Spiritual Cinema

Jon Roe wrote our Spiritual Cinema column for eight years. He has brought outstanding recommendations for movies that are both familiar and brand new. These columns have been very valuable, so we are presenting them here. We will be adding relevant movies when they come out. If you have any recommendations, please send them our way!

The Spiritual Cinema column is written by Jon Roe, who can be reached at (860) 875-4101 or Jon.Roe@comcast.net. He publishes the Conscious CT website (ConsciousCT.org), which focuses on holistic activity East of the River in the Hartford area. The website includes a Spiritual Cinema section (ConsciousCT.org/spirituality/movies.htm) with information that supplements this column.

Jon’s words as they appeared in our final hard copy version (Winter 2015): I’ve been writing this column on Spiritual Cinema for the past eight years. It’s been fun looking for the latest films as well as talking about old favorites. Along the way I’ve found and enjoyed many old films that were new to me. As this is the last column of Spiritual Cinema in hard copy format, I thought I would list 20 of my all time favorites. If you haven’t seen them I think you will enjoy them too.  And if one night you are in the mood for a good spiritual film you can always find listings of many more on the Conscious CT website.                                                                                     ~ Jon Roe

 

Artificial Intelligence (2001) A highly advanced robotic boy longs to become “real” so that he can regain the love of his human mother. Haley Joel Osment, Jude Law, William Hurt, Steven Spielberg, Director

Being There (1979) Chance, a simple gardener, has never left the estate until his employer dies. His simple TV-informed utterances are mistaken for profundity. Peter Sellers, Shirley MacLain

Chocolat (2000) A woman and her daughter open a chocolate shop in a small French village that shakes up the rigid morality of the community. Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp, Judi Dench

Contact (1997) Dr. Ellie Arroway, after years of searching, finds conclusive radio proof of intelligent aliens, who send plans for a mysterious machine. Jodie Foster, Matthew McConnaughy, Robert Zemeckis, Director

Defending Your Life (1991) In an afterlife resembling the present-day U.S., people must prove their worth by showing in court how they have demonstrated courage. Albert Brooks, Meryl Streep

Fairy Tale (1997) Two children in 1917 take a photograph, believed by some to be the first scientific evidence of the existence of fairies. Based on a true story. Peter O’Toole, Harvey Keitel

The Five People You Meet In Heaven (2004) On his 83rd birthday, Eddie, a war vet and a maintenance worker at the Ruby Pier amusement park, dies while trying to save a girl who is sitting under a falling ride. When he awakens in the afterlife, he encounters five people with ties to his earthly existence who help him understand the meaning of his life. Jon Voight, Ellen Burstyn, Jeff Daniels

Ghost (1990) After being killed during a botched mugging, a man’s love for his partner enables him to remain on earth as a ghost. Patrick Swayze, Demi Moore, Whoopi Goldberg

Groundhog Day (1993) A weatherman finds himself living the same day over and over again. Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell

Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1973) Jonathan is sick and tired of the boring life in his seagull clan. He rather experiments with new, always more daring flying techniques. Richard Bach’s book, Neil Diamond’s music. Hal Holbrook

Lost Horizon (1937)  A classic. A plane crash delivers a group of people to the secluded land of Shangri-La — but is it the miraculous utopia it appears to be? Ronald Coleman, Jane Wyatt, Frank Capra

Meet Joe Black (1998) A media mogul acts as a guide to Death, who takes the form of a young man to learn about life on Earth and in the process, falls in love with his guide’s daughter. Sir Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt

Michael (1996) Two tabloid reporters checking out a report of the Archangel Michael living with an old woman find that it’s true. But that’s not the only surprise. John Travolta, Andie MacDowell, William Hurt, Nora Ephron

Resurrection (1980) A woman experiences a near death experience after a car accident that kills her husband. As she begins her long process of physical healing she discovers that she has the ability to heal others. While most people simply accept her gift, her family and lover can’t accept the gift because she does not place the healings within a religious context. Ellen Burstyn

Return To Me (2000) A man who falls in love with the woman who received his wife’s heart must decide which woman it is who holds his heart. David Duchovny, Minnie Driver

The Sixth Sense (1999) A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist. Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, M. Night Shyamalan, Director

Sliding Doors (1998) A London woman’s love life and career both hinge, unknown to her, on whether or not she catches a train. We see it both ways, in parallel. Gwyneth Paltrow

Somewhere In Time (1980) A Chicago playwright uses self-hypnosis to go back in time to find the actress whose vintage portrait hangs in a grand hotel. Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour

What Dreams May Come (1998) Chris Neilson dies to find himself in a heaven more amazing than he could have ever dreamed of. There is one thing missing: his wife… Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding, Jr.

What The Bleep Do We Know? (2004) This film plunges you into a world where quantum uncertainty is demonstrated – where neurological processes, and perceptual shifts are engaged and lived by its protagonist – where everything is alive, and reality is changed by every thought. Marlee Matlin

In this installation, we have a mix of smaller films from the past few years, including the long awaited documentary from Neale Donald Walsch – iGod. Trailers are usually on their websites. The first four films are fictional. The fifth film is an interesting mix of documentary and fiction. And the last two are documentaries.

The Age Of Adaline (2015) A young woman, born at the turn of the 20th century, is rendered ageless after an accident. After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever. Cast includes Harrison Ford and Ellen Burstyn.  (TheAgeOfAdalineMovie.com)

The Park ench (2014) The Park Bench first appears to be a simple story that takes you from point A to point B, but, like life, it’s really about the journey in between.  Their cultural and attitudinal differences get in the way during initial meetings, but things smooth out as they continue their sessions. They may even be falling in love. The film also is fun for literature fans, as much of the discussion leans on famous books. Relative newcomers Nicole Hayden and Walter Perez are the lead roles.  (TtheParkBenchFilm.com)

Begin Again (2013) Begin Again is a soul-stirring comedy about what happens when lost souls meet and make beautiful music together. Gretta (Keira Knightley) and her long-time boyfriend Dave (Adam Levine) are college sweethearts and songwriting partners who decamp for New York when he lands a deal with a major label. But the trappings of his new-found fame soon tempt Dave to stray, and a reeling, lovelorn Gretta is left on her own. Her world takes a turn for the better when Dan (Mark Ruffalo), a disgraced record-label exec, stumbles upon her performing on an East Village stage and is immediately captivated by her raw talent. From this chance encounter emerges an enchanting portrait of a mutually transformative collaboration, set to the soundtrack of a summer in New York City. (BeginAgainFilm.com)

Angel’s Perch (2013) Angel’s Perch is a touching tale of love and family and how the past is impossible to ever fully escape. When his aging grandmother Polly is found wandering aimlessly through town one morning, Jack makes an emergency trip home from the big city. What was supposed to be a few days turns into a long stay. As Jack struggles to balance the demands of his career with the obligations that arise from love, he encounters an old friend who discovers a secret he has kept to himself — and helps him begin to heal his broken heart. Angel’s Perch examines the delicate relationship between past and present, memory and loss. (AngelsPerch.com)

The Keeper Of The Keys (2012) What are the keys to changing your life? Michael’s life is falling apart — he’s lost his job, his home, his girlfriend — and he has no clue about the role his own negativity plays in his misfortune. An emissary from his subconscious takes him on a tour of a mysterious mansion, where he is challenged to confront his behavior. This inspiring film includes personal appearances by Jack Canfield, John Gray, Marci Shimoff and a host of other personal-development luminaries who teach Michael the key ideas to transforming his choices and his life. This film is a thinly disguised way of showing viewers how to change their lives and move to a better state. Whatever it takes. (TheKeyMovies.com)

iGod (2015) Questions about the nature of God have been haunting humankind for far more than four thousand years. Various beliefs about the nature of God have shaped human history, and been the direct cause of repetitive cycles of individual violence, warfare between nations, hatred, genocide, and wholesale slaughter of entire cultures and civilizations. Even in this age of science and technology, ethnic and religious warfare continues unabated. We talk with many of the religious and spiritual leaders in addressing these questions, and in looking at the varied points of view and beliefs about God. Co-produced by Neale Donald Walsch, iGod traces how the various belief systems about God have evolved into what exists in the present day, and then delves into the many questions about God that so many people have asked throughout history. Perhaps through this exploration we can finally begin to understand what God really is, what God wants, why we are here and how we can create a better world both for ourselves and future generations. (IgodTheFilm.com)

Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds (2012) There is one vibratory field that connects all things. It has been called Akasha, Logos, the primordial OM, the music of the spheres, the Higgs field, dark energy, and a thousand other names throughout history. The vibratory field is at the root of all true spiritual experience and scientific investigation. It is the same field of energy that saints, Buddhas, yogis, mystics, priests, shamans and seers have observed by looking within themselves. Many of history’s monumental thinkers, such a Pythagoras, Kepler, Leonardo DaVinci, Tesla, and Einstein, have come to the threshold of this great mystery. It is the common link between all religions, all sciences, and the link between our inner worlds and our outer worlds. This documentary is available to watch for free on their website. (InnerWorldsMovie.com)

Transformational movies reveal the astonishing ways in which human beings can be changed and set on a new path. Here are nine of my favorites, all released before the turn of the century from a list of “100 Best Transformational Movies” on the “Spirituality & Practice” website, a good source of spiritual film reviews. (SpiritualityAndPractice.com/films). Release dates and IMDB ratings are listed.

