You Decide.

It is the thinking that gives you pause. Absolutely. it is the same for everybody, everything begins in the brain; the mind. Without getting too spiritual, it is absolutely true that you are what you think. Perception of life, how things impact you, your reaction to them and thoughts about them all shape the direction and quality of your life.

We are all well read or moderately well read people, media savvy, watching things that are more engaging than people falling over and animals doing strange thing on YouTube. We watch TedTalks, all the how to vids, garner different points of view.

A popular video/film that has gained a following and much interest has been The Secret. If you have not seen Rhona Byrne’s documentary film from her book of the same title, it is the secret to fulfilling one’s life. Hmm. Now, I am as sceptical as the next person, after all the world is full of people trying to sell…crap. Whether it is a crappy product or a crappy idea, there are those who will happily exercise nefarious practices to make a buck, even at the expense of others.

Okay, you say, what has any of this got to do with The Secret? The Secret puts forward the notion that you can achieve or accomplish whatever you want if you think about it. What?! Sounds like utter nonsense. It says that you attract what you think about on a consistent basis. But I think about winning the lottery! Not happened. So far from a lottery win. That is a common thought; the stuff that you believe you think about, that never happen. So what is going wrong?

Thinking and dreaming are not the same. Dreams are a necessity, creating a reason, purpose, to do jobs or things that are not what you wanted to do, in the hope that you create or obtain your dream. Thinking is different, cognitive. It is the decision making process. What have you decided to do? Which path did you decide to take? It is what you do to achieve your dream. Or it should be. Most spend their time pursuing stuff, finance, covering the bills, paying a mortgage, building a nest egg, saving for the rainy day. All very laudable things. Are they the stuff of dreams? Did you dream of these things as a child, growing up to pay a mortgage or saving up for retirement?

What if…just listen a minute, what if you decided, really decided, to think about your life differently. Whoa! Think differently? Like how? Who do I listen to? How about yourself. Of course information is good for critical thinking, decision making. But it still needs to be filtered; absorb the useful and disregard the pointless.

With so much information and the human ability to be lazy and take the easiest route, it is expedient to accept the first thing you are told. After all, it is human nature to believe first and question second. We hope that our fellow man is not trying to mislead us, wanting to believe that whatever they might tell us is because they want to help. As much as life tells us otherwise, we intrinsically want to believe that others are generally good.

People are good, or at least they believe they are. In their own mind, it is rare the person who thinks they are evil, a bad person. This is not a consistent thought for anybody of a healthy mind, regardless of the proof of their actions. If they have friends, people they care about, they must believe themselves to be acceptable human beings. It is the information they gain, the reaction to incidents, events or happenings in their lives that impact their thinking. This creates the person, the information and how their interpret it.

We are not what we think. We are what we decide to think.

Whiplash – You Will Never View Drumming The Same Again.

I went into the viewing of Whiplash with some trepidation. I must admit, that up to a week ago I had never heard of it. Very unusual for me, considering I am on IMDB everyday and like to keep up with all thing film and television. Especially if, as was the case with this, it is causing a buzz. Trepidation.
Whiplash tells the story of Andrew, a young up and coming drummer, enrolled in a prestigious music school, believes his luck is in when the most respected teacher in the school invites him to join his elite class. What follows is a battle of wills and test of resolve.
Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, Whiplash is a remarkable feat of a film both visually and aurally. The pace is perfect, no unnecessary scenes or stuff left in too show off. Every scene moves the film forward or reveals something about a character. As the music is jazz, the look is, even in the school, mildly jazz bar; cool, orangey hues and shadows, no wild colours.
Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons play student and teacher respectively. Both are perfectly cast. Teller as the drum obsessed, leaning toward autistic, student Andrew and Simmons, departing so far from the comedic roles he is better known for, to deliver a career best performance as the bullying, relentless Fletcher.
This is, in my opinion, a brilliant film. It lives up to all its hype, delivering on every level. It is difficult to contain my excitement for this film. I cannot recommend it highly enough, in fact I did recommend it to a friend and told her I would refund her if she did not like the film!
This is the best film I have seen in a very long time. 2014 was a good year for films, but if the bar for 2015 starts with Whiplash, this could be an exceptional year.

Outerstellar

Sometimes, many times actually, reviewers get carried away and lavish praise on films that, frankly speaking, are the equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes.
You know the sort of thing; not a bad film by any means, in fact, they tend to be good films. They’re just not as fantastic or brilliant as the reviewers would have you believe.    Today I went and watched a film that has received much praise and kudos for its scope and execution.

Of course, there have been the dissenting voices, those who will damn with faint praise and remain completely unmoved by the cinematic spectacle. These are the same reviewers who no doubt raved over the brilliance of ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ (do not get me started!) Back on topic – Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar.

So, just in case you are bored of reading, let me say right away that this film is epic. Admittedly I am a fan of Nolan’s works – The Prestige, The Dark Knight trilogy,  Inception – so my expectations were pretty high anyway. Though, as I freely admit, I am a fan, I did not think the final Batman film was as enjoyable as the previous installments. It was good, but not fantastic.

With the high praise and hyperbole surrounding his latest endeavour, it was always going to be a real task to match it. In my humble opinion, he absolutely does and then some. Though it does not compare to the cinematic scope and visual brilliance of Gravity, storywise, it delivers both intellectually and emotionally.

Utilizing one of Nolans’ – the brothers – favorite themes – time – the film, whilst not as mind-bending as Inception, still offers up some bold and thoughtful story strands. The overwhelming arc of connection whilst simplistic and, if I’m being picky, an easy plot device, works well and pulls the film through just when it looks as if they have been too clever. Interstellar is a great, grand and brilliant film. Go and see it.

That’s what I’m aiming for!

Even though I am currently concentrating on filmmaking and writing, and thou I love and admire a good film, my true love is television. The television serial has always held a fascination for me. The building of a story, characters, themes, and subplots, over a period of weeks or months.

If the serial has a good central character/hero/heroine, you watch, aching as they make both good and bad decisions. That is what great television does; it makes you feel like you know the people you are watching. You talk about them at work or with friends. Even post major plot surprises on Facebook. Television is, even though we know it is not real, personal.
Last night I watched Homeland. The ever-watchable Clare Danes, even playing the less than sympathetic Carrie, was brilliant. As was Mandy Patinkin as likable, but singleminded Saul.

It was, in its third season, one of the better episodes. In ‘Still Positive’ an episode credited to Alexander Cary, the Brody family subplot was what raised this episode to brilliance.

Morgan Saylor, who plays the surly teenage daughter, Dana, was fantastic. The episode, the writing, perfectly captured the teenage girl becoming a woman in one scene.
Dana has a conversation with her mother, Jessica – the easy on the eye Morena Baccarin – telling her she wants to change her name, the burden of baring her father’s tainted name and, by association, reputation, too much for her.

In a look, Jessica conveyed understanding. This was not the playing up of a silly little girl. She was not just acting up. Dana had been disappointed, like so many women before her, by men. By her father, who she wanted so badly to believe, then by her first love, Leo. Jessica understood. She helped her daughter change her name. Brilliant, emotive, riveting, concise television. Exactly the sort of work I want to produce one day. Everyday.