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About kenmorefield

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  • Interests
    Disc Golf, Cards (especially Euchre), Literary Criticism,

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    Professor of English
  • About my avatar
    1More Film Blog
  • Favorite movies
    The Godfather, Persepolis, The Man Who Planted Trees, Emma, A Man Escaped
  • Favorite music
    I dunno. My Ipod did once randomize a Meatloaf song and an Amy Grant song back to back.
  • Favorite creative writing
    * George MacDonald * Lord of the Rings (but not the dreadful movies) * Riddley Walker * Wicked * Dune * Emma (anything Austen, really) * The Remains of the Day * Nero Wolfe * Billy Budd Tom Jones (but not the dreadful movie). D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
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  1. I thought this one better than anticipated. It does not soft pedal the religious angle while also not overplaying it, a hard thing in this day and age. I did think the script was clunky and sporadic in spots, more like individual episodes strung together than a cohesive whole. I thought the film was largely successful in demonstrating how slavery as a system was bad for whites and condoned/promoted some of the behavior more often attributed to individual evil. That is, it did better than most at showing slavery as a systemic and structural evil rather than just the manifestation of individual(s) evil...and that's the brass ring right there. I am categorically not saying that it makes a moral equivalence between the victimization or pressures the system put on whites and those it put on slaves. It doesn't. But it does show through economic pressures, community pressures within white culture, and government support of fugitive-slave-law the internal logic of many such actions as being necessitated by the system. Once you accept the system of slavery, things like the Fugitive Slave Law are logical conclusions. I do wish the film had interrogated the religious assumptions of Harriet more, particularly as to the question of whether or not others recognized her as being called and led by God or whether, when she spoke that way, they were just "that's Harriet being Harriet."
  2. Yes, it is no problem publishing the list here. I may, depending on the the make up of the jury and the timing of the list, run it by Image and/or CT, though I doubt either would want to run it. But it doesn't hurt to ask.
  3. Kalee-- Welcome. I have deleted the link to your "blog" which was actually an ad for a paid essay writing service. While the line between self-promotion and advertisement is murky on this site, links are usually reserved for content that adds to or prompts discussion, not for services or products for sale. Ken
  4. This year's Palme d"Or winner has popped up on a few of our festival threads but doesn't yet have its own thread. This really isn't my aesthetic, so I wasn't surprised that I was less thrilled by it than some of the ecstatic buzz its been getting, but I was surprised by how little enthusiasm I could muster at all. Both Cindy and I reference Shoplifters in the car on the way home, and the bulk of our conversation was about why we liked Parasite less than other similarly themed movies. I also reference Jojo Rabbit just as an aside because I am not totally against mixes of serious ideas and over-the-top comedy or violence. But whereas in Waititi's film I felt the comedy was subordinate to the more serious themes and thus used to accentuate them, here I just felt dissonance. It didn't help that about half way through, I was like, "Okay,...I get the message," and the escalations didn't seem to me to enhance, interrogate, or complicate the message so much as just hammer it home. Cindy called it a "train wreck" film, not to slight the productions but to identify the subject matter/genre, and I totally agreed. I suppose there are other films that lead up to people going off a cliff (metaphorically) that are interesting or meaningful to me, but the thing is, once they do, the fall to earth is the least interesting part of such story arcs....and it just goes on and on. I didn't really care about any of these people. My friend Gareth said he thought it was the movie Joker was trying to be, and I guess I can see that. In a weird sort of way, the film it reminded me of was Roma ... another critically lauded auteurist masterpiece about intersections of rich and poor that made me long for Rooney Mara's character to wander in from The Social Network and start telling random characters that sometimes the reasons people don't like you is that your being an a--hole. Anyhow, as Russ used to say, if there is consensus greatness, it's the critic's job to at least *try* to find it. So I promise not to snipe at the first three people who tell me I'm wrong.
  5. Bumping this thread to see if Joel had any sense of a timeline in mind or whether you had changed your mind about coordinating. (I know schedules can be unexpected during late stages of postgraduate study.)
  6. I am on hold for 20 minutes as I type trying to cancel AMC A-List. I really despise products that let you sign up online but deliberately make it difficult for you to cancel/discontinue. The AMC site offers no discontinue option, instead mandating that you call in or use a chat function that requires you to select from an option of why you are contacting them but does not list "cancel my account" as one of the options.
