Litebeing’s Guide to the Movies

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Alabama Theatre

 

In honor of the Oscars, I had to showcase some of my favorite spiritually themed films. Some of my choices are more obscure, and therefore less well-known. A few are controversial (big surprise!) while others are more mainstream, crowd pleasers.

Here’s an alphabetical list with my brief critiques below, enjoy!

Bee Season  (2005)

This movie stars Richard Gere who mentors his daughter while his family falls apart.  It was adapted from the book Bee Season about a young girl’s quest to win a spelling bee. It is a tale about both mysticism and alienation.

 

The Blue Bird  ( 1940)

I first stumbled onto this Shirley Temple feature as a child and was mesmerized by this story about the search for the bluebird of happiness. The way in which the future was characterized was both otherworldly and heart wrenching   The memory of this magical realm stayed with me for years and was just as captivating during a recent viewing.

 

City of Angels  (1998)

This story about an Angel who risks everything for the woman he loves stars Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage. The performances of the two principles are both soulful and nuanced.

 

 Close Encounters of the Third Kind  (1977)

This Steven Spielberg classic highlighted the theme of interconnection long before Babel, Crash, and Traffic and also demystified the concept of life on other planets. When I initially saw this film, I wondered if Spielberg was trying to prepare us for the possibility of some visitors! See it again with new eyes.

 

Cloud Atlas  (2012)

(  The last 4 digits of the URL are 1111, hmmmm. )

This was adapted from the book Cloud Atlas and features an ensemble cast whose multiple characters permeate each other’s orbits through time and space. It is a stunningly complex epic that left me enthralled long after the final credits. Incredible work by Halle Berry and Tom Hanks, supported by spectacular costumes, sets, and special effects.

 

Contact (1997)

Jodie Foster plays a lonely  scientist who seeks out communication from the cosmos and meets a charismatic theologian in Matthew  McConaughey along the way. David Morse’s performance as her father is noteworthy. Fabulous use of special effects adds to the appeal.

 

Defending Your Life ( 1991 )

This funny yet poignant story about the afterlife features Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks.  Shirley MacLaine discusses reincarnation in a cameo role. The plot focuses on the impact of love and fear on one’s evolution. Wonder if the writers read  A Course in Miracles ?

 

 Groundhog Day ( 1993 )

Bill Murray does what he does best as he tries to win Andi MacDowell’s heart on Groundhog’s Day.    After I watched the movie a few times, I was able to recognize the gradual soul development of Bill Murray’s character. There is more here than meets the eye.

 

 Heaven Can Wait  ( 1978 )

Warren Beatty is luminous as the football player who dies before his time in this remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan. His chemistry with Julie Christie here really makes the difference.

 

  Made in Heaven ( 1987 )

This is another love story starring Timothy Hutton and Kelly McGillis. They meet in the afterlife and are forced to find each other again on Earth before Timothy Hutton’s character turns thirty. His real wife at the time , Debra Winger, plays God. Two souls head out on separate heroes’ journeys in order to have a chance to reunite. Watch for the surprise cameos along the way!

 

  The Last Temptation of Christ ( 1988 )

I love Martin Scorsese so maybe I am a bit biased but I adored this over the top interpretation of the life of Christ based on the adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’s novel . It is brilliantly acted by Willem Dafoe and thoughtfully depicts his inner struggle as he gradually comes to accept his divinity and ultimate fate.

 

 The Sixth Sense ( 1999 )

One of Bruce Willis’s best performances and shot in Philly to boot! If you haven’t seen it yet, the ending will blow you away. I would consider this film a modern-day classic.

 

 Sliding Doors ( 1998 )

This is a tale of parallel universes starring Gwyneth Paltrow as a young woman who makes different choices about her fate. It is a clever take on the road not traveled.

 

 Somewhere in Time  ( 1980 )

One of my favorites about reincarnation and time travel with Christopher Reeves and Jane Seymour.  I especially liked Jane Seymour in this role as she seems to me to be from a previous era. Christopher Reeves also shows more dramatic range and magnetism that is less obvious in later roles. The story’s pace is nuanced yet compelling as you are transfixed by a stunning score, enchanting sets, and strong chemistry between the two leads.  A truly romantic treasure.

 

  Vanilla Sky ( 2001 )

Although I am not a Tom Cruise fan, I think he is fabulous as this cocky rich kid caught up in this trippy murder mystery. Penelope Cruz and Cameron Diaz are both excellent as the women in this enchanted love triangle. The ending was so incredible that I had to watch it over and over again to put the pieces together. Stunning visuals and great soundtrack by director Cameron Crowe’s ex-wife Nancy Wilson.

