Friday, January 16, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

UNBROKEN: Expect Your Win By Doubting You Will Lose

There Can Be No Matador Without A Bull
From his childhood, Louis  Zamperini confronted rejection. Neighborhood bullies had nothing better to do with their time than to make fun of him because he was different..

Their constant emotional and physical battering fostered a period  in Zamperini's very early life when anger and rebellion were the only responses 'Louie' could muster. Realizing that he was headed downhill 'Louie wised-up,  He had to let go of  self defeating over-reactions to his pain.  He had to change.

Yes, but how?

In the newly released UNBROKEN, Universal--together with Legendary Pictures and Producer/Director Angelina Jolie--took to screen Louis Zamperini's solemn decision for a more reasonable way to face the hard knocks in his life.


Before We Can Claim Victory We Must Give Up Defeat
King Solomon said it best.  His proverb was, "So as a man thinks in his heart, so is he."

And that is UNBROKEN's very slant.

Based, in part, on  Laura Hillenbrand's book of the same title, UNBROKEN the film  tracks  young Louie Zamperini's ever-refining resiliency.

For  after he overcame his anger, after his Olympian stardom, after his success as a World War II bombardier--it was indeed Louis Zamperini's habitual resilient mindset that became his habitual  endurance.
 Mindful viewers get to see that we can expect a positive 'Change Outcome'  to our difficulties only after we submit to a Process of  erasing our negative belief system--the culprit that keeps holding us back. 

 UNBROKEN's theme actually shows US  that we can engage a 'good change' as soon as we  renounce any and all doubts that tell us that we are already defeated.

Screenwriters Richard LaGravenese, Joel Coen, Ethan Coen and William Nicholson opened this cinematic drama where it should have  opened.  Then they  seamlessly wove  the foundational flashback exactly where it belonged. Every conflict-filled low in UNBROKEN offered  each  protagonist character the seemingly comforting choice to simply wimp-out and to just  give up.

Such plotting enabled Director Jolie to find and to creatively sustain the story's suspense in every conflict building scene. Each negative surprise along the way gave rise to so many reasons for each of the protagonists to accept defeat, to be broken.

Jack O'Connell, Garrett Hedlund,  Domhnall Gleeson and Jai Courtney convincingly met their four protagonist characters' threats  with an expectancy of calculated hope. 'Come hell or high waters'--they would somehow  overcome.
 Likely by then, all of them had heard  Louie  Zamperini's long lived mantra: If you can take it, you can make it. 

Standing in their way, sixty seconds out of every minute, was the power seeking  enemy officer, Mutsuhiro Watanabe.   Commander of that section of the  war camp, Watanabe always carried a bag of hateful tricks, combat ready to display them on a whim.

 Watanabe's calculated abuse to the camp's Prisoners of War was oh so essential to UNBROKEN's plot--we can't become matadors in life unless we are daring enough to face the bull!

This supreme antagonist grew to become the most insecure yet egocentric psychic vampire I have ever seen on screen. Miyavi  portrayed this mean spirited  dark soul with an expertise that will strike terror in even the most objective  viewer's mind.

UNBROKEN Ends Superbly
Drama is of little consequence--good scripting, good  directing, good acting; none of these can cover a production--if the film does not end well.  Most viewers will fall in love with this ending.

UNBROKEN's slant well reminds us that when we persist, that when we doubt the lie and accept the truth that failure is neither an option nor an inevitability--only then will we undo even the most conflicting hindrances in our lives.

Glasses raised, please. To all involved in this great cinematic work. To the film's PG-13 rating. And to UNBROKEN's timely encouragement.. To King Solomon who also warned that Where there is no vision, the people perish.

--And to Louie Zamperini. Here are my 5-Stars *****

PW Dowdy is a writer working on her first novel yet to be titled (again).  She lives in Georgia and often comes up for air by finding a good movie. Drawn to  productions that address our human condition, Dowdy breaks from her fiction writing schedule to post reviews of films that appeal most to her.  She posts most of those reviews, as well as other topics of interest, right here on her Visions And Insights blog.

"Life guides us one way or another all of the time," she  is usually in her bare feet when she says this.  "And what we learn from hearing, we must share with those who will listen to us. She is likely to giggle at this point--a natural state of being for Dowdy. "Barefoot and giggling?  I write better that way."

Scroll down to visit a few posts.  Let her know that you've stopped by.  She would love to reply to   your feedback. You can follow Dowdy on  her Twitter account  @DowdyPatricia


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

ELECTION TUESDAY ~ 5 Reasons Your Vote Will Count

1. Who We Are
Patrick Henry: American Patriot, Revolutionary War  (March 23, 1775)
 I know not what course others may take, but as for me--give me liberty or give me death.
Eleanor Roosevelt:  First Lady to F.D. Roosevelt (32nd President of the USA) and United Nations' Human Rights Activist Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.

Identity.  Identity balances the Earth, am I not right? Move to another place and discover, perhaps for the first time, just what home means. By relocating elsewhere, you will begin to miss small things that were not so important before.  To make the point--when we vote, we express not only who we are now, but who our history has groomed us to become.  Our identity gives each of us a hope filled lock down on the reasonable future we expect to pass to those who follow behind us.

 2. Building for Economic Sustainability
 Magic Johnson: Entrepreneur and Former Los Angeles Lakers Player, Beverly Hills, California (On Diversity)
We have to make sure that the Apples and the Googles of the world get together with those who know what they are doing and who can make a difference, whether it's myself, or someone else. 
Governor Chris Christie, New Jersey (On Minimum Wage Increases)
I am tied of hearing about the minimum wage.  I really am.  I don't think there is a mother or father sitting around the table tonight in America saying, "You know, Honey...if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, all our dreams would be realized."

Dialogue. Dialogue is talking with and not at another.  We no longer can hide behind labels like The Private Sector  or  The Public Sector.  Our dialogue must begin to rely on the best from both worlds.  Business and government  cannot lose sight of  the old refrain: we are in this together.   When we close our poll booth's curtain, having a job matters. Having marginal income to invest in businesses that employ job seekers, matters as well.  Having a future to sustain our families, and their families' families is one of the more excellent reasons why we Americans must Never stop voting.

3. To Protect The Common Good
Our Bodies and Our Earth (Health Defined)
Some of the rulers of the old world kingdoms dined well, only to die of gout and other dis-eases that resulted from a too rich diet and a sedentary lifestyle.  When told that her people did not have bread to eat, Queen Marie Antoinette of France was said to have allegedly replied, "Let them eat cake!"

As for our bodies and our environment, cake time is over.  I have to wonder if we cleaned up our eating and exercise habits; and if we individually did away with our environmental pollution recklessness, just how healthier our Americana life would become. To engage such a climate change, we must first commit to rebuild our bodies and our planet from the inside out.  That being so, when we cast our Super Tuesday's Election Ballot, we will be voting simultaneously for the longevity of all the good we've inherited  from those who paved the way for us .

4.  Can We Vote Simply  Because We Are In This Together? 
John F.  Kennedy: 35th US President--Inaugural Address Excerpt--January 20, 1961
The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of poverty and all forms of human life, for which our forbears fought and are still at issue around the globe.

We do not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans--born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard bitter peace. proud of our  ancient heritage--and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of these human rights to which this nation has always been committed., today, at home, and around the world.

5.  This Is Our Country--Voting Maintains Our Momentum

   PW Dowdy's decades-old voting record extends from Georgia to California and then to Georgia again. Dowdy 'early voted' for this election on Friday, October 24.  In honor of that unknown soldier acknowledged in this video, she left the polls, pasting her Peach State Voter's Sticker to her black vest, where the sticker will remain until all of our ballots have been counted.  Join her!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

'The Judge': Family, The First Social Medium

The Myth Of The Stork:
How nice it would be if families became populated by  long legged white storks, wearing  telegram  denim hats, who dropped each household's next bundle of joy down a well placed chimney. Not so,  says  'The Judge'.
In this more than excellent film starring Robert Downey Jr, Robert Duvall, and a cast of other fine thespians, the suggestion is that families--perhaps through osmosis even--simply evolve. And their point of evolution is seldom that of joy alone. However non-intentional rough bumps may infiltrate  families, the bumps may become as  useful in charting a family member's 'good points' as those stand up moments along the way so often credited for doing so.

With The Court System As Background:
Judge Joseph Palmer (Duvall) and his thirty-something brilliant lawyer son, Hank (Downey, Jr.) resume unfinished business when they reconvene to bury the family matriarch.

In returning to his past , Downey, Jr's character discovers that apart from the wallpaper in the house in which he once called home--everything has changed. However upscale his life in Chicago now is, his two brothers, his old girlfriend, and the small town itself, all help to create an inexplicable tension for him.

It is his  father alone (Robert Duvall),  who offers an element of sameness from Hank's earlier days. And it is that discovery,  which permits  'The Judge'  to weaves its compelling drama.

