Spritzophrenia

humour, music, life, sociology. friendly agnostic.

Posts Tagged ‘film’

Paradise Now: A Powerful Movie

Posted by spritzophrenia on November 16, 2010

Yesterday I asked if Muslims would find the movie “Four Lions” funny? Well, at least some Muslims do:

Humour allows us to conquer our own fears of terrorism and terrorists, and allows us to feel brave. We see the human weaknesses of our opponents, instead of buying into the myths of an invincible robotic terror machine. The fear created by the myths – whether perpetuated by the bin Laden’s or the Bush’s of this world – is itself part of the terrorisation process. If we can defuse the myth, we can get down to tackling the criminals at the heart of the violence and destruction…

explosion NYC

…In a global Gallup poll of 50,000 Muslims across 35 countries, the results showed that of the seven per cent of Muslims who said the 9/11 attacks were justified, absolutely none quoted the Quran to support their view. Again, it is politics, not religion.” From Can Terror Be Funny? at AltMuslim. More Muslim commentary here and a good US-based review here. (Some spoilers in these.)

On to another movie on the same topic, much more serious and equally important. Released in 2005, I think Paradise Now is one of the most thought-provoking movies made. (Along with “Dead Man Walking”, “Milk”, “Food Inc”, “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Lord of War”.) Don’t worry, it’s not boringly didactic.

The movie follows Said and Khaled, two Palestinian friends who are recruited to be suicide bombers. This may be the last 48 hours of their lives. Drama, humanity, evil, love, romance, tragedy, comedy, it’s got it all. The movie is not really about the Israel/Palestine question, it merely assumes this as the background to the question of whether killing others in protest is valid. Perhaps even realism, not just humour, can take some of the scariness away. The film is not simplistic, and without giving away too much it portrays both the terrorist and pacifist points of view well. Both men and Khaled’s girlfriend have doubts, but I won’t tell you how it ends.

I was stunned by it.

Independent trailer for Paradise Now:

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Posted in ethics, hardship, Islam, life, Meaning of Life, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Eat, Pray, Love

Posted by spritzophrenia on August 12, 2010

Elizabeth Gilbert’s title speaks of simple human needs and I really wanted to call this “Eat Poo, Love”. I can’t, because I like her book. It’s about the best Western-based introduction to Hinduism you can buy, not to mention it’s great true-life chick lit; beginning with unhappy marriage and bitter divorce and ending with finding twue wove, it deserves its best-seller status. Whatever one may think of her religious experiences Gilbert is no bimbo, between the lines she shows she’s read and thought deeper than Deepak Chopra 101.

Now Julia Roberts has made the film. I suppose I’ll see it at some point but I’m sorry Julia, you’re just not who I see in that role. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the religious stuff is squashed into something fairly shallow by its Hollywoodisation. Who am I kidding, the book is always better than the film. Apparently Julia’s nervous no-one will see it, poor thing.

Facebook chatting with famous Chicago actress friend Kara, she told me “This store near me is selling Indian things and Indonesian things with the Eat Pray Love tag – buy a journal, buy a meditation mat, just like the book! BLAH.” The irony wasn’t lost on me. I replied, “This movie is all about giving up material things and going to an ashram. So here, BUY SOME STUFF.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

The book is a good introduction to Hinduism because it gives a feel for what day-to-day life might be like for a (Western) Hindu, a religion I find quite hard to fathom given it’s huge age, diversity and – to be honest – weirdness. I respect the fact she hasn’t identified her guru or the ashram, I think there’s integrity in that. Her guru is a woman, surprisingly. How common is that in Hinduism, anyone know? Another good book on Hinduism is Huston Smith’s The World Religions, which is the first book that really got me inside the Hindu mindset.

Here’s an excerpt from the chapter where she probably had her trippiest experience. Much of her book is a little more mundane, so I wouldn’t want to misrepresent her.

