Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

The film Arrival asks: If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

March 12, 2017

The main question posed in the 2016 sci fi film Arrival is, If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?

Arrival (2106)

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a renowned linguist, and Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, to try and communicate with the Aliens and find out why they have landed on Earth. Dr. Banks races against time to decipher their intent. As tensions mount between fearful governments, she discovers the Aliens’ true purpose and, to avert global war, takes a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity. This mesmerizing masterpiece has a mind-blowing ending that will leave you wondering what happened and how.

That’s the external story, but the essential message of this movie is more internal. It’s about love, determinism and choice.

Based on the award-winning science fiction novella, Story of Your Life, by Ted Chiang, it was convincingly transformed into a screenplay by Eric Heisserrer. Having read the book and been moved by it, director Denis Villeneuve wondered how it could be turned into a science fiction film, a genre he had been thinking about for years. When he received the script he decided he finally had to make this film, but with Amy Adams in the lead as Dr. Louise Banks. Even though she was taking a break from filmmaking, after reading the script, she was in. Everyone involved with making the film read the book and loved the story.

In the opening scenes we learn that Professor Louise Banks is losing her daughter Hannah to a rare disease. As a child, Hannah asks her mother how she chose her name. Louise tells her she has a special name, because it is a palindrome. It’s spelled and read the same way, forwards and backwards.

This is a clue that may help you make sense of certain events in the film that appear as flashbacks. Or are they flashforwards? Yet, in retrospect, it’s not the beginnings and endings that are important to Louise, but how she lived her life, the choice she made to love, regardless of the outcome.

Watching this movie was a right-brain experience; it’s non-linear. Dr. Banks goes through changes as she learns the Alien language. Their images communicate ideas in circles without reference to tense or time. Comprehending their language transforms Louise’s brain. She begins to experience the events in her life from a less sequential, more holistic perspective.

This is reality parsed and put together from a female perspective. She is the only one who can save the situation when she finally understands why the Aliens are here. The other challenge now is communicating it to a male-dominated world intent on destroying itself. This Chinese quote is another important clue: “In war there are now winners, only widows.”

Towards the end of the film, having collaborated with and seen how brilliant, brave, and compassionate Louise has been throughout their encounter with the Aliens, and the Army, Ian realizes he’s fallen in love with her. As much as he was amazed by his encounters with the Aliens, his “greatest surprise” he tells her, “is you.”

To love is human. It takes us out of our time, because Love Is Eternal. It always Is. We participate in It. If we are lucky enough. I wrote this as a comment to my son who purchased the film and sent me the link. I couldn’t help turning it into a tanka.

After watching “Arrival” (2016)

To love is human
It takes us out of our time
Love Is Eternal

We participate in It
If we are lucky enough

© Ken Chawkin
Mon Apr 6, 2017
Fairfield, Iowa

You should see this film twice to better understand and appreciate it. Below is the trailer, followed by the Featurette on the DVD Extras.

This DVD Featurette gives you a perspective of what went into the making of the film: Arrival (2016) | Behind the Scenes | Understanding Arrival | Full Extras | Full HD.

Better to see the film first before seeing these explanations. Nick Statt wrote a great article for The Verge on living with the power of choice: How the short story that inspired Arrival helps us interpret the film’s major twist. ScreenPrism offers an intelligent explanation of the ending of this film. And ChewingSand shares good insights in this video: Why ARRIVAL is Great Sci-Fi. There are more explanations on YouTube.

See a fun, informative post-screening SAG-AFTRA Foundation interview: Conversations with Amy Adams and Denis Villeneuve of ARRIVAL.

Links to the beautiful Arrival Soundtrack – On The Nature Of Daylight by Max Richter and Jóhann Jóhannsson – Heptapod B [From “Arrival” Soundtrack / Pseudo Video].

Wikipedia gives a comprehensive review/explanation of the film, which might include some spoilers if you haven’t already seen it yet.

