Extreme Themes from the Best Films of 2013

Astrology is a wonderful way of seeing trends and so are movies. What they share in common is a road map of the purpose, values and intentions that are presented in life, but are often hidden behind the drama of the story. Neptune rules film and our collective spirit; movies that are popular resonate to the heart and spirit of the collective. There is a theme to this year’s Oscar picks for best picture and it has to do with exploring the extremes of our lives. Extremes need special circumstances or a lack of values to manifest. Don’t forget to examine your own life and see where you are living on the edge. There is nothing wrong with pushing the boundaries, just make sure you don’t forget your values when you do. They’re our inner barometer of what’s right and wrong.

Twelve Years A Slave takes us back to man’s addiction to power over others and how the ego can justify cruelty by creating a society with a value system that supports it. In this movie we see Southern Plantation owners and their ability to treat others as inhuman.Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o give award-winning performances.

Extremes Social Hierarchy: When a society believes that one person is better than another, then one’s negative ego can emerge. Within many of us is a seed of darkness that just needs permission to show its face.

The Wolf of Wall Street gives us a view of greed and how it can destroy decency. The setting is Wall Street where money trumps values, because it can. Leonardo DiCaprioplays the life of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker; we see his continuous rise and fall and the loss of all things decent in his life. The lack of values always leads to destruction.

Extreme Wealth: When you can buy your way through life, you don’t learn consequences and sooner or later you self-destruct.

The Dallas Buyers Club explores the early years of Aids. In this film Matthew McConaughey plays a man with HIV who is given 30 days to live. He crosses the border into Mexico to find alternative ways to staying alive. In this film, we see how too many rigid and inflexible rules can be just as destructive as not having any.

Extreme Rules: When rules forget the reason why they exist, then they can do more harm than good.

Blue Jasmine is the story of a socialite, played by Cate Blanchett, whose sense of reality was based on her husband’s bank account – which suddenly no longer exists. She moves in with her struggling sister, played by Sally Hawkins, but is unable to accept her new life. It is her sister who has meaning and finds love; Cate has nothing to cling to except her delusional mind.

Extreme Illusion:  In this movie we watch the disintegration of a personality that was built around a sense of superiority based on wealth. Remove extreme wealth and the daily struggles of life return.    

Philomena exposes the cruelty of extreme judgment that is often hidden behind the façade of  “goodness.” In this film the Catholic Church punishes unwed mothers by selling their children to wealthy Catholic families. Based on a true story, Philomena, played brilliantly by Judi Dench, suffers her entire life from the loss of her son, yet manages to maintain her faith and values in spite of her experience. Her spirit uplifts the movie and brings a powerful message to all who see it.

Extreme Judgment: When one feels they are “right” and refuse any other possibility then they will create their own crisis and unhappiness.

Faith: Faith is absolute, and that in itself is an extreme, because it demands that one rise above and beyond reality to keep love living in one’s heart. This is how miracles occur.

Gravity takes us out of this world and into the universe with Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone and George Clooney as Matt Kowalski, a colleague in space. Communication with mission control is lost and Dr. Stone is forced to struggle for survival, but to do that she needs the will to live. The loss of her daughter has never been dealt with emotionally and now she must face all her feelings. Being close to death can often give one a renewed sense of life.

Extreme Physical Environment: When you choose to live in a dangerous place anything can happen. Death is the ultimate extreme and when you face it all your other fears are diminished.

 American Hustle takes us into the lives of characters that have lost their sense of self by pretending to be someone they are not – all for the purpose of the scam. Christian Bale and Amy Adams play characters that have thrown away their moral compass and get their excitement from their ability to create illusions that are guaranteed to deceive others with a greedy heart.

Extreme Role Playing:  Actors do this all the time for entertainment purposes.  Remove the moral Geiger counter from a person’s soul and they’ll eventually self- destruct.

In NebraskaBruce Dern plays Woody Grant, a man who has drifted through life, never really embracing it, but rather escaping through alcohol. Will Forte plays his son David, who makes a decision to take a pointless journey with his father who falsely believes he has won a million dollars in Nebraska. A life without meaning, desires and values led him to drink. At the end, a positive desire does emerge and it is the source of father and son uniting and experiencing intimacy for the first time.