The Accidental Tourist is a romantic comedy that offers an engaging look at the many meanings of love and change in the lives of a writer and a dog trainer. After the death of his son, a travel writer (William Hurt) seems to be sleep walking through life. His wife (Kathleen Turner) seems to be having trouble too, and thinks it would be best if the two would just split up. After the break up, he meets a strange outgoing woman (Geena Davis) who seems to bring him back down to earth. After starting a relationship with her, his wife thinks their marriage is still worth a try. He then must make decisions about his life.  (1998, 6.8)

As Good As It Gets is about the process through which a very irritating man opens his heart and proves to be full of surprises. It challenges us not to judge people too quickly. After his homosexual neighbor (Greg Kinnear) is brutally beaten, Melvin (Jack Nicholson) is entrusted to the care of the neighbor’s dog, with a difficult relationship with a waitress (Helen Hunt) to add on top of that. What develops is a weekend trip/triangle among these three individuals, and together they learn the true meaning of “the sunny side of life.”  (1997, 7.8)

Field of Dreams uses baseball for musings on human aspirations, righting old wrongs, going the distance, and imagination as a key to transformation. Farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice in his corn field tell him, “If you build it, he will come.” He interprets this message as an instruction to build a baseball field, upon which appear the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta)  and the other Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series. When the voices continue, Ray seeks out an author (James Earl Jones) to help him understand the meaning of the messages and the purpose for his field.  (1989, 7.6)

Fried Green Tomatoes reveals how women’s lives can be transformed through the power of storytelling and the alchemy of friendship. Evelyn (Kathy Bates) is having trouble in her marriage, and no one seems to take her seriously. While in a nursing home visiting relatives, she meets Ninny (Jessica Tandy), an outgoing old woman, who tells her the story of a young woman (Mary Stuart Masterson) in 1920’s Alabama. Through her inspiring life, Evelyn learns to be more assertive and builds a lasting friendship of her own with Ninny. (1991, 7.6)

Groundhog Day is a romantic comedy about a self-centered TV weatherman (Bill Murray) who keeps re-experiencing his least favorite day of the year until he gets his relationships right. On awaking the “following” day he discovers that it’s Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. First he uses this to his advantage; then comes the realization that he is doomed to spend the rest of eternity in the same place, seeing the same people do the same thing EVERY day.  (1993, 8.1)

Good Will Hunting is about soul friends (Robin Williams, Ben Affleck) who enable a troubled young man (Matt Damon) to find his place in the world. As a first step, he must shed his cocoon. A touching tale of a wayward young man who struggles to find his identity, living in a world where he can solve any problem, except the one brewing deep within himself, until one day he meets his soul mate (Minnie Driver) who opens his mind and his heart.  (1997, 8.3)

Nobody’s Fool makes it clear that it is never too late to stir the ashes and to transform your life with the glow that comes from the love of family and friends. Sully (Paul Newman) is a rascally ne’er-do-well approaching retirement age. While he is pressing a worker’s compensation suit for a bad knee, he secretly works for his nemesis, Carl (Bruce Willis), and flirts with Carl’s young wife (Melanie Griffith). Sully’s long-forgotten son and family have moved back to town, so Sully faces unfamiliar family responsibilities.  (1994, 7.4)

Phenomenon tells the story of a mechanic (John Travolta) in a small town who is knocked over by a flash of light from the sky and transformed into a wunderkind demonstrating selfless love, seeing clearly, serving others, and honoring the connections between all things. Despite his attempts to explain what has happened to him, most of the local townspeople treat him as a freak. His state of isolation becomes even more pronounced when his new-found abilities allow him to correctly predict an earthquake, and outside authorities become interested in what’s happened to him. Also stars Kyra Sedgwick and Robert Duvall. (1996, 6.4)

Seven Years in Tibet conveys the spiritual transformation of an egotistical mountain climber who is exposed to the marvels and the mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. After the death of 11 climbers, Austrian Heinrich Harrer (Brad Pitt) decides to add glory to his country and to the German pride by climbing Nanga Parbat in British India. When WWII breaks out, he is arrested and lodged in a P.O.W. Camp. He breaks out and ends up in the holy city of Lhasa where he befriends the Dalai Lama.  (1997, 7.0)

***

If I Stay (2014) Mia Hall thought the hardest decision she would ever face would be whether to pursue her musical dreams at Juilliard or follow a different path to be with the love of her life, Adam. But what should have been a carefree family drive changes everything in an instant, and now her own life hangs in the balance. In a coma, Mia is able to observe her present crisis as well as events and developments of her recent past.  Her fate is presented entirely as a matter of will and personal choice. She must decide whether to wake up and live a life far different than she had imagined. Caught between life and death for one revealing day, Mia has only one decision left, which will not only decide her future but her ultimate fate. (IfIStayMovie.com)

Magic In The Moonlight (2014) Set in the 1920s on the opulent Riviera in the south of France, Stanley (Colin Forth) is a magician who has dedicated his life to revealing fraudulent spiritualists. He plans to quickly uncover the truth behind celebrated American spiritualist Sophie (Emma Stone) and her scheming mother. However, the more time he spends with her, he starts thinking that she might actually be able to communicate with the other world, but even worse, he might be falling in love with her. What follows in this beautifully filmed Woody Allen film is a series of events that are magical in every sense of the word and send the characters reeling. In the end, the biggest trick the movie plays is the one that fools us all. (SonyClassics.com/MagicInTheMoonlight)

Project Almanac (2015) This film is presented as found footage, and the plot centers on the creation of a time machine. A group of young friends discover plans to build a time machine and then build one themselves. They use the time machine initially to undo past mistakes. Eventually their goals turn towards their own gain and pleasure but they soon realize that changing the past has dire consequences in the future which hurts some people along the way. As the future falls apart with disasters, and each of them disappear little by little, they must travel back to the past to make sure they never invent the machine or face the destruction of humanity. Released in January. (ProjectAmanac.com)

People V. The State Of Illusion (2012) People v. The State Of Illusion is set in the notorious “Old Main Prison” of the New Mexico State Penitentiary, and tells the story of Aaron Roberts, a single father who is arrested and tried on charges following an incident that claims the life of a woman.  He is convicted and sent to prison, and his daughter becomes a ward of the state.  While there, an attorney learns of her plight and the story of her father, and decides to represent her in an emotionally-compelling case against the State.  It is an inspiring movie that will wake you up to the power of your imagination, encourage your hope and elevate your spirit.

This docudrama presents the science of personal change. It challenges viewers to imagine a life of health and happiness and then act upon this belief until the change they seek becomes a reality. The use of imagination to facilitate change is rooted in the modern understanding of human behavior, the human body and the human mind. The film is anchored with the framework of a true story of a man who put in prison for manslaughter. While there he finds that prison is not so much a place as a state of believing. He learns that he built his own behavioral and psychological prison long before he was incarcerated.

Various experts including Candace Pert, Thomas Moore, Joe Dispenza, Debbie Ford, and others offer insights into what is happening to change this person’s life. (TheStateOfIllusion.com)

Mythic Journeys (2009) Mythic Journeys is an inventive fusion of documentary, story, artwork and animation. Despite the fact that myth has always existed, surprisingly few people today are aware of even the classic myths or the potential myths have to impact their lives.

Myths are the reservoir of human wisdom – the story and the meaning of life. Every human being has asked the questions who am I, what is my purpose, why am I here? The answers are in the myths that have been passed on from generation to generation. Mythology is a tool that can bridge cultures, communities and generations.

This film hopes to inspire people to activism and show that by helping others we ultimately help ourselves. There is a saying, “Love without action is meaningless, but action without love is irrelevant.” It’s time to act, it’s time to evolve. We are the ancestors of the future. Thousands of years from now we are going to be those handprints on the cave walls. And people will look back and say those were our ancestors; what did they do? They say they lived their lives to the fullest. So, it doesn’t matter how we die, it only matters how we live. Every life is a story and that story can change the world. (MythMovie.net)

The first two films for this issue are about boys being helped by older men. The men are very different and their approaches to passing on wisdom are very different, yet the results are similar. The Universe indeed works in mysterious ways.

St. Vincent Maggie and her adopted 12-year-old son, Oliver, move next door to grumpy war veteran Vincent, but when Oliver gets locked out after school one day, Vincent allows him to stay at his house until his mom gets home. Because he has bills up to the ceiling and is desperate for cash, he tells Maggie he’ll babysit Oliver every day after school. Vincent then introduces Oliver to his lifestyle, including gambling, drinking, and his relationship with a Russian prostitute. Vincent helps Oliver grow to become a man, while Oliver begins to see in Vincent something that no one else is able to: a misunderstood man with a good heart.

What keeps this movie from being a formula picture are the actors. Bill Murray plays Vincent in what may be an Oscar nominated role and Melissa McCarthy plays Maggie very straight, as opposed to the over-the-top comedic roles she is known for. In theaters now, the reviews have been very good. From a spiritual cinema perspective, the message may be there is a little saint in all of us. (StVincentFilm.com)

Milton‘s Secret: An Adventure Of Discovery Through Then, When & The Power Of Now  A feature film based on the book by Eckhart Tolle and Robert S. Friedman. Milton’s Secret is a coming of age story about an 11-year-old boy growing up in an economically depressed suburb, and the elderquest of his grandfather. Milton’s troubles seem to be coming from every direction. His mother and father are workaholics with marital and financial problems, and he is being bullied at school. Fear and dread are everywhere. When his unconventional grandfather visits, Milton learns that rehashing bad experiences and worrying about the future are preventing him from finding true happiness in the Now. With a little practice, Milton learns his Grandpa’s secret for coping with a world in crisis: most things have a surprising way of working out when you flow with the power of now.

Milton’s Secret is a thought-provoking family film based on the story by acclaimed spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now and A New Earth) starring Peter Fonda. It’s the first of Tolle’s work to be exhibited as a feature film. The movie is still in development and is partially funded through a crowdfunding campaign. If you are an Eckhart Tolle fan you might want to contribute. (MiltonsSecretMovie.com)

Mr. Nobody A boy stands on a station platform as a train is about to leave. Should he go with his mother or stay with his father? Infinite possibilities arise from this decision. As long as he doesn’t choose, anything is possible. This is a movie about the choices we make and the possible lives that follow.

It tells the life story of Nemo Nobody, a 118-year-old man who is the last mortal on Earth after the human race has achieved quasi-immortality. On his deathbed, Nemo shares his life story with a reporter and reviews the choices he made along the way. Yet even with his last breath, a pivotal decision awaits to conclude his destiny.

