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Year: 2014

‘Birdman’ explores the power of discernment

‘Birdman’ explores the power of discernment

“Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)” (2014). Cast: Michael Keaton, Edward Norton, Emma Stone, Naomi Watts, Andrea Riseborough, Zach Galifinakis, Amy Ryan, Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Shamos. Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu. Screenplay: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacabone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo. Web site. Trailer. Making up our minds about what we want from life can be tricky business. Sometimes we think we know what we want only to find out later that we’ve confused ourselves, often in ways that we have trouble sorting out. This is where the power of discernment can be a big help to us. It’s a tool that comes in handy for a long-suffering protagonist in the eccentric new comedy, “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” Riggan Thomson (Michael Keaton) is trying to figure out his life. The late middle-aged actor, who made a name for himself 20 years earlier portraying a big screen action hero named Birdman, seeks to redeem his sagging career by directing and starring in a new Broadway production. The play in question, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, is based on a Raymond Carver short story that Riggan has adapted for the stage. This piece represents ...
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My Heartfelt Thanks

My Heartfelt Thanks

My heartfelt thanks to Chicago Writers Conference Executive Director Mare Swallow for mentioning my most recent book, Consciously Created Cinema, during the program’s opening presentation! “CCC” was one of two titles she mentioned as having been a product that came about as a direct result of the informative presentations given at last year’s conference. What a wonderful and unexpected treat to wake up to on a Saturday morning! Thanks, Mare! ...
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‘Whiplash’ seeks to distinguish drive from obsession

“Whiplash” (2014). Cast: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Nate Lang, Austin Stowell, Damon Gupton, April Grace. Director: Damien Chazelle. Screenplay: Damien Chazelle. Web site. Trailer. When do we cross the line between ambition and fixation? That can be a difficult call, especially for those of us who are decidedly motivated to achieve highly prized aspirations. It’s a struggle rife with challenges, most notably finding out what’s behind those aims. Those dicey issues are among the key considerations that get played out with gripping intensity in the compelling new drama, “Whiplash.” Jazz drummer Andrew Neiman (Miles Teller) wants to be one of the greats. As a freshman at a fictional New York conservatory, Andrew may be just starting out, but he envisions himself one day joining the ranks of drumming legends like Buddy Rich (1917-1987). And the opportunity to scale those daunting heights comes along surprisingly fast when he captures the attention of Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons), leader of the school’s premier studio band, who invites him to join the ensemble. Almost overnight, Andrew seems to be on his way. But Andrew’s big break comes at a cost. Being a member of Fletcher’s band is far more demanding ...
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‘Pride’ encourages us to honor our creations – and ourselves

“Pride” (2014), Cast: Ben Schnetzer, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, Joseph Gilgun, George MacKay, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Faye Marsay, Paddy Considine, Jessica Gunning, Menna Trussler, Lisa Palfrey, Liz White, Nia Gwynne, Russell Tovey, Rodri Meilir, Karina Fernandez, Jessie Cave, Jack Baggs, Kyle Rees, Freddie Fox. Director: Matthew Warchus. Screenplay: Stephen Beresford. Web site. Trailer. Are we truly pleased with the lives we lead? Or do we let self-doubt, the expectations of others or the pressures of authority figures get in the way? How we answer those questions depends on how much we value our efforts – and ourselves – in the creation of our realities, no matter who we are or where we come from. These are among the issues brought to light in the new, fact-based inspirational comedy, “Pride.” In 1984, the United Kingdom was embroiled in a nasty labor dispute in which striking coal miners locked heads with the Conservative Party government of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013). With both sides at loggerheads with one another, the strike wore on for months, circumstances that took quite an economic toll on the miners. And, with Thatcher intractably clinging to her uncompromising stance, the PM effectively sought to starve the ...
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Join Me for Some 'Full Power Living'

Join Me for Some ‘Full Power Living’

Please tune in this Thursday, October 2 at 12 pm Eastern, when I’ll be a guest on the “Full Power Living” radio show with host Ilene Dillon. Tune in for a lively conversation about conscious creation in the movies and my writings about the subject. The broadcast is available by clicking here. And, for further information about the show, visit the program’s home page by clicking here ...
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‘Skeleton Twins’ charts the path to personal happiness

“The Skeleton Twins” (2014). Cast: Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Joanna Gleason, Luke Wilson, Ty Burrell, Boyd Holbrook, Sydney Lucas, Eddie Schweighart. Director: Craig Johnson. Screenplay: Mark Heyman and Craig Johnson. Web site. Trailer. When life doesn’t work out as hoped for, disappointment is sure to set in. But, when that disappointment gets to be more than we can bear, it can easily turn into despair. How we respond to those circumstances, however, is what ultimately matters most, as a pair of confused siblings discover for themselves in the quirky new comedy-drama, “The Skeleton Twins.” What choices do we have when we believe our lives suck and we can’t fathom why? That’s a question a disillusioned brother and sister have been asking themselves for years. And, with no suitable answers readily forthcoming, they’re about to take drastic action to address their personal dissatisfaction. For Milo Dean (Bill Hader), a single gay man living in Los Angeles who works as a waiter while struggling to build an acting career, life is tedious, boring and unfulfilling, and he’s sick of it. His sister Maggie (Kristen Wiig), a married dental hygienist living in New York’s Hudson Valley where she and her brother grew up, ...
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