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  2. ranman

    New Stuff Worth Hearing

    Greta Van Fleet's a good band! They sound like Led Zep, but not like a cheap imitation band. They've got their own stamp, and they make glorious music. Not sure if this counts as new, but The Parlor Mob is also sort of a throwback to the 60s-80s trend of good rock. They also sound like Les Zep, but again they're not limited or unimaginative musicians.
  3. Currently reading two books: 1. Abandon by Pico Iyer: A very interesting book. Among other things, it focuses on how a secular outlook might allow one to draw from different religious traditions and theological stances, almost a la carte. There is the danger of appropriation, but it is equally important to shed light on how people also see religions as things that converge toward a final unity, the book seems to say. The book focuses on Sufism (particularly the works of Rumi) and Islamic thought and two people's whirling love for each other. If you look long and hard enough at love, you might look at what the Sufi mystics are talking about, the guy seems to believe. He finds out what it is to live, love, and be loved on account of his interaction with several Sufi manuscripts, and of course by being with his beloved, who too is on a quest. Very interesting and stimulating. 2. Economics: Private and Public Choice by Gwrtney, Stroup, et al: The books asks--and of course aims to answer--what makes certain decision-making acts economics. In other words, what constitutes the economic approach to thinking and doing, and how, if at all, is it different from other modes of thinking and doing? Understandably, the book focuses on questions such as rationality, irrationality, and intentionality. Also explores the interplay between a so-called private choice (which may after all not be so localized and insignificant) and the macro side of things. Interesting so far.
  4. Yesterday
  5. And the winner is... Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days, which is *not* nominated for the Oscar. (But then, *none* of the Annie nominees in this category were nominated for the Oscar.)
  6. And the winners are... Roger Deakins for 1917 and Jarin Blaschke for The Lighthouse, both of whom are nominated for the Oscar.
  7. And the winner is... Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound, which is *not* nominated for the Oscar. (But then, *none* of the nominees for this guild award were nominated for the Oscar.)
  8. And the winners are... Klaus -- Best Animated Feature, Directing, Production Design, Storyboarding, Character Design, Character Animation, Editing I Lost My Body -- Best INDIE Feature, Writing, Music Frozen 2 -- Voice Acting (Josh Gad), Visual Effects So basically Netflix movies won all but two of the feature-film awards, and Klaus won every single award it was nominated for. (And the two nominations that I Lost My Body did *not* win were won by Klaus. Basically Frozen 2 -- which started the evening with the most nominations -- won only in the categories where it wasn't facing any competition from Netflix. And Frozen 2 isn't even nominated for the Oscar! Toy Story 4 is, though, and it has been sweeping all the guild awards so far -- but it didn't win a single Annie award!)
  9. And the winner is... Honeyland, the only ASC nominee that also has an Oscar nomination.
  10. And the winners are... Sam Mendes for 1917 and Alma Har'el for Honey Boy.
  11. And the winner is... American Factory. This is the first time one of the Oscar nominees in this category has won a guild award.
  12. Last week
  13. I stand by everything I wrote and agreed with yesterday, but I didn't want to give the impression that I think the criteria for a film's inclusion should be totally subjective. Even if it's not defined in writing, I too want to be on the same page about what we're doing and what kind of films we're choosing. I want to be able to make an argument for a film's inclusion based on more than just my own experience. A film's inclusion should ultimately be about the film. Likewise I want to be won over to understanding how a film might be spiritually significant even if I didn't initially see it that way (The Godfather and Blue Velvet would be good examples) rather than just a masterpiece of filmmaking (I can look at the Sight & Sound lists for that). I favor using the term "spiritually significant," understood inclusively and expansively as we've noted.
  14. I'm good with this definition if y'all are. Yes, I'm good with this, too. I know that for me, engaging with art, including film, is an important part of my own spiritual practice for these very reasons. All sorts of films can direct my gaze beyond the screen (or page or canvas) to ...well, I'd use religiously specific language here, but to reality, truth, presence, goodness (even if via the depiction of the absence of goodness). Sometimes that happens sheerly through the artistry of the work, sometimes through the values conveyed, sometimes through the language or religion or faith. I envision this list as the films that have done something like that for everyone here. Then there are the handful of films that have gone beyond that and have really decentered me from the experience, where the work of art has been a vehicle for the Spirit (that's what I'd call it, but I respect that others would call it otherwise) to grab me and make some kind of claim on my life. This really nails if for me, too. "Spiritual and moral concerns" as a general unifying principle, as well as the list being a reflection of the personal journeys of the voting members—this all still rings true to me for this new list And this. Agreed. Agreed. So potentially all of the above, right? It makes sense for there to be some boundaries, but letting individuals set those for themselves by working along these inclusive lines should work fine.