As a reader and seeker, I always get frustrated at this moment in somebody else’ spiritual memoirs – that moment in which the soul excuses itself from time and place and merges with the infinite. … I don’t want to say that what I experienced that Thursday afternoon in India was indescribable, even though it was. I’ll try to explain anyway. Simply put, I got pulled through the wormhole of the Absolute, and in the rush I suddenly understood the workings of the universe completely. I left my body, I left my room, I left the planet, I stepped through time and entered the void. I was inside the void, but I also was the void and I was looking at the void, all at the same time. The void was a place of limitless peace and wisdom. The void was conscious and it was intelligent. The void was God, which means that I was inside God. But not in a gross, physical way – not like I was Liz Gilbert stuck inside a chunk of God’s thigh muscle. I just was part of God. In addition to being God, I was both a tiny piece of the universe and exactly the same size as the universe. (“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop,” wrote the sage Kabir – and I can personally attest now that this is true.)

It wasn’t hallucinogenic, what I was feeling. It was the most basic of events. It was heaven, yes. It was the deepest love I’ve ever experienced, beyond anything I could have previously imagined, but it wasn’t euphoric.

I wondered, “Why have I been chasing happiness my whole life when bliss was here the entire time?”

I don’t know how long I hovered in this magnificent ether of union before I had a sudden urgent thought: “I want to hold on to this experience forever!” And that’s when I started to tumble out of it. Just those two little words – I want! – and I began to slide back to earth.

Eat, Pray, Love pages 208 – 210

How can you portray that in a film?

[Edit:] Thanks to Jon, who alerted me to Salon’s allegations about her Guru: “Accusations of financial misconduct, sex abuse scandals: The dark history of Elizabeth Gilbert’s yoga mentor”.

“What [readers of EPL] probably won’t know is that the unnamed guru is a hugely controversial figure who has disappeared from public view amid allegations of manipulation, financial misconduct and intimidation. And as that guru’s organization, the Siddha Yoga Dham of America (SYDA), has come under fire, her own guru … has been accused of sexual abuse, molestation and sexual intercourse with minor girls.”

It seems Liz probably attended an ashram of this Siddha Yoga organisation, and there is a website for those who feel abused by this group. I’ve also been keeping an eye on Guruphiliac for some time, but don’t know if it has anything on Eat, Pray, Love.

What do you think? Perhaps you consider her more of a “New Age” adherent, rather than Hindu? That would be a good thing to discuss in the comments.

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We were talking about music as a gateway recently. Here’s another one you might find takes you there.

Jeff Buckley, covering of course, the masterful Leonard Cohen

Posted in agnostic, Hinduism, movies, New Age, Sociology | Tagged: , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Rejecting God Is Justified?

Posted by spritzophrenia on July 21, 2010

Why should you love God if she forces you to live through pain and doesn‘t keep her promises? I watched The Rapture last night. It’s the story of a bored, hedonistic woman who finds faith, and eventually loses it again.

Some reviews claim The Rapture is the best movie of 1991, and that lead actor Mimi Rogers deserves an Oscar. I’m not sure about that, but I did find it compelling. It’s an independent film, and I had to ignore the intermittent “made for TV” ambience. However, this film is not trying to convince you to follow a particular religion. Sure, the concept of “the rapture” is a common christian idea that true believers are caught up to heaven when Jesus returns. From my experience the ethos portrayed in the film is a fairly fringe kind of pseudo-Christianity, but I don’t think that’s the main point. The Rapture is asking bigger questions about belief in general, some of which will sit very well with atheists. One commenter wrote they’ve seen the film 10 times and they’re still not sure what to make of it.

Edit. The Rapture is not an easy or pleasant movie experience – don’t get it for a romantic first date.

The video below contains scenes from the movie, I’m not sure why the Foo Fighters soundtrack, but it’s a great song and worth watching for that alone. You can download the movie on BitTorrent if your local DVD store doesn’t have it.

Also see 10 Must-See Spiritual Movies.

Posted in agnostic, Christianity, hardship, movies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »