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Ten Haiku

August 3, 2010
Diaphanous clouds
Diffuse the soft light of your
Creamy white fullness

Always stay with me
Even as you drift away
Into other dreams

Sweet sauce on my lips
I am stuffed to my limit
And, ooh, so thankful

Old man winter, please
Give up the ghost already
Go into the light!

Cast through bedroom shades
Just before dawn, moon shadows
Dance on barren walls

Here, he passed me by…
Tell-tale blood drops washed away
By tears from heaven

Unprecedented
Change is inaugurated.
Hopefully not too late.

Faces now and then
Again in time, take us back…
Now, then, where were we?

Chocolate cordials
Melting lover’s hearts away…
Sweetness fills the air

How lovely she is;
Slither of brilliance against
A cobalt blue sky

These are a few haiku that I have written over the course of a year. My favorite one is “Chocolate Cordials.” I like them all for various reasons, but I think “Chocolate Cordials” captures the essence of haiku more fully than the others. I wrote it for Valentine’s day. One of the main ideas that haiku strives for is the economy of words. Because of their confined structure, it is essential that haiku express the most thought or feeling with the fewest words possible. Also important is imagery. Haiku should evoke visual imagery that stays in your mind after you read it.
In addition, classic haiku usually gives give you a sense of season or nature. And of course, our modern (western)version of the Japanese haiku is typically composed of three lines of five, seven and five syllables.
Haiku capture a fleeting moment; a sensation or experience, an emotion or sentiment that might otherwise be forgotten in the course of a day.
Another of my favorites is “Cast Through Bedroom Shades.” It captures a very poignant visual, and plays subtly on the emotions. For me it evokes a sense of longing.
I wrote “Sweet Sauce On My Lips” partly for fun. This was my Thanksgiving Haiku.
Haiku is a very interesting form of poetry. It may seem very simple, and perhaps elementary at first, but the more you work with this form, the deeper you get into it, and the more it challenges you.
Anyway, let me know what you think of these, and feel free to leave some of your own Haiku here!

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The Art Of ‘Inception’

July 24, 2010

Director: Christopher Nolan
…life is but a dream… within a dream… within a dream…
Leonardo DiCaprio is going off the deep end. First Shutter Island, and now this. Inception, much like Shutter island, is an exploration of the boundaries of reality. But while Shutter Island used personal identity and psychosis, Inception hits us from another angle; dreams. In both films, the directors lead us to question the reality of what we experience. But I must say that Inception is by far, more suave and sophisticated. It is downright ingenious. Inception goes much deeper than superficial personality, and it is psychologically sound. The Premise of Inception is the invention of a device that allows the user/s to enter the dreams of another person. This device–let us call it the Dream Machine–is ultimately used for (wouldn’t you know it) corporate espionage. DiCaprio’s character, Cobb, has been trained in the very delicate art of “extraction.” He is very adept at maneuvering through the dreamscapes of the unconscious mind, in order to get information. But while he has mastered this skill with others, he is far less successful at handling his own inner demons.
Cobb is on the run. He is a fugitive from the United States. He makes a living by taking on assignments from shady and powerful corporations dealing in espionage. When a new job offer comes along from wealthy industrialist Saito (played by ken Wantanabe) that he cannot resist, Cobb assembles an uncanny team of dreamers, each with unique abilities that will allow the team to successfully navigate

Asleep on the job: Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) watches over the dream team.

the dreamscape of their intended mark; one Robert Fischer Jr., played by Cillian Murphy (who, you may recall, was Scarecrow in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight). But there is a twist, of course; this new job will not involve the “extraction” of information, it will involve what is known as “inception,” or putting an idea into someone’s mind via there dreams. Cobb and his team must plant a seed deep in the mind of their mark that will in effect brainwash him into carrying out a specific task. But they will find out that dreams, and the unconscious can be, at the very least, unpredictable at times, and that if you are going to delve into someone else’s mind and share dreams with them, then you’d better be on top of your game.
Ellen Page plays Ariadne. She is the “architect”

