movies

From HuffPo: Review of ADDicted, A Sensitive Film About Adderall Abuse
5 star review | anarchy | errors | hard work | healing | maturity | mind-body connection | movies

From HuffPo: Review of ADDicted, A Sensitive Film About Adderall Abuse

This is my review of ADDicted, first posted on the Huffington Post.

In the way that synchronicity happens, I received an email about the film ADDicted one week after my middle daughter and I had discussed “performance enhancing drugs.”

My beautiful daughter, who is now a straight A student at college, was diagnosed with a Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (LDNOS) in 8th grade. Her grades had dropped precipitously; her behavior was execrable. She was eventually diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin.

It was a long, twisty, agonizing road before my daughter’s journey led her to double-majoring at a well-regarded university. I’m fascinated with her study choices, which are highly intellectual. I’m proud of the responsible, mature young woman she’s become. But we had some moments of despair and heartache along the way.

I wondered what she thought of the medications she had been prescribed as a teen. She doesn’t take them now.

“So many college kids go around asking for Adderall,” she said. “I’m so glad I developed strategies for studying that don’t depend on performance enhancing drugs.”

She commented on the prevalence of Adderall use at college. “Kids who are not ADD take them to get through exams and papers,” she stated, in a matter-of-fact tone, as if everyone knew about Adderall use. She went on to tell me that part of the problem, for her, had been that she wasn’t interested in the classes she was assigned in high school. “Now I love my courses. I love what I’m studying.”

It made me smile. I’m not sure Latin is everyone’s cup of tea. I’m pretty sure she would have thrown a Latin book at me in 9th grade if I’d tried to get her to take it then. But now she’s acing it. She came to it authentically, through her own choices.

The pitch for the movie arrived in my inbox and I was intrigued because of our recent conversation.
The movie ADDicted, written and directed by Dan Jenski, dramatizes what my daughter had told me: college kids who aren’t diagnosed with ADD/ADHD try to score the drug in order to cope with the overwhelming stresses of exams, papers, and extracurricular obligations.

The protagonist is a young man negotiating personal and academic stressors. Drew is likable, relatable, engaging. He’s barely hanging on in the face of an overly full life and the demands of classwork, football, his girlfriend, and his ambitious and widowed mother.

A tough but fair-minded professor fails Drew’s paper on the basis of plagiarism, that most heinous of academic crimes. Drew pleads for a second chance and is granted one. Unfortunately, he entrusts this crucial paper to the girlfriend with whom he recently broke up. She’s desperate to win him back after betraying him. She snags some Adderall from him to get her through his paper and three others, though she is not diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Even with the enhancement, she fails to give him the paper on time. Drew is suspended and barred from playing football.

Drew faces his team and admits to his mistakes. His speech is a fine moment of taking ownership. There’s not a whiff of self-pity in this character, just an acknowledgment that he’d made poor choices and now the whole team must suffer the consequences. It’s a poignant moment that makes Drew even more sympathetic.

Drew’s ex-girlfriend isn’t the only person hitting him up for “Addies.” A teammate on the path to pro football begs some off him, as well. Drew the good and empathic friend, wanting his buddy to succeed, obliges.

Drew’s teammate fares well but the former girlfriend ultimately pays a steep price for using Adderall without a prescription. Note that the girlfriend did not suffer from ADD/ADHD, nor was there a doctor overseeing her use of Adderall. She prescribed herself by way of a stolen bottle.

Some viewers might take from this film a cautionary tale that warns against the use of ADD/ADHD medication altogether. However, that’s not the point of this sensitive, well-constructed story.
The point is that abuse of Adderall is common. It’s also dangerous. People who aren’t diagnosed with ADD/ADHD and who aren’t under the care of a physician should beware. These drugs are addictive, they have strong side effects, and they are very, very dangerous.

In the way it goes when you’ve raised a bunch of children in a city, I know kids who have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, who are under the care of a physician, and who greatly benefit from Adderall and Ritalin. These drugs can truly help people who struggle with ADD/ADHD. Not every person with a learning disorder can do as my daughter has done and develop non-pharmaceutical strategies for succeeding at academic work.

In the end, Drew’s way out of his predicaments mirrored my daughter’s way out. He had to still himself, to turn within and to listen to his heart. Once he did that, he started making good choices.
I sent a draft of this piece to Dan Jenski, asking if he had any comments. He sent back a quote and it’s perspicacious enough that I’ll give it pride of place, punctuating my review of ADDicted at the end.