 

  Waking Life  ( 2001 )

Richard Linklater is one of my favorite filmmakers and it is very cool that he took on the topic of lucid dreaming. Yes it is very conversational, but this animated feature is thought-provoking and highly recommended for anyone interested in dream exploration.

 

  What Dreams May Come ( 1998 )

This movie is an emotional roller coaster ride about suicide and the afterlife starring Robin Williams, Anabella Sciorra, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Using spectacular visuals based on Sciorra’s character’s paintings, you are taken on a journey of wonder, awe, and triumph. This is an intense story about tragedy and redemption.

 

What the Bleep Do We Know !?  ( 2004 )

Quantum physics, basketball,a Polish wedding, and a woman’s transformation; this is the cosmic voyage of What the #$*! Do We (K)now!? ( or What the Bleep Do We Know!? ) This extraordinary film incorporates interviews with scientists and thought leaders into a scripted tale of a woman played by Marlee Matlin who is trying to get on with her life after a marital crisis. It was panned by some critics and applauded by others . I really am amazed that this film was able to get a distributor and reach as many people as it did. The DVD version can be programmed to shuffle the scenes randomly. This cult phenomenon has to be seen to be believed!!

  Zardoz  ( 1974 )

What would it be like if you could not die? Zardoz attempts to give you a perspective on eternal life on Earth. It is a somewhat cheesy take on The Wizard of Oz with a 1970’s mentality. I found the premise fascinating, despite its flaws.

 

  Tell me about your favorite spiritual movies. What elements speak to you the most? :

Do you prefer sweeping cinematography, computer generated special effects, or an  artfully crafted screenplay carefully translated onto the screen?

What  role does the score and soundtrack play in your choices?

Classic black and white or strikingly vivid Technicolor?

Comedy, drama, documentary, fantasy, animated, sci-fi, , thriller, or mystery?

theatre image by https://commons.wikimedia.org

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70 thoughts on “Litebeing’s Guide to the Movies

  1. Pingback: Share My World ~ 2016 Edition – litebeing chronicles

  2. I’ve enjoyed “What dreams may come,” “Contact,” and “Close encounter’s of the Third Kind,” “Groundhog day,”…etc. I’ve got a long list of movies I love; and you’re post has intrigued me. I liked reading your reviews. Recently I re-watched “Adam’s Rib.” That’s a classic and a favorite of mine. I’m really looking forward to re-watching “Wing’s of Desire.” Also, I need to see “Angel A” again. They are on my list, as I can barely remember them but adoring the cinematography and scenes. Another one of my favorite is “Girl on the Bridge,” or in French, “La fille sur le pont.” I’m thinking I want to see “Somewhere in Time,” now, and “Cloud Atlas”, thanks to your reviews.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you have been intrigued. Film makes me very happy and I enjoy spreading that film love. Have not seen Adam’s Rib or Wings of Desire and have not heard of the others you mentioned.
      Now I will keep my eyes open for them. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Linda, the line “bluebird of happiness” in reference to the Shirley Temple movie reminded me of K-PAX, with Kevin Spacey, which also contains such a winged one. I had no idea of the reference. But I would add that to the list.

    Interstellar we talked about a few posts ago. I would add Inception, too, if you haven’t seen it.

    Lady in the Water is another M. Night Shyamalan. I was intrigued by how it came together.

    I loved the movie Kundun. (What’s not to love about movies with a Philip Glass score?)

    Phenomenon with John Travolta…?

    And Pleasantville… 🙂

    Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike,
      I really enjoyed KPAX because of my work with ” crazy ” people and the intriguing storyline. So not recall that reference though. Will look out for those you mentioned I have yet to see.
      I am curious why you added Pleasantville to your list. It was well done, but do you consider it spiritual? Just wondering!

      peace,
      Linda

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      1. Hi Linda,

        I do think of Pleasantville as spiritual, but I guess it’s all in how you define it, right!? I felt like it was about opening the heart, moving beyond convention and routine and getting into a richer experience of being. It wasn’t perhaps about other dimensions or planes or realms, and so in that sense it was not. But as a tale of opening one’s heart to beauty, and seeing the world through fresh eyes… absolutely.

        So… what about American Beauty? Spiritual? Spiritual elements? Your turn… 🙂

        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Michael,
        It is fun to dialogue like this 🙂
        I do see your point about Pleasantville and spirituality is a very broad concept. I did see American Beauty and found it to be dark. I enjoyed the performances but did not really for the film. I remeber it was about the breakdown of a marriage. I don’t recall much else about it. I don’t know about any particular spiritual elements, but perhaps Kevin Spacey’s awakening and personal development? not really sure.

