Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mystic Ball (movie review)

:: burma night ::

I enjoyed a somewhat optimized venue for viewing this movie.  Alex and his friends had organized a Burma Night, spontaneously conceived the week before, and shared at this Nepalese Buddhist compound that shares the same block as the Linus Pauling House.

I somewhat jokingly introduced myself as being from there (the Pauling House), whereas it's not really a residence, unlike this place.

Appropriately, I've been in touch with John Driscoll of late, erstwhile denizen of the so-called Voodoo House (Santo Daime) I used to write about -- same zip code.  Old Portland homes lend themselves to becoming religious establishments.  Something about all that wood maybe.

So Burma has this pervasive pass time and sport called chinlone.  It's a lot like hacky sack in that you're trying to keep something in the air, cooperatively or solo, but in this case it's a woven hollow ball of rattan.  Alex, who was quite a good hacky sack player, assures us chinlone takes a whole different skill set (one which he doesn't have).

Greg Hamilton, the director and star of Mystic Ball, is a handsome world citizen (also Canadian), your archetypal Global U student.  He's very athletic and is a disciplined martial arts teacher in Toronto.  He sees some guy playing chinlone in the park and is mesmerized.  Something clicks.  The rest of the film traces his increasing obsession with this sport and how it draws him into the cultural life and mind of the Burmese people.

The story line is so simple and innocent, like a children's book.

This doesn't mean there's not a beautiful girl to offset the handsome man.  She's one of the best chinlone players in the country and performs solo.  She's ridiculously talented and a sweetheart.  Watching her in slow motion, kicking that woven ball, rivals any martial arts sequence.  The guys are good too, really good.

The room was a hubbub of interesting conversations.  As a somewhat large guy, I can't just "flit about" like Tinkerbell, but I did my best to tune in a number of fascinating threads, about Buddhism, Alex's coming of age stories, and remarks on the new movie about his mom (none of us had seen it yet).

My wife Dawn would have loved this community and I'm sorry she didn't live long enough to enjoy it with me.  She was serious about her practice, and loved sharing about the dharma (teachings) with her shangha (community).

Terry of ISEPP has this vision of how the Pauling Campus might one day encompass this whole city block.  He publishes the artist's conception of this campus in the various programs handed out at the Schnitzer.

These drawings predate the temple though.  It would make a lot more sense for any peace-focused campus to include this Buddhist HQS as a core campus institution.

The synergy with the Paulings, in terms of connecting their anti-nuke pacificism with a world religion of many branches, looks really propitious.