“I was almost put on Ritalin as a kid and was able to find my true calling without taking pills. If every child received a customized education where he/she got to choose their own path, at a point earlier than college, based on their individual wants and desires, there wouldn’t be an ADD/ADHD epidemic or the need for Adderall. These disorders exist because less and less people are fitting into an archaic, underfunded, one-size-fits-all education system. We need to let children lead the way with their education.”

review of ADDicted movie

From the HuffPo: Review of HEAL Documentary
5 star review | beauty | excellence | gratitude | happiness | healing | Huffington Post | mind-body connection | movies | special

From the HuffPo: Review of HEAL Documentary

This is a recent piece on the HuffPo, a review of the HEAL Documentary by Kelly Noonan Gores

When I was 15 or 16, I developed asthma. My mother took me to a doctor who duly prescribed medication.

I took the medication for a few days. I hated it. The drug made my insides race. Perhaps I was breathing better, but it didn’t matter. The trembling and hyper-adrenalized feeling, the out-of-control, careening-downhill sensations eclipsed the benefits—for me. There was a moment, and I still remember it vividly, when I decided, I will not have asthma.

This was no ordinary frisson of will. It was a moment of translucent intention. I felt no emotions, just a laser line of unadulterated purpose, and I felt it in every angstrom of my being.

The asthma left my body. I stopped taking the medication. That illness has never returned.

This was a visceral, undeniable experience of the power of the mind-body connection. It stayed with me.

Years later, in graduate school, I took up meditating. I experienced esoteric phenomena that is written about in many ancient texts but isn’t part of the usual discourse of our culture. I perused every book I could find on the topic, from the Vedas and The Yoga Sutras to The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying and A Course in Miracles. Eventually I picked up books about spiritual healing.

After graduate school I started having babies. I also attended a four year hands-on-healing school and opened a practice as a spiritual or energy healer. The basic premise of this form of healing is that the human being is a psychosomatic unity—mind-body-spirit-psyche are indivisibly one—a concept well articulated in John Pierrakos’ ground-breaking work Core Energetics: Developing the Capacity to Love and Heal (Pierrakos, John C. Core Energetics: Developing the Capacity to Love and Heal. Core Evolution Pub., 2005.)

Affect one part of a human being and you affect the whole; that is, affect the body and you affect the mind, spirit, and psyche; affect the spirit, and you affect the body, mind, and psyche. This is a powerful iteration of the mind-body connection that I experienced so powerfully as a teenager.

During the decade that I practiced energy healing, I saw miracles. I had especially good results with women who wanted to conceive. Fertility in women has many roots in the mind-body connection. A number of women came to my healing table and then went home and got pregnant. But not all of them.

Healing isn’t curing. Not every woman who came into my healing room seeking a resolution to her infertility was able to conceive. There is a great mystery at the heart of everything, and the body isn’t solely a machine in the Newtonian model where if a biochemical lever is depressed, or if a current is introduced, a result is generated.

This is a lengthy introduction to the screening I attended last night of the film Heal. A new documentary from Kelly Noonan Gores, produced by Adam Schomer, this documentary explores the new-old field of the mind-body connection and the impact of that connection on illness. It also surveys a few modalities of healing that people can utilize during their journey of healing from a serious illness.

I spoke with Adam before the screening. He’s a serious, friendly, poised man with a background in meditation. Longtime meditators emit a palpable peacefulness and I felt that as I stood beside him. He said, “The intent of this film is to empower people, that’s the through line.”

Lovely Kelly Noonan Gores told me something similar. “There are options in the treatment of illness, I want people to know that. I want people to have the information.”

The film follows a few people as they engage, poignantly and bravely, with the spiritual and psychological dimensions of healing. One is Kelly herself, the healthy seeker whose fascination with this rich topic is the engine of the story. Eva, however, experiences harsh dermatologic outbreaks. There’s also Liz, struggling with cancer and chemotherapy.

Luminaries in the field speak on the topic of the mind-body connection. Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Joan Borysenko, and Michael Bernard Beckwith touch on the spiritual dimensions of healing and wellness. Dr. Kelly Brogan, a Cornell University trained psychiatrist, discusses her foray into integrative and wholistic medicine as a result of her own illness.

Of particular interest for me was Dr. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief (Lipton, B. H. The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, Inc., 2016.). Dr. Lipton works with epigenetics, a science of understanding why some genes are turned on and others are turned off. This field has all the potential to empower people far beyond a simple biological destiny.

Author Anita Moorjani spoke of her miraculous remission from cancer. She was healed within hours of death.

The film is inspiring and informational. Quietly yet dramatically, it presents possibilities and alternatives. People who already know the field will enjoy the fresh presentation, and people new to these concepts will find themselves intrigued and uplifted. Heal approaches the great mystery that I encountered as a healer, and it doesn’t shrink. It blossoms like a rose opening.

