Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Embrace Where You Are to Get Where You're Going...

Hello my dear non-readers!

I say this because I've come to realize that absolutely no one actually reads this blog except for myself and a couple of Chinese spammers who occasionally write lurid comments about Japanese porn in my comments wait...yeah, pretty sure they don't read the blogs either.

But nonetheless these blogs have been a catalogue of my sometimes painful journey to remain inspirational and optimistic while going through a challenging time in my career, like so many others in this economy. But as wiser people once said "It's not what happens to you that matters, it's what you do with it."

Last year when freelance work became scarce and it no longer became practical, I was confronted with the difficult decision to give up my NYC apartment and move home to Long Island. It could have come with the bitter, the angry, ashamed, and looking for someone to blame recession economy syndrome but! as a beautiful example of what the film industry is capable of doing for people, I saw Julie & Julia! got inspired! and decided to empower myself through blogging on a new project! What I didn't know at the time was that the "project" kind of became

In what started as a potentially disheartening lack of work situation quickly became a momentous opportunity to step back from my career and really focus on developing myself as a filmmaker and entrepreneur. In doing that I think I've actually grown more in the past year than most of my other friends still working their regular 9-5s. And now here I am, finally after a year of my self invented project moving on to Los Angeles, having been accepted to the NYU Tisch Mentorship in LA program that starts July 1st, with so much more to offer than before.

In retrospect, I think the hardest thing about moving home with my Mom was really in accepting it and actually being here. Just because you're not in your own place or working a typical job doesn't mean you're not exactly where you're supposed to be. There's so much you could get out of it! I spent so much time trying to get over there, get a new job, a new place, a new life, really trying to figure out how to not be here that I almost missed out on how being here has actually been a blessing in disguise that has enabled me to:

1) Be my own boss (that'll teach you time management!) revamp my company website and develop a client base for Vibe Artistry Entertainment working as an editor

2) Live at ease without constantly anticipating living expenses (releasing me from an unsustainable cycle that didn't leave room for growth)

3) Work on writing my own creative screenplay (218 pages n countin!!) and submitting it to a Screenplay bank to be seen by producers and agents

4) Focus on producing my short film for festivals by investigating licensing & copyright permissions

5) Recut my short and submit it to over 13 film festivals!! (which earned us an IMDB page for the film!)

6)Buy my own fully capable Mac computer complete with full editing and effects studio software (that's a biggie!)

7) Start my own Blog! (after years of wondering wtf a blog was!), developing my critical film analysis skills with a series of Film Reviews and cataloguing my film career journey as an inspiration to others!!

8)Sign onto a Twitter account so I could finally see what all the tweeting is about

9) Paint and redesign my room, clear out my closets and donate/sell BOXES of old tapes, toys, and childhood memorabilia that was cluttering the house (God that feels good!!)

10)Spend time really present with my family and my cat which catalyzed a lot of behind the scenes healing/restoring of relations

11) Go jogging and get back into shape with the best motivational coach you could ever ask for: my brother's husky dog! (she's a runner!)

12) Travel to San Francisco for the premiere of a film I worked on and explore the Ancient Redwood forest, Haight Ashbury and meet really beautiful new people

13) Reconnect to peace and nature, and realize how truly spectacular is my own backyard

14) Remember what it is to live with people who cook for you (and buy toilet paper without you needing to ask them!)

15) Remember how good it feels to sleep in a clean room and shower in a nice bathroom without worrying about roaches and bugs (Oh the city...)

16) Breathe clean air while doing yoga surrounded by trees (not buildings & smog)

17)Work with and have the support of my spiritual mentors on Long Island

18) Re-acclimate to driving a car again (It'd been a while!)

19) Be in a relationship and enjoy spending more time with friends and social circles (if that's not a gift, I don't know what is!)

