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Books!

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Shades of RayShades of Ray is a delightful, even sometimes laugh-out-loud, story about young love struggling with cross cultural complications. This is a super script, well cast, well acted, and well directed, one of those rare films which offers purely joyful entertainment.

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Waking LifeWaking Life is an animated story about a fellow wandering through his life and through his dreams, meeting up with a sometimes interesting, sometimes weird, sometimes silly assortment of people, all of whom talk to him about the nature of life and dreams. Apparently, the movie was originally filmed with live actors and then painted over into this animation version, which is itself a treat. In the end, the principal character is challenged to “Wake up!” It's not clear whether or not he does.

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What The BleepWhat The Bleep Do We Know? is a documentary about quantum physics and mysticism presented in the form of narratives delivered by a variety of scientists, professors, and authors, overlaying a story about a professional photographer (Marlee Matlin) struggling with her perception of herself and her life. The movie was apparently a project of JZ Knight's Ramtha organization, about which please see also here. While serious seekers may already be familiar with many of the ideas in this movie, the material is presented with refreshing clarity and conviction.

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Ayn RandThe Passion of Ayn Rand is pretty much devoted to a single aspect of the life of Ayn Rand, author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and founder of Objectivism. Based on a book by the wife of a man with whom Rand had an extended affair, the script spends a lot of time depicting Rand's sexual appetite and not enough exploring her philosophy and its impact. Still, this is a well told story, superbly acted by Helen Mirren and Peter Fonda, and, in the bargain, offers a nice example of a teacher failing to live up to her own teaching.

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LadyhawkeLadyhawke is a charming story of medieval romance, a dastardly curse, and extraordinary heroism, featuring a handsome knight (Rutger Hauer), a damsel in distress (Michelle Pfeiffer at her most beautiful), an evil bishop, a disheveled monk (the late Leo McKern of “Rumpole” fame), and a young rascal (Matthew Broderick). This movie is great fun!

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Something's Gotta GiveSomething's Gotta Give is a lighthearted story of an aging bachelor (Jack Nicholson) who only dates women much younger than he, and who has avoided relationship all his life, but who now for the first time, falls in love with a mature, successful woman (Diane Keaton) his own age. Keeanu Reeves has a supporting role as another man in Keaton's life. This is a silly movie, and it's a little overdone here and there; but it's well acted, with a good script and a great cast.

Buy

Luther Luther, is the story of Martin Luther, the sixteenth century Augustinian monk whose crisis of conscience as expressed in his 95 Theses generated the Reformation and shaped the Christian church, both Protestant and Roman, that exists today. The movie was produced, we believe, by a Lutheran organization, and therefore may be biased. But it is well acted and well done all around; it's good history, well told, and well worth watching. (We rented the VHS from Blockbusters. Apparently Amazon.com does not carry it.)

 

Tuesdays with MorrieTuesdays with Morrie, based on the New York Times bestseller by the same title, beautifully tells the true story of a successful sports journalist who learns about life, love, relationships, death, and a lot more from his mentor, a Brandeis University professor (Jack Lemmon), who is dying of ALS (”Lou Gehrig's disease”).

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The Cutting EdgeThe Cutting Edge - Fate brings an ex-hockey player and a “spoiled rich girl” skater together as an Olympic figure skating pair in this thoroughly delightful, fun, and happy love story. We have watched this movie a half dozen times, and we love it more each time. (The TV version -- “modified to fit the time allotted” -- cuts some important scenes.)

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The Horse WhispererThe Horse Whisperer - This is the story of a young girl and her horse, both severely injured in an accident, and her mother, a hyper-tense New York City editor, all three of whom are wonderfully, movingly, and convincingly healed by a cowboy and the American West. Robert Redford stars, and directs a perfect cast to a perfect product. Every time we watch this movie, we like it more!

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MoonstruckMoonstruck - Here are love, romance, humor, and relationships, in an Italian-American neighborhood in New York City, perfectly set, perfectly cast, perfectly told! Super performances by Cher (won an Academy Award), Nicholas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, Vincent Gardenia, Danny Aiello, a great scene with John Mahoney (of TV's Frasier), and all the others. We positively love this movie!

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The Third MiracleKeeping The Faith - A priest (Edward Norton) and a rabbi (Jake Stiller), close friends since childhood, each fall for their childhood friend, Anna (Jenna Elfman), now a successful businesswoman. A silly story, but well acted, nicely told, and lots of fun. And there are several good lessons too!

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The Third MiracleThe Third Miracle - A Roman Catholic priest (flawlessly played by Ed Harris) struggling with his own faith is assigned to act as postulator (a priest who presents a case for beatification or canonization) in the cause of a recently deceased woman revered by her parish. His inner turmoil, punctuated by a relationship with the woman's daughter (wonderfully portrayed by Anne Heche), is perfectly woven into the historical and institutional dramas to create a powerfully entertaining and teaching experience. Based upon a novel by Richard Vetere, this is a great movie!

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Finding ForesterFinding Forrester - A sixteen year-old, inner city (South Bronx) student (Rob Brown) with a gift for writing and basketball is mentored by a reclusive, agoraphobic, curmudgeonly Pulitzer-winning author (Sean Connery), to the benefit of both. This movie has every opportunity to be silly and corny, but it avoids them all.

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The Nun's StoryThe Nun's Story - This wonderful movie is adapted from the inspiring book by Kathryn Hulme, which was based on the true story of a young Belgian woman, an excellent and dedicated nurse, who becomes a nun, and struggles with obedience, pride, and ultimately having to decide whether she is “first a nun or first a nurse”, a dilemma every seeker must resolve in his or her own way! Superb performances by Audrey Hepburn, Peter Finch, Colleen Dewhurst, and the Congo.

Buy

Brother Sun, Sister MoonBrother Sun, Sister Moon - This is Franco Zeffirelli's sometimes silly, sometimes beautiful interpretation of the young adult years of St. Francis of Assisi. Given the subject, this should have been a great film, and with a better script and a better actor, it would have been. Still, it's nice. And visually, it is absolutely delightful!

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Little BuddhaLittle Buddha - Bertolucci's true account of the search by a Tibetan Buddhist lama (monk) for the reincarnation of his former teacher as an American child, interwoven with a beautiful retelling of the life and teaching of the historical Buddha (Keanu Reeves). Some reviewers found this film boring; we must have missed that part. (Sogyal Rinpoche, author of the powerful Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, has a small role.)

Buy

KundunKundun - Directed by Martin Scorsese, this movie presents the life of the current (the 14th) Dalai Lama, from early childhood to his escape out of Tibet into India. It is fascinating, beautiful, interesting, and inspiring!

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Seven Years in TibetSeven Years in Tibet - At the outbreak of World War II, Heinrich Harrar (Brad Pitt), a youthful, arrogant Nazi athlete, is captured and imprisoned by the British in India while attempting a climb of a Himalayan peak. He escapes from the POW camp into Tibet, where he meets the Dalai Lama, then fourteen years old, with whom there evolves a life-altering relationship. Wonderfully cast amidst gorgeous scenery, this is a powerful telling of Harrar's book by the same title.

Buy

The American PresidentThe American President - This is a charming romantic comedy about a widowed US president (Michael Douglas) and a no-nonsense lobbyist (Annette Bening). Admittedly corny and sometimes silly, it is nonetheless convincing and a lot of fun.

Buy

RiverdanceRiverdance The Show - There are not sufficient superlatives to describe this performance. It is, simply, breathtaking. This is the original production, with Michael Flatley and Jean Butler, who are awesome, and the Riverdance Irish Dance Company, which is perfect.

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City of AngelsCity of Angels - Here's the story of an angel (Nicholas Cage) who falls for a human (Meg Ryan), and has to choose between immortality and human love. This is who we all are.

Buy

A Passage to IndiaA Passage to India - David Lean's adaptation of E.M. Forster's book set in 1920s India about a young British woman, her mother-in-law, the British Raj, and a predictable clash of cultures. It's sometimes disturbing, but very good.

Buy

Meet Joe BlackMeet Joe Black - A remake of Death Takes A Holiday (1934) in which Death (Brad Pitt) comes to collect a wealthy industrialist (Anthony Hopkins), and decides he wants to experience what it's like to be alive. Although the critics panned this movie, it is flawlessly presented and performed, thoroughly entertaining, and teaches a lesson or two in the bargain. (The edited version aired by ABC television is missing several essential scenes.)

Buy

Michael Michael - The Archangel Michael (John Travolta) is living in Iowa where he is discovered by tabloid reporters (William Hurt and Robert Pastorelli) who hope to make a story of him. There's a very nice love angle, too (Andie MacDowel). Some folks disliked this movie because of the way it depicts Michael (he smokes, he loves sugar and women and doing battle, and his wings are soiled). But it works, and forces us to ask ourselves: If an angel can behave so, well, humanly, and remain nonetheless angelic, why cannot we?

Buy

Much Ado About NothingMuch Ado About Nothing - Shakespeare's comedy about two love affairs encouraged and endangered by meddling and misunderstanding is beautifully and brilliantly presented by Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Denzel Washington, an unforgettable Dogberry by Michael Keaton, and the Tuscan countryside.

Buy

Patch AdamsPatch Adams - The true story of Hunter Adams (Robin Williams), a medical doctor whose method is to treat the patient, not the disease. This movie is not perfect, but the lesson is.

Buy

The MatrixThe Matrix - This is a very neat tale about a future when the relationship between human beings and computers has gotten completely out of hand. Keanu Reeves is cast as mankind's savior, and he delivers the part wonderfully. There is quite a bit of violence in this movie, so you may want to keep the remote handy. (If you enjoy this subject matter, you will probably enjoy Ray Kurzweil's book “The Age of Spiritual Machines”.)

Buy

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