Marion Cotillard and Leonardo DiCaprio get away from it all as Mal & Cobb.

of the team, who’s job is to design the basic scenery or setting of the dreamscape which the mark will inadvertently “flesh out;” filling in the details with the elements and symbolism of his own unconscious mind. (It gets really deep, so don’t lose you focus yet!) Ariadne is new to the whole concept, but she is a natural. In the dreamscape, she sort of maintains the integrity of the “backdrop.”
Tom Hardy (Who played Praetor Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis) is Eames (my personal favorite). He is a master forger by trade who, in the dreamscape–as it turns out, is capable of forging much, much more than signatures. Eames can study the physical characteristics and mannerisms of a person, and then replicate them to perfection in the dreamscape. He is a natural at shapeshifting.

Ken Wantanabe as Saito with Cotillard as Mal.

Director Chris Nolan brings back another old acquaintance, Michael Caine (Alfred of The Dark Knight) to play Miles. Miles is the creator of the device, the Dream Machine, that allows Cobb and his accomplices to enter the dreams of others. He is also Cobb’s father in-law, and the one who taught him everything he knows about the psychology dream navigation and extracting information.
The acting is top-notch, and Chris Nolan has put together an interesting array actors with believable characters that you really feel for. And while Inception is basically a science fiction movie, its subject matter is loosely based on a very real phenomenon called “lucid dreaming.” A lucid dream is a dream in which the dreamer is consciously aware that he is dreaming as the dream happens; a dream in which he can act with conscious volition in the same way he could if he were awake. Strange but true! There has been much scientific research done on this subject, and many books have been written about it. I myself am a lucid dreamer, and if you have been

Cobb tries to convince Mr. Fischer (Cillian Murphy) that he's dreaming.

following my blog, you may have read my article, “Lucid Dreaming: The Conscious Exploration Of The Psyche,” which sort of set the stage for this movie review. Inception plays on the darker side of the idea of lucid dreaming, but this phenomenon in itself is not wrought with peril, as the movie might lead you to believe. Learning and practicing the art of lucid dreaming is a very worthwhile endeavor.
There are lucid dreamers who have experienced “shared dreaming,” or “dream-linking.” This is when two dreamers have the same dream, but each from the perspective of their own dream “character.” This is pretty much what the Dream Machine in Inception does; it allows you to dream together with other dreamers.
It is apparent to me that Christopher Nolan, if he is not a lucid dreamer himself, has researched the subject very thoroughly, as he has created a movie with great insight and psychological depth. Inception is a work of art.

Cobb gives Ariadne (Ellen Page) a lesson in dream manipulation.

There was only one thing about this movie that I didn’t really care for; a bit of “dream splicing” that Nolan does right at the beginning of the movie. But, you’ll see what I mean when you watch it, if you haven’t done so already. Inception very easily lends itself to continuation. It is ripe with possibilities, and I think that Nolan might be able to come up with something even more fabulous for part two. I recommend this movie very highly. Leave a comment, and let me know what you think!

I give Inception 4 1/2 hits.

Lucid Dreaming: The Conscious Exploration Of The Psyche

July 15, 2010

A Lucid Dream, is a dream in which you are consciously aware that you are dreaming and that your physical body is asleep somewhere; or a dream in which you are aware that you are dreaming as the dream is happening.
There are people who do not believe that such a thing is even possible. They do not believe that they can be self-aware and act with volition in the dream state in the same way that they are aware when awake; in the same way that you are aware as you are reading this article right now. But I can assure you that it is quite possible, and it is an ability that you can learn to develop. I, among many others, have experienced this phenomenon first-hand. I have been having lucid dreams since I was a teenager over twenty-five years ago. I have also been experiencing a related phenomenon for just as long; the out-of-body-experience, or OBE for short. An OBE is when you feel that your consciousness leaves your physical body and is aware from a perspective outside of it, whether that perspective be in your immediate physical surroundings, of far removed from them. But, I am not going to go into OBE’s right now; I will save that for another time, perhaps. With this article, I am just going to talk about Lucid Dreaming.
There are many different techniques that can be used for inducing