Extreme Lack of PurposeWhen you live without meaning you live in extreme emptiness and then you must fill it with something – often negative choices.

Her takes us to another extreme – the digital age. Theodore, played by Joaquin Phoenixa lonely introverted man, falls in love with the voice in his OS (operating system) played by Scarlett Johansson. Here we see a man “imitating” life and not really living it. At first his experience with his OS gives him more than any human can, she is totally present, supportive and interactive. In the end his journey into fantasy leaves him more present in his life.

Extreme Fantasy: When reality is removed from one’s thought process then it’s only a matter of time before “the fall.”

Negative extremes are created by a lack of values or reality. Sure, there is a thrill to living on the edge, going into space, manipulating the ignorance of others so that you feel powerful, but it has consequences. What many don’t realize is that facing yourself, your fears of inadequacy, your sense of hopelessness can also be thrilling once you realize that so much of who you are was created by the opinion and judgment of others – especially your parents. Astrology takes us on a journey from Aries to Pisces, and as we learn skills and gain wisdom so that we can become the masters of our universe. Too many of us get stuck along the way because we don’t know what to do or how to fix what’s not working. The key to learning about yourself is to do for others. Help someone else overcome their fears and you will find meaning in what you do. Then satisfaction will live in your heart and increase your self-worth. Something money can never buy.

Halloween In New York City

I just came out of a Halloween Party on Twenty-third Street in my favorite city in the world, New York, and decided to walk home. I had totally forgotten that the annual Halloween Parade had just finished and crowds of onlookers would be flooding the streets. As I wove my way in and out of the craziest array of fantasies, I smiled and pondered to myself – did one choose their costume to fulfill a hidden desire? If that was true did the man in an orange prison garb with huge chains around his neck and waist actually want to be imprisoned? I shuddered at the thought, no one could get me into that garb; I valued my freedom too much. Ahead of me was a giant gorilla with a wooden cage strapped to the front of his chest. As I passed him I noticed that there was a real live person inside the cage – he was laughing and I laughed with him. How original. As I pushed forward I came face to face with Zorro in a black cape and sword – now that was more to my liking. In college I was a champion fencer. No time to linger in one reality, too many distractions. To my right was a cowboy; to my left a group of skeletons and zombies, I stopped to watch them spill out into the street at Union Square. Crossing the park I headed down University Street and came face to face with Queen Victoria in her long embroidered gown. I bowed just as a group of cheerleaders hurried by; one dropped a golden pompom. I picked it up and found myself face to face with a man with a clear round globe that encased his head; he looked as if he had just landed from another planet. Delightful. I can’t ever remember enjoying a late night stroll so much. How wonderful to have even one day to expose a dark or dangerous part of oneself or just perhaps a fantasy. As I gladly entered my building on Mercer Street I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Reflected back was a passionate, flamenco dancer in a red and white polka dot ruffled dress. No, I hadn’t danced on the tabletops in reality, but in my mind I had lived the dream. Happy Halloween.

 

His Name Is Tommy White

With the fiftieth anniversary of The March On Washington in all the news, I was brought back to my childhood and my first experience with racism. My parents were basically good people, but they were influenced by the times. I was just eight years old and it was the first week of school in St. Paul, Minnesota where I was born. I lived in a German neighborhood; my father had grown up in the house he brought my mother to live in before I was born. I enjoyed growing up there and had lots of friends. One day I came home from school and proudly announced to my mother that I had a new friend, a boy my age. What happened next would stay with me for the rest of my life.  She leaned down and asked me what his color was. Her question startled and puzzled me, because I could not see why that was important. I thought for a minute, then answered her with the truth “I don’t know.” She seemed annoyed by my answer. “What do you mean you don’t know?” But the truth was I honestly couldn’t remember, because it wasn’t important to me. What was important was how nice he was and how much fun we had playing together at recess. My mother’s question disturbed me, although I didn’t show it. She had created a feeling of separation between us, a feeling that we were different and that difference wasn’t good although it was never stated. “What’s his name,” she asked and I was happy that I knew the answer, “His name is Tommy White,” I said. Then I asked if I could invite him over to play; she didn’t say no, but I knew it made her uncomfortable.  I never forgot our little interaction because the ideals and moral principles that I was taught didn’t fit with this picture. Racism is taught, children don’t judge others by the color of their skin, adults do, and children imitate their parents. I always believed in equality and fairness to all and that was innate in me. When I look back at that little girl, I’m very proud of her for knowing that judging someone for such a superficial reason was wrong. I didn’t realize how amazing that was then, but my ability to keep what I thought was the truth close to my heart in spite of what others thought around me, would turn out to be a talent that would separate me from ideas and a collective consciousness that would only have limited me.