  15. I'm good with this definition if y'all are.
  16. This makes sense to me. Very much enjoying the discussion here. I appreciate the inclusive definition of spirituality being utilized (and from Steven's 2011 comments, it's been a part of things for 9 years). Even as an atheist who doesn't accept the presence of a human or divine spirit, I don't think we've found a better word than "spirituality" to encompass everything we're talking about. And at least one of the surviving "Four Horsemen" of atheism, Sam Harris, has repeatedly said as much, too.
  17. This is what Steven wrote at First Things back in 2011 to describe the intent behind the Top 100 list: "Spiritual and moral concerns" as a general unifying principle, as well as the list being a reflection of the personal journeys of the voting members—this all still rings true to me for this new list. Regarding the missional aspect described by Ken, while it may not be the primary concern (i.e. creating a list in order to get more clicks and/or forum members and participation), I will say that the Top 100 list was my introduction to Arts and Faith over a decade ago with the 2008 iteration, and I've encountered a number of people over the years who have told me about this "Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films" list they found once (e.g., a professor I had in seminary was elated when he learned I was involved with A&F, because the 2010 list introduced him to Dekalog). So, even if publicity isn't necessarily the main motivation, we should still appreciate that publishing a list—both online, and as a book!—is a deliberately public act which invites those outside of A&F to consider both the films on the list, as well as the nature of the online community itself. If we were going to do a second ballot for ranking, I think something like this would be doable (or even a Top 25), rather than ranking 100 films. I will say that the second ranking ballots have made a significant difference for many of the final Ecumenical Jury lists; whether that's a benefit or not is debatable (i.e. if film moves from #3 or #4 to #1). Well said. I think this speaks of a formative/transformative aspect of the films we'd like to appear on such a list as well—these are films which may have affected and changed us, guided us and challenged us, enriched us and enlightened us, expanded our spiritual/moral/personal/existential imaginations, made us more aware. And such contemplation and appreciation is perhaps akin to a spiritual practice or discipline in the vein of Thomas Merton or mystical theologians, where contemplatio is to "gaze" at the invisible transcendent presence and be more aware its reality.
  18. "I do think having *some* sort of language beyond just a 'the list of this web site which you would know what that meant if you were at this web site' is important." I agree, Ken. Apologies for these three tangents. I hope they're useful . . . First, I had a really good conversation with my parents last weekend, which, frankly, has been too rare in our lives. We covered a lot of topics that have been unspoken in recent years, including my mom's concerns for my children, who are not being raised in the church. My dad surprised me a bit by telling me he's proud of the man/father I've become, and he seemed genuinely curious about how my leaving the church was an essential part of my maturation. (I'm not in any way implying it's essential for others.) Second, the morning before that conversation I watched Kiarostami's Through the Olive Trees. (I began the year by watching the Koker Trilogy and Homework, all for the first time.) As some of you might have seen, my pithy-but-true response on Twitter and Letterboxd was: "I've never wanted more to be a good and decent person." Third, I launched my blog, longpauses.com, around the same time I discovered this community. The title of the site was a kind of mission statement, stolen from Denise Levertov's poem, "Making Peace," which begins: All of which is to say that if I'm in a lifelong process of maturing into a more decent person, then I owe much of my growth to the time I've spent watching, reading, discussing, and thinking critcally about art, and specifically about art that has fed my imagination with peace rather than disaster. I used the word "contemplation" earlier because it's my shorthand for that effort. I guess I'd like the list to advocate for this kind of relationship with art.
  19. Most of the Top 25s (results/blurbs/intro) were published at Image, but I don't know about the Top 100. The results of the Top 100 in intro for 2011 were actually directed to essay SDG did at First Things. (I don't recall if Image was already in charge of site by then.) My recollection, which could be faulty is prior to Image ownership, individual A&F members would go tho their own blogs and outlets and once Image owned the site, we had a pattern of discussion here/results at Good Letters (Image Blog). Of course, I don't know if by "promoting" Christian means something more/other than just publishing the list. There may have been some early stuff at CT when Jeff was there and Mark was editing, but CT did a lot more news/discussion of stuff at other places back then. If I/we do a book, there would obviously be some minimal promotion of the results at Cambridge Scholars Website and (more importantly for me) during the Call For Papers that would let people on their communication chain know the Top 100 process has begun and give them time to participate in it/be aware of it rather than just saying, "Here's a completed list, does anyone want to contribute a paper about it..."