Also see these favorite romantic films of mine. They reveal the transformational power of love over time.

New study shows Transcendental Meditation reduces trauma symptoms in female prisoners

January 17, 2017

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The first study to specifically focus on reducing stress in female prisoners has found that Transcendental Meditation significantly reduces trauma symptoms. Women have become the fastest growing prison population in the U.S., and research shows they suffer from higher rates of mental and emotional trauma, and higher rates of sexual abuse than men. This randomized controlled trial, published in The Permanente Journal, follows a recent study on reduced trauma in male inmates through Transcendental Meditation.

Significant reduction in trauma

The results showed that after four months of practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique, the women inmates in the meditation group had significant reductions in total trauma symptoms, including intrusive thoughts and hyperarousal compared with controls. Trauma symptoms were measured using the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist-Civilian (PCL-C).

‘This study is a valuable addition to the research literature in women’s mental health, showing a natural and effortless alternative approach to reducing trauma symptoms,” said lead author Dr. Sanford Nidich, director of the Center for Social and Emotional Health at Maharishi University of Management. “It further replicates an earlier randomized controlled trial with Transcendental Meditation (TM) in male prison inmates suffering from high levels of trauma symptoms. Previous studies have shown reduced trauma in other populations, including veterans and African refugees with the TM program.”

Comments from the subjects

Those practicing Transcendental Meditation in their prison cells said they felt a lot better—less stressed, with a greater sense of inner freedom and resilience. Read some of the dramatic changes in their own words, and more details about this study in the press release.

The study was funded by the David Lynch Foundation.

Expanding preventive medicine to include mind-body approaches

In addition to the study on TM, the January 2017 issue of The Permanente Journal includes a companion editorial by Charles Elder, MD, MPH, FACP, titled, “Mind-Body Training for At-Risk Populations: Preventative Medicine at its Best.”

According to Charles Elder, MD, Kaiser Permanente, Northwest, “A principle advantage of the TM technique is a time-tested, standardized intervention protocol…. Once taught the Transcendental Meditation technique, an individual can use the skill for the duration of his or her life, as a stress management tool, providing ongoing benefits across a range of domains. In addition to helping the inmate cope with the stress of incarceration, there is a range of additional ‘side benefits,’ ranging from reduced recidivism to improved cardiovascular health.”

Related: See this recent study explaining how and why Transcendental Meditation is effortless, distinguishing it from other practices.

A baptism by fire: Why Paul Dalio’s debut as a filmmaker is Touched With Fire

July 25, 2016

TOUCHED WITH FIRE PosterPremiered last year at SXSW, with a theatrical run this spring, and now on DVD, Paul Dalio’s first full-length feature film, Touched With Fire, is a love story between two bipolar poets that reveals the relationship between illness and creativity.

Dalio was inspired by Kay Redfield Jamison’s book, Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, which explores the link between great art and bipolar disorder. He read that many famous writers, poets, and artists suffered from this mania and may have produced their work because of it. Their genius was touched with fire.

This was a welcome relief for Paul who had become bipolar. He now saw himself no longer in clinical terms as a social outcast without a cure, but as a creative artist who was dealing with a neurological imbalance.

The most well known example of that heightened state was Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. The painting is a kind of leitmotif throughout the film, even materializing as a literal hallucination by the main characters.

Vincent Van Gogh's Starry Night

Reflecting on his own experience of being bipolar, Paul wanted people suffering with the illness, and those concerned with their health, to better understand what they are going through, that they are not necessarily crazy, perhaps gifted, and to help remove the stigma associated with the disease.

He compares the manic highs and depressive lows of the disease to the seasons. The film’s palatte of colors reflects the changing emotions within and between the main characters. Attempts to control these mood swings with drugs create deadening side effects, part of the conflict within their relationship.

In his Huffington Post blog, Touched With Fire, Paul asks: How much more receptive would a patient be to treatment if the patient was told that the treatment was to nurture a gift they had, instead of terminate a disease they had?