20) Catch up on amazing TV and films- including Sicko, Fringe, and True Blood on Demand which is so well written it's inspired my own creative process

21) Spend quality time in the garden planting flowers with my Mom

22) Attend monthly mentorship at Pathways, really becoming a part of that healer community

23) Step back and reflect over time to know that leaving my apartment in NY was the right choice, and the most responsible and empowering choice I could've made

24)Attend all the film industry lecture workshops offered by NYU that I never had a chance to go to before

25) See the place I grew up in with new eyes

26) Take the time to actually process and experience the miracle of how a tree in Fall loosing all its leaves does indeed transform into a tree in Summer, fully bloomed in green foliage

Ok! it wasn't all sunshine and roses..also, half the time I spent cleaning up cat pee off the floor in a gigantic effort to overhaul the cat's room and still obsessively worrying about how to get a proper job or explain my "failures" to relatives if asked So what are you doing now?....but! I still think it's important for anyone to realize, including myself, that if you seem to be stuck in an unfavorable living situation, sometimes there's an opportunity in it for you that you need to explore while you are still there. There's SO MUCH more that you could potentially get out of it than you might realize! But it's up to you to find it. There's a lot to be said for a person who can create their own opportunity and invent their own enterprise when there aren't any out there to be had. And there's a lot to be gained from investing in developing your own creative endeavors. No matter what anybody advises you about that light at the end of the tunnel or tries to emphasize to you, "hang in there, you'll get there!" -that's not really what it's about. It's about being here. Because you truly need to be where you are, before you can get where you're going... Do this and know that the Universe doesn't bring us to places for no reason. This is the magic of transformation.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

On With the Show!

It's official....Speak Heaven was finally submitted to its first film festival! And everyone who saw the screener agrees, it's perfect just as it is, better even than before. As I suspected, more of the essence of my film now comes to the surface. Less really is more.

Coming Soon to A Film Festival Near You!!

For those of you who keep inquiring about it, no, the film is not available on the internet.

While it's running the festival circuit it will only be exclusively available for screening at your nearest Film are affordable and festivals are always the greatest way to really enjoy the films on the big screen in all their glory... stay tuned for details!

For the trailer please visit:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moving Forward Without Permission

So it's been over a month now from when I received my first studio permissions rejection letters. Some were outright "No" and others asked for thousands upon thousands of dollars for seconds of footage I wanted to use and then still didn't guarantee clearance since technically the actors in the clips would also need to be contacted for permission to use their image. A simple "No" would have sufficed. And besides, all it takes is one "No" and the effect I had planned with the imagery no longer holds up. I was already defeated from the very first letter.

Alas. At first I was considerably upset. You know more than 4 people I know of now have actually cried they were so moved by the film...I watched my friend's cathartic reaction as my film did for her in 15 minutes what that Spiritual Warriors film failed to do in an entire hour 45! And now? I can't show it anywhere! Frustration doesn't even begin to cover it. But that was only my first thought. My second thought was of a most beautiful person I know who gave me a message. She said, "Don't worry about thought you were moving in one direction and then suddenly you found yourself somewhere entirely different. But it's not being changed, don't think of it as changing your film, think of it as enhancing it"

I had NO IDEA what the funk she was talking about at the time. But when I received my rejection letters, after the crying, came the revelation. I don't need the copyrighted footage. The film wasn't really hinging upon that footage, the iconic famous footage images were more of an enhancement. A layer. But as any good film editor knows, when you pull back and strip away a layer of content in your film, what's left in the cut ends up being more enhanced, more emphasized, standing out more than before. Suddenly you see things that you didn't see before, maybe even clearer because there's not all this other footage mixed in with it.

Then my mentor added, "You thought that your story needed that big famous movie footage to enhance it, but what you don't realize is that your story is it's own big movie. It's good enough all on it's own, just as good as any one of those other big movies."

I never thought of it that way before! Suddenly the worst news became the most inspiring vote of confidence that any out-of-work yet still capable and promising young filmmaker could hope to hear.