  20. Thanks, Ken. The latter part of your reply has me wondering what the plans are for promoting the list once it's finalized. If the list is just, or mainly, for us, are we not planning to push it out to the broader public? I thought we'd always been "missional" about the list in that promotional sense, but maybe I'm misremembering. Did Image do that promotion on our behalf? Anyone recall?
  21. I can see sides of it depending on how many voters we have. I think if people understand the voting, they may cluster differently, i.e. only give a handful of 5s for the very best to differentiate them from others. While some voters may be more liberal with 5s and thus promote films of more liberal (vs. more stingy) raters. I could see an argument for maybe doing one vote and then a second ballot to rank the Top 10 (or Top 20). I would be more likely to err on side of giving the higher of two scores I was on the fence about if I knew I could distinguish between two 5s some way later. If it was only one vote my scores would probably be, unconsciously, a bell curve. Regarding Darren's question, mostly what Joel said. I've understood two stages/notions of A&F lists. Earlier ones seemed to want an amorphous but nevertheless real *spiritual* component of the film or content in the film.. I noticed that at some point while I was in the wilderness (particularly with the Top 25s) we seemed to have dropped the "Spiritually Significant" and conceptualized lists as an "Arts & Faith" list, meaning not so much about "art" or "faith" but a reflection of the people in this forum. (Though the original conception may still have been a part of it for participants.) For me, "spiritually significant" is important, but I don't want to impose my conceptions unilaterally. There have been a couple of films that I've found *spiritually* significant but have been unpersuasive about inclusion. (The Godfather springs to mind.) Similarly there have been films that have been rated highly throughout the years that I have not found particularly spiritually significant -- pretty much anything Wes Anderson jumps to mind. I don't know that the answer is to craft a *definition* that includes the films I want and pushes people away from the films I don't, but I do think having *some* sort of language beyond just a "the list of this web site which you would know what that meant if you were at this web site" is important. Because I think the real value of these lists to this web site is the discussion it prompts from people revealing their own understandings of art and spirituality by nominating them. That's admittedly insular and inward directed. I'm not saying the film can't or won't be of value to anyone outside of A&F, just that I've never conceptualized them that way -- that is, not as something to gain us attention or impact culture outside of us. Even if a film I nominate and my discussion doesn't carry the day, I am better off for having articulated my thoughts and felt pleasure discussing it among friends. Again, I'm not saying that's the "right" answer. I think at times some have thought of these lists as more missional -- something we give to the outside world. To the extent that was ever true (and I'm skeptical), I think it was limited to when we were larger and, perhaps, attached to other projects or had members or leaders who wanted this *site* to be more that way and, perhaps, saw the lists as a means to that end. Not saying that is wrong, nor would I be unhappy if it became that (again?). But in this like with education or business or churches I do have a mindset of not wanting to prioritize the people who aren't here (i.e.the one's'that could be recruited) over the people who (for whatever reason) are here. Sorry if that's a little scattered...I'm preoccupied for a couple days an will be distracted until next week...trying to keep an eye on these discussions thought.
  22. To Darren's point about what exactly we're voting on, I do think having some connection to "spirituality" remains valuable, even as we could define "spirituality" on fairly broad and inclusive terms, using language like a "recognition and celebration of transcendence, connection, meaning, and truth, usually (but not necessarily) in relation to a higher power or deity," or something along those lines (I do like the word "contemplation" too). What I've appreciated about the Arts and Faith Top 100 Films in the past are the genuine appreciation of arts and faith, even as both have wider connotations than merely an ostensibly "religious" film—Brakhage, Tati, Kiarostami, and the Dardennes were there next to Dreyer, Bresson, Rohmer, etc. They were films that expanded my understanding of both the distinctions of the cinematic medium and my understanding of God/humanity/time/existence/love/suffering/connection, etc.
  23. The March to May timeline works for me. As to grandfathering films on the previous lists in, I don't think it makes too much difference either way - if a film has fallen out of favor with those voting now, it will get low votes if it appears on the ballot via grandfathering, and if a film is still loved, it will certainly get nominated/seconded if we chose not to grandfather. I'm not sure doing a second ballot to rank 100 films is feasible or practical. It works with ten or twenty-five, but much more than that seems unwieldy. If we really want to rank the finalists, perhaps do it in tiers? We are called Arts & Faith, and while I don't think the films need to (or necessarily should) be explicitly religious, I think inclusion should be based on how each nominee addresses faith/spirituality however each voter defines that.
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