        Now its your turn, What about Boyhood? Did you see it? Does it capture the spiritual evolution of a family? How does the passage of time effect the characters?

        peace,
        Linda

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      3. Hi Linda, so we watched Boyhood this weekend. I thought it was an interesting movie and that it protrayed accurately a lot of difficult feelings to distill from life in a modern family. The mother at the end, saying she thought there would be more. Mason, who made his way the best he could, never quite understanding the whole. A father who couldn’t quite plug the gaps, but wanted the best for him. I think it was good on many levels. I guess as far as being spiritual, it raised more questions than it answered. It left me with a sense of Mason’s confusion. How was the relationship with the new friend going to work out, when Mason had yet to face his demons? I don’t think the film necessarily intended to take us any further, and it did a good job of taking a peek into the challenge of broken people raising broken people. Beautiful people, but hungry people. Uncertain people. It’s a reality, and I think it captured it well. The attempt at finding redemption in the now that was offered at the end seemed hollow to me. Empty and sad almost. You wondered how it was going to stick. It revealed to me, I think, the depth missing in such situations. The pain and doubt that lead us to seek out that depth later in life…

        Michael

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Thanks Micheal for sharing your thoughts on Boyhood. I see that both parents progressed over time and I see that as movement in their spiritual development. The characters may not identify it as such, but they both learned something from their mistakes or errors, and forgave one another along the way. Since it has been awhile since I seen the film, many details elude me now. I always enjoy our dialogues. Linda

        Liked by 1 person

  4. awesome list. that’s the second time i’ve heard the movie ‘contact’ mentioned today! maybe i should check it out, i’ve never seen it. i also love richard linklater. ‘dazed and confused’ is hands down my favourite movie of all time. something to do with it taking place in ’76. 😉

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    1. Hi Aleya,
      Contact is such a classic on so many levels. Great story and tremendous acting, leaves you in such a state of awe.

      I am obsesses with Richard Linklater and I hope wins something tonight. He rarely does. When I saw Dazed and Confused I thought he was filming my life ( but not in Texas!) It really took me back to high school with all of the precise details! Happy birthday dear! I was in high school like Linklater when you were being born 🙂

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  5. Thanks for the long list,Linda!
    I’d add

    Matrix
    Thirteenth floor
    Truman show
    Theses are about different layers of realities.

    Cast away
    The feeling of loneliness and not fitting in after awakening is comparable to what the main character experiences after he returns to the normal world after years on an island.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Karin,
      Thanks for your recommendations. I have seen all you listed except 13th Floor. Loved Truman show. You cast a new light on Castaway, pun intended! I have seen Matrix at least twice and I still don’t get it. It is so popular and is considered iconic but I found it confusing.It just turned 111 as I typed this. hmmmm, maybe that means I should revisit it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The goal of the spiritual journey is to wake up. Matrix is a metaphor for this waking up. I’m not into movies with a lot of violence. Actually, the movies I love are sweet ones, like Amelie.
        But matrix and thirteenth floor are great metaphors for waking up.
        Metaphors for the shocking realization that we are not who we thought we were. For the shocking realization that the events which affect me in daily life were self-created, drawn into my experience by my need to uphold a certain self-image.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh, and there is another important movie and book.
        Flatland
        I haven’t seen it, but I have read the book.
        It’s about the difficulty of communicating awakening.
        Consciousness is to the 3d world what the sphere is to flatland.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Leigh,
      I have not seen Field of Dreams or Amelie but I will keep them in mind. Sometimes I will save a film on my DVR and the DVR will erase it before I have a chance to watch! 🙂

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  6. Pingback: Somewhere In Time | litebeing chronicles

  7. Made In Heaven – One of my All Time Faves !! Totally own it – love the foggy soft-focus, original story, the hidden/found and the cameos are brilliant.
    I never knew Emmitt until after – mind-blowing !

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      1. Thanks, I will look at my library. I’ve seen parts, or I may be confusing it with Hairspray…unsure. I love Mad In Heaven so much and hardly anyone has heard of it.
        Oh and I also love Defending Your Life, absolutely hysterical and simultaneously poignant. I see Robin Williams here also. sweet x

        Like

      2. you have a film library. I thought you meant you rented from the library. I currently watch a lot on cable or go on a theater spree. Prefer to watch at home. I could use a home theater so i could have the theater experience without the obnoxious movie goers 🙂

        Please recommend some of your favs to me. We share some sensibilities so I welcome your suggestions.

