Now playing at the yoga studio
September 15, 2009 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend some movies for movie night at my yoga studio? The teachers past choices have included Gandhi, a film about Ram Dass, a film about belly dancing, and What the Bleep Do We Know.

Seems like they lean towards new age stuff or movies dealing with larger issues. I would like to recommend some inspiring movies. My recommendations so far have been, Man on Wire, The Man Who Skied Down Everest, and Ikiru. Any other recommendations along those lines?
posted by philad to Media & Arts (25 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Encounters at the End of The World by Werner Herzog
posted by phrontist at 10:37 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Genghis Blues
posted by Burhanistan at 10:39 PM on September 15, 2009

The Story of the Weeping Camel
posted by Burhanistan at 10:40 PM on September 15, 2009

I haven't seen it in a long time - it might be cliche now or too new agey, but what aboutKoyaanisqatsi?
posted by smartyboots at 10:43 PM on September 15, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sita Sings the Blues might be a good fit, as it's fun and lighthearted and fits the slight Indian fixation of the past choices.
posted by anildash at 10:43 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

seconding koyaanisquatsi, and adding Baraka

both amazing movies
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:11 PM on September 15, 2009 [1 favorite]

Enlighten up is fun. Too self-referential?
posted by papalotl at 11:18 PM on September 15, 2009

Uplifting Bollywood movies!
Only thing is -- they're long. Many people don't have the attention span for a three-hour movie. So YMMV. Like (virtually) all Hindi movies, they're subtitled and on Netflix.

Lagaan Village lad gets together a rag-tag cricket team to challenge the British and save his village. Nobody doesn't like Lagaan. It was an Oscar nominee, and the one Bollywood movie Americans have seen, if they've seen only one. Here, the drought-stricken village sees the first monsoon clouds coming.

Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chhati Hoon Village girl goes to Mumbai to be a star. She's so relentlessly positive that people who would otherwise have taken advantage of her, help her achieve her dreams. Just joyous and irresistible. Here, the village movie projector breaks, so our girl saves the day.

Shri 420 - Classic movie from the 40's. Chaplinesque lovable tramp comes to Mumbai to make his fortune, loses his way, finds it again, falls in love with Nargis. (You will, too.) Here, Raj and Nargis have admitted they love each other, but they have no money, and Nargis is worried. Raj tells her that they are in love, so why worry?
posted by Methylviolet at 12:03 AM on September 16, 2009

Depending on how open-minded the crowd is, the two most beautiful films by the great spiritual filmmakers who labored behind the iron curtain:

1. The more well-known of the two, Andrei Tarkovsky; though trying to determine such a thing is ridiculous, his best film is probably Stalker, a vague, yearning film about three men–the scientist, the writer, and the stalker–who meet in a teahouse before embarking on their journey into the zone in search of the room. This is the most interesting and intense film I've ever seen about faith and about the spirit. It is meditative and slow-moving.

2. The lesser-known of the two is one of the more interesting human beings ever to make films. Sergei Parajanov had the unmitigated misfortune to be born in Ukraine in 1924 to Armenian parents. By the time he was twenty, he'd already spent eight months in prison for the crime of homosexuality. By the time he was twenty-six, he'd married a young Tatar woman who'd converted to Orthodox Christianity from Islam; her family took less than a year to correct this mistake by hunting her down and killing her. But film was a revelation to him, and showed him a way to beauty in all things. Naturally this was not pleasing to the Soviet government. At the age of fifty, he was sentenced by the Ukrainian Communist Party to five years in the Gulag in Siberia, again for his homosexuality, among other trumped-up charged; an open letter to the sentencing committee from Tarkovsky made an impassioned plea for mercy:

Artistically, there are few people in the entire world who could replace Paradjanov. He is guilty - guilty of his solitude. We are guilty of not thinking of him daily and of failing to discover the significance of a master.

But Sergei Parajanov always thereafter claimed that the years he spent in the Gulag were the most important and most wondrous of his life. He spent many, many hours constructing tiny sculptures and dolls of old pieces of wood and string that he found. A story is told that the guards used to play tricks on him, stealing the materials he'd meticulously collected; but that they stopped because the game wasn't fun any more when they noticed that, having no materials, Parajanov would instead spend hours making elaborate images on the floor with the pebbles and dust he found there.

His films are like living icons; his best (and most famous) is probably Sayat Nova, which means "King of Song." The Soviet government did not like this title for some reason, so it is better known under the name he gave it to please the censors, The Color Of Pomegranates. I've seen lots of movies, but there is none which gives me more joy than this one. Enough of my blathering; here, watch the beginning.