Director Dalio gave author/psychologist Kay Redfield Jamison a role in the film as herself, to explain how the right balance of medication can help rather than hinder a manic personality. Marco is concerned that the medications are stopping him from feeling any emotions, and is destroying his creativity. From her own experience, Kay shares with them how “medication can tamp the fire down a bit without losing that gift.” She tells him, with the right dosage, which takes time, she became even more productive than before becoming bipolar.

Cast and Crew

Paul Dalio wrote, directed, edited and scored Touched With Fire, his feature-film debut starring Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby, with other performances by Griffin Dunne, Christine Lahti and Bruce Altman.

Paul’s longtime friend, Jeremy Alter, produced the film, along with Kristina Nikolova, Paul’s wife and fellow student at the NYU Film School, who convinced him to make this semi-autobiographical film. Their teacher, Spike Lee, is the executive producer.

The brilliant acting in this passionately moving film is intensely engaging. Holmes (Carla) and Kirby (Marco) play two poets with bipolar disorder whose art is fueled by their emotional extremes. When they meet in a treatment facility, their chemistry is instant and intense driving each other’s mania to new heights. They pursue their passion, which breaks outside the bounds of sanity, swinging them from fantastical highs to tormented lows until they ultimately must choose between sanity and love. Watch the official trailer.

Comments from the Critics

The New York Times Critic’s Pick wrote: “Luke Kirby and Katie Holmes boldly meet the challenge of playing bright, high-strung artists. An extraordinarily sensitive, nonjudgmental exploration of bipolar disorder and creativity.” Read the Review: ‘Touched With Fire,’ a Love Story Between Two Bipolar Poets.

The Los Angeles Times said: Writer-director Dalio has firsthand experience with bipolar disorder, and his perspective sheds fresh light on the unique ways in which manic-depressive individuals experience love and creativity. Read the Review: Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby propel ‘Touched With Fire’ as it shines fresh light on bipolar disorder and creativity.

This is a powerful film! We witness their struggles from the inside out. More reviews are listed on the film’s website.

The Role of Poetry in the Film

In one of the interviews from the Special Features of the DVD, Paul Dalio talks about the value of poetry in his life, and for the main characters in the film. “It was only when I met my wife that my heart became more tender, and I actually started reading poetry, which I never did, and I started writing poetry.”

Paul describes the transforming power of poetry to heal and create beauty. He speaks from his own personal experience as someone who has dealt with the ups and downs of this disorder while trying to become a writer, composer, and filmmaker. The film is an amazing testament to his artistic achievement! See his bio under Cast & Crew for more details.

“Poetry at its best has the deepest expression of being in the worst hell, and having no choice but to bring some kind of aesthetic meaning to it, and some kind of beauty to it, just to even cope with it. (and) Only by being forced down there to such a hell are you forced to bring that much beauty to that hell, and in the process it becomes a healing. And so it was natural how it wove itself into the film, as these two characters use it to cope with their psychosis, and to deal with coming out of their situation.”

From my own experience, writing poetry does have the power to transform and heal. Another film where poetry is featured is in Words and Pictures, where a poem invites you to be who you are.

The Soundtrack to the Movie

Paul Dalio’s blog post includes both the song and lyrics to Starry Nights. Listen to the Touched With Fire Soundtrack Preview, followed by Starry Nights, the song at the end of the film during the credits, published by Lakeshore Records. Download the album on iTunes.

Interviews with the Director and Actors

Charlie Rose: ‘Touched With Fire’ (Feb. 4, 2016)  Director and writer Paul Dalio, actor Luke Kirby, and psychologist Kay Jamison discuss the movie “Touched with Fire” and the connections between bipolar disorder and creativity. (18:51) Paul does mention his use of medication and meditation, which he elaborates upon in this next video.