While still on the bench, the aging Judge Palmer is accused of murdering a town local. Unfinished business notwithstanding,  father and son both know--that his best defense lies in Hank's legal prowess.


Director David Dobkin fine tuned his scenes and the forces behind the screenwriters' well chosen dialogue ( Nick Schenk, David Seidler, and Bill Dubuque). The combination  of ingenious scripting and good directing  allows zero room for  distraction as the drama progresses from beginning to end. I remained absorbed and drawn into its action with each fleeting moment.  Though grounded in  a law and order platform, the film bears strong undertones of  unresolved family issues.

A truly focused group of support actors delivers a powerful examination of what happens in families in those 20 years or so--years that rescue one  member while contaminating another. Together with Duvall and Downey, Jr.--Vera Farmiga, Vincent D'Onofrio, Dax Shepard, Jeremy Strong, Sarah Lancaster, and Billy Bob Thornton  create sheer magic .

You won't want to miss this one.  Rest assured that 'The Judge' will merit your time; and your likely desire to take in a repeat showing soon. It's a  5-Star event just waiting to make you think, and to appreciate dramatic cinema at its best.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The World And Everything In It: MS Maya Angelou

Giants Move On To Higher Grounds
I like the way Maya Angelou left us. In quiet grace, she simply moved on to her next point of peace.

While here with us, struggles came and went for this ever evolving American poet/writer. I
 think that life, such as it came, had always promised her a secret greatness. Clothed in a cool strength and a warm disposition, she often stepped up to the plate with a keen eye on the ball, batter ready for her next home run hit.

The Valleys Of Her 'Giant-ness'
Only a once caged.bird could  have endured the revealing narrative of her autobiographical  I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.
Only a warrior/phoenix like MS Angelou could have escaped from some past trampled upon ashes to 'sing' the poignant and melodious Still I Rise.
And  during President Clinton's first inauguration, who but Maya Angelou--with her  On the Pulse of the Morning--could have  invited the entire planet to embrace a better and more respectful world community?

Her Spirit Flowed From Mountaintops
It is hinted, suggested, and encouraged that we  seek to find for ourselves--the world and everything in it. Happiness and joy. it is said, can  only be found once we possess such royalties of kings. We who think along such lines are 'valley people'. We seem only to want what we have been taught or conditioned by other 'valley people' to want.

But 'mountaintop people' like Maya Angelou  live from a different spirit.  A blade of grass, a tossed pebble spiraling in a pond, and the fresh smell of  inland air after rain--these are their royalties. Maya chose to share her love for such simple things in life, which if permitted, will bring all the euphoria a joy-hungry soul can handle.

Her body of works examined the so often overlooked uncomplicated happiness bringers.

Freedom to those who have never been free; respect for those who have only experienced denigration; and, sight to those who have always been blind. On exploration of these seldom heralded basic human needs, Maya Angelou succeeded always in articulating her discoveries with kindness, thoughtfulness and patience.

When she was done, MS Angelou said, "Good night."
...and then she went  away

I like the way Maya Angelou left us. In quiet grace, she simply moved on to her next point of peace.
                                          So Long, Maya.
                                          Farewell, MS Angelou

Friday, May 9, 2014

Blending In: "The Not-You" And "The Real You"

So What's A Journey?
A close friend once decided that we are here mostly to watch. Who watches and perceives from watching, is a real you just waiting to participate in each of our journeys. Could be, I think that the teacher who penned Ecclesiastes agrees.
When he ended his treatise,  he declared that what we conjure up as important to our journeys, as defining of who we are, so many times falls short on realism.
The antithesis of a realistic journey appears to be an absentminded straying from who we are--to a conscious blending in with the crowd. The pursuit is an ageless one. We assign benefits to  leaving our real selves behind to fit in with the thoughts and actions of  others whom we have elected to  emulate  Thus, one's 'not-you' boldly usurps one's 'real you'.

To blend in, we have to set aside who we are, and then take on a fake self that thrives primarily on the fake approval of others. Were our gadfly 'real you' permitted to live and have its being, the uniqueness of each individual could contribute oh so much more to our world!

Examining The Payoffs:  
My eleventh grade psychology teacher, offered the class this bit of wisdom.  She said," Climb the education and the business  ladders, rung by rung until you reach the summit. But as you do, leave nothing behind of who you are this very moment."
In effect, she was saying that the goal of  reaching the top is not to build a new self but to allow the 'real you' already in each of us to grow into all that  each of us was meant to be. .

