes is one person in the movie production industry to show interest in the rights to a book. The odds of a book being made into a movie are very slim, and the chances that it will become a hit are even smaller. In 2012, several book-based films have topped the box office. The majority of these films are from well-known authors who have had previous books made into cinema productions.

Children’s books are frequently the focus of animated films. In March, Universal Pictures released “The Lorax,” based on a 1971 book by Dr. Seuss. No children’s author has been more celebrated than Dr. Seuss. Other successful films by Seuss include “The Grinch,” “Horton Hears a Who” and “The Cat in the Hat.” “The Lorax” is an environmentalist film about a 12-year-old boy (Zac Efron) who speaks to trees and fights to save the world from corporate greed. The film also features the voices of Danny DeVito, Taylor Swift and Betty White.

“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list for more than 130 weeks since its release in 2008. It is a young adult novel about a girl named Katniss, who lives in the postapocalyptic nation of Panem. The Hunger Games are annual national competitions in which two children from each of the country’s twelve districts are placed into an arena. They battle one another until only one child remains alive. Lionsgate released the film in March, and it made over $150 million in revenue during opening weekend. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark. “Catching Fire,” the second film in the series, is scheduled to be released in 2013.

Several of Nicholas Sparks’ novels have been made into films including “The Notebook,” “The Last Song” and “A Walk to Remember.” Released in April, “The Lucky One” is the newest film based on this popular writer’s work. Zac Efron stars as Logan, a marine who has been serving in Iraq. He finds a photo of a girl just before his unit is attacked. He survives the ambush and credits the picture of the girl for saving his life. When he returns to the United States, he is determined to locate the girl. Taylor Schilling stars as Beth, and Blythe Danner plays the role of Ellie. This romantic drama is characteristic of Sparks’ writing.

Another romantic drama is “The Vow,” which stars Channing Tatum as Leo and Rachel McAdams as Paige. The film is based on the true story of Kim and Krickett Carpenter, who are happily in love with one another. One evening on their way home from Paige’s art exhibition, the couple is involved in a car wreck, which leaves Paige in a coma. When she wakes, she does not remember who she is or who her husband is. The film follows Leo as he tries to win back his true love. It is a feel-good film that makes one believe that true love wins out in the end.

No other film has received the attention that Stephanie Meyer’s “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2” has received. This book series has become increasingly popular among young adult readers since the first book was published in 2005. The film is scheduled to be released in November and is the last installment in the series. Kristen Stewart plays Bella, a girl who falls in love with vampire Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). Bella turns into a vampire after giving birth to her and Edward’s child. The entire vampire clan must protect the child from the Volturi. The final book was split into two films, and this last movie focuses on the couple’s efforts to keep their family together.

With a variety of genres to choose from among book-based movies, there is sure to be something for everyone. While the films may not follow the novel’s storylines exactly, each one incorporates the best ideas of the authors. Other films that have been adapted from popular novels and released in 2012 include “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and “One for the Money.”