Tag Archives: movie review

The Hero’s Journey: Answering The Call To Adventure

“We must be willing to get rid of the life that we’ve planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Josepeh Campbell

“Finding Joe” is a documentary that interviews visionaries from a wide variety of fields on how Joseph Campbell’s teachings on 'following your bliss' and 'The Hero’s Journey' can be applied to our everyday life, including our challenges and personal dragons.

While most inspirational documentaries focus on how good life can be if you get everything you want; “Finding Joe” stands out because it interviews real life people ranging from Deepak Chopra, Tony Hawk, to Rashida Jones about how their struggles, failures, and personal dragons were necessary to help them develop the capabilities to truly follow their bliss.

According to the film, everybody receives some sort of mysterious call to adventure or to awaken to a life previously unknown. Not everybody answers this call. However, those that do and then choose to act on this call embark on what Campbell and the film describe as 'The Hero’s Journey.'

As the documentary portrays in vivid detail from popular movies, enactments of classic tales by a group of sweet and motley group of kids, and first hand accounts from real people 'The Hero’s Journey' is filled with a series of tests, trials, or ordeals a person must go through to begin and complete a transformation. Often a person will fail one or more of these tests. But, if the hero remains steadfast and open to unexpected help along the way, he or she will emerge victorious.

For example, Campbell summarizes this process in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” when he writes,

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

I had the chance to interview the filmmaker for "Finding Joe", Patrick Solomon, and asked him what sort of dragons he faced in his personal journey. His answer was very insightful and eye-opening:

“On my own personal journey, there are a lot of challenges in making a movie. I went down this road when I first started this movie. And I shot a bunch of things. I went to Bali. I went to Jerusalem. I shot just a ton of film and interviewed a bunch of people and when I started to put that together it wasn’t working.

So, at some point, I had to admit that this wasn’t going to work and we got to take another path. But, that to me was a dragon. That was months and months of work and thousands and thousands of dollars that I kind of had to let go of and come to grips with the truth that that wasn’t going to work. And, that was a wrestling match and that took months to come to the point of saying ‘okay man this isn’t going to work, you gotta let that go.' And, I’m glad I did because the movie would be quite different had I hung onto that.”

“Finding Joe” started playing in theaters on the West Coast this past weekend. For more information on where it is playing, please visit the film’s Web site at http://www.findingjoethemovie.com/.

Finding Joe is truly a transformational film that will help anyone who is wrestling with a personal dragon right now, but knows in their heart that they are on path. Or as Joseph Campbell said,

“Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls.”

Adjustment Bureau Movie Review

If you have ever wondered what role your choices, love and free will have in shaping your destiny, then you have gotta see Adjustment Bureau.

The movie stars Matt Damon, a rising politician who falls in love with a talented ballerina…

The only catch is that right after he meets her, an Angel comes to him and tells him that it is NOT part of the Chairman’s “PLAN” for Matt Damon’s character to see her again.  The Angel explains to him that if he violates the plan, then there will be negative consequences for both him and the woman he has fallen in love with.

Matt Damon adamantly questions the Angel’s logic that his “plan” is set in stone and asks him:

“What about free will?  All that I am is my choices!”

This sets the stage for a metaphysical love story where Matt Damon’s character spends the rest of the movie questioning whether he should follow some divinely orchestrated plan and never see the woman he fell in love with or if he should follow his heart and use his free will to chase after the woman of his dreams, even though the “PLAN” tells him not to.

This movie is very inspiring because it prods us to ask what role we have in shaping our destiny while simultaneously acknowledging that external forces beyond our control, whether that may be Divine Guidance, uncontrollable events or serendipity can have an influence on our life.  However, this movie seems to be indicating that our choices and free will have a far greater effect on our life than we may realize.

More importantly, this movie suggests that while there may be some Divine Plan for us, our “Plan” is fluid and that there may even be multiple “Plans” for us depending on the decisions we make.  We can change our “Plan” moment by moment through our freely made choices.  Adjustment Bureau also seems to point out just how important it is to honor and act on what we believe in our heart to be true rather than just playing the part of a fatalistic puppet who is at the mercy of some preordained plan.

I really like this idea because I happen to believe that our lives can be shaped by serendipitous encounters, moments of grace where we feel a transcendent presence of love reaching out to us, and that it is even possible to receive inspired intuitions that can help us make life-affirming decisions.  However, ultimately we are responsible for how we respond to these forms of external guidance.  And, more importantly our response to these external forms of inspiration can then influence what seems to be some preordained plan beyond our control.

Adjustment Bureau is currently playing in theaters.

Why I Didn’t Like the Movie “It’s Complicated”

The movie “It’s Complicated” opened Christmas Day.  Given the rave reviews plastered all over full-page newspaper ads, and the fun trailer that showed promise of an actual adult comedy, I was very much looking forward to seeing it.  Meryl Streep is an amazing actress, and I have loved every movie she has ever done – until this one.


The biggest problem with “It’s Complicated” is the premise.  A long-married couple, divorced for ten years, has moved on with their lives.  The woman, Jane, played by Meryl Streep, runs a successful business and has good friends.  The man, Jake, played by Alec Baldwin, has remarried and is raising a child.  Their shared children are now adults, navigating the world rather successfully themselves.

And yet, one night the two get drunk and have sex.  Hilarious?  I think not.  This isn’t complicated, it’s adultery, and it’s not funny.

To make matters worse, rather than chalking up the experience to poor judgment and a bad mistake, the two continue their dalliance.  This smart businesswoman confides in her friends, who egg her on.  She seeks the advice of her therapist, and in the movie’s one truly honest moment she wonders why she has chosen to have this affair.  Jane has a long list of reasons that she has considered including revenge and loneliness.  She begs the therapist to tell her what to do, and he basically gives her permission to continue the affair, saying: “What could it hurt?”

It seems a renewed sex life has turned this once-wise woman into somewhat of an adolescent as she sneaks around, lies to her children, and convinces herself that she needs to be stoned on marijuana to have a good time.

Meanwhile, Jake is facing a kind of second mid-life crisis.  He obviously hasn’t learned from his past experiences, because he is once again the cad, the philanderer.  The child he is raising with his new wife isn’t biologically his, and he uses this as an excuse to shirk any responsibility.  He lies to both his wife and his ex-wife to get what he wants.  This man is a narcissist, and toxic to both women, although he has them blinded by his charms. 

So what could it hurt?  The woman is humiliated and almost loses a chance at real love.  The man loses the respect of his children.  The children are confused and afraid of additional pain.  The future son-in-law is put in a position where he must lie to his fiancé.  The current wife realizes she has been lied to and cheated on by the same man she is planning a family with.  The woman’s potential boyfriend gets his hopes and dreams dashed just when he’s finally opened his heart to someone.  And a little boy, who is finally bonding with his stepfather, may lose the only adult male in his life.

There may be some jokes in this movie, but it is not a comedy – it is a tragedy, a commentary about values.

What the characters in “It’s Complicated” really need, and want, is closure.  And you can’t get that by having sex with the ex.  Even after ten years of divorce there may be feelings of regret, of grievances, of sorrow and pain.  But there is a formula to get through it, and to move on in a positive and powerful way.

At the end of the movie, Jane and Jake sit and talk, inches away from each other, but miles apart.  There is a reason they were divorced in the first place.  She says it wasn’t all his fault.  He apologizes.

What these two people are really searching for from the beginning is closure.  But do they have to go through all that they go through, and hurt other people and themselves to get it?  Well, there wouldn’t be a movie if these characters didn’t mess up.  It’s the slipping on the banana peel that gets the laugh.  But in real life, the answer is no. 

Closure is a process, one that we can move through maturely and deliberately.  We can’t get closure from any other person, only from ourselves.  And once we have it, we can move forward with our lives in a positive and powerful way – and not look back.

Here’s my new book: "Closure and the Law of Relationship: Endings as New Beginnings"


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