3. If those two seem a bit... er... ambitious (which is understandable) you should check out the awesome and highly interesting Sans Soleil by the great Chris Marker. Yes, Chris Marker is French, but the film is in English; it's like a documentary, but the images are images found by the director as he wandered the world; the spoken track consists of letters written to the director by an old friend who has just returned at long last to Japan, and discusses the Japanese conception of time, the political upheaval of the sixties, the beauty of the everyday spirituality that leads the Japanese to build shrines to all the cats which disappear every day, and other very interesting subjects. It's really fun to watch. Here's the first five minutes, which I believe will give a good impression of how soaring and thoughtful this film can be. "If they don't see happiness, at least they'll see the black... by the way, did you know that there are emus in the Isle d'France?"
posted by koeselitz at 12:17 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

What's that Philip Glass-scored fi;m with the unpronounceable name? There are 3 of them like Piginablanket and Kozzwayntsi and Quizimaitzsi or something.

Ah: Koyannisqatsi. I think there are 2 others? Via Wikipedia: "The film is the first in the Qatsi trilogy of films: it is followed by Powaqqatsi (1988) and Naqoyqatsi (2002). "

You'd like them! New Age-y, but also interesting. Just lots of images. Quiet reflection Etc.
posted by GilloD at 12:20 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Werner Herzog's Little Dieter Needs to Fly. It has captivated everyone I've shown it to, from jaded hipsters to elderly in-laws. The movie deals with tough situations and the virtues of being practical yet optimistic, which might be a good antidote to the wish-fulfillment solipsism of What the Bleep and its ilk.
posted by benzenedream at 12:28 AM on September 16, 2009

Keep an eye out for the Wavy Gravy documentary.
posted by brujita at 1:06 AM on September 16, 2009

If inspiring is what you're going for, I can definitely recommend Blindsight
posted by Sourisnoire at 3:38 AM on September 16, 2009

How about a bit about the point of it all:

Enlightenment Guaranteed
posted by zia at 4:04 AM on September 16, 2009

Winged Migration, Microcosmos, Planet Earth--pretty much any nature documentary that's well known for its beautiful or high-tech footage.
posted by box at 6:03 AM on September 16, 2009

Seconding Sita Sings the Blues, especially since the inclusion of the historically-inaccurate Gandhi makes my you-must-be-mostly-Westerners spidey sense tingle. Nothing wrong with that, but Sita was made by a Western woman very comfortable with the fact that she's seeing the Ramayana from an outsider's perspective, and so your classmates will probably get more out of it than from a Bollywood film. Plus, the film's release brings up some really interesting questions about copyright law. And it's pretty to look at. And it's free.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:26 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter... and Spring

"...a 2003 South Korean film about a Buddhist monastery which floats on a lake in a pristine forest. The story is about the life of a Buddhist monk as he passes through the seasons of his life, from childhood to old age."


Fantastic movie.

I'd also recommend The Fountain, but it's a very divisive film. Some people hate it, some people love it. I fall into the latter category.

"The Fountain is a 2006 American science fiction/fantasy film written and directed by Darren Aronofsky that follows three interwoven narratives that take place in the age of conquistadors, the modern-day period, and the far future. The film stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz, whose characters' romance exists in all three time periods. The Fountain explores the themes of love and mortality, drawing influences from the Fountain of Youth and the Tree of Life. The film is framed with visual language by using transition scenes, light, and shapes."


For slightly lighter fare, I'd look into movies by Studio Ghibli/Hayao Miyazaki.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2009

Good God you people are awesome! Screw the studio - these are going on my netflix list immediately. I wonder how My Dinner With Andre would go down at the studio?
posted by philad at 9:32 AM on September 16, 2009

Mindwalk is a good fun watch, too
posted by Redhush at 12:15 PM on September 16, 2009

One Giant Leap

love this

Ashtanga New York

Ashtanga specific
posted by Calibandage at 1:00 PM on September 16, 2009

Waking Life would probably go over well.

Also try The Class (maybe not out on DVD, yet), City of God and La Haine.

Also, wait til The Cove comes out on DVD....or better yet just drag your whole class to the nearest screening. It's really, really good.
posted by pilibeen at 1:05 PM on September 16, 2009

Oh, one more: The Diving Bell & The Butterfly
posted by pilibeen at 1:07 PM on September 16, 2009

The Twilight Samurai --
Eat, Drink, Man, Woman
The Milagro Beanfield War
My Life as a Dog

Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to fire up the DVD player ;-)
posted by I'm Brian and so's my wife! at 5:06 PM on September 16, 2009

how to cook your life was fantastic.
posted by mewithoutyou at 8:09 PM on September 16, 2009
posted by DMelanogaster at 7:43 PM on September 18, 2009

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