Nemo narrates a voyage through several permutations of his life, following alternate paths. He chooses to grow up with each of his divorcing parents; has three separate and mutually canceling lifelong romances; and experiences various brushes with death. This film was released in 2009 in Europe where it developed a following and is finally available here. (Magpictures.com/MrNobody)

The God Question Does God exist? Imagine an intelligent computer attempting to answer this question with greater insight than humans have managed through the centuries. That’s the premise of The God Question, a new feature film shot in and around Amherst, MA. Although science fiction, it’s a story that may one day become science fact. A startling breakthrough in artificial intelligence at MIT produces the first super-intelligent computer capable of thinking independently, as humans do. Set in the near future, a pair of scientists feed the computer virtually everything ever written that exists in digital form, then they ask it the ultimate question: Is there evidence in it for God, for a spiritual framework to life? To their astonishment, it arrives at an answer. (TheGodQuestionFilm.com)

Wayward: The Prodigal Son As may be expected, Wayward offers a modern telling of the story of the prodigal son, found in the gospel of Luke. The story centers on a young son who decides he wants to leave his family, takes his inheritance, and goes out into the world. He loses all that he has and returns home, hoping to be taken in as a servant. However, upon returning home, his father runs out to greet him and throws a celebratory party because the son that was lost has now been found. With the help of a woman with her own checkered past, Tyler gets back on his feet. Fatherly love, repentance and mercy combine to save Tyler’s life even if they cannot save the life of his father. This film is currently in theaters and is part of a resurgence in Christian biblical tales. Other such recent films are Noah starring Russell Crowe and Exodus: Gods and Kings with Christian Bale. (LoveHimHome.com

The first two films are recent releases exploring the relationship between man and machine, similar to the award winning Her of 2013. On his April visit to Japan, President Obama was filmed playing soccer with their latest advanced robot. Film makers are now exploring the more complex relationships that will arise as artificial intelligence progresses.

Transcendence In the near future a team of scientists are working on a sentient machine called PINN (Physically Independent Neural Network). Dr. Will Caster (Johnny Depp) is the chief scientist behind this A.I. (artificial intelligence) experiment with his wife and fellow researcher Evelyn (Rebecca Hall). They believe they are working with an evolutionary advance in human consciousness. Will says, “Imagine a machine with the full range of human emotion. Its analytical power will be greater than the collective intelligence of every person in the history of the world. Some scientists refer to this as the singularity. I call it transcendence.”

Not everyone shares their optimism. A radical group is willing to use violence to stop what they see as a brave new world of mind control and oppression. Will is shot and only has a few weeks to live. Evelyn and colleagues seek to upload all the data in his mind to PINN so that what he knows and its potential is not lost.

Some of the developments in the second half of this thriller are worth thinking about: Evelyn’s willingness to follow the instructions of a digital representation of her husband; an older colleague’s (Morgan Freeman) view that the super-intelligent computer that can heal people and give them amazing new powers is malevolent; and the struggle that takes place in Evelyn, whose emotions reveal her love for Will in his new form, but whose reason cannot accept his control over her and his “hybrids.” Her choice, at the end of Transcendence is truly redemptive. (TranscendenceMovie.com)

The Machine This low-budget sci-fi thriller packs enough ideas about robots to make it worth your while if you are in the mood for life in a dystopian post-human universe. The Machine is set in the future where the West is clashing with China as both sides compete to build intelligent and indestructible killing machines. In their experiments, scientists are equipping badly wounded and brain damaged war veterans with prosthetic limbs and giving them brain implants to turn them into obedient robots.

What makes The Machine of interest is that our hero, Dr. Vincent McCarthy’s only reason for working at the military unit is a secret that has to do with a member of his family. When Ava, a young and pretty American scientist, is murdered, Vincent uses her body and face for his new android which he names “Machine.” The movie explores the clash between the super-intelligent robots and humans. At one point, Ava says to Vincent: “What makes my clever imitation of life any different from theirs? Apart from their flesh, what makes them any different from me?” It is this kind of philosophical question that grabs our interest along with the relationship that develops between Vincent and Ava the Machine.

The last section of film descends into a predictable battle (spoiler alert!) with the lethal robo-warrior easily triumphing over the heavily armed Special Forces, but it is worth pondering all the possibilities between man and super intelligent machine. (MachineMovie.com)

Heaven Is For Real This Near Death Experience movie is a true story, based on a best-selling book of the same name. Heaven Is For Real brings to the screen the story of a small-town father who must find the courage and conviction to share his son’s extraordinary, life-changing experience with the world. It stars Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly as the real-life couple whose son Colton claims to have visited Heaven during a near death experience. During emergency surgery he slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. Colton recounts the details of his journey with childlike innocence and speaks matter-of-factly about things that happened before his birth … things he couldn’t possibly know.

The book Heaven Is for Real is a huge bestseller with over eight million copies sold, and the movie version is popular among conservative Christian audiences who support its literal descriptions of heaven. But because the screen version is free of any heavy Christian fundamentalism overlay, the story becomes one that even those who consider themselves spiritual-but-not-religious can appreciate. (SonyPictures.com/movies/HeavenIsForReal)

The Forgotten Kingdom The Forgotten Kingdom is the only feature ever filmed in Lesotho, a small African country completely surrounded by South Africa. In the film, Atang, an unemployed, aimless young man, spends his days idling in the slums of Johannesburg. When his father dies, Atang reluctantly decides to honor his father’s humble last wish: to be buried in the rural, mountainous Kingdom of Lesotho, the home they left fifteen years earlier with hopes of a better life.

Atang’s journey becomes much more than a homecoming: he reconnects with a childhood friend, a beautiful and compassionate young woman who takes care of a younger sister with AIDS. He also befriends a precocious eleven year-old orphan boy, and together they embark on an arduous journey across the breathtaking, rugged mountains. Along the way, Atang is forced to surrender to the rhythm and traditions of the land, and to make peace with his father and the life he once led. The Forgotten Kingdom is an inspiring and beautiful film. It will leave you feeling the satisfaction of arriving home after a long journey. (ForgottenKingdomMovie.com)

About Time At the age of 21, Tim Lake discovers he can travel in time. The night after another unsatisfactory New Year party, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. Tim can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life – so he decides to make his world a better place…by getting a girlfriend. Sadly, that turns out not to be as easy as you might think. Tim meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). They fall in love, then an unfortunate time-travel incident means he’s never met her at all. So they meet for the first time again and again until he finally wins her heart. Tim then uses his power to create the perfect romantic proposal and wedding. But as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds out that his unique gift can’t save him from the sorrows and ups and downs that affect all families, everywhere. There are limits to what time travel can achieve, and it can be dangerous, too. Sounds a bit like Groundhog Day but it received a very good 7.9 IMDb rating.

Samsara Samsara is a Tibetan word that means “The ever turning wheel of life.” Expanding on the themes developed in BARAKA (1992) and CHRONOS (1985), SAMSARA explores the wonders of our world from the mundane to the miraculous, looking into the unfathomable reaches of man’s spirituality and the human experience. Neither a traditional documentary nor a travelogue, SAMSARA takes the form of a nonverbal, guided meditation.  Through powerful images, the film illuminates the links between humanity and the rest of nature, showing how our life cycle mirrors the rhythm of the planet. It transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders.  By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, SAMSARA subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern. (barakasamsara.com)

Band Of Sisters We have always marveled at the grand and wonderful work being done by Catholic nuns in the United States. Their faith, devotion, service, and pursuit of justice warm our hearts. Band of Sisters tells the story of Catholic nuns and their work for social justice after Vatican II of the 1960s. For Catholics who wonder what became of the nuns they knew in habits and convents many years ago, for activists who may feel profoundly discouraged given the problems of today’s world, for women seeking equality in their church, and for people of all faiths yearning for an inclusive and contemplative spirituality, this film challenges us to ask what really matters in life. And as we seek what matters, how do we go about changing our lives and the world around us? Producer and director Mary Fishman has chosen a fascinating and eclectic band of sisters to profile in this inspiring documentary about their march to a richer and deeper amalgamation of contemplation and social activism. “We are the risk-takers in the church,” says one of them, and she is right. Despite the roadblocks set up by the government, by the military, and conservatives in the Vatican, these resilient nuns keep on with their varied ministries doing the best they can to mend this weary world. (BandOfSistersMovie.com)

Free The Mind In 1992, Professor Richard Davidson, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists, met the Dalai Lama, who encouraged him to apply the same rigorous methods he used to study depression and anxiety to the study of compassion and kindness, those qualities cultivated by Tibetan meditation practice. The results of Davidson’s studies are portrayed in Free the Mind as they are applied to treating PTSD in returning Iraqi vets and children with ADHD. The film poses two fundamental questions: What really is consciousness, and how does it manifest in the brain and body? And is it possible to physically change the brain solely through mental practices? The techniques shown include breathing and awareness exercises that help stifle the horrific memories on permanent loop that torment the veterans.

The first two films in this issue are older movies involving metaphysical issues starring Robert Downey, Jr. in his early years. They include good supporting casts.

Heart And Souls Heart and Souls is a 1993 fantasy-comedy film about the souls of four deceased people who are trapped on earth and can only be seen by a single living human being who is recruited to help them take care of their unfinished business. It begins with an introduction to the four different characters. One is a thief and small-time criminal (Tom Sizemore), another is a mother of three kids (Alfre Woodard), the third is a waitress who is afraid of commitment (Kyra Sedgwick), the fourth is a singer who is afraid to sing in front of people (Charles Grodin). All of them get on the same bus during the same night. The bus crashes off a bridge and all the passengers and driver die, but the passengers are swept away and get stuck to a baby who was born at the exact same time.

Only young Thomas can see the four ghosts, and so his parents and teachers believe that he needs therapy. Because of this, the four people decide to “become invisible” so they don’t influence Thomas any further. Years later, Thomas (Robert Downey Jr.) has grown up and become a successful businessman. He has forgotten about his friends, and feels the ghosts were hallucinations.

The bus driver who was driving when it crashed has now been assigned to pick up souls for 500 years. He comes to pick up the four souls, and tells them that they were supposed to use Thomas in order to finish their business that would have made their lives complete, but they only have a few hours to complete their lives. But first they have to make Thomas believe in them again.

