Thursday, July 18, 2013

"Doing Time, Doing Vipassana " and "The Dhamma Brothers"

I'm putting these two films together because they cover similar material, and you might get a lot out of watching them both (or either one, really). The subject is the transformative power of meditation and how it works even for hardened, angry criminals who are locked up. It's so effective it's startling. Afterwards these guys hug and are much more peaceful and present.

I'm hoping to do a Vipassana course myself someday- it's a ten day, silent meditation retreat, and there is no fee (but you get lodging and delicious Indian food).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

"Dr. Bronner's Magic SoapBox"

I'd seen Dr. Bronner's soap and the label, heavily dense with text, and wondered: what the hell? After watching this documentary, I have an excellent answer. Turns out, perhaps unsurprisingly, that Dr. Bronner is a real character. I found him absolutely mesmerizing, though he is literally crazy (I'd hypothesize schizophrenia). But he has a way of speaking with his German accent that I just love.

We also meet and spend time with one of his sons, whose gentle kindness I see in myself. Ralph Bronner talks to and connects to people in such a genuine way that it warms my heart. He gives them soap, too, and tours the country talking about his dad.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"Touching the Void"

It's actually been a while since I watched this film, but I remember it being intense and gripping. I'm not usually crazy about reenactments, but they worked for me here.

This film is essentially the story of two extreme climbers doing a climb as partners, but one of them gets injured. How he survives is unbelievable, but apparently it's true.

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Kinshasa Symphony"

This film is seriously one of my favorites ever. I've recommended it a lot.

Basically, it's a look at a symphony orchestra in the Congo. The dedication and passion that the musicians have in such a difficult environment deeply touched me- yes, I cried. It's inspiring and beautiful. They're making serious effort to create beauty together and are finding meaning in doing so.

I personally spent some years learning viola and am now trying to learn cello, and this makes me appreciate even more what they're doing here. From what I recall, the conductor wasn't classically trained and had retired from a non-creative job (pilot?), but now look at what he's created; it's amazing.

I also loved seeing the luthier (instrument maker/fixer) work, in awe at what he was able to accomplish with limited resources, much like everyone in the film.

I'm fascinated by dedication (especially to the arts) and what life is like in other cultures, and this film has both.

This film does make me think of African music vs European music, and how the richness of African music should be appreciated and preserved. For whatever reason, though, these musicians have found fulfillment and meaning in European classical, so more power to them. The two styles need not be mutually exclusive, but I certainly would never want classical to somehow take over or replace the music unique to Africa. I don't see that happening any time soon, though.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement"

This is a film about an old couple who is still in love despite old age and disability. They also happen to both be women and are now historically important because of the recent DOMA Supreme Court decision.

But politics aside, this is a beautiful film about love. It made me cry. I hope I will be lucky enough someday to have a relationship like this.