Why We Should Never Solely Base Our Decision To See A Movie On Critic’s Reviews…

Do movie critics ever sway your decision to go see a movie in the theater? And do you pay attention to things like the Rotten Tomatoes score, which is a percentage rating of all the critic’s reviews for each film? Or are you someone who sees a movie regardless of whether it has positive or negative reviews, simply because it interests you?

I ask these questions because I’ve noticed over the past year, I’ve gone to a number of movies that were poorly reviewed by plenty of critics, yet I still thoroughly enjoyed them. Movies such as “Collateral Beauty”, “A Dog’s Purpose”, “Ghost In The Shell”, “King Arthur”, and “Everything, Everything” to name a few. Personally, I don’t like reading critic’s reviews of films for this very reason, as I don’t want to become biased by their opinion, even when the majority of them may be saying the same thing.

Watching movies is like viewing a piece of art. It moves a person individually in a unique way because of where they are at in life and what they’ve gone through. Take “Collateral Beauty” for example. It was loathed by the majority of critics in this country, each claiming it was far too unbelievable. Me, on the other hand, went into the movie with no expectations and emerged several hours lately spiritually charged and feeling quite uplifted. Why so many critics didn’t like it, I have no idea. But my point is that if I had listened to all those negative reviews or based my decision on its Rotten Tomatoes score, which in this case was a measly 14% (meaning 86% of the critics in this country hated it), I probably wouldn’t have gone to the theater and never known how much it would have touched my soul.

Another case in point is with a film I just went to the other day, that being the 2017 remake of “Flatliners”. It actually received a dreadful score of 4% on Rotten Tomatoes (meaning 96% of critics shunned it), yet I was determined to see it anyway because of my great love of the original. And you know what, I absolutely adored it. I appreciate the director’s take on the update, as much as I did the original. I also liked the younger cast of actors and actresses and I treasured its underlying message on forgiveness, one that moved me so much that I cried by the end of it, because so often in my life my ego refused to forgive both myself and others, the result of which made me greatly suffer on my spiritual journey.

Thus, my point is this. If we always base our life’s decisions on what other people say, we may miss out on beautiful opportunities for our Higher Guidance to show up in our lives and bless us in ways we might never expect. Movies truly are like art and appreciation for them can vary greatly from one person to the next. Just because the majority of critics despise a film doesn’t mean you will too. So, my suggestion is this. When you find your spirit perk up while watching a preview of it or reading a promotion about it, go see it when it comes out, even if the majority of critics say to avoid it. You might just discover a diamond in the rough in the process and a greater connection to your Higher Self as well. And wouldn’t that alone be worth it on your spiritual journey in life?

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Stronger”, A Tearful Film That Can Bring Hope To The Hopeless

I was never really able to imagine what it might feel like to lose a limb permanently. That was until I watched Jake Gyllenhaal tackle the roll of Jeff Bauman in the 2017 movie “Stronger”.

On April 15, 2013, Jeff Bauman was standing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, waiting for the girl he wanted to spend his life with cross it. As he proudly displayed his colorful hand-made sign, the first of two terrorist pipe bombs went off next to him, completely severing off both of his legs from below the knees. The heart-wrenching, but inspiring journey of Jeff Bauman’s long road to recovery after this terrible tragedy is the basis of the film “Stronger”.

Jeff Bauman didn’t feel much like a hero after he lost both of his legs, in fact, he felt completely useless in a world that no longer made sense to him. Yet, somehow, I believe it was God who saw fit to use this senseless tragedy and turn Bauman into a symbol of hope for so many, including me. As I watched the 2-hour film, tears constantly dripped from the corners of my eyes because I saw a human being who suffered far greater than I ever have, find a way to keep going, no matter how painful his circumstances.

Suffering from incredible PTSD, having to relearn some of the most basic bodily functions like walking, bathing, and going to the bathroom, and even just trying to fit in, in a world that can often be so judgmental, Jeff beat the odds and never fully gave up. Much of that is in part due the support that I believe God orchestrated in his life that included his girlfriend, Erin Hurley (played by Tatiana Maslany), his friends and family, and a city who all surrounded him with enough love to help him keep going, even when he didn’t want to.

While I may still have all of my limbs intact, I have suffered immensely from chronic pain and physical limitations like Bauman, that have sidelined me from living a life like I once did many years ago. There have been far too many days where I’ve wanted to give up just like Jeff did at times after losing his legs, yet God saw fit to bring into my life a number of people who have offered me plenty of love and support to help me not give up, like I believe he did for Jeff too.