Here I was waiting around for somebody else to allow me to go forth. Waiting for them to grant me permission so I can move forward and send my film to festivals. Waiting to finally get back to being the filmmaker that I am. When really, it was in my power to do so all along!

The copyrighted footage has henceforth been completely cut from the film. A very genuine thank you to all those film studios and their "big movies" for responding to my request and providing me with the closure I needed so that here I am, finally, moving forward without permission.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

2012:Time For Change Film Premiere

A Special Advance Screening of 2012:Time For Change, a documentary featuring best selling author Daniel Pinchbeck is scheduled to launch in April! I was the Assistant Editor on the film and it promises to be a thought provoking piece that might really peak your interest.

For more about the film please visit

Your invited!

Buy Tickets:


Friday, April 9th , 7pm

Saturday, April 10th, 7pm

Sunday, April 11th, 7pm

And Come to the After Party Free with your Ticket Stub, Sunday after closing night!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of Spiritual Warriors (2007)

I came upon this film haphazardly online and after watching the trailer was rightfully intrigued, especially considering the striking similarity and resemblances it bares to my own feature film, which I've been writing since 2005. Both incorporate such themes as past life remembrances and the warrior's spiritual journey, themes that seem to keep encroaching into media consciousness as we continue to evolve as people in our current turbulent time of transition. Be that as it may, I went into the viewing of Spiritual Warriors excited and eager to see what other fellow filmmakers had come up with in presenting and capturing that often elusive spiritual experience that has taken hold for so many at this time, including myself. However, to my great disappointment I found myself completely unable to connect with it, on almost every level.

The film, while full of compelling performances by actors Jsu Garcia, Shyla Marlin and Robert Easton, lacked a coherent cohesive assembly as a story, one that felt haphazardly strung together with no sense of purpose or connection. It was as if just when one story thread began to develop, we took off into a completely different subplot, then another, with so many tangents that there was no chance for development in any of them. While spiritual truths were touched upon, they were conveyed through characters talking at each other and preaching truth. The old man Roger (Robert Easton) becomes a cliched guru/mentor serving only to be a talking head on screen whose main purpose is simply to spout out wisdoms. They even literally had paragraphs of text of "spiritual teachings" written out on screen intermittently, rather than the concept being shown or explored through the emotional journey of the characters in a deeper way. Film is a medium in which to show, not tell. If I wanted to read about spiritual truths, I would've picked up a book.

In addition to having been poorly shot, the film was compounded with second rate visual effects that feel juvenile and amateur at best (this I could forgive if the story had been masterfully constructed), often overcompensating with special "light effects" to convey spiritual phenomenon in place of actually developing moments of awe, significantly felt within the characters. With the exception of maybe one particularly beautiful closeup of Finn in the heat of the desert, the overall framing and composition of the cinematography is so distanced and uninspired, that it separates you from the main action, making you feel as a voyeur rather than an immersed participant in the drama of the story. Alongside a complete lack of lighting design, scenes appear flat, with no shadow or contrast, which in turn gives this film a feeling of no real depth, intrigue or intimacy which would really be of the utmost importance in order to portray realms of an inner world. The main villain, called the "Prince of Darkness" (Stephen Sowan) is portrayed as a laughable lesser version of Anakin Skywalker, with the only nodd to his dark side being heavily applied dark eyeliner. Otherwise he appears in scenes brightly lit just the same as the others without any shadow or nuanced indication thereof. Not to mention this film was so poorly edited in its construction that they could not even clearly connect that the random African American (E.Milton Wheeler) dressed in a cliched Egyptian costume who pops out of a wall carving was supposed to be the reknowned Pharoah Akhenaten. Really? If I don't "get it" and I'm already familiar with the content having done years of research on the Amarna period, how is a general audience member going to make that connection? Just because the previous scene is desperately over-cut with overlaying shots of the Akhenaten bust doesn't automatically convey or lend significance to this random character in your next scene! It's as if these filmmakers had no idea or understanding of how to go about constructing a film? The overall effect is amateur, flat, and devoid of any real connection to emotion, story, or character (nevermind spiritual truth), the likes of which we'd come to expect from high school video shop (right down to the cheesy rip off red glowing light saber swords).