Creative Dreaming by Patricia Garfield.

lucid dreams, but more and more, I find that intentis really the most crucial element, and techniques are secondary. If I give it an earnest effort, I can induce on the average, perhaps 2 to 4 lucid dreams per month. If don’t really try, I will have perhaps 1 or 2 lucid dreams per month at the most. Many books have been written on the subject of how to induce lucid dreams, and there are web sites that are devoted to lucid dreaming and OBE’s. I am not going to go into techniques here, but I will give a few resources that I have found helpful. The first book I ever read about lucid dreams was, “Creative Dreaming,” by Patricia Garfield.  I had my first lucid dream within a couple of months of reading this book.  Garfield touched on different cultures that had interesting ideas about what we call “lucid dreaming;” most notable among these were the aborigines of Australia who placed a high value on the practical use of dreaming, or what they called, The Dream Time. They were taught at a young age how to react in certain dream situations.  They were taught to always turn a negative situation around; for example, if you are being chased, you must turn around a face your aggressor and run after him/her/it, and once you confront them, you must demand a gift from them before the dream ends.  If you find yourself falling, you should not become afraid and wake up, but let yourself fall and land, and

Lucid Dreaming: Gateway To The Inner Self by Robert Waggoner

then explore the surroundings you find yourself in, and look for something that you can take back to your village when you wake up; this can be a song, some kind of art, or knowledge from a dream character that you encounter there.  Creative Dreaming remains one of my favorite books on the subject.  I am currently reading a book called Lucid Dreaming: Gateway To The Inner Self, by Robert Waggoner, which is proving to be very good so far; one of the best I’ve read in a while.  Waggoner’s book is very insightful, with lots of personal experiences, and he really seems to have experienced what he is talking about, unlike many other authors on the subject who just compile other people’s ideas and experiences and critique them as if they are authorities.  As a lucid dreamer, Waggoner is interested in evolving, and always taking his ability to new levels.  If you really want to go deeper with lucid dreaming, I would suggest a couple of books by Carlos Castaneda as well. “The Fire From Within,” and ”The Art of Dreaming,” (read in that order) are two really amazing books.  These might be a bit out on a limb for beginners, so I would only suggest them if you have already had experience with lucid dreaming. Dr. Stephen Laberge has done extensive research into lucid dreaming, and has done much to bring this area of exploration into the scientific mainstream. He discusses several techniques for inducing lucidity in his book, “Lucid Dreaming.”
Now, I am sure there will be some, who have never experienced a lucid dream, who will say, “Well what would be the point of becoming conscious in the dream state, even if such a thing were possible?” The benefits of learning and practicing lucid dreaming are many.When you become lucid in a dream, you are in a position to consciously access the normally inaccessible elements of your psyche, of your unconscious and subconscious mind.  In a normal dream, your experience is pretty much “thrust” upon you.  You have no conscious volition.  You cannot accept or reject, or choose dream experiences you want to have.  You cannot direct the dream in any way.  But once you become lucid; once consciousness enters the picture, it is a different ballgame altogether.  You can more or less now focus on any element of the dream you choose. You can choose to carry out an action that you decided upon while you were awake. You can bring new elements into the dream by focusing your mind on it.
Let us compare for a moment, having a regular dream with watching a TV program.  In a normal (non-lucid) dream, you are either a character in the program, or you appear to be watching it from outside sometimes.  But either way, the program is set, and normally you cannot change what you are watching or change your character within the program. But now imagine that you are consciously aware while the program is in progress — Instead of just watching the TV, or playing a “pre-scripted” role, now you can fast-forward, rewind, enlarge the image, or shrink it,

Lucid Dreaming by Stephen Laberge

or peek around the borders of the TV screen. And if you are not feeling the show at all, you can change the channel. You can watch it from “outside”, or you can directly affect the program and the other characters from within.  Action, drama, comedy, sci-fi, educational, news; you can basically go channel surfing through your own psyche once you get a feel for how it is done.
If you are an artist, a painter perhaps, you could use the dreamscape while lucid to produce your next painting.  Or, if you are an architect, you could have a building you’ve been working on materialize in the dreamscape right before your eyes.  A composer could pull the most sublime melodies from the vast creative well of his psyche and have them played out on the dreamscape.  He could start out humming a simple spontaneous tune, and the dream itself would begin adding instruments and orchestration or voices.  This has happened to me before, and I am not even a composer or musician.  But if I were, I could have remembered the music of the dreamscape and transcribed it upon awakening.  While the average artist must create his work in a linear fashion and perhaps toil and agonize over the creative details for a period of time before it is complete, the lucid dreamer/artist could have his work appear whole and complete before him in the dreamscape.  The lucid dreamer has direct access to his unconscious processes and the natural unimpeded creativity of his psyche.  He is able to consciously tap more of his abilities both creatively and mentally.  It is said that Beethoven had such genius that he could hear complete symphonies in his head, and then simply transcribe what he heard as if he were a secretary taking dictation.  Is it possible that he had developed a similar faculty to that of the lucid dream artist, but was such a prodigy that he could use this ability while awake?  Such possibilities lead one to question the nature of creativity, and ask how much we really know about our own psyche.  I personally believe that as human beings we are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for.
I have, learned over the years that dreams in general are very responsive to the dreamer.  Once you are lucid in the dream state, you can focus your conscious attention in just about any direction, and based on your focus, your emotional intensity, and your imagination, the dream will pick-up on your intent and begin manifesting whatever idea you are focused on.  Indeed, it will start filling in the gaps, and fleshing out your vision.  It is this particular quality of dreams that lends them so well to the conscious intent of the lucid dreamer.  For those interested in creative visualization, the dream scape is the ideal setting for carrying out such exercises. You have complete access to your imaginative faculties, and you can totally immerse yourself in your visualization because there are no physical distractions. Carlos Castaneda’s “Don Juan” would say that lucid dreaming is a faculty that lies dormant in all of us, waiting for the moment that we would use it, and give it purpose.
Aside from the creative possibilities, of lucid dreaming, it can also be used for experimentation, and general problem solving, or to access elements, or memories from your unconscious mind where, it is said, a record all of your personal experiences is stored, going back to the time you were born, and beyond.  The dream state is, among other things, a reflection of the elements your mind; of your unconscious and subconscious awareness.  It is a mirror of the psyche. But for Lucid dreamers, It is also the reflection of your conscious mind in real-time, and thus can be molded to take the shape of your conscious intent or desire.  But beyond this, I believe the dream state can be used as a valid field of perception, and possibly communication.  Many lucid dreamers, however, simply use their lucidity for fun and dream adventures, and to act out fantasies that they could not, for whatever reasons, experience in their waking life.   And while fun and adventure certainly have their place, lucid dreaming has the potential for far more.

I have done many experiments with my lucid dreaming over the years– on my own, and with others.  I have used lucid dreaming to explore the Under World of the Shamanic cosmology. I have used it to “dream share,” which is when you have the same dream as another dreamer, but each from the perspective of your own “characters.”  I have also experimented with various concepts from Carlos Castaneda’s books like isolating “scouts” in a dream, and following them, and using the “Twin Positions” technique to stabilize the dream experience.  The possibilities for lucid dreaming are endless.  I have even delivered a message from a deceased person to a living relative of their’s – a message that although meant nothing to me, was totally understood and appreciated by the person I delivered it to.
About 2 and a half years ago, I had a very long dream in which I went to sleep and had another dream. This is what’s commonly known as “a dream within a dream.” In the second dream, I became lucid, and at one point, I woke up from the second dream back into the first dream I was having. I am not going to go into the details of the entire dream, because it would be too long for what I intended here. But I mention it, because in the first dream (in which I was not lucid) I described a technique to a dream character which would enable her to incubate a dream about specific subject. The following is an excerpt from my dream journal dated Wednesday 2/13/08:

The dream “begins” in a cafeteria, and it seems that I am in my work environment-but not like where I actually work. Anyway, I am sitting at a round table in the cafeteria, and I am talking to a black woman about dreams. She wants to know how to have a dream about a specific subject… I tell her that, while she’s awake, whenever she sees an element that is part of the dream she wants to have, in her mind, she must review the whole dream she wants to have, and at the end, say “this is a dream” – as if she were actually having it. I ask her what elements are in the dream she wants to have, and she says, a tiger, and a river. I tell her that she is not likely to see those things in her waking life on an average day [so that would not be a good element to choose]. I then ask her what the dream is about that she wants to induce, but I don’t want to pry into her personal business, so I tell her that whatever the dream is she wants to induce, she just has to be aware, while she is awake, if she sees any elements from it, and that will be her cue to review the dream she wants to induce—Now, Frank, my manager at work, who is sitting at a table next to us, says that I am talking too loud, and that I should be more quiet. I am upset by this interjection, as I don’t believe that I was being overly loud, and so I just get up in mid-conversation, and storm out of the “cafeteria.” As I walk away further, I seem to be in a house that I used to live in years ago on Sylvan Terrace in Washington heights…

Now, although I have never actually used the technique that I gave to the woman in this dream, it is still very interesting in that I am, in a sense, getting information about how to improve my dreaming skills from the dream itself. This is a great example of how dreams can be educational. And, by the way, if any of you happen to try this technique out, I would be interested in knowing what kind of results you get. The technique was not for inducing a lucid dream specifically, but it could be tailored for that result.

Lucid dreaming is an ability that is well worth developing. You can explore the dream state as a realm in itself for pleasure or personal growth, or you can use lucid dreaming as a springboard into the exploration of other “psychic” phenomena.

A scene from the movie, Inception, opening Friday, July 16th.

Now, the reason why I wanted to write this article about lucid dreaming is because, aside from the fact that it is a very personal and meaningful subject for me, Hollywood is about to drop a bomb on us! Tomorrow, Friday, July 16, 2010, Christopher Nolan’s new movie, “Inception” will be released. This sci-fi thriller is based on the premise of a device that has been created which allows the user/s to infiltrate the dreams of another person; a sort of twisted version of the concept I discussed earlier called “shared dreaming.” But in the case of Inception, this “dream sharing” will ultimately be used for the purpose of corporate espionage. Here we have dream spies who will give the term “insider trading” a whole new meaning. Word is, Inception might be the smash sci-fi hit of the summer. And although Hollywood may very well drag the idea of lucid dreaming through the muck and mire, I, of course, find the subject matter irresistable, so this is one movie I will not miss. Check back here in a few days for my review! Until then, may your dreams be lucid!

Below, are a few interesting movies that deal with lucid dreaming. If you have any other suggestions that could be added, let me know:

Dreamscape (1984)
A Nightmare On Elm St. (1984) – This is, of course, the classic horror movie, but the third installment of this series, “The Dream Warriors,” actually incorporated some very sophisticated lucid dreaming ideas!
The Serpent And The Rainbow (1988)
In Dreams (1999)
The Cell (2000)
Waking Life (2001)
Inception (2010)