IA&T is Back with Director Malcom Carter
5 star review | art | blogtalkradio | excellence | freedom | friends | gratitude | movies | seasons greetings | wholeness

IA&T is Back with Director Malcom Carter

Malcom Carter on IA&T

BlogTalkRadio show Independent Artists & Thinkers is BACK! On November 23, 2016 we will host Director/Producer/Writer Malcom Carter.

Are all things in the Universe really connected? How can we learn to see things differently? Join us as director, writer, and producer Malcom Carter talks about his new film THE CONNECTED UNIVERSE.

THE CONNECTED UNIVERSE is a fascinating and visually poetic journey of exploration of the connection of all things in the Universe. The film is Narrated by the legendary Sir Patrick Stewart.  It explores many intriguing ideas and features the science of Nassim Haramein and his search to understand the mechanism of connection of all things in the Universe.

The Connected Universe has a global message, and it’s the highest crowd funded documentary in Indiegogo history!  In its first two weeks of release it has been purchased by people in 104 countries  – over half of the countries in the world!

This film will INSPIRE YOU to CONNECT TO YOUR POTENTIAL… the potential of WHO YOU ARE and WHO YOU CAN BECOME.

Malcom Carter is an Award winning Filmmaker and director. Over the last 20 years his work has appeared on 544 television networks, in 155 countries, and reached a combined global audience of over 2 billion viewers. Malcom is passionate about using the power of film to make a difference in the world by communicating messages that matter. He has extensive expertise in creating compelling communications with global impact. He is also known for being able to work with visionary thought leaders and advanced thinkers to translate and synthesize their ideas in an understandable way to a wide audience.

This has lead to work with NASA think tanks, and with global humanitarian organizations.

Malcom is also known for creating cinematic, engaging, and emotionally compelling films. Films that touch the heart. Films that inspire and inform the mind. Focused on global messaging – Malcom is part of a global network of top film makers in over 40 countries that shares communication strategies, film techniques, and local contacts to truly enhance the ability to film affordably around the globe.

Malcom currently lives in Vancouver, Canada and was the Director of the Asian Winter Games for the International Olympic Committee of Asia (2011), he also is an advoccate for mental health and worked with Kaiser Foundation Films. Malcom is a member of the International Quorum of Motion Picture Producers, Billion Minds Foundation Board of Governors, and various think tanks (NASA AMES, Colorado School of Mines, Talberg Forum).

Selected Awards: 25 motion picture award nominations (Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Promotional Film, Best Public Service Film, Best Music Video, Best Educational Film, Best Program Reflecting Cultural Diversity, Walter Klein Award, FREDDIE).

Malcom Carter on IA&T

 

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Arrival, A Beautiful Movie
5 star review | art | excellence | extraterrestrials | gratitude | hope | movies

Arrival, A Beautiful Movie

Arrival, a beautiful movie

The movie opens with a reverie about time and memory, set in a scene of love, the love a mother feels for her child, and loss. The images fade. Louise, a professor of languages, goes to her university to teach. The students are mesmerized by news on their laptops: twelve shell-shaped black space ships have landed around the world. This happens with slow and quiet dread, not with bombast. Louise is tapped by the military to try to communicate with the aliens.

There follows a thoughtful, absorbing story about the frustrations inherent in communication. Louise is tasked with finding out where they came from and most importantly, why they’re here. But the aliens’ language isn’t even sound-based–it’s written in smoke. The aliens produce feathery circular symbols.

While Louise is on the makeshift military base set up around a shell in Montana, she experiences memories of her beloved daughter, who has seemingly died of a rare, incurable illness.

The secret to the aliens’ language is its oneness. An entire thought complex can be seen at once; their language doesn’t begin and end over a period of time. In the way that language shapes thought, all time is one for the aliens.

And so Louise is feeling and inhabiting this oneness. The closing question is heartfelt and poignant, and one I’ve pondered: If you knew in advance everything in your life, how it would all play out, would you choose to do it anyway?

Losing a child is the hardest thing any parent can face. So if the parent knew beforehand about the loss, would she choose to have the child anyway, just for the journey of loving the child for however many years the child was with her?

A question worth pondering asked by a movie worth seeing.

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Terminator Genisys: A Review
5 star review | anarchy | apocalyptic | art | criminal behavior | evil | freedom | movies | terrorism

Terminator Genisys: A Review

Go see this movie, it’s GREAT!

Now that my loyalty has been assuaged, let me discuss the movie more thoughtfully.

This latest addition to the franchise pays loving homage to the first Terminator. For people like me who are fans of the first Terminator, that’s a beatific thing. There were moments…lines…scenes…that made me cheer, because they precisely evoked the first Terminator.