Chances Are Louie Jeffries (Robert Downey Jr.) is happily married to Corinne in this 1989 film. On their first anniversary, Louie is killed crossing the road. He is reincarnated as Alex Finch, and twenty years later, fate brings Alex and Louie’s daughter, Miranda, together. It’s not until Alex is invited to Louie’s home that he begins to remember his former life, wife and best friend. Of course, there’s also the problem that he’s attracted to Louie’s/his own daughter. There are a lot of things that seem familiar to Alex Finch. A woman he never met, daughter he never knew, and a best friend he’s never laid eyes on. Alex has a lifetime full of wonderful memories; but they’re not his. Cybill Shepherd, Robert Downey, Jr., Ryan O’Neal and Mary Stuart Masterson star in this romantic comedy of two lifetimes. It’s about people who learn to live more fully in the present by letting go of the past.

Locke Ivan Locke has worked diligently to craft the life he has envisioned, dedicating himself to the job that he loves and the family he adores. On the eve of the biggest challenge of his career, Ivan receives a phone call that sets in motion a series of events that will unravel his family, job, and soul. All taking place over the course of one absolutely riveting car ride, Locke is an exploration of how one decision can lead to the complete collapse of a life. It is a thrillingly unique cinematic experience of a man fighting to salvage all that is important to him.

This intense film probes the dark night of the soul as experienced by a middle-aged construction site manager driving from Birmingham to London. Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is on screen during the entire 84-minute running time of the drama and never leaves his car. Through his cell phone conversations we learn that he is under fire from several fronts. In one evening, his 15-year marriage is shattered and his future as a construction site manager is put in jeopardy. In the midst of all these troubles, Locke spews out his resentment for his father who abandoned him when he was a boy. As the various strands of this plot unfurl, we see the ways in which our choices determine our destiny, even though at the time they may seem to be inconsequential. Currently in theaters this summer. (Locke-Movie.com)

Song Of The New Earth  Song of the New Earth is a documentary profiling the quest of sound healer, psychotherapist, and sonic shaman Tom Kenyon to integrate modern science and ancient mysticism through the power of sound. His rare ability to brilliantly decipher the healing science of sound results in a mesmerizing, and transformational feature film.

As an aspiring country musician, Kenyon was on way to fame and fortune in Nashville when a series of mystical experiences rocked his world. Desperate to understand his experience, he fervently dove into the study of neurophysiology to explain his unexplainable spiritual insights and continued his search through studying Tibetan Buddhism, Yoga, Taoism, mystical Christianity, Shamanism, Egyptian alchemy and more.

Song of the New Earth explores the cutting edge scientific research proving that sound shifts brain states and can promote dramatic healing not only for ourselves but for our precious planet earth. Kenyon explains how sound vibration speaks to our souls and bodies by opening a door that bridges our cognitive thinking; catapulting us towards insights into the miraculous. Released in May 2014, the DVD should be available this fall. (SongOfTheNewEarth.com)

A Note from Stephen Simon, Movie Mystic:

Gravity is not only the most thrilling, awe-inspiring visual film experience since Avatar, it is also a deeply spiritual journey…and an absolute must-see for all film fans. Unlike a score of recent films that seemed to have 3D tacked on as a marketing device (or ploy to boost more ticket revenue), Gravity simply has to be seen in 3D and, preferably, IMAX, or the largest other 3D screen you can find near you. This is a film that simply has to be seen in a theater. If you wait for it to come on DVD or on-demand, you will have missed one of the great screen experiences in the history of cinema.

For 90 thrilling minutes you will actually feel like you are orbiting the earth as astronauts Ryan (Sandra Bullock) and Matt (George Clooney) are in the breathtaking opening sequence of the film. Soon, something goes terribly wrong as their shuttle and space station are torn apart by space debris. The rest of the film revolves around their attempts to survive.

Simple plot, yes. But, oh, the execution. Director Alfonso Cuaron and his brilliant team spent four years designing, shooting, and editing Gravity and does it ever pay off! Sandra Bullock gives the performance of her life and will, without doubt, be rewarded with another Academy Award nomination, as will Mr. Cuaron, his genius technical staff, and the film itself.

In addition, Gravity is by far the most deeply spiritual “off-the-earth” film that I have seen since 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968. To detail those spiritual moments here would ruin the surprise of the scenes in which they occur (so I won’t!), but please be assured the film is deeply rooted in a universal spirituality that will make you feel very proud to be human. Yes, it’s that powerful.

Gravity is, by far, my favorite film so far in 2013. I urge you to see it as quickly as possible…before others tell you too much about it and ruin the joy of discovery that awaits you in the nearest 3D Imax theater you can find!

This issue we explore documentaries about food focusing on the effort to educate people about what they eat and understanding the challenges to change an industry dominated by big businesses. At the end of each review in parentheses is the date of the film, the Internet Movie Data Base rating, and the website.

Farmageddon Americans’ right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why. Evoking both sympathy and anger for those farmers violently shut down by overzealous government policy and regulators, Farmageddon stresses the urgency of food freedom. Though the film deals with intense scenes and dramatic situations, the overall tone is optimistic, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods. (2011, 6.6, FarmageddonMovie.com)

Vegucated Vegucated is a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it’s all about. They have no idea that so much more than steak is at stake and that the planet’s fate may fall on their plates. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. Before long, they find themselves risking everything to expose an industry they supported just weeks before. Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who are trying their darnedest to change in a culture that seems dead set against it. (2010, 6.9, GetVegucated.com)

King Corn King Corn is a feature documentary about two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In King Corn, best friends from college on the east coast move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America’s most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat and how we farm. (2007, 6.9, KingCorn.net)

Food Fight When we walk into a supermarket, we assume that we have the widest possible choice of healthy foods. But in fact, over the course of the 20th century, our food system was co-opted by corporate forces whose interests do not lie in providing the public with fresh, healthy, sustainably-produced food. Fortunately for America, an alternative emerged from the counter-culture of California in the late 1960s and early 1970s, where a group of political anti-corporate protesters voiced their dissent by creating a food chain outside of the conventional system. The unintended result was the birth of a vital local-sustainable-organic food movement which has brought back taste and variety to our tables. Food Fight is a look at how American agricultural policy and food culture developed in the 20th century, and how the California food movement has created a counter-revolution against big agribusiness. (2008, 6.8, FoodFightTheDoc.com)

Our Daily Bread Welcome to the world of industrial food production and high-tech farming! To the rhythm of conveyor belts and immense machines, the film looks without commenting into the places where food is produced in Europe: monumental spaces, surreal landscapes and bizarre sounds – a cool, industrial environment which leaves little space for individualism. People, animals, crops and machines play a supporting role in the logistics of this system which provides our society’s standard of living. Our Daily Bread is a tableau of a feast which isn’t always easy to digest – and in which we all take part. (2005, 7.4, OurDailyBread.at)

Food, Inc The current method of raw food production is largely a response to the growth of the fast food industry since the 1950s. The production of food overall has more drastically changed since that time than the several thousand years prior. Controlled primarily by a handful of multinational corporations, the global food production business has as its unwritten goals production of large quantities of food at low direct inputs (most often subsidized) resulting in enormous profits, which in turn results in greater control of the global supply of food sources within these few companies. Health and safety are often overlooked by the companies and by government in an effort to provide cheap food regardless of negative consequences. (2008, 7.8, TakeTart.com/FoodInc)

Time travel is a wonderful story device for exploring “what if’s?” In this list, I’ve excluded the bang-bang shoot-em-ups such as the Terminator series or Looper. Here are 12 films I enjoy, primarily from our Spiritual Cinema list. They are arranged by year of release.

The Time Machine (1960) The granddaddy of time travel stories, this is the best film adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic novel. An Oscar-winner for its visual effects, it traces the journey of a man from Victorian England as he visits three world wars (including a nuclear war in the late 1960s) before reaching the very distant future.

Planet Of The Apes (1968) Taylor (Charlton Heston) and crew set out into space in 1972. They end up in the year 3978 and land on a mysterious planet where evolved, talking apes dominant a race of primitive humans.

Somewhere In Time (1980) This is the love story of a young writer (Christopher Reeve) who is met on the opening night of his first play by an old lady who begs him to “Come back to me.” Mystified, he tries to find out about her, and learns that she (Jane Seymour) is a famous stage actress from the early 1900s. Becoming more and more obsessed with her, he manages, by self hypnosis, to travel back in time where he meets and falls in love with her.

Back To The Future (1985) Robert Zemeckis’ 1985 comedy is about an eccentric scientist (Christopher Lloyd) who accidentally sends his young friend (Michael J. Fox) 30 years into the past in a time-traveling DeLorean where he must make sure his high-school-age parents unite in order to save his own existence. There are two sequels.

Star Trek Iv: The Voyage Home (1986) A number of the Star Trek films include time travel but this was the most popular. The funniest of all the Trek films, “Voyage Home” provided the one-time Enterprise crew with an unassailable reason to travel back in time to 20th century Earth: to save the whales. In 2286, a probe will destroy the Earth unless a humpback whale answers its call and the Enterprise crew must travel back to San Francisco, 1986.

Groundhog Day  (1993) Phil Connors (Bill Murray) spends February 2 in Punxsutawney for Groundhog Day as a weather man reluctantly sent to cover a story about a weather forecasting “rat” (as he calls it). This is his fourth year on the story and he makes no effort to hide his frustration. On awaking the “following” day, he discovers that it’s Groundhog Day again, and again, and again. He must relive exactly the same events until he gets it right.

Kate & Leopold (2001) Hugh Jackman is a 19th century duke who winds up in 21st century New York City, where he falls for Meg Ryan. Her ex-boyfriend finds a space near the Brooklyn Bridge where there is a gap in time. He goes back to the 19th Century and is followed home by Leopold (Hugh Jackman), a man living in the 1870s. Leopold is mistaken for an actor.

