I have barely made any financial contribution to the Hollywood Film Industry. Between 1990 2010, I entered the doors of a cinema around five times. During these 20 years, I went on three of these occasions to see the feature film (movie) as an act of self-sacrifice, a modest one admittedly. My daughter, Nshorna, my Swedish partner at the time and my mother had persuaded me to go with them to the cinema.
Nshorna and I went to nearby Torquay to see in 1997, the Film “Seven Years in Tibet” starring Brad Pitt, an actor my daughter, then aged 16, liked at the time. I spotted a few friends in the cinema. After the credits had finished, I asked my daughter what she thought of the film. She responded: “It was about as exciting as watching paint dry on the wall.” I disagreed. “It wasn’t that exciting.”
On another occasion, Nina and I went to the cinema in Stockholm to see Dancer in the Dark mdirected by Lars Von Trie , the Danish film director using a hand held corner and starring Bjork. I promised Nina I would not leave my seat in the cinema before the film finished. After the film had been running for an hour, Nina turned to me and said: “Your eyes are closed.” I replied.”I’m keeping to our agreement. So I’m meditating.” Ten or fifteen minutes later, she said :”Let’s go. It’s not much of a film.” We weren’t the only one’s to leave early.
I can’t remember what film I attended with my mother. I can safely say it was forgettable. In the past three years, I have had an inner renaissance at home, here in Totnes, around watching film. In 2006, my 21-year-old television set that my mother gave me in the 1980s fell off the stand that had remained perilously perched on a stand for more than two decades and collapsed into a thousand pieces. Some months later in March 2007, I bought a 32” flat screen television with amplifier and loudspeakers. The television sits a few feet away in front of my two-seater sofa, handed onto me by Nshorna. I have started to watch feature films on a regular basis.
We, British, share a common language with the USA. It is one of the unfortunate karmic consequences of Britain’s desperate desire for colonialism some 200 years ago, perhaps so that people could escape from these cold, damp, windswept homes on this island. The karmic cost shows in the saturation of our television with Hollywood films.
I find that Hollywood films mostly consist of blockbusters, apocalyptic stories, far-fetched political dramas, superficial comedy, horror and an obsession with special effects. I get the weekly TV magazine listing what’s on. I often see nothing worth watching. Nothing. I don’t subscribe to film channels, and would never pay to watch a film on TV, but even for subscribers I very rarely spot anything remotely of interest. It seems to me Hollywood’s desire to impress movie fans and offer a happy and satisfying ending to their movies blocks the opportunity to show intelligent films with scripts and performances that shed light on our lives.
Once a week, I go across to my local market on a Saturday morning where a vendor has some boxes of DVD feature films that he sells cheaply. I take a deep interest in movies from different parts of the world. I also buy some DVDs on line and watch DVDs that come from strong recommendations from friends. I like to listen to the director’s voice, other cuts and scenes that often come with a DVD.
Out of scores of films, I have watched in the past three years, I now have 20 feature films that I have personally found insightful and inspirational. In the next few weeks, I will write out details of this list, put them into alphabetical order with the name of the film, director, actor, country of origin, year of make and a few lines about the film and why I appreciated it.
I plan to make this list of 20 Inspiration and Insightful films with the details ready for the July issue of the Dharma-eNews.
If you have a television and DVD player, you perhaps can sit on a sofa cross-legged, turn out the lights, press the play button, and give wise attention to the onscreen exploration of the depth of understanding of human existence. There are a whole range of superb films available that are works of art and communications of creative spirits. There are films that endeavour to address the range of human experiences, emotions and challenges, whether portrayed through everyday life, historical actions, political plots, love, comedy or cartoon.
Cinema has the power to contribute to waking us up.