Paula Deen — Guilty Or Innocent?

With the anniversary of The March On Washington and the release of Lee Daniel’s The Butler, a brilliant movie about the civil rights era, I was surprised to see that the front-page news was the exoneration of Paula Deen, or should I say her court case on racial discrimination had been dismissed, probably due to a settlement. Is this southern belle, known for her fried food and butter, guilty of more than just an unhealthy diet? I say she’s guilty, but her crime is ignorance.

In her youth Paula was a struggling mom who used her love of food and good business sense to create a dynasty. However, notoriety and an expanding bank account do not guarantee that ones consciousness will also grow. Insisting that blacks use back entrances and separate toilets is abusive in any era, but particularly today. To admit that your dream dinner party includes men dressed as slaves is so out of touch with today’s world that it makes one wonder how a celebrity could be so unconscious. Obviously, Paula never integrated the pain and suffering of African Americans with the joys and privileges of being a white southerner. Before you judge her though, it might be wise to look at your own life. Where are you unconscious? Where do you hold on to the joyful memory of an experience solely by refusing to acknowledge that there was a negative or painful part to it also? Paula lost a fortune and her reputation for her lack of awareness. What could you loose by protecting a portion of your thoughts and memories from the truth?

Pockets of fantasies are dangerous because they make you unconscious and unaware and this leads to trouble. So before you cast the first stone and condemn Paula, figure out what you are keeping on your island away from the rest of your consciousness? Paula Deen reached the top, but she couldn’t hold on to her success, because she wasn’t aware. She saw herself as a good, compassionate, loving woman and she had no concept of how some of her thoughts and habits were hurtful to others. Pain or a loss of financial resources is often the best teacher. Look within and don’t be afraid to live in reality – yours and the reality of others – they both exist.

 

 

Try Something New

As I was having breakfast this morning I found myself starring at Madonna’s gold and diamond teeth on the cover of The Post and a few minutes later I was reading about Ben Affleck having been chosen to play Batman. Apparently, the social network was abuzz registering their disapproval. Madonna and Ben were under attack. Let me go on record that I’m not crazy about Madonna’s new attention-getter, nor would I have picked Ben Affleck for Batman, but I am open minded. Madonna is not too old to try new things, which was a major complaint. She will never be too old to shock the world and it’s one reason I admire her. She incorporates change with such ease we could all learn from it. Never is Madonna afraid to put herself out there and risk criticism and rejection. She is fearless. As for Ben, let’s give him a chance. Why do we all have to put others in a box and throw away the key? If you’re creative, you want to express yourself in new ways, access a different side of yourself and add depth to your image. Unfortunately, when our icons make choices we don’t agree with, we get angry, frustrated or annoyed. But we don’t have to; we could go with the flow and concentrate on changing something in our own lives instead of trying to keep others in a box.

Polarization, A Prelude to Change

The world has become polarized, but it may just be a prelude to change. Whenever there is a pull to surrender, to accept a new and greater point of view, instinct has one pull back into ones comfort zone, into the exact ideas and ideals that need to be changed – we don’t want to let them go. Most people are afraid of the unknown, although it is this amazing place that allows new ideas to flourish, new opportunities to present themselves, new possibilities in general. Do you really want to live in supposed comfort (it’s really routine) built from fear? The human spirit needs to soar, it needs to be free of limitations and express itself in new ways or it shrinks and loses its power. Give your spirit a shot of nourishment and allow it to take you some place you haven’t been. That place could be just one more block than you usually walk, a different turn in the road, a conversation with a stranger, a moment to contemplate the beauty of the sky or the delicateness of a single flower. Beauty surrounds around you if you open your eyes to see it, new paths lay before you; don’t be afraid to explore.