An Angel For May (2002) An English boy and his dog accidentally find a portal to the past. Tom travels fifty years to the past after discovering a time machine. He meets May, a little orphan who needs help. Now that he knows his friends’ fate and his own, he will try to reorder the events and change their history. A story of healing in two time periods. With Tom Wilkinson.

The Butterfly Effect (2004) The film depicts a college student (Ashton Kutcher) who is able to travel back to his own past and alter events that happened to him, although at a considerable cost. Re-reading journal entries enables him to return to the scene of hitherto unexplained childhood blackouts. Evan’s adventures keep affecting the present, turning him in one timeline into an armless paraplegic.

The Lake House (2006) A lonely doctor (Sandra Bullock) who once occupied an unusual lakeside home begins exchanging love letters with its former resident (Keanu Reeves), a frustrated architect, moving normally through time…except that they communicate via a mailbox that bridges the two-year gap. When they want to meet, Alex has to wait two years for the rendezvous. For Kate, it’s more like a day. They try to unravel the mystery behind their extraordinary romance.

From Time To Time (2009) In 1940s England, 13 year old Tolly is sent to the country estate of his grandmother (Maggie Smith), while his mother searches for any information concerning his missing-in- action father. Tolly finds that he can pass through time to witness the family stories his grandmother tells him. He becomes caught up in the family scandals, secrets, and mysteries that still echo in his own time.

Midnight In Paris (2011) Hollywood screenwriter Gil (Owen Wilson) is on a working vacation in present-day Paris. A magical bell rings at midnight; next thing, Gil is living in the 1920s and hanging out with Hemmingway and Picasso. Gil is seduced by the nostalgic glamour of becoming mates with artistic geniuses.

The first three films come to us from three different continents – South America, Europe and Asia. What they have in common is they all examine death, the one mystery we all share. With English subtitles.

Chicken With Plums (From France: Teheran, 1958) Since his beloved violin was broken, Nasser Ali Khan, one of the most renowned musicians of his day, has lost all taste for life. Finding no instrument worthy of replacing it, he decides to confine himself to bed to await death. As he hopes for its arrival, he plunges into deep reveries, with dreams as melancholic as they are joyous, taking him back to his youth and even to a conversation with Azrael, the Angel of Death, who reveals the future of his children. As pieces of the puzzle gradually fit together, the poignant secret of his life comes to light: a wonderful story of love that inspired his genius and his music. (2011, DVD release February 26)

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives From Thailand: Suffering from acute kidney failure, Uncle Boonmee has chosen to spend his final days surrounded by his loved ones in the countryside. Surprisingly, the ghost of his deceased wife appears to care for him, and his long lost son returns home in a non-human form. Contemplating the reasons for his illness, Boonmee treks through the jungle with his family to a mysterious hilltop cave – the birthplace of his first life. (2010, on DVD)

Astral City: A Spiritual Journey From Brazil: This film explores what it means to die and what happens next. The selfish Dr. André Luiz dies and awakes in a kind of limbo called “Umbral.” After a painful and numb period in a gruesome swamp, he is rescued and brought to “Nosso Lar” (meaning Our Home), a spiritual city. He finds a place of harmony, where people live in peace, working for the good of humanity, for self evolution and waiting for reincarnation. Soon André Luiz changes his behavior becoming a more self aware and altruist man. (2011, on DVD) (NossoLarofilme.com.br)

Beasts Of The Southern Wild It’s Academy Award season and this film has been nominated for four awards, including Best Actress for six-year old Qulyndreia Wallis, the youngest person ever nominated. In a forgotten but defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world by a sprawling levee, a six-year-old girl exists on the brink of orphanhood. Buoyed by her childish optimism and extraordinary imagination, she believes that the natural world is in balance with the universe until a fierce storm changes her reality. Nature flies out of whack, temperatures rise and the ice caps melt unleashing an army of prehistoric creatures called aurochs. Desperate to repair the structure of her world in order to save her ailing father and sinking home, this tiny hero must learn to survive unstoppable catastrophes of epic proportions. (2012, on DVD) (BeastsOfTheSouthernWild.com)

The Blue Butterfly A dramatic adventure about courage, redemption and love, filmed in the rain forests of Costa Rica and in Montreal. Based on a true story, The Blue Butterfly tells the story of a terminally ill 10-year-old boy whose dream is to catch the most beautiful butterfly on Earth, the mythic and elusive Blue Morpho. His mother persuades a renowned entomologist (William Hurt) to take them on a trip to the jungle to search for the butterfly, leading to an adventure that will transform their lives. The Blue Butterfly is about the coming of age of a young boy and a mature man who both must learn to emerge from their protective cocoons to live life to the fullest. It takes a trip across the globe, a hero to light his path, and a flying wonder to finally bring him home. (2004, on DVD) (BlueButterflyTheMovie.com)

Shuffle What if you didn’t know how old you’d be tomorrow? Lovell Milo’s life is out of order – literally. Every day, he wakes up at a different age, on a different day of his life, never knowing where or when he’s going to be. Lovell is terrified by this unending time warp – until he begins to notice a pattern in the chaos. What ensues is Lovell’s quest to unearth the truth behind his mind-bending experience. Shuffle is an intense and consuming film. Part Twilight Zone and part It’s A Wonderful Life, Shuffle leads its audience through the maze that is Lovell Milo’s life, in search of sanity, harmony — and eventually, answers. Shuffle doesn’t give away its secrets too quickly. (2011, on DVD) (ShuffleTheMovie.com/about)

Keeper Of The Keys  Michael Walden is having one bad day after another … and there is no end in sight. After losing his job and finding his home in foreclosure, he becomes increasingly negative and frustrated. His fiancée, tired of his rants, breaks off their engagement. Depressed and discouraged, he falls asleep … and dreams. Success Coach Jack Canfield appears and tells Michael that he is sending some friends to help him discover the keys and how to use them. Michael is led through an eerie mansion by Elizabeth, a mysterious spiritual guide, as they encounter a diverse group of experts eager to enlighten him. A hybrid film between a fictional story and experts including John Gray and Jack Canfield doing what they do best: dispensing incredible, uplifting advice. (2012, on DVD) (TheKeeperOfTheKeys.com)

The Conjuring What is unique about this summer horror film is that it is based on a true story and includes real Monroe Connecticut paranormal investigators ED and LORRAINE WARREN. Lorraine is clairvoyant and Ed, who passed in 2006, was a Vatican-sanctioned demonologist. They were devotedly Catholic researchers and interpreted what they saw and experienced through that lens, attributing most phenomenon to demons and evil. Best known for Long Island’s Amityville Horror investigation, book and movie, they have written a number of books and have been featured in others. For many years they traveled the region giving talks that were more entertainment than education and thus had to be scary. (Warrens.net) The Conjuring received fairly good reviews as a fright film and involves a demonic spirit terrorizing a family at a Rhode Island farmhouse. A good portion of the film follows the work of the Warrens. VERA FAMIGLIA (“Mother” from Bates Motel) stars as Lorraine Warren and the director, James Wan, is best known for directing the first “torture porn” film Saw. This one is scary, but not that bad. Lorraine makes a cameo – see if you can spot her! (TheConjuring.warnerbros.com) (Dory pipes in and says, “I am a huge fan of horror movies and can pretty much sit through most without being taken off guard – most of the time. However, there were some really creepy parts in this movie and I actually did jump a few times, which was surprising. While the dialogue was cheesy from time to time, it’s worth seeing because it is a true story.”)

Connecticut must be getting a reputation. In 2009 The Haunting in Connecticut was released, also based on a supposedly true story. And earlier this year The Haunting in Connecticut 2 was released. The only Connecticut connection is the name as the events all take place in Georgia. Go figure… Also, many stories from the paranormal investigation shows and eyewitness ghost experience shows are from Connecticut.

Forks Over Knives The 2011 feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems? A solution so comprehensive, but so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?

The idea of food as medicine is put to the test. Throughout the film, cameras follow “reality patients” who have chronic conditions from heart disease to diabetes. Doctors teach these patients how to adopt a whole-foods plant-based diet as the primary approach to treat their ailments – while the challenges and triumphs of their journeys are revealed. This film can transform your life in ways you never thought possible. And it may just help start the seismic revolution in health care this country so badly needs. (ForksOverKnives.com)

Doctored It is clear to all Americans that the present day health care system is not serving everybody as well as it should be. One of the main reasons is that it is rigged in favor of the medical establishment, the power and money of the American Medical Association, the huge money-making machine of the pharmaceutical industry, and the public’s lack of knowledge about alternative methods of treatment for cancer, autism, and other diseases. This movie could change lives and have an impact on changing healthcare from Disease Care to Health and Wellness Promotion, from a model of just drugging the symptoms to solving the underlying issues that actually cause illness. The only drawback to Doctored is that it tries to cover too much territory. (DoctoredTheMovie.com)

Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds There is one vibratory field that connects all things. It has been called Akasha, Logos, the primordial OM, the music of the spheres, the Higgs field, dark energy, and a thousand other names throughout history. The vibratory field is at the root of all true spiritual experience and scientific investigation. It is the same field of energy that saints, Buddhas, yogis, mystics, priests, shamans and seers, have observed by looking within themselves. Many of history’s monumental thinkers, such a Pythagoras, Kepler, Leonardo DaVinci, Tesla, and Einstein, have come to the threshold of this great mystery. It is the common link between all religions, all sciences, and the link between our inner worlds and our outer worlds.