‘Eclipse’ Leaves Its Prequels In The Shadow

July 5, 2010

Director: David Slade
What a relief! Eclipse is the best of the Twilight Saga movies.
In this latest installment, rogue vampire, Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard), seeking revenge on the Cullen clan for the death of her vampire lover, Laurent, creates a small army of new-born vampires to destroy them. But her soldiers are careless and undisciplined, drawing attention to themselves with a string of disappearances and crude murders. This in turn draws the attention of the Volturi, the ever watchful vampire high council presided over by the eternally youthful and stoic, Jane (Dakota Fanning). Lines are crossed, vampire directives are violated, and tribal laws are broken as all are drawn into the inevitable battle in this well-paced, well-directed fantasy thriller.
Eclipse flows in a much more “realistic” way than its predecessors. While the movie,Twilight, was a bit too teeny-bopish, and (although I only read half of Stephanie Meyer’s book) left me with the distinct impression that I was sitting in a theater watching a book translated directly to the screen; and ‘New Moon” was a bit evanescent, Eclipse, is a more wholesome endeavor that is more capable of standing alone as a movie. Perhaps it is more

The vampire, Victoria, played by Bryce Dallas Howard.

“grown-up.”
The character, Edward Cullen (played by co-star Robert Pattinson), seems to be doing more real acting instead of just brooding about the screen. We see a more full and complex array of emotions being portrayed by him. And Kristen Stewart, who plays the main character of Bella, also seems to be more in command of her craft. Although I loved the introduction of the Volturi in New Moon, and how it opened up and expanded the saga,The dialog and the story of Eclipse, have much more depth than its predecessors had.
Eclipse is not just a movie about vampires and werewolves, it is about breaking down the barriers of prejudice and preconceived notions that keep us apart, and looking at what is good in others even though they may be very different from ourselves. It is about understanding and acceptance.

Micheal Welch leads an army of new-born vampires on the warpath.


I also like that they took the time to go back into the personal history of a few of the other “Cullens” like Jasper, played by Jackson Rathbone, and Alice, played by Ashley Greene, who admits to Bella that she is jealous of her because, while Bella is being given the opportunity to choose whether she wants to become a vampire, Alice was made a vampire without her consent.
Eclipse focused more on the character’s interpersonal relationships, taking time to delve into their subtleties and idiosyncracies. There is a funny line in the movie where the vampire, Edward has to escort Bella into the protection of the werewolf,Jacob, (played by the well-buffed, Taylor Lautner) who is his rival for Bella’s affections. They meet on a road near the border of the indian reservation (which is off-limits to vampires) where Jacob lives. Jacob is of course

Bella tries to keep things calm between Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and Edward.

naked from the waist up, and the “not so buffed” Edward says somewhat demeaningly, “Doesn’t this guy ever put on a shirt?”
Eclipse does have its fair share of blood and violence and danger (we are dealing with vampires and werewolves after all) But this third installment manages to raise the Twilight Saga up a few notches in my book.
Ah, Vampire and Werewolf working together to achieve a common goal. Perhaps there is hope for mankind (and Hollywood) after all!

I give Eclipse 3 1/2 hits!

Agora: The Movie Review

June 15, 2010

Director: Alejandro Amenabar
Agora (which, in Greek, means an open market, or open space where people gather) is one of the better movies I have seen in a while. It is successful on many levels. It takes what little historical information is available about Hypatia (whose name means highest, or supreme), and the conflicting political/religious/social dramas that were being played out near the turn of the fourth century in Alexandria, and weaves them into a thoughtful and potent tale that focuses on our ideas and beliefs about religion, science, and the importance/necessity of free thought.
The back drop is Alexandria, Egypt circa 395 AD; a tumultuous time when Christianity began to assert itself, and wipe out what was left of the “pagan” belief systems of ancient Egypt. Scientific (read heretical) and philosophical thought, and Judaism become casualties in the process. [As an Interesting aside, Agora is also the Hebrew word for the Israeli penny]
Agora does not show any favoritism toward any religion, but instead explores the dangers of extremity; the darkness that can envelope us when we are too caught-up in our belief systems, whatever they may be.
And so, Hypatia, (played by Rachel Weisz)

Weisz as Hypatia, admires the work of her slave, Davus (Max Minghella).