I am terribly disappointed but I'm glad that I was able to see this film, and see a film that at least tried to articulate truths that were worth the effort. So many films today are empty and spectacle driven without heart, so to their credit, I can sense that the filmmakers here were really after something deeper, without perhaps the tools to execute it. In that way I can give them the benefit of the doubt. However, the one exception that I take to this, is the "surprise twist" ending of the film, for which there is no excuse and is clearly done deliberately. It completely negates any efforts on their part that were invested in the seeking of spiritual truth in a ridiculous attempt to be "clever." It felt like a hat trick that only might've been taken seriously circa the 1980s. Audiences back then might've been "oowwed" but today's audiences having been exposed to the likes of Avatar and The Sixth Sense, really require a directorial savvy applied to their films which employ just a little bit more than commonplace cheap turnabouts "for effect." In short, it leaves you with that rather annoyed feeling of "I can't believe I just sat through this whole movie, for that?"

I'm really quite sorry for having to comment on all of this so unfavorably. I am not one in the habit of completely panning films outright because I appreciate the immense effort that filmmakers undergo to bring something to the screen, especially the independents. So I try to offer some praise of some aspect of the film that was well done. In this case, I'd like to point out that the poster design with the pyramids has a nice sepia colored gradation to it that lends sophistication. The trailer was very well cut to market the film. And the actors involved had a lot to offer, particularly Jsu Garcia as the main protagonist Finn really had a quality about him that lent itself nicely to the role, especially in his eyes. Also Cosimo Canale as Joe was particularly real in his portrayal of a hardened drug runner. And Shyla Marlin as Claire really gave an emotional performance; had she been utilized and shot correctly it would have made a great impact. Lastly, I am eternally grateful to Spiritual Warriors, for venturing out and making all the mistakes for me that I could've ever possibly made in crafting a spiritually focused feature film. Not an easy task as it might seem. And as a wise one once said, "Learn from other people's mistakes, because life is too short to make them all yourself."

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

An enjoyable film, but my initial sense is that since this is based on a series of children's novels, I imagine the books must be better? However I've not read them. But even judging by the movie alone I would say that this story does not quite span the depth and epic feel of say, the Harry Potter series. Where Harry Potter (at least as the books) quickly spans out from the children's arena into more mature territory, Percy Jackson tends to stay within a nice safe children appropriate zone, even adding a little touching sub-story on how children can often feel alienated from their parents (Gods that they are). But even these attempts at profundity barely skim the surface of any real emotional drama and remain out-scoped by the adventure action-packed spectacle of it all, which I must say is quite impressive with everything from charging minotaurs to spitting 6 headed Hydras blowing fire into water (what an effect!). Though I don't know what they were thinking by casting Uma Thurman as Medusa...I don't know what was harder to buy, this famous actress as an ancient monstrous Gorgon or those ridiculous CG snakes in her hair. However, it is often quite clever how they adapted the Greek Myth into Modern Day mythos and it does come with everything you would come to expect from a film of its kind, pulling out all the stops. Of course the coolest thing this film tried to do was insert the idea that the myths of old were as real and true today as they were back then. That Gods and Goddesses are real and their children are living among us. But the film makes no real attempt at credibility or realism to establish this, flying off into highly unrealistic scenarios from the get-go that are the things such spectacle based movies are made of. Feeling only surface value, flap-jack action packed scenes rush right over any potentially emotional profound moment or cool concepts of ancient historical interest. The characters become one-dimensional with no real depth, character, or personality, except for perhaps Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Percy's personal sidekick who comes along with a cute personable quip here and again. For me, this deprives the action scenes of any real investment on our part when, as the audience, we haven't really established a care for these characters, so it's really of no consequence to us what happens to them. One thing I did appreciate tremendously though! How the story did include an aside concept that Percy Jackson's ADHD (attention deficit disorder) and dyslexia were not actually shortcomings of him as a human, but indications of his inherent prowess as a god; attributes of how his mind works in a divine and different way.