Thanks to my partner Chris, my best friend Cedric, my spiritual teacher Manin, two therapists named Katie and Linda, friends I’ve met since moving to Toledo like Karen, Steve, Robb, Michael, Les, and Frank, a polarity practitioner named Caryn, a kinesiologist and nutritionist named Joel, several acupuncturists named Kimberlee, Shelly, and Yelena, and an individual named Randy who was the one who initially helped me to get through this when it all began, I have always felt supported in some way, even through the worst of pain, to keep going and never give up.

Like Jeff Bauman quickly discovered after waking up in the hospital with his legs gone, it is so easy to feel hopeless when the mind and body are riddled in tons of pain and agony, day in and day out, for weeks, months, and even years. But Bauman eventually embraced his tragedy and turned it into something that has become inspirational for countless others and this is the very reason why I continue to blog about my healing journey, hoping to do something similar for others.

“Stronger” is definitely the most moving film I’ve seen in a very long time and is a tearful one that really can bring hope to the hopeless. I’m extremely thankful to its director, David Gordon Greene, and its screenplay writer, John Pollono, for taking Jeff Bauman’s book (titled the same) written by both him and Bret Witter, and turning it into a movie that I know will move many hearts.

If you are someone who has been suffering in pain for some time, I encourage you to go see this movie, and know that even in your worst of circumstances, I wholeheartedly believe that God is working in your life to help you keep going, just like he has been with Jeff Bauman and me.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Brad’s Status”, A Film That Really Questions What Being Successful In Life Looks Like

Does owning your own hedge fund and jet qualify you as a success in this world? How about being a political consultant to the White House and world renown writer? Or what about being a wealthy tech mogul who retired by the age of 40 and now lives in a coastal mansion in Hawaii? Or maybe it’s being a millionaire Hollywood director whose home is showcased on the cover of Architectural Digest? These are the very questions that 47-year-old Brad (Ben Stiller) asks himself and are the premise of the film titled “Brad’s Status”.

When this film begins we are introduced to Brad and his cozy life in Sacramento. There he owns and runs a small non-profit organization. He also lives in a nice home with a loving wife (Jenna Fischer) and has a 17-year-old musical prodigy son named Troy (Austin Abrams) who’s beginning to look for colleges to attend. But Brad isn’t really happy with any of his life because he continues to compare himself to his four closest friends from his alma mater (Tufts) that he has totally grown apart from over the years. Each have become outright successes in his mind, living far better lives than he feels he ever will. As Brad and Troy embark on a trip to the Boston area for college tours and admission interviews, Brad privately hopes his dreams of success may at least live on through Troy’s life. But when Troy mistakenly misses the appointment time at the school (Harvard) he has his heart set most upon, the true premise of the film is set in motion as Brad must face a decision that will ultimately put him back in touch with the very people he secretly envies and loathes due to their perceived successes in life.

I must say that “Brad’s Status” really impacted me greatly simply because I could so relate to the mid-life crisis that Brad faced throughout it. Over the past few months, since turning 45, I too have felt similarly, as I continue to witness what I perceive as successes in many of my friends from college and beyond. It’s precisely why I’ve skipped out on reunions that have taken place because deep down, I haven’t felt like my life has been much of a success. Yet, ironically, I found myself reevaluating that long after I left the theater.

I used to believe that being successful in life meant having a lot of money rolling in or being known for some type of achievement or having countless followers on social media, or any number of other things that much of the world probably deems as signs of success. Yet, I’ve learned over time that it’s the ego that generally sees success through some type of great material gain or heightened public status. But even when the ego finds a way to acquire any of those things in life, a person can still feel like they’re not much of a success. How do I know this? Because even when I was earning close to $100,000 a year and owning a seven-figure business and 5500-square foot home, I still felt inadequate, which only increased exponentially when I eventually lost it all.

So, what does being successful in life look like then?

Does achieving over 22 years of sobriety from alcohol and drugs and helping many on the path to sobriety count as that?

Is writing two separate young adult fantasy novels for a hobby and pure fun, where each are over 200 pages, count?

Is maintaining a blog and publishing over 1400 original articles on spirituality, for over four years now, qualify?

And is giving up all my other addictions as well five years ago and turning my will and life over to Christ amount to that?

Well, while none of them may be deemed a successful life to many who are living with six, seven, or even eight figures of income, or are in the public spotlight of stardom, I am choosing to personally believe each are signs of my own success on my spiritual quest to become one with God.

And while I may never live a life again with any type of financial abundance or ever become widely known in this world, “Brad’s Status” was a great reminder that being successful in life really is in the eyes of the beholder and not when compared to anyone else. But even more importantly, I truly believe that God has always seen me as a success in His eyes, which I finally am just starting to see too…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson