Buddhist Movie Night at PIMC: "American Beauty" (Sat., 9/21/19, 6:30pm)

Please join us for another edition of Buddhist Movie Night at Portland Insight Meditation Community (PIMC). We'll be watching "American Beauty" on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019.  The screening will begin at 6:30pm.

This is a chance to come together as a community, enjoy Buddhist/mindfulness-themed cinema, and discuss how the material relates to our understanding of the Buddha and the Dharma.

Mikki and Alezah will be hosting the movie night and leading the discussion afterward. It will be a very mellow, low key affair. Please come, bring a snack to share if you like, and enjoy.

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DATE/TIME: Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019  /  6:30-9:00PM

LOCATION: PIMC, 6536 SE Duke St., Portland

SUGGESTED DONATION: $5/person (no one turned away for insufficient funds).

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"American Beauty" is a 1999 film that is both tragedy and comedy. A comedy because we laugh at the absurdity of the hero's problems. And a tragedy because we can identify with his failure--not the specific details, but the general outline.

Lester Burnham, the hero of "American Beauty," is played by Kevin Spacey as a man who is unloved by his daughter, ignored by his wife, and unnecessary at work. The movie is the story of his rebellion.

Everything changes for Lester the night he is dragged along by his wife to see their daughter perform as a cheerleader. There on the floor, he sees his angel: Angela (Mena Suvari), his daughter's high-school classmate.

Angela is not Lester's highway to bliss, but she is at least a catalyst for his freedom. His thoughts, and the discontent they engender, blast him free from years of emotional paralysis, and soon he makes a cheerful announcement at the funereal dinner table: "I quit my job, told my boss to - - - - himself and blackmailed him for $60,000." Has he lost his mind? Not at all. The first thing he spends money on is perfectly reasonable: a bright red 1970 Pontiac Firebird.

 
"American Beauty" is more about sadness and loneliness than about cruelty or inhumanity. Nobody is really bad in this movie, just shaped by society in such a way they can't be themselves, or feel joy.
 

The performances all walk the line between parody and simple realism; Thora Birch and Wes Bentley are the most grounded, talking in the tense, flat voices of kids who can't wait to escape their homes. Bening's character, a real estate agent who chants self-help mantras, confuses happiness with success--bad enough if you're successful, depressing if you're not.

And Spacey, an actor who embodies intelligence in his eyes and voice, is the right choice for Lester Burnham. He does reckless and foolish things in this movie, but he doesn't deceive himself; he knows he's running wild--and chooses to, burning up the future years of an empty lifetime for a few flashes of freedom. He may have lost everything by the end of the film, but he's no longer a loser.

 

NOTE: According to Common Sense Media, which rates this movie as "17+" (for minimum age 18), this movie is NOT for children

"Parents need to know that this relentlessly dark picture of America and its values at the turn of the 21st century may have won a Best Picture Oscar, but it definitely isn't for kids. The film takes a hard, often bleakly comic look at the dissolution of the family and is full of sex, drugs, bigotry, and hypocrisy. Graphically sexual images include an adult fantasizing about his young daughter’s seductive friend, an adulterous relationship in a motel, masturbation, and partial nudity on several occasions. Homosexuality and homophobia are addressed. A young man is brutally beaten by his father more than once, and there are disturbing, bloody images of the violent death of a leading character. Language is coarse and explicit throughout, with constant use of sexual dialogue, swearing (including "f--k" and "s--t"), and terms disparaging to women and homosexuals. Kids and adults smoke pot in many scenes, and “getting high” is seen as a release from daily despair."

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Also be sure to join us for our other monthly Buddhist movie nights. Here's the schedule for the remainder of 2019 (scheduled for the 3rd Saturday of the month):

Oct. 19:    Kumare (2011 documentary, directed by: Vikram Gandhi)
Nov. 16:   A Man Escaped (1956 directed by Robert Bresson)
Dec. 21:   Late Spring (1949 directed by: Yasujiro Ozu)