Film Review: Cloud Atlas (2012)

October 26, 2012

From the moment I heard about Cloud Atlas earlier this year, it’s been at the top of my list of movies to see. With a star-studded cast spanning six time periods and interconnected stories, I was eager to see how the joint effort between the Wachowski siblings and Tom Tykwer would pull off the ambitious job of weaving together all of the vignettes simultaneously with the principle actors playing multiple diverse roles, and to my delight, they pulled it off magnificently.

From what I’ve seen around the web, Cloud Atlas is getting mixed reviews, and this is not surprising. Those who loved it are praising it for its intricacy and portrayal of metaphysical themes, those who didn’t are saying it was a jumbled, meaningless mess. It is definitely one of those movies that requires the audience to pay attention, and be open to breaking the convention of a linear story.

It is the abstract structure of Cloud Atlas that will divide audiences, but as a metaphysical teacher, I thought it presented the concept of multiple aspects of the soul existing simultaneously throughout time very well, and effectively portrayed how souls always remain connected, playing different roles for one another throughout each incarnation just like a divine play.

So if you’re into metaphysics and spirituality, you will definitely have a greater appreciation for this movie than those who don’t, but overall, Cloud Atlas is a high quality production, and at the least, a unique, ambitious effort that should not be missed.

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Film Review: Detachment (2011)

August 6, 2012

The only other film that I, and most likely the majority of other people, are familiar with by director Tony Kaye is the intense racial drama starring Edward Norton as former neo-Nazi Derek Vinyard, American History X. Judging by Kaye’s past experience, he is comfortable with handling controversial, gritty material, and that is exactly what his latest film starring Adrien Brody is all about: realism.

Detachment is a serious and poetic film about the nature of today’s public education system told from the viewpoint of a substitute teacher named Henry Barthes (Brody). It is obvious from the start of the film that Henry, although wise beyond his years, is a loner and a troubled man. He is surrounded by incompetent and damaged people, having to take care of both his senile grandfather and later, after a confrontation with a young street hooker named Erica, her as well.

Henry manages to get by in his day to day life by keeping everything and everyone at arm’s length, a defense mechanism shielding him from making any real commitments in his life or taking on any real responsibility. He is well-read and creative, but lacks any motivation to do anything besides the bare minimum to get by, and teaching seems to come natural to him, almost as if he’s the wiser older brother to all of the troubled teenagers in his classroom.

Brody truly shines in this movie, as he’s given a lot of intense emotional material to chew on, and it’s honestly a shame that he didn’t receive more credit for his performance. The supporting cast consists of an ensemble of other great veteran actors primarily playing other teachers and faculty members in Henry’s currently assigned school, including Marcia Gay Harden, Christina Hendricks, Lucy Liu, James Caan, Tim Blake Nelson, and William Petersen.

Detachment contains many elements of an art film, meaning it’s not your typical linear drama. It’s part character study, part stageplay, with instances of animated illustrations as well as asides (narrated monologues by Brody) that function to further the underlying narrative of the film, asking the audience: Have we failed as adults in creating a healthy environment for our children? Is detaching from all emotion the only way to survive in a world devoid of hope for a brighter future?

Kaye asks a lot of these hard questions, and he leaves the audience with the feeling that, while everything may not be perfect, there is always a chance as long as we as individuals find the courage within ourselves to persevere and be compassionate toward one another.

The Verdict: If you’re a teacher or a mature fan of film and theater interested in a gritty, realistic drama with a side of arthouse flair, Detachment is a film for you.

Film Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

August 5, 2012

After seeing the trailer and checking out a few reviews of The Hunger Games movie based on Suzanne Collins’s book, my interest level wasn’t too high, since most of the reviews claimed that the film was a step down from the book and left out a lot of the social commentary, but now that I’ve seen the film, I can only say that I was pleasantly surprised with its quality.

It was marketed toward teenagers, but honestly it’s just as worthwhile for adults. In other words, if you enjoyed something like Harry Potter, you’ll like this too. I have not read the book, so I can’t comment on how close the story stayed to the source material, but for what it’s worth, I feel I grasped the essence of the book well enough in the film to be able to recommend it at least as a stand-alone adaptation.

