The Big Kahuna, Magnolia, Baraka – Film Review

The Big Kahuna – Film Review

This film is a drama about a clash among three salesmen from an industrial lubricant company who set out to pitch to various prospective clients in a hotel including Dick Fuller, aka The Big Kahuna, who would be the biggest catch. The clashes which occur in a hotel suite during the promotion are caused by the fact that the salesmen are at different stages in their lives with different behaviors and perspectives to life.

The salesmen are two veterans who are longtime friends (Larry and Phil) and a younger, relatively new employee (Bob). Their differences manifest from the start with, Larry, coming across as eager but sardonic and acerbic. The easygoing Phil who seems to be suffering midlife crisis is tired of life as a salesman and wants out. Bob on his part is quite eager, religious and naïve. These conflicting beliefs, behaviors and lifestyles come to a boil when they fail to land the Big Kahuna seemingly because of Bob’s religious belief and naivety, leading to some erratic revelations and behavior at the end.

This is a scenario usually recreated in various workplaces and arises from the fact that employees have varying ages, backgrounds and life perspectives. It can be exacerbated by having workers of different gender and cultures working closely. Unlike the film that pits confrontations between two salesmen at a time, in reality confrontations in the workplace will pit groups of people with other workers taking sides between the protagonists. This can lead to a poisonous working environment that if not checked, can lead to poor job performance, poor employee retention and even collapse of a company. Further, the film advocates development of human relationships as the basis for prosperity as represented by Dick Fuller who at the end is still chatting to Bob about his religious convictions.

Magnolia – Film Review

This is a collective drama with various connected characters striving for forgiveness, happiness and meaning; with the underlying message that coincidences do not happen but rather life is shaped by forces greater than chance.

When a police officer (Jim) goes to investigate disturbance in a woman’s (Claudia) apartment, he finds a body in a closet. Jim is attracted to Claudia, unaware that she is a cocaine addict, and seals a date where they confess their sins and ineptitudes to each other.

The disturbance at the apartment is caused by Claudia arguing with her estranged, dying father (Jimmy) who is a host for a television quiz show “What Do Kids Know?” The newest child prodigy on the show (Stanley) is hounded by his father for the money and demeaned by the audience; not unlike a previous champion of the show (Donnie) whose parents spent his winnings and who is now watching the show from a bar having just lost his job due to lateness and poor sales. Donnie is obsessed with getting braces to apparently land the man of his dreams, consequently stealing from his former boss.

A former producer of the TV show, Earl, is also dying of cancer, with his second wife (Linda), who married him for the money, collecting his prescriptions while a nurse (Phil) cares for him. Earl asks Phil to find his estranged son (Frank) from his first marriage, who is a motivational speaker on how to pick up women. Frank took care of his mother before she also died of cancer. Later, Linda attempts suicide but is found by Dixon just in time to be taken to hospital, but not before Dixon steals money from her purse. Linda is looked after by Frank as she recuperates.

Jimmy later confesses to cheating on his wife Rose and apparently cannot remember whether he molested Claudia when she was a child. Left by Rose to die alone, Jimmy attempts suicide.

Suddenly frogs start falling from the sky, with multiple consequences for all the characters involved. Television shows entertain and make money, but it can be at the expense of ethical values; in this instance bordering on child labor and abuse. Nurses, lawyers, police officers and motivational speakers serve the society by maintaining order and looking after the vulnerable. They are necessary occupations, despite sometimes having questionable ethics. Just like a business, the family unit aims to get the best out of its members and should be guided by good values.

Baraka – Film Review

This non-verbal documentary film offers a “guided meditation” through 24 countries in all six continents.  The effectiveness of the film is enhanced by clever use of the camera including, controlled movements, slow motion and time lapse.

Baraka gives the viewer a powerful, meditative look at an awesome universe; at the same time capturing its beauty and its ugliness. This is by showing the force of nature, religious rituals, peoples’ everyday lives, and the destruction humans unleash on the planet. While many people will never visit most of the places shown on the film, “Baraka” gives the audience a chance to contemplate these places and human’s essence against a backdrop of an evolving diverse world.

Indeed, in Sufi “baraka’ means “a blessing, breath, or essence of life from which the evolutionary process unfolds”. This is closely related to the word’s use in Islam where it is “a quality or force emanating originally from Allah but capable of transmission to objects or to human beings.” “Blessing” and “luck” are also apparent in the use of the word in Judaism, Swahili and French while its reference to a place is evident in Bulgarian, Serbian and Turkish. The societal impact on individuals is evident in the various communal activities; from the religious rituals of Judaists and Buddhists to the tribal festivities and attire of the Maasai and the Aborigines. The instinct for a better tomorrow is captured in the human and animal activities, with the human activities capturing both ethical and unethical choices. The sands of time are evident in the ebbing flow of waterfalls and the eruption of volcanoes as well as in the majesty of mountains.

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