who is revered for being one of the greatest mathematicians/astronomers of her day is conceived of as a double threat to the male dominated Christian religion. She is a free-thinker, and a powerful woman, and the last custodian of the Great Library Of Alexandria.
As the movie progresses, we see that Hypatia has won over the hearts and minds of two men; one of them is her student/disciple, Orestes (played by Oscar Isaac), and the other is her father’s slave Davus (played by Max Minghella). While Davus longs for her in secret, praying to the god of his newly adopted religion (Christianity) that no other man will have her, Orestes makes his feelings know publicly, declaring his devotion to her with a musical offering during

Oscar Isaac as Orestes, comforts Hypatia over the destruction of Alexandria's Great Library.

the intermission of an open air theatrical performance. Oh, foolish heart; the bigger they come, the harder they fall! Hypatia’s one and only true love is, of course, knowledge. And she later responds to Orestes with an equally dramatic gesture.
The slave, Davus, is torn between his feelings and loyalty for Hypatia, and the Christian religion he has embraced, and as tensions rise and the religious conflicts escalate, he is forced to make a choice between the two. Later, Orestes, who becomes Alexandria’s Prefect, is forced to make the same choice as the fate of Hypatia hangs in the balance.
Sami Samir adds much dramatic force to Agora in his role as the compelling, Cyril, a Christian devotee who rises to power as the Bishop of Alexandria.

Sami Samir as Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria.

Agora, was well done, overall. The only thing I didn’t really care for was the director’s decision to include written passages a certain junctures to move the story along. Personally, I have never cared much for voice narration in movies, but written passages, especially in the middle of a movie, impress me even less. Aside from this minor peeve, I thought Agora was innovative, imaginative, educational, and moving. And as with any good tale, there was a moral to the story. Agora imbues you with a sense of responsibility for the beliefs that you harbor, and it also left me wanting to learn more about the place and time in history that it captured. I would highly recommend this movie.

I give Agora 4 hits:

Kites: The Movie Review

May 27, 2010

Director: Anurag Basu
A reluctant “Bonnie and Clyde” meets “Thelma and Louise” in Bollywood.
Kites, is many things; so many that I don’t quite know where to begin. Well, the reason I went to see this movie was because, a couple of days ago, I was paging through the hundred or so cable channels that are available to me, and after exhausting all possibilities, I tuned into the Asian channel to see what that was about. As it happened, they were interviewing the various people involved with the making of the movie, Kites. They spoke to the producer, director and some of the actors, especially the male star of the movie, Hrithik Roshan. They followed him through an autograph signing and discussed his first big movie ten years ago, “Kaho Naa… Pyaar Hai.” Roshan has a background in dance, which was apparently the driving force of his first movie, and also comes into play in this new movie. The fans at the autograph signing seemed to be impressed by how down to earth Hrithik was. And indeed, he came off as very humble, and thankful for his blessings. The interviewer spoke to some of the other actors along with the director, and music composer (Rajesh Roshan–Hrithik’s uncle) outside the AMC movie theater on 42nd St. in Manhattan before the premiere.

Barbara Mori Ochoa and Hrithik Roshan in Kites.

When asked how they felt the movie would fare, the pat answer seemed to be “Well, if it makes you laugh and cry at the right places then it will have been a success.” And judging by the interviews done after the screening, kites seemed to have achieved its –shall we say– modest goals?!. The consensus of the general movie viewers was that Kites was a great success, and that Hrithik Roshan and co-star, actress Barbara Ochoa had a great chemistry on-screen. It was also mentioned that the current leading female actresses of India had better watch out because mexican-born Barbara Ochoa, has given them a run for their money.
Judging by the mindsets of the director, cast, and others involved with this movie, I got the impression that bollywood is somehow moored in the seventies, or eighties, and it has not quite caught up to Hollywood; although, for some misguided reason, this does seem to be its goal. I’m no expert in Indian movies, so that’s a broad sweeping judgement to make based on what I saw on the