At a David Lynch Foundation-hosted screening of the film, Paul opened up about his own struggles with bipolar and how pivotal the practice of Transcendental Meditation has proved to be in living a happy, healthy, and creatively rich life. “TM is the difference between surviving with bipolar and thriving with bipolar. I never stopped meditating, without fail,” he says. “That’s when my doctor, Norman Rosenthal, witnessed the power of TM and was so blown away he decided to do a study on the effects of TM.” Paul was responsible for Dr. Rosenthal restarting his long-lapsed TM practice, which led to the publication of two best-selling books on the subject. Visit NORMAN ROSENTHAL, MD for details. See Thriving with Bipolar – A Conversation with Writer/Director Paul Dalio.

TODAY: Katie Holmes Discusses Role In ‘Intense’ Film ‘Touched With Fire’ (4:41)

The Washington Post: Filmmaker Paul Dalio mines his bipolar disorder for feature debut

HotSpot: TOUCHED WITH FIRE | Katie Holmes, Luke Kirby, Paul Dalio & Jeremy Alter Interview | February 8, 2016 (26:54)

Video of Marbling Art Animation of Starry Night and Van Gogh

Check out this amazing video on marbling art animation of Starry night and a Van Gogh self-portrait: Van Gogh on Dark Water Animation. The Turkish artist is Garip Ay, and the ancient technique of painting on water to marble paper is called Ebru.

The Unexpected Math Behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”

Physicist Werner Heisenberg said, “When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.” As difficult as turbulence is to understand mathematically, we can use art to depict the way it looks. Natalya St. Clair illustrates how Van Gogh captured this deep mystery of movement, fluid and light in his work. Visit TED-Ed for more.

“Meditation Creativity Peace”—A documentary of David Lynch’s 16-country tour during 2007–2009

March 3, 2016

Between 2007-2009 the iconic American director David Lynch made a series of trips to 16 countries in Europe and the Middle East to talk about Transcendental Meditation, Creativity, and Peace.

Wherever he went David was met by hundreds of fans and honored by several film societies. He spoke with heads of state, educators, the press, and local meditators inspiring them to form peace-creating groups.

Footage from these events was taken by film students and film institutes in cities on the tour and sent to David, who, along with his editor, turned it into the film titled, “Meditation Creativity Peace.”

Interwoven throughout the documentary is an excellent interview with a French journalist at an historic art studio in Paris where David goes to create his lithographs. Besides being a talented creative artist in various visual media, David is also an excellent teacher. The way in which he illustrates and explains how TM works and what it can do for us as human beings is absolutely brilliant!

The film premiered in various cities and countries to raise funds for the David Lynch Foundation to help teach Transcendental Meditation to at-risk students everywhere. Meditating celebrities joined David at the LA premiere. See some of the coverage and interviews below. The film is now posted on the DavidLynchFoundation channel for all to see.

Here are a few related posts on this subject: David Lynch addresses Israelis on Skype call after they see his film Meditation Creativity Peace | David Lynch speaks with Alan Colmes about his 16-country tour film Meditation Creativity Peace | Russell Brand and David Lynch at LA Premiere of ‘Meditation, Creativity, Peace’ Documentary | David Lynch, Russell Brand, Bob Roth Q&A after screening Meditation, Creativity, Peace documentary at Hammer Museum | Watch the trailer for a new documentary film on David Lynch titled “Meditation Creativity Peace”. This earlier article is also very interesting: Celeb Spiritual Report: One significant day in my life by David Lynch for Jane Magazine (May 2004).

See a rare look at David Lynch in this documentary made by Richard Beymer: “It’s a Beautiful World.” New film shows David Lynch retracing Maharishi’s footsteps from North to South India and the start of the TM movement.

Read inspiring excerpts from an earlier post on David Lynch’s book, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.

Haiku of Santa Barbara Riviera in the morning

February 13, 2016

My son takes photos of the changing panorama before him throughout the day and night looking out from the hills of the Santa Barbara Riviera. Today he posted this beautiful early morning image on Instagram. It inspired this haiku.