Striving to blend in, may set any of us up with  a beautiful image of ourselves while we relish the admiration of others. All the same, its payoff is so often uncomfortable and shallow, surviving only as long as we choke hold our  'real you' from being a part of  the journey.

Self Improvement/Self Realization:
In the last quadrant of the 20th century, enumerable books and television shows devoted a huge amount of time to self improvement.  The accepted thinking those final few decades was that most humans were incomplete, lost, or in need of rehabilitation. The question begged that if all needed a makeover, did not the gurus who treated those in need, require a form of guidance themselves?

It was not that some form of change was not an apt approach to recover one's 'real you'. The second question that begged was whether acting out having blended into normalcy benefited either the individual or the world in which the individual lived.   Summarily, the 'not you'  is a remarkable time waster, no matter the costume one might choose to camouflage its ineptness.

Important Questions Seeking Answers:
Can authentic self  improvement be so simple a thing as self realization? Who are you? Instead of whitewashing ourselves as look-a-likes to those we hope to emulate, don't you and I have a good thing or two to offer the world around us? How do we realize our 'real you' into being?

For example, I realize that there is a self within me that will not permit me to overlook certain boundaries. No law enforcement agency is needed.  I know not to  intentionally hurt another.  I know not to disregard stop signs even when no one else could possibly see me drive through the intersection.  My 'real you' accompanies me 99% of the time.

What is more, I notice that the more I take the time to pick up a discarded  glass bottle in the park--preventing a child from falling on it-- the more my 'real you' grows and becomes one with me, When it does, it usurps the 'not you'  lurking always around to catch me unaware and then blend into me.

And so I watch and  realize my real self, my 'real you' into existence.
Life's most progressive journey begins with watching, seeing, perceiving. That is the place where the real you can be found

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

'Monuments Men': " Am I My Brother's Keeper?"

When Columbia Pictures released 'Monuments Men'  about a month ago, many flocked to nearby movie houses to watch its widescreen version. I was one such viewer. This compelling cinema is still in most theaters and well worth the seeing.

Can human rights be restored? 

This well depicted World War II film dramatizes the morning after the night before.
Germany's then fuhrer Adolph Hitler had chosen to eliminate an entire race of people from the face of the earth. It was not enough to eradicate those whom he despised.  Hitler proceeded to take anything of value his victims owned, claiming those things as his reward...Among the spoils were some of the greatest works of art throughout  the ages. Trademarks of such masters as Rembrandt, Picasso, Rodin and Michelangelo comprised the ego-crazed fuhrer's bag of insults really--to the whole of humanity. . 

"Now, a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell among thieves..."
Eight determined souls (seven men from across the globe and a lone Resistance woman) join forces to undo at least one of Hitler's  war crime. George Clooney, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett anchor the spirit of the film. And that spirit is this: what was  stolen needed to be recovered. Dignity to Hitler's victims needed to be restored. Five other  protagonists join the three, expertly breathing life  into the powerful story of  'The 'Monuments Men', released just weeks before the 2014 High Holy Days of the Passover/Easter  season.
Jean Dujardin, John Goodman, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville and Bob Balaban provide strong and convincing characterizations that  help to unfold this fact-based account of Hitler's inhumanity at its worst.. From  start to finish, and with  great force, the well crafted plot pulls most movie-goers from their cushioned theater seats and directly into the war torn fields of Europe.

"Then along came a Samaritan..."
In the dramatization, danger lurks from behind wind blown trees and down quiet country roads, impeding the seven gladiators' hope to right a terrible wrong. In scenes where Nazi soldiers appear, stillness and silence move through  the  audience until our brave men are once again safe. The audience wants what the 'Monuments Men' want--Hitler and his followers must not go unchecked.

Am I my brother's keeper?
In the total scheme of World War II, the risky business of returning these artistic monuments to their rightful owners might seem small by comparison. Yet ,the realization becomes clear as the film progresses and makes its point. To remain silent at such a fragile time would have been to cosign the wickedness behind everything Fuhrer Hitler's betrayal to all of humankind represented.
Are we our brother's keeper? If we were that brother--would we need a keeper, ourselves?  Monuments Men'  places us not only in its well told story but in our hearts as well.  If there is light and kindness in our hearts, we cannot but help ANY brother or sister in need.

A Monumental "5-Star" Movie.
After seeing it on widescreen, I am certain that I will add it to my collection. In this season of looking at ourselves in hopes of becoming better human beings, none can choose a better story to point one in that narrow direction than...Monuments Men.

Yes, we are our brothers' (and  our sisters') keepers.