The first Terminator is a perfect movie. Artistically speaking, it was extremely well done. I’m talking as a writer now, as a professional storyteller. The first movie has no loose ends, no extraneous moments, no extra dialogue, no unnecessary anything, no flab whatsoever. The entire movie argues to the specific value that machines can never be human.

What’s the name of the bar where Kyle Reese first reveals himself to Sarah Connor, when he saves her? Tech Noir. What’s on the answering machine for Sarah and her roommate? “Machines need love too….” Nope, they don’t. That’s the point. Machines don’t need love…they never feel remorse or pity. Machines are not human.

Machines will destroy humanity.

The original casting of Arnold Shwartzenegger as the Terminator was brilliant. As a young dude, he was so buffed up on lifting and steroids that he didn’t look human. He looked like a machine–like living tissue over metal endoskeleton.

In Terminator Genisys, Arnold looks…old but not obsolete. Never obsolete. No, never. I don’t care how many children he sires out of wedlock. As the Terminator, he can be gray, but he will always be relevant.

This movie was fun, and it had appropriate slow moments, too. What I mean is that, in order to be satisfying, movies need to flow between heightened intensity and lowered intensity. What I see lately–even in Mad Max Fury Road, which I enjoyed, [HELLO: CHARLIZE THERON, YOU ARE MY QUEEN!!!] is that too many movies are one long chase with explosions, boobs, and cars. Not good.

You get that kind of crap when you have too many suits involved in the process. Those people should not give a creative opinion. They should keep their traps shut and count beans. They should not try to weigh in on art–because when they do, they destroy art.

Terminator Genisys had moments of reflection and pause to balance and heighten the moments of wild over-the-top intensity. Someone exercised a little bit of control over those stupid suits.

My husband didn’t love the movie as I did. He’s not a fan of the first Terminator, that perfect movie. He asked me, “Why do you like those kinds of after-the-world-ends movies?”

Fair question.

Since I was a kid, I’ve looked around and noticed the insanity and evil in the world at large. Genocide. Monsanto. Bio-engineered fruits and vegetables that look good but taste like crap. Terminator genes. The unrepentant, unbridled financial ambition of large, multinational corporations that function as sovereign nation states without oversight or accountability.

The apocalypse is coming and it will be unleashed by one of these companies.

Am I really the one person who sees Google in Genisys? The head of Google says they come up to the line of being creepy but don’t cross over. I disagree. It is my personal opinion that Google crosses right over. Data mining is the latest iteration of EVIL. Big Brother is watching: Brought to you by Google.

I think Google is Genisys is Skynet.

So I am attracted to these themes because I see them being played out in front of our eyes.

Few people care. As long as they have the latest iPhone, Netflix, Spotify, and access to marijuana, they don’t question what is really going on.

A stoner is a subject, not a citizen.

The suits are winning. In the real world and in the making of movies.

Go see Terminator Genisys. And think about it.

Terminator Genisys

Beautiful Movie: IN YOUR EYES
5 star review | art | freedom | happiness | healing | kindness | love | movies | special | Uncategorized

Beautiful Movie: IN YOUR EYES

It’s been a long time since I fell in love with a movie the way I did last night with IN YOUR EYES. So here is my movie review for this richly enjoyable film.

IN YOUR EYES is the story of a woman and a man who find themselves telepathically entwined, a bond which leads them to greater and greater trust and finally to love. With grace and humor, this movie shows two people engaging the process of mutual self-revelation that is falling in love, and then finally lurching into the more humbling unburdening that is intimacy.

I felt a tender resonance with the woman Rebecca undergoing psychic events and struggling to have her vulnerability, her personhood, and her distinct agency all at once, all while married to a wealthy, controlling man who insists on seeing her as crazy. “Because he loves her.”

As if!

The writer in me loved the perfect balance of Joss Whedon’s screenplay. It was simply a beautifully written script. The two main characters mirrored, tested, and enhanced each other. They gave to each other, needed each other, and completed each other. Whedon’s Rebecca has class and education, and she must confront and integrate her losses to find her strength.  His ex-con Dylan courageously decides to grow and better himself, yet it is his criminal skills that ultimately save the day.

I laughed out loud at a scene where the main characters were dancing to music only one of them could hear aloud–while others watched. A scene where Rebecca erupts to save Dylan from a kitchen fire was scary, funny, and compelling all at once.

With delight, I recommend this movie: it’s a 5 star film.

I was never a Buffy fan, but to Joss Whedon, I say, My compliments! Well done, sir!

movie review

 

Note: The movie soundtrack is also fantastic–worth $9.99 to purchase. I particularly recommend Crumblin’. Great song!