Inner Worlds was created by Canadian film maker, musician and meditation teacher Daniel Schmidt. The film could be described as the external reflection of his own adventures in meditation. As Daniel came to meditative insights, he realized that these same insights were discovered over and over in spiritual traditions around the world and that all traditions share a common mystical underpinning. He realized that it is this core experience that connects us not only to the mysterious source of all creation, but to each other as well. (Innerworldsmovie.com)

The Shift Of The Ages A massive, worldwide phenomenon is in progress, sowing seeds of great hope. Millions around the world are waking up and embracing a new outlook and responsibility to contribute positively to our collective future. We are in the midst of the biggest social transformation in human history: THE SHIFT. This documentary presents a story of hope for a new world – one born out of a decaying planet and unsustainable paradigm of human behavior. The film sheds light on the magnificence of the human spirit, with messages of oneness; actions of love, courage, and generosity; and a passion for healing and peace. The Shift is the first feature film to reveal the proactive role we are now playing in the evolutionary shift of our collective consciousness. Featured are global leaders, leading-edge thinkers, scientists and change agents like you! (ShiftOfTheAges.com)

Pope Annalisa Peter Canova held a workshop at Unity of Greater Hartford in September on Mary Magdalene, the Gnostic Gospels, Quantum Physics and the Sacred Feminine. He’s a good speaker with interesting ideas so I read his book “Pope Annalisa,” where he presents his ideas in a fictional format. The story reminds you of a Dan Brown novel (DaVinci Code) as it has short chapters jumping between locations and characters building the story. But Annalisa is more about the message. It’s not as exciting as a Dan Brown story, but  Canova’s ideas resonate with many of the concepts we discuss – oneness, the rising feminine, and the personal shifts that seem to be taking place. The book is the first of a trilogy and has been optioned for a movie.

Briefly, it’s about Mary Magdalene reincarnated as a black African nun who rises to become Pope of the Roman Catholic Church in the year 2028, the threat she creates to the established church, and the opportunities she has to change the world. At this point in the future, Iran has become a world power and is challenging the United States. No timing yet on the film, so you’ll have to read the book for now. (PopeAnnalisa.com)

The Adjustment Bureau This movie surprised me. A science fiction story starring Matt Damon, I expected an action piece with a bit of fantasy. It was that, but also included an alternate metaphysical view of God, angels, synchronicity, mankind’s history, free will, destiny, purpose, and the power of love. There is a plan for each of us and if we begin to deviate from that plan, the Adjustment Bureau, heaven’s case workers, steps in and arranges events that lead us back to the plan. Damon seems to like this type of film having also appeared in Hereafter, Dogma, and The Legend of Bagger Vance. The film is based on a story by Philip K. Dick, a science fiction writer with a strong interest in metaphysics and theology. He also wrote the stories that became Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report. Matt Damon plays a man who glimpses the future Fate has planned for him – and chooses to fight for his own destiny. (UniversalStudiosEntertainment.com/the-adjustment-bureau)

Journey Of The Universe This is the epic story of cosmic, earth, and Human transformation. Using his skills as a masterful storyteller, Brian Swimme, scientist and author of “The Universe is a Green Dragon,” connects such big picture issues as the birth of the cosmos 14 billion years ago – to the invisible frontiers of the human genome – as well as to our current impact on Earth’s evolutionary dynamics. Through his engaging and thoughtful observations, audiences discover the profound role we play in this intricate web of life.

Big science, big history, big story, this film was co-written by Yale University historian of religions Mary Evelyn Tucker. They weave a tapestry that draws together scientific discoveries with humanistic insights concerning the nature of the universe. The film gives a deeper understanding of how galaxies, stars, planets, and living organisms emerged and what role Humans play in this process. It offers us an opportunity to respond to ecological and social challenges of our times.  (JourneyOfTheUniverse.org)

Choice Point When you watch Choice Point, you’ll finally get the answers that’ll make all the difference – and what you’re going to discover may well surprise you. Imagine how much faster your own journey to success would be if you could tap into the thinking and experiences of some of the world’s leading visionaries, scientists and spiritual leaders – life-directing guidance from billionaire Richard Branson, visionary Desmond Tutu, author Jack Canfield, and more. If you feel stuck, or you’re facing what seem like insurmountable obstacles in your life – or you simply have a BIG project that you don’t yet know how to take out into the world – know that you’ll be inspired by the stories, wisdom, and perspectives provided by the inspirational figures who’ve been interviewed for the film. Drawing on their own lives, they describe how they’ve learned to shift their beliefs, change self-defeating thoughts and behaviors, take action…and persevere! And what’s really interesting is that everyone who appears in the film acknowledges that their transformation was not only personal – but also helped to spark a collective ripple of change. By recognizing and bettering their lives through their choice points, they’re now in a position where they can contribute to society as a whole – sharing their unique gifts with the world on a much large scale. (ChoicePointMovement.com)

Living In Light Who are we, what is our purpose, and where are we headed? Living in Light is a spiritual documentary narrated by Neale Donald Walsch, author of “Conversations with God.” It helps answer some of the big questions in life. With beautiful music and gentle words, the intent of this movie is to inspire us all to live consciously, freely, and fully awake by spreading the light of awareness into the world at this critical time. Some of today’s enlightened thinkers – Neale Donald Walsch, Alan Cohen, Elijah, Gangaji, Eli Jaxon-Bear, Panache Desai, and Mirabai Devi – share their insights, offering the chance to explore for ourselves the deepest meaning of the human experience. This beautiful meditation of a film examines the experience of divine consciousness and urges viewers to “wake up and be free.” (LivingInLightMovie.com

Melancholia A beautiful movie about the end of the world. On the night of her wedding, Justine is struggling to be happy even though it should be the happiest day of her life. It was an extravagant wedding paid for by her sister and brother-in-law who are trying to keep the bride and all the guests in-line. Meanwhile, Melancholia, a blue planet, is hurtling towards the Earth. Claire, Justine’s sister, is struggling to maintain composure with fear of the impending disaster. Melancholia is written and directed by Lars von Trier. Trier’s initial inspiration for the film came from a depressive episode he suffered and the insight that depressed people remain calm in stressful situations. Staring Kristen Dunst, Kiefer Sutherland, and John Hurt. The film premiered in May 2011 at the 64th Cannes Film Festival. Dunst received the festival’s Best Actress Award for her performance. (Melancholiathemovie.com)

Le Quattro Volte Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times) is inspired by Pythagoras’ belief in four-fold transmigration — by which the soul is passed from human to animal to vegetable to mineral — Michelangelo Frammartino’s wondrous docu-essay traces the cycle of life through the daily rituals of life in the southern Italian region of Calabria. It’s not necessary to know that or anything else to watch this film, which doesn’t require active interpretation but invites meditation and musing. Although Italian with English subtitles, it is made without dialogue. Made in three parts, the first is about an old goatherd who is quite sick and believes that he has found a remedy in the dust from the church floor. The second part is a study of a young goat, from its birth onwards. The third part follows a fir tree, as it is chopped down to be displayed in the town square and is later made into charcoal for the townspeople’s fires. (LorberFilms.com/view-all-films/le-quattro-volte)

Meet Joe Black This is an oldie but goodie and one of my favorite metaphysical films. It pairs Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins in a tale about Death (Joe Black) as played by Pitt, who comes to Earth to collect media tycoon Bill Parish, played by Hopkins. Joe Black is innocent about the ways of humans and develops feelings for Parish’s daughter, who has no idea who she is flirting with. He delights in experiencing all the senses and emotions, particularly love. Bill becomes his guide to this strange world.  Meet Joe Black is a movie that asks us to look at ourselves and realize that this life is a gift and one that perhaps is taken for granted a little too much. It conveys the innocent wonder and pure joy of discovering human elements as simple as peanut butter and more serious issues like falling in love. The movie was released in 1998 and is long at nearly 3 hours, yet over too quickly. (MeetJoeBlack.com)

The last two films below are documentaries exploring how science might resolve the problems we find ourselves facing.

Thrive Thrive is a newly released, visually stunning transformational movie about the state of affairs on our planet and some suggestions for solutions and new ways of thinking about the way that we live our lives. This is an unconventional documentary that lifts the veil on what’s really going on in our world by following the money upstream – uncovering the global consolidation of power in nearly every aspect of our lives. Weaving together breakthroughs in science, consciousness, and activism, Thrive offers real solutions, empowering us with unprecedented and bold strategies for reclaiming our lives and our future.

The film follows the life of the producer’s long calling toward a unified understanding of universal energy through the study of spirit, consciousness, the geometry of space, and how we can work with it to create boundless abundance. Thrive is their offering to the world, a wake up call to all who sleep, and a message of hope to those who aren’t. (ThriveMovement.com)

Black Whole The Resonance Project Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the unification of all sciences and philosophies emerging from a complete and applied view of the physics underlying the wheelworks of nature. The team of scientists studies the principles of the Unified Field Theory and its applications. They share the knowledge and implications of their findings through education, scientific publications, and multimedia presentations.  Black Whole explores the groundbreaking work of physicist Nassim Haramein. Through his work with The Resonance Project, Haramein provides insight into the structure of space-time and a new coherent model of the universe. Using the parallels between his theory, sacred geometry, and codes found in monuments and ancient documents, the film presents a new look at the reality in which we live.

Is the key to a grand unified theory of physics hidden in the plain sight of temples, texts, and traditions of the past? If his theory is right, it changes the very foundation of what science has believed of the world and us. There’s something missing in the traditional story of the universe and only new thinking will reveal the missing link of a unified physics. (TheResonanceProject.org)

The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom It’s 1976 and Elizabeth is just your average suburban 11-year-old praying for adolescence to arrive, when she discovers her whole life has been a lie. With only her imagination to guide her, Elizabeth runs away in search of her true identity. Her adoptive mother, Marion, is then forced to break out of the carefully constructed “truth” she’s been clinging to, and go after her daughter. This leads to a cathartic cross-country trek by a mother searching for a daughter who’s searching for a mother – both of them really searching for themselves. The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom is a poignant, sometimes funny, very female coming of age story that explores the tension between creating identity and finding it within… (TheYearDollyPartonWasMyMom.blogspot.com)

From Time To Time In 1940s England, thirteen year old Tolly is sent to the country estate of his grandmother, while his mother searches for any information concerning his missing in action father. Tolly soon finds that he can pass through time to witness the family stories Grandmother Oldknow tells him. Traveling back to 1805, Tolly becomes caught up in the family scandals, secrets, and mysteries that still echo in his own time. The film stars Maggie Smith playing a sympathetic grandmother to a lonely boy separated from his parents during World War II. A prize-winning film at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival and an Official Selection at the London Film Festival, From Time to Time is an inspiring and moving film for all ages. It will remind you of the importance – and permanence – of family connection across generations. Based on a best-selling children’s book, From Time to Time is sure to move you with its positive message about life, death and unbreakable family ties.