  7. I mentioned on Letterboxd that I spent part of this screening just trying to imagine that no other Terminator films existed -- that this was a stand alone. That didn't make it any better. In some ways I was reminded of whichever Star Wars was essentially the same plot as the first one, and how it left me with a similar, listless, "why bother?" kind of feeling. The Newting of John also illustrates how little the film cares about itself as part of a series even as it sells itself almost exclusively based on nostalgia for the earlier movies. I mean, there was more pathos in the character relationships in fracking Deadpool 2.
  8. I appreciated some of the visuals, though my recent visit to Northern Ireland made me wonder where they were. The description of Finn McCool and the coast semed farther north, but they mention Wicklow at one point which is south of Dublin. Anyhow, I like how this phone call before he goes to the beach juxtaposes the tower in the background as a symbol. The work of the church is unfinished, and he, as Christ's body "finishes" the work. Or, does it mean the work of the church is ancient but decaying, no longer standing up to the cares and problems of the modern world?
  9. So our class discussion was informed by their having to have just completed an "ideology" paper in which they situate a film left-center-right using Giannetti's descriptors. This scene got a lot of comments, not surprisingly, since the the whole "thou shalt not kill" and "no exceptions" gets the reply "what about self-defense?" In other words, the exchange is about absolutes. Father James is mostly an absolutist but he concedes there are some instances (such as self-defense) that are "tricky." He then apparently goes on to make an exception for Milo, suggesting he move someplace he is more likely to find a loose woman. The question that I think the film invites is whether that exception is because he sees sex outside of marriage as being less important (venial/mortal) than some potential violence, or whether he is making the exception for others but not himself. (For Milo and the abused parishioner, I'll take context into consideration, but for myself and my duties, there are no exceptions.) I almost don't think this is entirely fair. Hear me out. I am with Jeff here, at least as to interpretation of the movie's point, not necessarily if it is correct in where it lands. What I think missing from Steven's article/analysis/defense is the fact that this exchange takes place in a movie that is centrally about and informed by the clergy-sex-abuse scandals. Within that thematic context, Father James's advice/question to Milo sounds a lot like what the church has been condemned for -- passing the buck, trying to send the perpetrator away. (When the inspector comments about arresting a pedophile priest and getting demoted, Father James asks what happened to the priest and the inspector says he was sent away to the third world where he could do whatever he wanted.) There is a difference in that the priest(s) have already sinned whereas Milo is stating his intention, but even buying into Steven's argument, if Milo did harm to someone in London, or Dublin, or New York (whether that harm be spiritual harm of "moral sin" or violent harm of sexual crime), wouldn't those victims feel as though Father James had acted much like the church in pushing the problem away rather than confronting it? Non-related aside--I had forgotten the story of Finn McCool was included here. There is a lot of meaning for me in Father James's comment to Fiona (when she spouts the story back to him) of "not much poetry in that reading." There are two themes that are reinforced here and throughout: 1) Meaning of stories change depending on how you tell them. 2) Father James gets irritated when people reflect back to him the things he has said or that they have heard said already. (Doctor's joke about suicide, Fiona's recitation of his story. Quip to bishop about thinking he read that "in a book"; Fiona's list of "suicides" including Christ, original voice in the confession adding "as they say in the reports", etc. etc.) I think it is telling and touching that when speaking to the French woman after he performs that last rites, he asks her to pray with him rather than asking her if she would like him to pray for her or with her.
  10. I taught it long ago when I did Victorian Lit class at the Bible college. I was indifferent but have always had a soft spot because one of my best students liked it so much he eventually did his master's thesis on it (which he sent me). I remember a lot of the discussion focusing on the how much and how conscience where the expressions of de-evolution and xenophobia (they're coming to pollute the bloodstream and take our women!). I also remember thinking Harker a bit of a wimp and wondering if that was intentional. Here'a nice photo of first edition from my trip to Ireland last summer!