My only complaint with the film is that the shaky cam is used too frequently during chaotic scenes, pulling punches from the violent parts of the film. It’s not that I’m so eager to see teenagers get ravaged, it’s that the shaky cam can be nauseating and feels like a cheap way out of getting an R rating and showing everything that’s going on in the scene.

With that said, the other aspects of the film are highly enjoyable, and Jennifer Lawrence carries the film on her shoulders flawlessly from start to finish as the homely protagonist Katniss Everdeen. I first saw Lawrence in X-Men: First Class as Mystique, and later in Winter’s Bone, and she has proven that she is a fine young actress that is worthy of recognition.

The supporting cast includes an ensemble of veteran actors such as Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland, and all of the young actors do a fine job amidst some physically and emotionally demanding scenes.

The dystopian setting is well-crafted, the emotion between the leads feels real and palpable, and the story flows effortlessly without any hitches or confusion. The make-up and costumes are also worth noting, as the citizens of the city dress in a unique and eccentric style reminiscent of a lot of other futuristic films, one in particular that comes to mind is The Fifth Element.

The Verdict: For anyone interested in films with dystopian settings, survivalist combat, or an emotional story, The Hunger Games is a worthy production that is entertaining throughout its entire running time.

Film Review: The Avengers (2012)

August 4, 2012

When I first heard Joss Whedon was the man tasked with directing the Avengers movie, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. I knew that he was the creative mind behind such cult TV series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, but I was never a fan of either of those shows, as the concepts never really appealed to me.

Then one day a friend of mine suggested I check out another Joss Whedon production, Firefly, and it was love at first sight.

Firefly was easily one of the most original and charming series I had ever seen, with characters that were fully embodied by the actors and storylines that were exciting, dramatic, and humorous all at once, culminating into a thoroughly enjoyable experience throughout its entire duration, despite being cut short after only one season.

Upon finishing Firefly and its follow-up film Serenity, I was fully on board with Whedon’s creative abilities and ready to see what he’d come up with for the monumental task of featuring all of Marvel’s superheroes together in one film, and I can heartily say that I was not disappointed.

While The Avengers is not groundbreaking in the sense of storytelling, acting, or other production values, it is certainly a cohesive and well-paced production that manages to handle a full ensemble cast of top performers while maintaining a healthy balance of both drama and humor.

Undoubtedly, the film is highly overrated, currently boasting an 8.7 on IMDb, but it is definitely a lot of fun, and the film flows effortlessly throughout its entire 143-minute duration.

It’s hard to argue that Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is the most entertaining presence on the screen, although I also particularly enjoyed Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of the menacing Loki, and Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.

The Verdict: If you’re into comic book heroes and action films, The Avengers is not a film to be missed.

Quick Update Regarding Content

August 3, 2012

Hello everyone, I just want to quickly address that all of my gnostic writings will now be featured exclusively on the Freedom Earth blog. I’ve been posting my Earth Journal entries both here and at freedomearth.org, and I think it makes more sense to keep that work dedicated to one location and shift my focus here to more personal and creative content, as it was always my intention for this blog to be about what’s going in my life, as well as my personal interests and hobbies, rather than my work.

So what is coming in the future? I have several fiction and non-fiction stories that I’d like to share with you, and I would also like to start posting reviews for films and other media products that I’m interested in. I’m also working on redesigning my site to give it a more customized and personal feel, so stay tuned for changes down the line, and thank you for staying with me throughout this journey!

Skyler

Launch of New Freedom Earth Website

July 13, 2012

Today I launched the latest version of my latest project, Freedom Earth, a community dedicated to consciousness development. We have migrated from reddit and tumblr to a WordPress and bbPress-based portal site, and I’m very excited to start fresh with new ideas.

When I first started working on the Freedom Earth project last year, I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to turn out, but I’ve met some really wonderful, talented, and intelligent people along the way, as well as plenty of opposition.

I never would have thought so many people would be so close-minded and afraid of change, but it comes as no surprise to me now as the shift in consciousness throughout the human collective has greatly accelerated.

For anyone who is interested in checking out the Freedom Earth community, please feel free to stop by with an open mind, and I’m sure you will find some value there.

The Boy from the Stars

May 9, 2012

The date is March 9, 2032, and I am 42 years old. My son and daughter lie cozily in their beds, looking up at me with innocent eyes.

“Dad, can you tell us a story?” my son asks.

“A story?” I reply.

“Yeah, a story!” my daughter exclaims, sitting upright in her bed.

I take a second to think.

“Okay, I know a story,” I say calmly, placing a chair in between the children’s beds.

“Is it a sad story?” my son asks softly.

“Yes, there are some sad parts, but don’t worry–”

“There’s a happy ending,” my daughter interjects, completing my sentence for me.

I smile, and wait for the children’s full attention.

“Okay, you can start now,” my son says, holding his stuffed lion.

Sitting back in the chair, I take a deep breath, and begin.

“There once was a little boy who came to Earth from the stars. He was a pleasant boy, and was very bright, too. He enjoyed playing games, watching cartoons, and drawing pictures just like every other child his age. In fact, the only thing that made him different from all of the other children was that he came from the stars, since most of the other children came from Earth.”

“Did he look human like all of the other children?” my son asks.

“Yes, he looked very similar to you, son,” I reply, “but no one else knew that the little boy wasn’t from Earth, not even his parents. In fact, the little boy didn’t even know himself until he was older, so he spent many years feeling like an outsider, but not knowing why.”

“That sounds horrible,” my daughter says.

“It wasn’t so bad for the little boy,” I reply. “He had a loving family and plenty of friends to keep him company, but he always had a feeling deep down inside that something wasn’t right in the world, like there was some big secret that was being hidden from everyone.”

“What kind of secret?” my son asks.

“A big, nasty secret,” I reply. “A secret so horrible, that people didn’t even want to tell anyone else if they found out.”

“Why not?” my daughter asks, concerned.

“Because unlike most secrets, this secret controlled the entire world. It was the reason why there used to be wars, homelessness, hunger, and poverty. It was the reason why people used to live in pain and suffering, and little did the boy know at the time that he would end up spending the rest of his life fighting to uncover this secret.”

“So what was the secret?” my son asks.

“Shhh! Listen to the story!” my daughter interjects.

I pause for a moment, waiting for the children to refocus.

“Are you ready to listen?” I ask calmly.

The children nod their heads in silence, and I continue.

“Once the little boy entered high school, his perception of the world began to change dramatically along with his growing body. He was a teenager now, and everything that he once knew to be true was no longer relevant. Girls were developing into women, boys into men, and all of a sudden there was much work to be done and responsibilities to be upheld, yet nothing had really changed. He was still that little boy inside, who had so many questions, but couldn’t find any answers.

Eventually, he became so upset and confused with the outside world, that he even quit doing the things that he loved, and stopped being friends with the kids that he had known for years. The boy’s father wasn’t sure what to do about the boy’s sudden change in behavior, so he was sent to receive therapy sessions with a psychiatrist.”

“Is that what a shrink is?” my daughter asks inquisitively.

“Yes, a common nickname for a psychiatric doctor is a shrink,” I answer.

“So what happened next?” my son asks.

“After two sessions with the psychiatrist, the boy was diagnosed with clinical depression and prescribed anti-depressant drugs. His mother and father argued endlessly about the diagnosis, and the boy ended up living separately from his father, as a result.

The boy felt very much alone during his first two years of high school, and although he was friendly with other students at his school, he mainly kept to himself at home. Luckily, the Internet became popular and easily accessible at that time, so it served as a great outlet for his creative abilities and allowed him to find other people online who were like him.”

“I would have been his friend,” my daughter says endearingly.

“Me too,” my son agrees.

“I’m sure you both would have been great friends with him,” I reply proudly.

“In the boy’s third year of high school, his social life started to change. He was 16 years old now, and had successfully crossed the threshold from child to young adult. He was more confident in himself, and was able to meet a new group of friends who shared similar interests with him. He was even spending time with girls, and going to parties! Things were truly looking up for him, and after his senior year graduation, he even managed to rent a beach house for a week with his friends to celebrate the completion of their grade school career. It was truly a wonderful time for him, as he was no longer a little boy, but a young man.”

“So what happened to the horrible secret? Did it go away?” my son asks.

“No, the secret didn’t go away, it just took a backseat for a while,” I reply.

“What did the boy, err, young man, do next? Did he go to college?” my daughter asks.

“During his years of working with computers in high school, the young man developed formidable skills, so he decided to enroll at a local college, and continue his studies in interactive design. A couple of months later, though, he realized that college was no longer a pursuit that he was interested in, and decided to drop out.”

“Why?” my son asks.

“Well, during his time at college, the young man quickly learned that paying large sums of money and investing numerous hours of time into subjects that had nothing to do with his career was not reasonable. The old college education system was structured in a way that forced students to pass preliminary courses before they could advance to ones that they were interested in, plus, the young man was already able to find all of the information that he needed for his studies on the Internet.”

“So what was the point of going to college?” my daughter asks.

“There really wasn’t a point besides the social factor. College was great for meeting new people, but other than that, it was pretty much a waste of time, at least for someone who was interested in working with computers.”

“Well, that’s stupid,” my son comments.

“Yes, it was rather stupid, and once again, the big secret that the young man had wondered about as a boy suddenly popped up again in his mind. He wondered why the education system was structured so poorly, and didn’t understand why it was so expensive.

But interestingly enough, shortly after he left college, when he was just 18 years old, he received a job offer at a local design studio from a former classmate. So even though his experience of college education was unsatisfactory, the pursuit to achieve his career goals still paid off.”

The children giggle at the irony of the statement.

“As the young man worked at the design studio, the big secret started to become even more dominant in his mind. Even though the design studio was run by good people, it still had a negative atmosphere. There was always pressure to meet deadlines, and the drive to make money rather than fulfill passion was what fueled the company. So once again, the young man found himself unsatisfied.”

“Did he quit?” my daughter asks.

“He didn’t quit, but due to financial constraints and creative differences, the owner of the company ended up letting him go, anyway.”

“So he got what he wanted, then,” my daughter comments.

“The situation worked out perfectly, and the young man found himself seeking a new path once again. Now that he had professional experience under his belt, he had some insight on what it was like to be an adult. Waking up early, working on a schedule, traveling frequently, all of these things were a great learning experience for the young man, but he wondered if that kind of life was all that was in store for him now.

For months he read books and did research online to find out more about the meaning of life, and choose another path that was more in line with his values. So after months of soul-searching, he eventually decided to travel to Thailand in Southeast Asia, and teach English to children.”

“All by himself?” my son asks.

“Yup, all by himself,” I reply.

“Wow, that’s amazing!” my daughter exclaims.

“It was quite an outrageous decision, and the young man’s parents, despite their initial fears, allowed him to go. Now 19 years old, the young man set off for Asia in February 2009, and ended up staying abroad for three months. He met a bunch of new people from all around the world, gave English lessons to foreign children, and experienced a whole new way of life that was completely different from his own.”

“That sounds like an adventure!” my son says.

“Yes, the trip was certainly an adventure, and when the young man returned, his entire worldview had changed. He acquired much wisdom from his journey, and although he still wasn’t exactly sure what he was supposed to do, he felt that he was in a much better place than before.”

“So what did he do next?” my daughter asks.

“After taking some time to explore his next pursuit, the young man was now 20 years old, and his father suggested that he take an alternative education course called the Landmark Forum.”

“What’s that?” my son asks.

“Basically, it’s a course where people go to learn about the meaning of life, and try to understand who they really are. The course provided a major awakening for the young man, so he also took the next course in the program. After that, he felt even more awakened, and the big secret that always lingered in the back of his mind started to unfold. He realized that chasing after superficial things like money and power was not really important, and that living in service to others was what he was really meant to do.”

“Well I could have told him that!” my daughter exclaims, making everyone laugh.