So for those of you that know your Greek mythology you will certainly get a kick out of how they inserted certain historical mythos into the modern adventure story, with the three main characters, Percy son of Poseidon (Logan Lerman), Annabeth daughter of Athena (Alexandra Daddario), and Grover facing up to the same dangers of ancient times adapted for a modern-day setting (I found the Los Vegas Lotus-Eaters particularly clever). But I suspect that for those of you who really know your Greek mythology, you might just get annoyed with the silly distorted modern take on such ancient epic lore, with a lot of the portrayals of the Greek Gods themselves (particularly Hades and Persephone) falling a bit short. A movie like this aims to please and entertain, and with that in mind (ignoring the use of such epic ancient characters to serve this end) one can find it rather entertaining indeed. But if you are looking for an insightful look into how Greek gods and goddesses really exist today in the midst of our modern day world (somewhat along the level of say, X-men) you will surely be disappointed. There is no real substance here, just a quippy modern day spin-off, re-interpretated to please the masses. However, in that, I do believe that this film has succeeded in being exactly what it set out to be, an action packed children's adventure-spectacle featuring Greek Gods and monsters.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Oh Quentin...what a quaint little film you have made! What fun! True to Tarantino's style, broken up into Chapters, we get the recounting of a ruthless yet highly entertaining bunch of military "Basterds" who are sent forth from the US, Apache style, to kill and scalp Nazis in 1940s France. What this film brilliantly accomplishes three times over is in setting up cinematic scenarios of insurmountable high octane suspense that could easily rival Hitchcock, the Master of Suspense himself. My God! Over and over we find ourselves in scenes rife with undertones of secrecy and mistrust glossed over by the unsettling facade of Nazi pleasantries, like a ticking time bomb, which have you riveted to the screen with anxious anticipation. Deadly performances from Melanie Laurent as Jewish Cinema owner Shosanna, as well as from Diane Kruger in her part as the glamorously elite but double crossing German movie star Bridget von Hammersmark. Both women played with daggers in their eyes, like a high stakes poker game where you never reveal your hand. This would have to be so in a cast with Christoph Waltz opposing in the role of lead villain Nazi Col. Hans,
always cool yet dangerously unpredictable, who's mere appearance on screen would suffice to put you on edge.

Highly cinematic in his directorial style, Tarantino delivers the first chapter as a portrayal of the despicable yet commonplace acts for Nazi soldiers in France at that time. This seems to justify and give the audience full permission and carte blanche to sit back, relax and enjoy for the remainder of the film the retaliation of the Basterds, though often equally grotesque in their acts of scalping and maiming the Nazis. But hold no restraint! There can be no mistaking the carefully constructed fun-spirited tone which comes shining through the non-chalance and wickedly entertaining performance from the lead commander of the Basterds, Lt. Aldo (Brad Pitt) meant to give you full on Nazi killin satisfaction! With Pitt at the helm, this film has wit, charm and suspense all weaved into one, quite deliberately striking that particular note of tragic comedy that only Tarantino could pull off. The film ranges from the thoroughly enjoyable rantings of Aldo, with so many great one-liner quips I couldn't keep track, to the genuinely heart shattering dilemma of farmer Perrier LaPadite, played by Denis Menochet
with such a deep well of tragic emotion that I regret to have not seen more of this actor before. I find myself not wanting to comment too thoroughly on the specifics here of certain scenes as well because they really do speak for themselves and are carefully constructed in the reveal of information, much credit due to the editing. A must-see for any fun-loving movie-goer. And easily becoming one of my favorites from this director. But Quentin? Could we ease up on the graphics a bit? Some grotesque violence is graphically displayed, but in fairness I can see how it seems to have been pulled back in parts, and really is only shown in it's full glory at opportune moments, to create a kind of clincher effect. Hey, if he's gotta do it, he's gotta do it. One thing is certainly clear from the get-go, this is a very mindfully crafted piece of cinema from a director who knows what he wants.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Films in Review: An Analysis of District 9 (2009)

