How to Survive the Dark Night of the Soul

Full moon porch

Had to pass along a great article. Many have this occur out of the blue and others have a parallel experience manifest in their physical world.

http://in5d.com/getting-through-the-dark-night-of-the-soul/

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Not Taken with Taken 3

Taken 3

When the opening scene showed our hero’s daughter viewing a positive pregnancy test with fear, I was all in. A real life situation full of honest potential for conflict? Yes.

Then the next scene took a needle to that balloon.  And ground the pieces into the ground.

I actually had to check to see who wrote this film, and was stunned to see the same writers who had done a much better job with Taken 2, penned the last installment as well. In my mind, the problems are in the story. I won’t litter this post with spoilers, but will only reveal my big beef – the daughter.

I’m wondering if Robert Mark Kamen and Luc Besson have known any pregnant women. Clearly, they didn’t ask the opinion of one as to their portrayal. Understand that I don’t consider myself a feminist by any stretch. I am accustomed to the stereotypes women have acquired in action films. My problem is that that same two writers who made Kim a “chip off the old block” in Taken 2, decided to make her a victim in Taken 3. Why? Because she was pregnant? Spare me.

Pregnant women have been working back-breaking, manual labor jobs right up until they give birth for centuries now. They train horses, work construction, unload trucks, jog, come home from working fourteen hour days to do the domestic chores, even move furniture to clean. I won’t get into the lives of women in poverty-stricken countries. The point is that woman can do a lot while pregnant. This is not news.

And those problems grew.

Problem one: Bryan shows up at Kim’s door with a stuffed panda – the size of an actual panda. After finding Kim more than capable of mapping coordinates, sprinting over rooftops, tossing grenades, dropping him a gun, then driving like a maniac through the narrow streets of Istanbul in a stick shift (after having her driving lessons in an automatic), in Taken 2, one might expect her father to notice the kid has grown up a little.

Problem two: Bryan laces a cup of yogurt with something to make her nauseated enough to leave her class to meet him in the restroom. Then he offers her a liquid antidote to eliminate her nausea, which she guzzles down without mentioning her pregnancy. I’m sorry, but if Kim was pregnant enough to draw a positive test result, she’s probably already nauseated – if only by the thought of having to decide whether to keep the child that will change her life. Nausea is part of the package. No woman thinking about keeping her child would just drink a drug down without question. WITHOUT QUESTION.

Problem three: Then Kim gets to do nothing but stay with Bryan’s crew, safe. Why ever didn’t they think to strap her into a corset and let her fan away the vapors?

Dear writers,

You successfully pulled in the female audience. Not just with Neeson as the lead, but by giving Maggie Grace some power in the last film. Don’t yank it away and send us back centuries with clichés. Take a page from Hugo Blick’s playbook. In The Honorable Woman the heroin was a victim, but certainly didn’t behave that way.

I won’t mention the other story problems. All action films have holes large enough to drive all the vehicles they destroy in the chase scenes. But this story was weak. Having seen what was possible in the previous films made it even more disappointing.  From the moment I saw Neeson in his first situation, I was distracted with frustration to the point that I couldn’t really enjoy the performances of the rest of the great cast. I wanted to slap the writers. Hard.

The tagline reads “It ends here.” I, for one, hope it does.

Big Eyes A Big Change for Burton

big eyes

I loved the cast, the director, and the triumphant story. Generally speaking, I tend to love bio-pics, and I wanted to love this film. But collectively Big Eyes left me with unanswered questions.

The opening scene shows Amy Adams as Margaret Keane, packing frantically to flee an unhappy marriage. We follow her and her daughter to her new home, new job, and painting big-eyed waifs that were not taken seriously as art.

Even though her paintings were labeled as kitschy as The Velvet Elvis, she meets a fellow artist who lavishes nothing but praise on her work. And she appeared to see the red flag waving strongly over his con-artist head, but Walter was such a smooth-talker, she married him.

The film went on to suggest that Walter pioneered the concept of renting wall space to set up a gallery inside a night club, to sell both of their works, then discovered how bad press drew public attention. This reminded me a little of Forrest Gump’s antics triggering iconic slogans, and made me suspect the employment of creative license over actual events.

Margaret fell into the trap of going along with her husband claiming to be the real artist to keep the income flowing and peace in the house. I found it hard to believe that she managed to hide her truth from her own daughter who had been her only subject for years. She’s quickly dismissed when she suggests that the paintings looked like her mothers.

Walter seemingly pioneered poster and postcard prints in an age before the copy machine. Like any con artist, he easily manipulated Margaret, even after she discovered that he’d lied to her about his personal history early in their relationship. And even though it wasn’t shown in the film, it did not escape me that in the late fifties, the home and finances were governed by the man of house. Most women didn’t have access to the checkbook, much less their own money, even if they did work.

SPOILERS from here on. If you haven’t seen the film, you might want to stop reading.

Margaret finally came to her senses and took Walter to court to prove that she was the true artist. I truly hope the case was resolved as portrayed. I found it difficult to believe that the question of money never became a bone of contention.

I wanted to know how Margaret left Walter for a fresh start with no money, managing to live in a lovely home in Hawaii for a year before contacting him about legal separation. I wanted to know how he ended up dying penniless when he had control of her empire for years. I wanted to know how her career fared after the dust from the trial settled.  All told, this film seemed a little too “on the nose” for Tim Burton whose comfort zone is creating his world. Or perhaps his vision was far grander than the truth.

Making Truth The Difference

Happy New Year All!

I used to be someone who made resolutions (with good intentions) and could only keep them short-term. I only have one this year: Live my truth. I think that if I’m walking my walk and talking my talk, it can set an example for anyone around me, and hopefully, create more of the same.

jane difference

I’ve admired Jane Goodall since childhood. (And she believes in Bigfoot!) In the 70’s, shows like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom would feature her work in Gombe with chimpanzees. Her message was always clear: animals are emotional creatures who should be as respected as humans. She was well aware of the ripples she made in the world, and made a career of bringing attention to the plight of animals as humans encroached into their habitat. As deforestation became a survivalist enterprise for human beings, it wasn’t enough for her to show people outside the region lovely footage of playful chimps hoping for empathy. People were barely surviving. It was “us” or “them,” the “humans” or the “animals.”  I wondered how she managed not to succumb to defeat with humans valued higher. But her stalwart conviction and positive mindset, “There’s always hope” continues. She is 80 and still travels more than 300 days a year to deliver her message to the world.

Most of us are not globe trotters or internationally known. We think because we see ourselves as “small” or leading small lives that we don’t have any significant impact. But that doesn’t mean our ripples aren’t felt in our own small spaces. Apathy doesn’t create anything. We can begin in our own homes and backyards. We can be true to ourselves and what we value. We can support large or small causes dear to our hearts instead of turning a blind eye or only doing what someone else decided was fashionable at the moment. We can figure out what matters to us personally and take one small action toward growing that, without worrying about what anyone else might think of it.

This year,I’m chucking selfish desires for striving to live my truth, remembering that every move I make can make a difference to someone. Even if that someone is only the dog.