2016-06-30

Excerpted from Spirituality & Health--The Soul/Body Connection

Good movies are usually mirrors of the lives we lead or wish to lead. Spiritually literate ones also help us discover the sacred dimensions of our everyday experiences. This year's ten best put the spotlight on such essential practices as recognizing beauty, living contentedly, seeking forgiveness, working for justice, and striving for truth. Other stories revolve around such meaningful endeavors as sharing with our loved ones, recalling significant memories, remaining open to the mysterious, and finding a vocation. Another film explores the suffering wrought when the spiritual practices of hospitality and peace are missing.

BEAUTY

American Beauty (DreamWorks) focuses on the spiritual transformation of Lester, a sad-sack middle-ager, into a man who's glad to be alive. He's inspired to make changes in his life by a sexy teenage cheerleader and a young man who makes home videos of the wonders he notices around him. By the end of his story, Lester realizes that "it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world."

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BEING PRESENT

The Castle (Miramax/Miramax Home Video) is an offbeat Australian comedy about a truly happy working-class family who possess the greatest wealth of all--a gift for living contentedly in the present moment. Even when they have to go to court to save their home from being demolished for an airport expansion, they take time each day to nurture themselves with love, gratitude, and reverence.

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Miramax's trailer for The Castle.

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FORGIVENESS

The Straight Story (Walt Disney) revolves around the unusual pilgrimage of a 73-year-old Midwesterner. When Alvin learns that his estranged brother has had a stroke, he is determined to visit him in Wisconsin. Since he doesn't have a driver's license anymore, he must travel across Iowa on a riding lawn mower. This elder's yearning to reconcile with his brother gives him the energy and strength he needs to fulfill his mission.

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HOPE

The Hurricane (Universal) is based on the true story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a black boxer who spent 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. The lifeline of hope that eventually sets him free is comprised of many little acts of kindness, love, and hard investigative work by an African-American teenager and his white Canadian friends.

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JUSTICE

The Insider (Touchstone) is passionate filmmaking at its best, a drama where following one's conscience is the heartbeat of heroism. The central characters are a determined investigative reporter and a courageous whistle-blower, whose expose of corporate malfeasance within the tobacco industry blew open the biggest health issue of the century--the connection between cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction.

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LOVE

Children of Heaven (Miramax/Miramax Home Video) is an engaging little story about two children in modern-day Iran who have to share one pair of school shoes. This bright jewel of a film touches the heart and reveals the universality of familial love and the determination of kids to make do even in the most dire circumstances. In the world of children, simple activities take on great meaning--a moment of enchantment blowing bubbles or the soothing comfort of cooling feet in the courtyard pond.

View

Miramax's trailer for Children of Heaven.

Requires Quicktime Download

MEANING

After Life (Artistic License Films) is an extraordinary Japanese film about the value of memories. A group of just-dead men and women arrive at a halfway house where they are given the task of choosing one moment from their lives to carry with them into eternity. As we watch these people struggle to choose, we are compelled to recall our most vivid, moving, or meaningful life experiences.

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MYSTERY

The Sixth Sense (Buena Vista) is a riveting psychological thriller that enables us to see that the dead are with us in ways that we cannot always understand. It also encourages us to always honor the spiritual experiences of children and to share the stories of our encounters with the mysterious with those we love.

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PEACE

West Beirut (Cowboy) is a fresh and emotionally vibrant coming-of-age drama set in the Lebanese city torn apart by war in 1975. A young Muslim boy and his friends struggle to keep their souls alive in the midst of gunfire and bombs. In the end, we realize how much this young boy has lost for lack of peace in the Middle East.

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YOU

The Cider House Rules (Miramax) tells the story of an orphan's search for a sustaining sense of self and a vocation to match his talents. Watching this wonderful drama unfold, we realize that we all wrestle with who we are, where we come from, and why we're here at all. The film's answers are: Go where you are wanted. Go where you are needed. Go where you belong.

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Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat are directors of the Values & Visions Circles, an international network of small groups who use feature films, videos, books, and spoken-word audios as catalysts to soul making.


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More Film Reviews on Spirituality & Health

Visit Spirituality & Health

to read full reviews of these and hundreds of more recent films (plus books and audios) in a searchable database. Look for a title, director, theme, or spiritual practice from the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy. Find out where the movie is playing in your neighborhood, or rent or buy the video--all online.

Also in the "Spiritual Rx" area of the website, watch for announcements about the Brussats' new companion website-- www.valuesandvisions.org

. Designed to provide resources for Values & Visions Circles, the site will offer more insights into films as spiritual teachers, including downloadable discussion guides to new videos and movies.



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