Wowza. What to say about District 9...Firstly, the entire beginning sequence is likely one of the most clever and brilliant story telling devices I've seen in a long time. The film only begins to take on the traditional narrative form about 30 minutes in but the way in which the world of this film is initially introduced to the audience is through documentary style interviews and mock up news coverage of this "District 9" as if it were a real media piece occurring in the world today and for the last two decades. So many little details of how that introductory sequence was constructed are just perfectly true to the actual nuances of legitimate documentary filmmaking so it plays like unedited news coverage of behind the scenes footage in a real government military evacuation. They did so much to "create a world" right down to the restricted area posters that read "For Humans Only" built into an intricate set design...Just brilliant! There was however an odd almost comical tone that was struck which threw me out of that masterfully constructed illusion. The character of Wikus (Sharlto Copley), the man appointed head of this MNU Evacuation operation, presents himself as so over the top and absurd in the smiling friendly naive manner in which he goes about leading the mission (think Steve Carell as Michael from The Office) to a point where it looses that sense of seriousness which the previous "media coverage" and interviews so strongly established.

Once the film takes off as a traditional narrative, there are still elements of that "news coverage" that come in and out, helping to strengthen the sense of credibility and believability that this "Alien District" is a real live happening. There was a broad exploration of what would actually happen in real life if an alien mother ship landed in Johannesburg, inspired most obviously from humanity's past indiscretions and historical conflicts; featuring such humanitarian issues such as racial discrimination, civil rights activity, government lust for advanced weapons technology and forced evacuation of "outsiders" to concentration camps. Every angle of the worst of mankind's human reactionary nature were presented: Nigerian weapons dealers, slum violence between locals and the alien "outsiders", angry civil rights protests of alien relocation, prejudice derogatory name-calling of the aliens "Prawns" and even bi-racial connotative themes were presented through alien-human prostitution rings. All of which seemed realistic and worked for me to establish and set "the scene" all be it bleak. However certain elements just don't seem to "play" alongside such heavy material, like the oddity of the abnormal obsessive affinity that these aliens had for cat food? Again such elements hold no real baring on the story and just seem to distract from the otherwise credible seriousness of the situation trying to be established.

Besides the remarkable cleverness of the documentary style opening, another stand-out feature of this film was really the visual effects. Through a combination of special effects makeup, prosthetics and digital CGI, the visual component became surprisingly life-like. Seven foot alien cockroaches with long lobster like claws could easily look absurdly fake but there was a realistic and even emotional visceral quality that was maintained with these creatures. The main Prawn-alien, who Wikus calls Christopher had such an endearing quality that came through his expression, as did his little baby prawn son which made them quite loveable characters; a feat I find impressive considering how intimidatingly hideous their otherwise outwardly appearance. Perhaps most impressive though was the transformation of Wikus himself where one of his eyes mutated into creature form but the other remained human. I was reminded of earlier disappointments that I had with the choice of visual style for the character of Harvey Two-Face in Dark Knight where it really became so over the top fake and CG looking that it almost couldn't be taken seriously. But here with Wikus, I really couldn't believe my own eyes in seeing how realistic these visual designers managed to create his half faced transformation. Believable to behold, it was truly an amazing visual feat.