        Like

      3. Both, really. I just got 10 from library 2 days ago. My collection is filled with those I watch repeatedly, mostly sci-fi, vamps and metamorphs.
        I still have my VHS. Ya know Saturn ruled. lol.
        I will ponder my list as I mow the yard. Much more fun than pondering troubles, work woes 🙂

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      4. *Made* also, Groundhog Day I can pretty much quote verbatim. Great choices, have seen them all but the first 2. If you haven’t seen the foreign film that Vanilla Sky is adapted from, please do. I saw it first, liked it much more.

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      5. I did see the foreign film after, but preferred the American version. I really like Cameron Diaz ( another Virgo girl but with an edge like you!) and Kurt Russell and even Tom in this role it was well cast.

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      6. Do see the Bee Season and The bluebird if you can find it. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I adore movies and only chose a handful so they all come highly recommended 🙂

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      7. Will do. Also City of Angels, saw the original, was atmospheric, but nothing can compare to meeting in the library and the angels silently watching the sunrise. Nothing.
        Loved that ! Ok, gotta mow

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  15. Hi Linda!

    Many thanks for your tips on spiritually-themed films. I look forward to investigating the ones I don’t know.

    I don’t think it matters how a film is made, as long as it is made well and all the parts come together successfully. An animation such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988) can have just as deep an effect on us as, say, Awakenings (1990). A film can be happy, like for instance, Amélie (2001), or very sad, as in Amour (2012), or both, as in 50/50 (2011), but the spirituality of all these films move us in enlightening and satisfying ways.

    Some films have master soundtracks which bring the film to life, such as in Amélie (2001). But other times, no soundtrack at all works just as profoundly, as in Amour (2012).

    I love black and white, and I also love colour. We never have the chance to watch both versions of one single film (although we could of course turn the colour down on our television sets), but it is always interesting when modern-day directors choose to film in black and white, and usually the choice works very well, as in George Clooney’s Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005) or Béla Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies (2000).

    My absolute favourite film genre is Thrillers. I love the excitement and the guesswork. The darker, the better, for me. Seven (1995) also has elements of spirituality. [SPOILER ALERT] Brad Pitt starts off the film as a positive individual and slowly his spirit is broken by the terrible world he is policing.

    Finally, I’ll leave you with another film tip which is actually all about spirituality: Mark Ruffalo’s directorial feature debut, Sympathy for Delicious (2010). Check it out and some of the other titles I’ve mentioned on my review site, wonderfulcinema.com, if you fancy. You’re always welcome!

    Love your site!!

    Like

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  18. Some very excellent choices here… and some that I am not familiar with. I can see some that I will definitely add to my watch list. As a father I watch a lot of children’s movies with my son, and I am constantly amazed at the deep spiritual themes that I find in such films as ‘Avatar’ or ‘Harry Potter,’ or Disney movies like ‘Wally.’ I find that these are often higher quality than the movies marketed to adults.

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    1. Thank you for visiting my blog. Glad you were able to add some new films to your list. I agree that many children’s films are more magical and thoughtful in nature. I adored Finding Nemo, while watching it I found myself quickly immersing into the oceanic bliss.

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    1. Thank you Anne for your comment about City of Angels. I have watched several times and it always brings me to tears. Nicolas Cage has very angelic eyes and was quite convincing in this role.

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  19. Connie Lezenby

    I enjoyed your reviews. My favorite film from last year was “Moonrise Kingdom”. I’m a visual person and each scene was so beautifully shot. I also like magical realism. This film was a great example of this.

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    1. The film that you must see is Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring. I’ve seen it a few times and I still find it mysterious and unfathomable. The other one is 3-Iron. Oh my God, it is so great. Don’t you think that the films from the far East have this meditative aura that I often find lacking in the Western cinema.

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      1. Thank you for your suggestions! I agree that many Western films miss the mark. One of my favorite films happens to be Raise the Red Lantern. Have you seen it? It is a fine example of ” less is more.” I felt I could actually be a part of the story, it was that authentic. Phenomenal film.

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      2. Monika has listed two I would pick also. S,S,F,W,S as well as The Fountain. recently watched Noah, loved it – and even if it doesn’t parallel Biblical 100% – the brief bit of high speed Darwinian evolution is definitely a must-see.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. renatembell

    Great reviews. I share your taste in spiritual movies, and not being a fan of T. Cruise. LOL Never heard of Zardoz, though. I’ll have to look into it. Thanks for the insight.

    Like

    1. Thank you for your follow and great taste 🙂 !! Zardoz is worth seeing, let me know if you like it. Another great flick about time travel I forgot to add is Midnight in Paris. Not only is it visually stunning, I loved the story and it contained many connections for me personally.

      Namaste, Linda

      Like

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