Wake Up Is there more to life than meets the eye? Wake Up is a documentary movie that follows the journey of Jonas Elrod, who was leading an ordinary life until he woke up one day to a totally new reality. He suddenly could see and hear angels, auras and other phenomena. Physicians gave him a clean bill of health and were unable to provide an explanation. What was it? Why was it happening to him? One thing was certain for this 36-year old man – life as he had known it would never be the same. In a search for answers, he encounters a diverse group of teachers, scientists, mystics and spiritual healers. The film shows how all of us can search inward for our own peace and happiness while contributing towards a positive shift in global consciousness. Wake Up is a call to consciousness to everyone who sees it; an invitation to accept that there is more to this life than meets the eye. The film debuted on the Oprah Winfrey’s Network and legendary musician Sting said the film “is a call to consciousness to everyone who sees it, an invitation to accept that there is more to this life than meets the eye.”  (WakeUpTheFilm.com)

Finding Joe Finding Joe is an exploration of famed Mythologist Joseph Campbell’s studies and their continuing impact on our culture. Through interviews with visionaries from a variety of fields interwoven with enactments of classic tales by a sweet and motley group of kids, the film navigates the stages of what Campbell dubbed The Hero’s Journey: the challenges, the fears, the dragons, the battles, and the return home as a changed person. Rooted in deeply personal accounts and timeless stories, “Finding Joe” shows how Campbell’s work is relevant and essential in today’s world and how it provides a narrative for how to live a fully realized life – or as Campbell would simply state, how to “follow your bliss.” Rooted in deeply personal narratives from some of today’s most recognized faces: Deepak Chopra, Mick Fleetwood, Tony Hawk, Alan Cohen, Chungliang Al Huang, Gay Hendricks and Norman Ollestad. (FindingJoeTheMovie.com)

One Day On Earth To say that globalization and telecommunications have made our world smaller would be an understatement. We can Skype with a friend on the other side of an ocean, we can conduct business with a company in France while meeting with a team in Vietnam. As much as our world is interconnected however, we still live in an era of cultural disconnect. Countries still go to war, international organizations struggle to find a common ground and the solutions to global problems like climate change remain polemic. But no matter where we live and what nationality we claim, we are all still humans. We all have a reality. We all live in a shared world. Unfortunately, that world is threatened by natural and human-induced crises, from water shortages to unbearable amounts of waste. Four years in the making, feature-length film One Day on Earth attempts to capture exactly that with 3,000 hours of footage and 19,000 filmmakers from around the world. With footage filmed in every country on the exact same day, one of the founding principles was to create “a time capsule for the whole world to better understand itself… to find out who we are as human beings because it is beneficial to our sustainability as a species.” On April 22, 2012, the feature-length film screened for free in more than 160 countries. (OneDayOnEarth.org)

Conferences in the area this Fall provided introductions to a number of interesting films, including two made by Connecticut people. They relate to stones, megaliths, and crop circles, and all point toward 2012.

Conscious Circles Colin Andrews is a crop circle researcher living in Guilford with his wife Synthia Andrews, an energy healer and naturopathic physician. Together they have written one of the best introductory books on 2012, “The Complete Idiots Guide To 2012″ and more recently “The Complete Idiots Guide To The Akashic Records.” At the September Spirit of Change Expo in Sturbridge, Colin gave a talk summing up his years of crop circle research. I made a point of attending as I have followed Colin’s work for many years. The talk was based on his recently released documentary “Conscious Circles.” Colin’s research has expanded into the study of human consciousness where crop circles offer an exceptional keyhole into the fascinating realm of how our mind interacts with an intelligent and conscious universe. His study on the intelligence behind the crop circles and the interaction between this intelligence, and both crop circle researchers and crop circle makers, forms the basis of his current work.

Colin’s thirty years of first-hand research are wrapped up in this presentation. He was the first crop circle researcher and author of the crop circle phenomena. In Colin’s personal history and the stories he shares of other researchers, hoaxers and the general public, extraordinary connections unfold between UFOs, alien encounters, government conspiracies, and crop circles. What is revealed in the patterns in the fields is the direction needed to help us through the challenges of the near future and into the evolution of consciousness. The movie is available for purchase on his website at ColinAndrews.net.

The Rainbow Serpent Project The recent Megalithomania Conference in Glastonbury brought a number of visitors from England to Connecticut, including TOR WEBSTER, who leads the Rainbow Serpent Project and travels the world working on his film trilogy. At the conference he screened the first film in the series in which Tor traveled the world for five years visiting each of the Earth’s chakra points: Mount Shasta, CA; Lake Titicaca, Peru; Uluru, Australia; Glastonbury, UK; Giza, Egypt; and Mount Kailash, Tibet.

The Rainbow Serpent is the story of one man’s sacred journey across the globe to sacred sites of power and wisdom. Prompted by spirit to travel to key points on the earth grid, Tor encounters strange synchronicites in his own life, with those who are on a similar path, the definition of fractality, and “as above so below” in our own daily lives. The sites are beautiful and instill in the viewer the peace collected at each site. The story flows and captivates your imagination. Tor helps us realize that this world is gorgeous beyond compare, and it is our sacred duty to uphold oneness.

He worked with ceremonies at each of the sites in order, interviewing Tribal Elders, Charley Thom, Bob Randell, etc. Then all Tor’s synchronics, crazy and beautiful findings and all of the adventures are present in a rich tapestry of images and poetry, with mixed media footage of nature and beauty from the sacred world. Tor links the myths and legends from all over the world displaying a deep culture that many have missed. This film is to inspire people to travel consciously around the world and into their hearts.

Tor is currently filming the second film in the series, which is following his journey around the four Earth’s Element sites and the three Earth’s Alchemical sites. These include Cape Town, South Africa, New Zealand, Jerusalem, Bali, Mount Fuji, Japan and Palenque, Mexico. Tor is visiting these sites interviewing tribal representatives, members of the local spiritual communities and travelers of their experiences and thoughts on these sites being associated to the various alignments. Then Tor’s findings will be presented in very much a similar fashion to The Earth Chakras film, with a personal, powerful and spiritual poetic narration, over a canvas of rich imagery and background of potent music and sounds. (RainbowSerpent.co.uk)

Secrets Of The Stones: New England Another new film shown at Megalithamania with a Connecticut connection is “Secrets of the Stones: New England” by Patrick Cooke and Barbara Delong. Patrick is an author, researcher, and recognized authority in the hidden facts about world history and ancient cultures. He has been involved in intensive research about the stone anomalies of New England with his wife, Barbara, and has produced a website database about them. Barbara is a world-recognized spiritualist, author, professional artist, and talk show host. The video explores the megalithic structures in New England with an overview of the many theories about their origins, the connections to the thousands of megaliths world wide and the scientific refusal to recognize anything but simplistic and unrealistic orthodox views of how and why the world’s megaliths were built. Of particular interest was their view that the many stone walls we find throughout Connecticut may not have all been made by farmers clearing land for fields, but were here long before the arrival of Europeans and even the Native Americans they found here. The film has not been finalized but part of it is available for viewing on their website, SecretsOfTheStones.org. Also note on the website their detailed map of megaliths in the United States and the vast number in New England.

This issue we have an eclectic group of films for you: old and new, documentary and conspiracy, heartwarming and provocative.

Lost Horizon This is an oldie that is on most spiritual cinema favorite lists, but may be unknown to you. It was released in 1937, was directed by Frank Capra (It’s A Wonderful Life) and stars Ronald Coleman and Jane Wyatt.  On the eve of World War II, British diplomat Robert Conway and a small group of civilians crash land in the Himalayas, and are rescued by the people of the mysterious, Eden-like valley of Shangri-la. Protected by the mountains from the world outside, Shangri-la provides a seductive escape for the world-weary Conway. Would you stay in Eden or engage the world? Available at Amazon.com.

Another Earth This one will be out in July and should get you thinking about “what if’s.” The best science fiction tells stories about people in extraordinary environments or situations that serve to open up the vast, still largely unexplored terrain of the human heart. Mike Cahill’s “Another Earth” is science fiction at its best. On the night of the discovery of a duplicate planet in the solar system, an ambitious young student and an accomplished composer cross paths in a tragic accident. What if there was a twin Earth, exactly like ours, with duplicate versions of ourselves? Would we have made the same mistakes or would things have turned out differently? This film was a big hit at the Sundance Film Festival. (Reuters.com/article/2011/01/25/us-film-earth-idUSTRE70O0OI20110125)

A Shine Of Rainbows This is a 2009 Irish tale of a loving mother, a reluctant father, and the extraordinary journey that brings a young orphan home. Maire O’Donnell is a loving woman as rare as a double rainbow. Joyful, warm, and caring, she adopts a young orphan named Tomas and whisks him off to a new home on remote Corrie Island, off the coast of Ireland. Maire shares with Tomas the joys of her island home and introduces him to the whimsical local folklore, including the secret of the seals, and teaches him that everything you need is inside of you – if you really look. When tragedy strikes, Tomas is faced with a challenge. He’ll lose everything unless he can find and share the unique gifts inside of him. Risking all, Tomas embarks on a perilous journey where he will need to call on his ability to see joy and color even when in the darkest place, in order to triumph and come home. (AShineOfRainbows.com)

Meek’s Cutoff In this 2010 film, the year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert, only to become lost in the dry rock and sage. Over the coming days, the emigrants must face the scourges of hunger, thirst, and their own lack of faith in each other’s instincts for survival. When a Native American wanderer crosses their path, the emigrants are torn between their trust in a guide who has proven himself unreliable and a man who has always been seen as the natural enemy. It is interesting to see the symbolic message about the role of women on this journey: they walk obediently behind the covered wagons, yet they are the ones who gather the wood and prepare the meals to sustain the group. And when push comes to shove, Emily proves to be a real leader. Her inner strength and reliance upon conscience surprise her husband and everyone else depicting this woman’s dramatic spiritual transformation. (MeeksCutoff.com)

Ancient Technology Series David Hatcher Childress is an American author and publisher of books on topics in alternative history and historical revisionism. His works cover such subjects as pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact, Nikola Tesla, the Knights Templar, lost cities, and vimana aircraft. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and on radio. Childress has created a series of five videos on Ancient Technology covering Egypt, the American Southwest, Central America, Peru, and Nazca. In the videos, he visits the ancient sites searching for evidence of technologies that weren’t supposed to be there. The series is available from the Atlantis Rising store at AtlantisRising.com/mm5/merchant.mvc. This is also a very good online store for other DVDs and books on alternative history and ideas.