The resolution of this film left much to be desired especially since the protagonist Wikus was such a prat to begin with and only seemed to manage minor growth as a character. What I will say though, is that for such an unlikeable character that Wikus was established to be, we certainly find ourselves feeling desperately sorry for him in his awful predicament, even rooting for him to get "fixed" by the end. The end action sequence features Wikus strapped into a giant robotic alien weapon-bot, very reminiscent of Transformers. But the spectacle here, unlike other empty Hollywood blockbuster action, really feels purposeful with much at stake for the fate of the characters. It also presents opportunity for our protagonist Wikus to perform probably the only valiant non self-serving act for his character in the entire film. Personally I prefer to align myself with characters motivated by valor that I can really get behind, though I appreciate that such a little weasel as Wikus, through an intense journey of extreme circumstances, could finally come to terms with his own personal integrity. In that way, I feel that director Neill Blomkamp has created a very unusual and unorthodox piece of cinema here, with a variety of nuanced themes, that can certainly be appreciated on many levels.

Films in Review: An Analysis of The Secret Life of Bees (2008)

My First thought: What a beautiful film. A portrait of life in the 1960's, where racial tensions and gender power strife were commonplace, focused within a 14-year old girl's journey to find healing and restore her connection to her Mother, whom she accidently shot as a 4 year old child. What is truly compelling about this film is the way in which the masculine and feminine energies must come to reconcile with one another in order to find healing, and peace. In running from the cold harsh reality of a life with an emotionally shutdown father figure whom she refers to as "T. Ray"(Paul Bettany), Lily (Dakota Fanning) finds herself in a house full of women, nourished and held by Motherly energies for the first time. And what's more? These African American honey bee harvesters, led by Miss August (Queen Latifah) have not only found a way to survive as black women in a "hate filled world" such was the social climate of the time, but found a way to thrive in it. Miss August teaches Lily how to harvest honey gently from the swarming bees, but in the process metaphorically demonstrates a kind of philosophical strength in how to get along and glide past the "sting" of the world. The strength of the poeticism of this piece comes from it's ability to relate and be real with the audience, in combination with these philosophical overtures. There is a spirituality and inherent religious aspect most obvious in the African Mother Mary figure, literally a life sized statuary that the women go to touch the heart of for strength. In this way, it would be all too easy for a film like this to become over earnest, yet these blatent religious overtones are firmly grounded by the very real-life emotional experiences that the characters must go through and overcome, lending them power. Even the "Queen Bee" Mother of the house, Miss August, in all her strength, must face the pangs and anguish of the world, but does so as a shining example, in full surrender. Really a remarkable demonstration of how to carry the strength of the masculine and yet be in the compassionate nurturing surrender of the feminine, all as one; a wonderful marriage. This theme is explored again through the sister, June (Alicia Keys),a hardened fierce "masculinized" woman, toting her NAACP wear, emboldened in her independence and refusing to marry. She too is not fully at peace in her exclusively masculinized front and must yield herself vulnerably in her feminine role in order

to finally find joy. In so many ways, they were all looking for their "Mother." And as Lily so pointed out, she could find that solace not rising up to the sky but by going deeper inside of herself.

Perhaps the most remarkable journey too, is through that character of Lily, much praises due to the really tangibly felt and authentic performance from Dakota Fanning who just seems to have immersed herself and really invested herself into this role whole heartedly. Her transformation as a character, learning from these women and standing in her power by the end of the film lent itself to a really strong moment of coming to an understanding of her father and really being present with him, waking him up to his own sobering reality. There are certain moments in films that are not to be forgotten, and this was surely one of them. An example of how the feminine can temper the masculine when it is brought into the full awareness and realization of Self. There is a really beautiful sense of the peace that emerges from this balance and of that coming to an understanding within oneself, which this film really leaves you with.

Having seen this film, and the authenticity in which it was created really brought about in me a profound appreciation for how far we've come as a culture and society since the 60s. It is a rare thing as well to find such a piece where you resonate and deeply care about not just one, but really all of the characters in the film, who each seem to have a life and breath of their own.
The Secret Life of Bees is a true treasure, and is not to be missed.