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Photo by Nathanael Chawkin

Santa Barbara Riviera Haiku

mystical seascape
white waves rolling in to shore
morning mesa mist

© Ken Chawkin
February 13, 2016

See a haiku, Translation, inspired by a painting of Egrets by Australian artist Gareth Jones-Roberts. The poem was published in two poetry anthologies. Nathanael also likes that combination so I’m mentioning it.

About 6 years earlier, Nathanael had lived in San Leandro as an uchideshi. I had visited him there and witnessed his Sensei demonstrating Aikido, which inspired this tanka, My Son’s Sensei. Someone posted it with a tree that reflected the image in the poem. Nathanael happened to be visiting the dojo and sent it to me. Perfect fit!

The story behind the making of the International History documentary on Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

November 25, 2015

On November 28, 2007, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, was featured in a biographical documentary on the International History Channel. ITN Factual, a UK-based production company, was commissioned by A&E to produce it.

During an interview with the folks at TMhome I had mentioned it, but they wanted to save it for a second article by itself. That article was published this week along with the complete film, which aired 8 years ago this coming weekend. Some of you may have seen it, or heard about it but never got see it. Well, now you can.

Previously unseen historical footage of Maharishi had been located and edited segments were provided to the producer/director Fiona Procter. Some of the people I had arranged to be interviewed for the film were David Lynch, Donovan, Mike Love, Bob Roth, Theresa Olson, Alan Waite, Bevan Morris, and John Hagelin. Jerry Jarvis was included when the producer was in Los Angeles. Sally Peden was also interviewed for the film but did not make final cut. However, she provided additional valuable information for the producer to better understand and appreciate the scope of Maharishi’s contribution to the world.

Read the complete article and watch the film HERE.

The magic of fireflies is captured in this beautiful short film by @MaharishiU alum Radim Schreiber

October 28, 2015

“I like to capture the magic.” — photographer Radim Schreiber

The little luminary pictured above was photographed in 2010 by award-winning photographer Radim Schreiber, of Fairfield, Iowa. The photo, entitled Amber Firefly, took 1st place out of 56,000 entries in “The Natural World” category at the 8th annual Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest published in March 2011. 

A designer, photographer and videographer, formerly for the Sky Factory, Radim has won several national and international photography competitions. Also in 2011 he took 1st place in the 41st annual National Wildlife Photo Contest in the “Backyard Habitat” professional category out of 27,000 entries. He won the 2010 Galapagos Conservancy Photography Contest, and the 2008 and 2009 Rainforest Alliance’s “Picture Sustainability” Photo Contest. Awards are listed on his website.

Radim Schreiber had rarely seen fireflies back home and was surprised and thrilled by their abundance here in Iowa. He started taking still photos and then made a movie of them.

“In the Czech Republic where I grew up, I only saw fireflies a couple of times, deep in the forest. When I came to the United States, I was shocked and thrilled to see the abundance of fireflies and their amazing glow. I was happy to encounter this firefly and photograph its magical bioluminescence.”

Read this July 2011 Iowa Source interview with Christine Schrum to find out how Radim braved ditches, swamps, mosquitoes, and chiggers to obtain his fantastic firefly photos: Stalking Fireflies in the Night.

Radim’s award-winning firefly images have been featured at CBS, NPR, National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Iowa Public Television (Fireflies In Iowa) The Weather Channel, The National Wildlife Federation, and KEW – Royal Botanical Gardens. Read more in Mo Ellis’s updated profile of Radim on the MUM website.

Update Insert: On March 24, 2016 I found out that Radim’s photo, Synchronous Fireflies, won the Altered Images category of the 13th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest. The next day The Des Moines Register wrote: Fairfield photographer’s fireflies win Smithsonian award.