Apocalypse 2012: The World After Time Ends A bit of a gloom and doom documentary about humanity’s ancient spiritual past with Native American spiritualists, secular prophets, environmentalists, healers, and leaders in the global sustainability movement. Only a spiritual and mythic revival can correct humanity’s course. “Apocalypse 2012″ will challenge the world to rethink, regroup, and revive the ancient spiritual paths modern society has lost, clearly to its peril. This film is a call to end mechanized ways of existence by waking to the buried callings of our ancient soul song. Humanity is barreling past the point of no return. Fueled by hope, but awake to our catastrophic path, this film explores in a penetrating and, at times, disturbing way the fate of the planet and the potential of the individual to shift the collective course. Available at store.2012pro.com/dvd-apocalypse-2012.htm where you can find many other 2012 films as well.

The Hobbit The Hobbit is J. R .R. Tolkien’s prequel to his Lord of the Rings trilogy. Peter Jackson, who filmed the trilogy, has wanted to do “The Hobbit” for some time and was unsure how to present it. The decision was made in 2009 to break it into two parts, filming both at the same time as was done for the last Harry Potter book. Currently in production is “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” to be released December 2012 and “The Hobbit: There and Back Again” to be released in 2013.  The story is about Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit, who journeys to the Lonely Mountain accompanied by a group of dwarves to reclaim a treasure taken from them by the dragon Smaug. The cast includes many of those from the Rings Trilogy including Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins, Ian McKellen as Gandalf, Hugo Weaving as Elrond plus returns by Kate Blanchett and Orlando Bloom. (TheHobbitBlog.com and The-Hobbit-Movie.com).

I Am Recently in theaters, this is the latest entry in a growing subgenre that might be called the what’s-it-all-about documentary. “I Am” comes from an unlikely source: Tom Shadyac, director of such comedies as “Ace Ventura” and “Bruce Almighty.” He’s not joking in this semi-deep inquiry, a philosophical quest punctuated by interviews with scientists, poets and elder statesmen including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky and the late Howard Zinn. “I Am” poses two practical and provocative questions: what’s wrong with our world, and what can we do to make it better? Shadyac steps in front of the camera to recount what happened to him after a cycling accident left him incapacitated, possibly for good. Though he ultimately recovered, he emerged with a new sense of purpose, determined to share his own awakening to his prior life of excess and greed, and to investigate how he as an individual, and we as a race, could improve the way we live and walk in the world. (IAmTheDoc.com)

The next three films escaped our notice when they were released but are worth noting. Dragonfly is available, but the other two may be harder to find.

Dragonfly In this 2002 film, Kevin Costner plays Dr. Joe Darrow, a recently widowed doctor. He is grieving due to the death of his pregnant wife in a Red Cross mission in Venezuela. Although being atheist, he began to believe that his dead wife wants to communicate with him through her young patients in the Pediatrics Department of a Chicago hospital. The quick and often harsh skepticism that some of the hospital personnel exhibit in regards to the children’s NDEs (Near Death Experience) is often how the NDE is perceived in today’s society. In our physical reality, the NDE is often ignored, dismissed, or given what some may call a “logical” explanation that doesn’t really fit the reality of the experience. The message of the “Dragonfly” movie is powerful. You never lose contact with loved ones who have passed, and it’s important to pay attention to signs if they are trying to give them to you. (DragonflyMovie.com)

Truly Madly Deeply Once upon a time there were two people in love – their names were Nina and Jamie. They were even happy enough to be able to live happily ever after (not often the case), and then Jamie died. Nina is left with a house full of rats and handymen, a job teaching foreigners English, and an ache that fills the night sky. Nina is totally heartbroken at the death of her boyfriend Jamie, but is even more unprepared for his return as a ghost. At first it’s almost as good as it used to be – even the rats that infested her house have disappeared. But Jamie, played by a young Alan Rickman, starts bringing ghostly friends home and behaving more and more oddly. Like “Dragonfly,” this 1990 movie is about our everlasting connection with loved one.

Mesmer A 1994 Alan Rickman film, “Mesmer” is the biography of the eighteenth century Viennese physician, Franz Anton Mesmer, who used unorthodox healing practices. He theorized that there was a natural energetic transference that occurred between all animated and inanimate objects that he called “animal magnetism.” Mesmer understood health as the free flow of the process of life through thousands of channels in our bodies. Illness was caused by obstacles to this flow. Overcoming these obstacles and restoring flow produced crises, which restored health. When Nature failed to do this spontaneously, contact with a conductor of animal magnetism was a necessary and sufficient remedy. The evolution of Mesmer’s ideas and practices led Scottish surgeon James Braid to develop hypnosis in 1842.

Somewhere In Time Stephen Simon’s  Somewhere In Time is a 1980 classic starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. This is an unusual love story as a young writer is met on the opening night of his first play by an old lady who begs him to “Come back to me.” Mystified, he tries to find out about her, and learns that she is a famous stage actress from the early 1900s. Becoming more and more obsessed with her, he manages, by self hypnosis, to travel back in time where he meets her. They fall in love, a matching that is not appreciated by her manager. Can their love outlast the immense problems caused by their “time” difference? And can Richard remain in a time that is not his?

Hereafter Hereafter follows the lives of three strangers who have a connection with death and spirituality. The first person is Marie, a French TV journalist who drowns in a Tsunami in Thailand, and is brought back to life by CPR. Marie’s near death experience causes her to have a life altering awakening of life after death. The second is George (Matt Damon), a psychic who can actually communicate with the dead through touching the hands of the living. George believes that having this ability is not a gift, but a curse, and for several years he has closed his eyes to helping people in their grief. The third person is Marcus, a London schoolboy who loses his twin older brother Jason in a fatal truck accident and tries to overcome his death by communicating with his spirit. Their lives will come together and eventually interconnect with the hereafter. This drama features Matt Damon and is directed by Clint Eastwood. It is receiving rave reviews. (Hereafter.Movie-Trailer.com)

Waiting For Superman Education “statistics” have names: Anthony, Francisco, Bianca, Daisy, and Emily, whose stories make up the engrossing foundation of “Waiting For Superman.” This film, currently in theaters, follows a handful of promising kids through a system that inhibits, rather than encourages, academic growth. It undertakes an exhaustive review of public education, surveying “drop-out factories” and “academic sinkholes,” methodically dissecting the system and its seemingly intractable problems. It profiles charismatic and bold innovators who are doing their best to change the system and give poor children the education they need to make the most of their inherent talents. (WaitingForSuperman.com)

Mythic Journeys Mythic Journeys is an inventive fusion of documentary, story, artwork and animation. Despite the fact that myth has always existed, surprisingly few people today are aware of even the classic myths or the potential myths have to impact their lives. Myths are the reservoir of human wisdom – the story and the meaning of life. Every human being has asked the questions who am I, what is my purpose, why am I here? The answers are in the myths that have been passed on from generation to generation. Mythology is a tool that can bridge cultures, communities and generations. This film hopes to inspire people to activism and show that by helping others we ultimately help ourselves. There is a saying, “Love without action is meaningless, but action without love is irrelevant.” It’s time to act, it’s time to evolve. The film is a blend of various kinds of animation, which weave story and myth (and great humor) through seemingly typical talking-head style interviews with some well known (Deepak Chopra, Michael Bernard Beckwith) and some more obscure, but all equally insightful thinkers, teachers and motivators.

Enlighten Up Yoga, which is a mind/body/spirit experience, is practiced by millions. For the ones who truly take it to heart, it can be a liberating path to Nirvana. For others, it’s probably a whole bunch of nothingness. Kate Churchill (the film’s director/co-writer) is a long time follower of the path. She decides to choose somebody who probably wouldn’t get much out of it, just to prove her point. She chooses Nick Rosen, a journalist, who decides to go along for the ride. What we get is a portrait of a man who seems to be more content with earthly delights, rather than the path to inner peace. Several visits to different practitioners of the various realms of Yoga result in interviews, with their individual take on the path (some seem to point out the physical aspects, while others offer their take on the mind/body/spirit triad of it all). The film seems to take a “road trip” approach. It was filmed in several parts of the country, including a trip to India to meet with Yoga masters. (EnlightenupTheFilm.com)

The Great Squeeze: Surviving The Human Project  Our dependence on cheap and abundant fossil fuels has been feeding the engine of our economic system for the past 200 years.  Although it has lifted modern civilizations to new heights, prosperity has come at a tremendous price. We are now at a point where humanity’s demands for natural resources far exceed the earth’s capacity to sustain us. The extraction and the consumption of these resources in the past two centuries have changed our climate and ecosystems so significantly, that a new geological era had to be created. These man-made threats become even more ominous when you look at them together as part of a global trend.

The film goes back in time and takes us on a journey through history when past civilizations made the same mistake of growing too fast, depleting their natural resources and ultimately collapsing. Instead of the usual band-aid approaches, “The Great Squeeze” challenges us to learn from history and transition towards a more sustainable economy that values our environment. Our current paradigm of unending economic growth has become a threat to our prosperity and the long-term viability of humans on this planet. The film is a call to action and gives us a framework for the changes that must take place.  (TheGreatSqueeze.com)

LaureanoTarver JaniceRaven and CroneKarmic Ins SangriaScozzafavaAtkinson Bloethe Karmic Insp BusinessDzinski