“He even realized that his entire culture was based on lies. From the moment he was born, he was taught that he had to work hard and earn money to survive, regardless if it made him happy or not. He was constantly reminded in school that making mistakes was bad, and fear was drilled into his mind. He was told that being creative and thinking differently was not acceptable, and that the world was simply the way that it was, and there was nothing that he or anyone else could do about it.”

“That sounds horrible,” my son says sadly.

“Yes, it was horrible at times, but when the young man finally realized the truth, he made it his mission to make sure that no child would ever have to go through what he did again. Unfortunately, he still had to earn money in order to do the things that he was interested in doing in his life, so he ended up getting another job, this time at a local software company.”

“Oh great, this doesn’t sound any better than the last one,” my daughter says.

“Although it wasn’t all bad, after eight months of working in a toxic office environment bombarded with corporate greed, arrogance, and monotony, the young man decided to depart the company, and strike off on his own. At 21 years of age, the young man started his own company, vowing to never subject himself to the demeaning will of another human being again, or at least as much as he could help it.”

“What did he do in his company?” my son asks.

“He did all of the things that he always dreamt of doing. He did artistic, humanitarian, and spiritual projects, and always worked with people that shared his values. He cultivated a fun, healthy, and inspiring environment, and shared his success with everyone. He followed through with his mission to end intolerance and wrongdoing on Earth, and no longer felt so lonely as a boy from the stars, as he worked together with thousands of other benevolent souls on the planet to build the world of his dreams.”

“I knew there was a happy ending!” my daughter exclaims.

I give her a smile, then walk over to the bedroom door.

“So what happened to him? Is he still around?” my son asks as I turn off the light.

“Yeah, he’s still around, and living happily ever after. Good night.”

The children doze off peacefully in their beds, and I close the door.

Freedom Earth

April 5, 2012

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been about a month since my last post! Linear time is definitely dissipating, and the days are quickly flying by now. My energy level has really increased, and my consciousness has expanded to a whole new level.

I’ve been investing a lot of energy into building a community on reddit.com, called Freedom Earth. I’ve also recently started a Freedom Earth blog, featuring my gnostic writings and other discussions.

My goal with this project is to develop a community of like-minded people, and channel our collective energy into positivity and higher conscious awareness. It is our collective effort that builds the crystalline structure of New Earth!

I invite anyone who is interested in joining me in this venture to follow the Freedom Earth blog, and/or subscribe to the Freedom Earth subreddit. Let’s see what we can create, as there is nothing that we cannot accomplish when we unite as one!

New Photos and Paintings Page

January 13, 2012

New photos are now available on the Photos page, and I’ve also added a new Paintings page to display my artwork. The photos of the paintings aren’t the best, but you can see enough detail to get the gist of each composition.

The Time is Now to Claim Your Sovereignty

January 11, 2012

There will come a time when you realize that you really do create your own reality. Your words, thoughts, actions, and emotions all create the world around you. You have always been in charge, it is simply fear that has caused you to forget the truth. The time has come to claim your sovereignty. You no longer need external forces to tell you how to think and live your life. You are the master of your domain, and no longer will you give your power away to other beings and ideals that do not serve your interests.

The current monetary system is antiquated and inefficient, and no longer will you allow yourself to be a victim of this corrupt power structure. It is time to look past the illusion of fear, and step into your power as a multidimensional sovereign creator being. Allow your heart to guide your path, and let go of the belief system that forces you to think that you must work and earn money to survive. Focus your energy only into the activities that enliven your soul, and remove all negative energy patterns from your system.

When you find yourself in worry or doubt, remember that you are creating those feelings. When you are able to detach yourself from the mentality of needing to be in control, you will find true freedom, and the obstacles that block your path will simply fade away. Linear time is merely a construct of the intellectual mind, and when you fully grasp the concept that you are the master of your reality, you will be able to live in the moment free from obligation and judgment.

The time is now to shift your consciousness away from fear and into the higher frequency of love. It is impossible to fail in a world that is your own creation, as the end result will always be the outcome that you intended to create. It is only external fear-based factors that manipulate your perception of the creation process. Everything that happens in third dimensional reality is exactly what is necessary for you to progress in your development, and when you let go of trying to fulfill certain expectations, you will find life to be much more enjoyable and satisfying.