The photo was taken mid-June 2014 at twilight in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. Radim was in almost complete darkness surrounded by fireflies and witnessed one of the most amazing and magical natural phenomena—fireflies that synchronize. He used the latest low-light camera technology and took several long exposures over several minutes and merged them together to preserve detail and clarity. He uploaded it November 2015 and it was selected as Shot Of The Day on December 24, 2015, then Editors’ Pick, Finalist, and now Altered Images Winner. See the other winners and finalists here. Radim had used this photo for the cover of his Firefly Experience film described below.

The Firefly Experience on Film

Schreiber-synchronous-fireflies-elkmont-1058341

This summer I saw a magical little film at the first annual Creative Edge Film Fest in Fairfield, Iowa. Made by fellow MUM alum Radim Schreiber, BFA, it was so beautifully put together visually and musically, the audience was spellbound. When it was over, the 2½-minute short elicited an extended exuberant response.

In this film, Radim Schreiber tried to capture his experiences with fireflies in Lamson Woods, a State Preserve and segment of the Jefferson County Trails System near his house in Fairfield, Iowa. He wanted to document not only their beauty and magical glow, but also behavior in their natural environment, the Neff Wetlands section of the Fairfield Loop Trail.

“When I walk through a quiet forest in the middle of the night full of fireflies, I have an experience of a magical forest. When I see fireflies being a mere reflection of stars under the Milky Way, I feel connected to everything in the universe. They are communicating to me. I am listening.”

Radim chose to not do any digital manipulation to the video itself. The footage came straight from the camera. This is not time-lapse photography, but realtime footage of fireflies!

Radim Schreiber’s Firefly Experience is synchronistically edited with a beautiful soundtrack specifically composed and performed for the film by Tiko Lasola. Radim loves the song. “It is a perfect match for my photos. In fact I was shocked that it happened this way.” I agree! After watching the film you can hear Tiko’s full 3½-minute Fireflies piece here.

After the screening, Radim was selling HD and Blu-ray DVDs of his film. I bought the Blu-ray. I never tire of watching and listening to it; it’s beautiful! It produces a calming effect.

For optimal viewing, Radim suggests we watch the video at night in full screen mode with all lights turned off and the sound turned up.

Visit Radim’s website to see more firefly photos and videos at www.FireflyExperience.org.

A Firefly Poem

Have you ever experienced the magic of fireflies? I’ve seen them around Fairfield, but never like what I saw in southern Missouri during a summer Residence Course in the early 1990s. I had driven with three other Maharishi Ayurveda Health Technicians to a movement facility in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri to provide rejuvenation therapies.

The building was located at the edge of the Mark Twain National Forest. The warm night air was thick with nature’s sounds and sights. Hundreds of frogs incessantly called out to each other from a pond behind the building. Swarms of fireflies dazzled me with their exuberant flashing lights as I walked around the grounds. Their colors and bubbly nature reminded me of Champagne! Inspired, I wrote this short four-line poem.

FIREFLIES

EFFERVESCENT FIREFLIES
PHOSPHORESCENT HUE
SPARKLING LUMINOSITY
EVENING DROPS OF DEW

Coming Back For Love In Five Favorite Romantic Films

August 29, 2015

Formerly posted as: Time for some humor and love — WELCOME BACK

The Uncarved Blog

Saw this on a friend’s Twitter feed. Too funny to not share. Made my day!

WELCOME BACK

Words are not needed here; it says it all, but I couldn’t resist. Welcome back to the school of life. Seem familiar? Did we learn our lessons well? No? Having to repeat a class? Time for a fresher course, and then some! Maybe we’ll get it right this time around. You think? If not, there’s always the next class, the next life, with more lessons to be learned. 🙂

COMING BACK FOR LOVE IN FIVE ROMANTIC FILMS

Made in Heaven posterWhen it comes to getting it right for love, I recommend my all-time favorite romantic movie: Made in Heaven(1987), about two souls, played by Timothy Hutton andKelly McGillis, who meet and fall in love in Heaven. Annie (McGillis) is sent to Earth and Mike (Hutton) makes a deal to…

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