Ochoa and Roshan as Linda/Natasha and Jay

Asian channel. But I have seen a few bollywood films, and I’ll wager that it is not far from the truth. Although, I found the whole sneak-peak pre-show kind of kitschy and contrived, it did leave me wanting to check out Kites to find out what the reel deal was.
And so, “Bonnie and Clyde” meets “Thelma and Louise” in Bollywood… A La Disney.
Hrithik Roshan is a gorgeous man with the most beautifully colored eyes, which may or may not have been enhanced for the screen (I’ll have to research further), and a sculpted body which the director was not ashamed to flaunt. Barbara Ochoa is an equally gorgeous woman, and the two do have a great chemistry on the screen. They are both good actors. But the movie itself goes overboard with the drama and a few James Bond-type high-speed chase scenes, giving Kites a somewhat contrived feeling.
But I must say that, not having read the story line, I was kind of surprised at the direction this movie took (for better or worse). kites is more action-driven than Character-driven, and aside from the two main characters, there was not much developement; and even their relationship could have been delved into a bit more. Roshan, who plays Jay, is Indian, and Ochoa, who plays Natasha/Linda, is Mexican. They are two generally harmless opportunists/hustler types who meet in Las Vegas looking for that jack-pot that’s going to set them for life. They each end up pursuing a brother and sister who are part of a wealthy Las Vegas casino family, but things get complicated as they realize they have genuine feelings for each other.
The fact that there is a language barrier between the two main characters –spanish/English– did not help with the character developement. And the director may have purposely added/used this as an excuse to avoid the complexity of relationship that could have been expressed between the two characters otherwise. Yet still , there are some genuinely moving scenes in Kites, and it was interesting to see this impassioned, if not unlikely, story unfold. Ayananka Bose’s cinematography was well done, and aside from its kitschyness, the overall direction of Kites was promising. Perhaps the director, Anurag Basu, just needs a bit more seasoning. So anyway, go see Kites and let me know what you think!

I give kites 2 1/2 hits.

Two Sonnets

May 10, 2010

With these two sonnets, I was experimenting with a new format I came up with.  The rhyme scheme is abab bcbc cdcd aa, which is a variation on the classic Spenserian sonnet form.  But I think this variation is more effective because the last couplet brings you back to the beginning again.  This gives the sonnet an added sense of  completion.

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Sonnet #1

His eyes are closed, his body, limp and torn.
What wretched hand would dare to so impale
The hope of man, the prince, the savior-born?
How now will mankind lift its deathly veil?
We see with our own eyes and yet we fail
To grasp the truth that hides within plain sight.
And now the son of man is but a tale
To all but those who take their stand and fight.
Alone against the dying of the light,
They forge ahead where others would retreat.
No time to rest – the end is now in sight.
On high, the king prepares for each a seat.
With garments made of light, he will adorn
The temples of the faithful, now forlorn.

Anthony W. Griffin – June 12, 2009

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On Joyous Wings

On joyous wings, my heart commenced to rise;
‘Twas here, the force of life began to flow.
No greater scenery could I devise
Than to rest my hands upon the god below.
Awakened by my touch, we now must go
To walk again within his sacred shrine
He rises on the air with me in tow.
Within each other’s arms we are entwined.
Adrift upon a melody sublime,
I find it in my heart now to forgive
My negligence in wasting so much time.
Alas, the god within me now shall live.
Now he and I are one and I am wise.
Remove we now the mask of mortal lies.

Anthony W. Griffin – June 10, 2009

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While the second sonnet has a Pagan feel to it, the first one has a distinct Christian bent. But don’t get me wrong – while I don’t adhere to any specific religion or belief system, I can, and do appreciate the various aspects of some religions. If I had to describe myself, I would just say that I am someone who believes in the evolution human consciousness, and exploring its potentials. I believe that spirituality does not necessitate a go-between from man to “God.” We all have the potential for more than we are led to believe in our society.

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