  11. So, buy a website you get a forced education in all sorts of things you didn't know existed. I've recently had to do a crash course in Search Engine Optimization because of periodic requests I get to put sponsored content on A&F (or, for that matter, my blog). According to one site, A&F has a domain authority of 43 (https://www.seoweather.com/domain-authority-checker/) According to another site, the average fee for a sponsored post with a dofollow link at a site with a Domain Authority of 43 is 300-350 pounds (https://www.lifeasabutterfly.com/charge-for-a-do-follow-link/). Price quotes vary wildly, because (if I understand correctly) some sites will charge by the month so that the content will eventually go away. Others charge a one-time fee because the content is permanent. I don't accept such posts at my blog because the majority of them don't want to be labelled as ads and labeling is part of my blog disclosure policy. I'm not sure how I feel about accepting them at A&F since the line between promotion and content has always been blurred (i.e. there are many, many posts at A&F that essentially serve the function of directing readers elsewhere for content). A difference is, of course, that those endorsements are coming from the community members who have established ethos. Plus, while such sponsored posts would be annoying, I might find them less annoying than other ways of generating revenue, especially if doing 3-5 a year could underwrite the entire site. I would be interested in user feedback about attitudes towards "sponsored" content with dofollow links, ranging from: --Okay with it. --Find them annoying but acceptable. --Find them annoying but less onerous than other ways of paying for content. (I.e. I would rather donate to the site so I don't have to see them vs. I'd rather see a few ads so that I don't have to harangued with pledge drives and donation requests). --What is/should be limits to number of these? (I feel like there is probably a huge spectrum between, say 3-5 a year and 3-5 a week). --Okay with it as long as ________________ (they are limited in number, don't link back to certain sites [porn obvious would be out, but would there be other sites that should not be accepting advertising from], identified as paid/sponsored content). --Not okay with them (i.e. would be less likely to frequent or contribute to the site if such content were accepted).
  12. NBooth, I think you say this on Facebook, but my memories reminded me that I posted it last year and thought you would get a kick out of it: Moby-Dick notes from graduate school:
  13. My students (whom I admire) actually made an interesting connection. We were talking about the mise-en-scene of being closed in (restricted) and one student raised the idea that one of the ways in which he is restricted or confined is through his vows, which another student pointed out include poverty and chastity, and how the other priests don't necessarily live in poverty. That in turn led to an interesting discussion about what is the point of vows of poverty or chastity. I am sure there are many from a Roman Catholic perspective. But one way I think about it is that they are supposed to keep you from be so enmeshed with the world that you are unable to perform the priestly duties (like giving solace). That is -- in the film's language -- they are supposed to help you become (or stay) detached. Yet the father learns to question detachment. People can't likely be solaced if you don't think you care, and detachment is (can come across as? or genuinely is) a form of not caring. [We didn't yet make that connection, but I think it is in line with the film's line about thinking only about sins and not enough about virtues.]
  14. I'm teaching this film as part of my World Lit/Film (with cultural anthropology approach). I confess it continues to grow on me with closer scrutiny, so that's something. Two thoughts on rewatchign the first 20 minutes in preparation for class today, one rote, one a bit more thought provoking.... 1) I think it is interesting and important that the first scene (in the confessional) segues to the credits over Irish landscapes, reinforcing the idea that this isn't merely the story of a priest who happens to be in Ireland but of an Irish priest. That this is a story situated in a specific point and time. (The references to colonial history in first conversation with Black parishioner and of cultural changes in first conversation with other priest who asks him if he knows what felchigng is) also reinforce that this is is a film about cultural changes and responses. That is to say, I'm reading it more today as a novel (set in a particular place and time) rather than a parable (embodying a timeless idea with the particulars of setting being largely irrelevant). The two are not mutually exclusive, of course, but I do think one predominates. 2) I was struck by the fact that in talking to the other priest, he uses the word "detach" in speaking about how to deal with parishioners and cultural change. I can't help but think this is deliberate since it is the very word/idea that prompts the final action in the climactic scene. That makes me think that if there is a key truth/idea here is might involve a commentary about detachment as opposed to being an advocacy piece for certain kinds of engagement.
  15. I ended up doing this film in my World Literature class (which has a lit & film emphasis) because I wanted to break up some of the heavier stuff. It teaches well (though, not surprising for those who know my tastes, is easier to talk about in terms of story and them than filmcraft). I like that it gives a sympathetic glimpse of social/cultural shifts in Sweden without stacking the deck ideologically speaking. All three of the girls have positive and negative traits and to the extent they symbolize different responses to how Sweden was/was not changing (social organization of family, attitude towards religion, attitude towards women), I think the film is more careful than most to show that those changes can be positive or negative or both. Anyhow, it's a modest little film but enjoyable and well done. I recommend it as a companion/comparison piece to something like School of Rock or High Fidelity (for the music angle) or Persepolis (for the female bindungsroman as foreground with cultural shifts in background).
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