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Everything posted by kenmorefield

  1. Hello. First, welcome to the Arts & Faith forum. Not a requirement, but you are welcome to post in the Introductions thread of the About You forum. Some members prefer to lurk for awhile or retain anonymity, but most people who stick around for awhile will usually give an idea of where they are coming form. Anyway, though... Is art supposed to be subjective? I would say that art is subjective but art criticism or art interpretation should be grounded in some sort of formal or objective observation of the artifact...in something other than the viewer's (or reader's for literature) response. I am a reader-response critic at heart, but I don't believe that means the reader creates meaning ex nihilo, he (or she) is limited by the limits of the text. (See e.g. Wayne Booth's "Pluralism and It's Rivals" in which he argues that there are multiple possible interpretations of most art works but that plausible interpretations aren't infinite.) When I was in school (HS 81-84, undergrad 84-88), New Criticism was still the standard and it was common for me to be given Wimsatt & Beardsley's "The Intentional Fallacy" as a guiding principle. A work is autonomous and its meaning is not the same as what the author intended. Got it. It was less common for me to be given their companion piece, "The Affective Fallacy." The meaning of a work is something other than how it makes you feel or how it affects you. I think at its core, reader-response wants (or wanted) to be democratic, feeling too often that opinions *of those in authority* were treated as facts that did not have to be justified and arguing that the "mob" gets a say too. But as with politics, the mob can become its own justification and feel itself above having to justify its response with formal analysis. More recently in film someone like Matt Seitz (Rogerebert.com) lamented the paucity of *any* formal analysis in film criticism. I agree. Not because personal responses are uninteresting or wrong, but because what makes them interesting is the writer's ability to be reflective about that response and to attempt to understand and communicate how the artifact elicited it.
  2. Copied from Letterbox'd: Hustlers is currently 88% at Rotten Tomatoes, giving more evidence, if needed, that I am hopelessly out of touch with critical consensus. It's not that this is a bad movie (morally or artistically), but it is a dully predictable one, lacking the character development of Molly's Game or the guts to be judgmental of The Wolf of Wall Street (a movie that similarly underwhelmed me). JLo is fine, but neither Constance nor Destiny is particularly interesting, so there is no payoff emotionally in the deteriorating of their relationship or the choices they make about it. I think, remembering Siskel's famous maxim that a movie needs to be more interesting than a documentary about the people who made it eating lunch, that this sort of movie is more interesting to write about (or to read women's writing about) than it is to actually watch. Despite short scenes and heavy lean on montage elision to hit only the highlights, it draaaaags, reminding me that so much of the pleasure of Molly's Game was in Sorkin's writing. Scafaria also wrote Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I despised, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, which I liked much more than most. Looking back over my review of Seeking a Friend, I see part of what I appreciated about it was that it took time to build on its premise and that its characters were self-aware enough to reflect on their situation rather than simply lament it. Hustlers, by contrast, ends with a coda that is as inevitable as it is predictable, one that reduces what we've just seen to a metaphor rather than a symbol. I did like a scene where Destiny listens on the phone to one of her victims. It is in this scene that the film looks down the path of really examining the hustlers' actions and motivations before deciding, screw it, that's just too hard, let's just make that a conflict for this scene and not the whole movie. P.S. Lili Reinhart, so good in Miss Stevens, is wasted here. I see from looking up her filmography that according to RT, Miss Stevens made a whopping four thousand, four hundred dollars at the box office, which is probably less than Reinhart made for each minute her character was on the screen in Hustlers. If it is, at least some good came from this movie.
  3. kenmorefield

    Indigo Girls

    No thread for Amy and Emily? I guess that surprises me a little. Anyhow, Cindy and I caught their latest concert in Durham last night. I'll leave for more honed music critics to discuss the music. I was struck, not for the first time, by the palpable, powerful positive energy in the center. I would hardly be the first to comment about how the modern rock concert has easily supplanted church (or the evangelical "crusade") as the mass meet-up for a "spiritual" experience. (Nick Hornby includes the sports arena in that equation, and I don't think he's wrong.) The things that are supposed to happen in church but rarely do seem to happen a bit more frequently. People come together with shared purpose and shared experiences to....well, commune. Commune with "what," is a valid question. The answer would take longer than I have at the moment to explore deeply. I just know that when they sang Galileo as part of the encore that the audience cosigned more so than I've ever heard a congregation cosign a hymn. People seemed to come not just to be entertained but because the music expressed something in and about them that wasn't finding expression in other venues. (Emily spoke about this tangentially before introducing a new song for a forthcoming album about growing up gay listening to country radio.) I don't quite have the same emotional pull to the music. For me the IG is a "like" not necessarily "love" relationship. I understand the sentiments of "Closer to Fine" : There's more than one answer to these questions Pointing me in a crooked line And the less I seek my source for some definitive The closer I am to fine, yeah The closer I am to fine, yeah I suppose I've felt something akin to that, though on an emotional level I always *feel* it more authentically when, say, Billy Joel sings "Shades of Grey" Some things were perfectly clear, seen with the vision of youth No doubts and nothing to fear, I claimed the corner on truth These days it's harder to say I know what I'm fighting for My faith is falling away I'm not that sure anymore Shades of grey wherever I go The more I find out the less that I know Black and white is how it should be But shades of grey are the colors I see I suppose on one level, the IG attention to Galileo makes "Closer to Fine" feel more like a repudiation of orthodoxy rather than an embrace of doubt (which is itself a step removed from a reverence for mystery.) There's a difference between saying, "I'm not sure of the truth," and "the truth in unknowable," and "the truth is just a construct created by the church as a social control mechanism." That said, listening to Emily sing about being gay and listening to country radio, a song that felt on-the-nose to me, I couldn't help but observe how many people recognized and felt deeply the emotions she was talking about. They were a deep longing for love and acceptance and a desire to reconcile one's own self to what had been a source of comfort -- spirituality, religion, God. I felt like I understood that *some* bitterness of gays towards Christians wasn't as much about personal rejection (you don't like/approve of me, so I dislike you back) so much as a fierce sense of loss and withholding (you are trying to keep from me something that I need to be whole). There's definitely a sense of envy in the song...I wish I could be like everyone else. But I'm not. Aside from the whole island of misfit toys vibe, there is often something else at such concerts that I too often find missing from church, or really any Christian communion: joy. The joy of musicians playing together, taking pleasure in one another's talents, spurring one-another to do better and go higher. Joy in finally releasing or giving expression to something that has been held in or held in check. Emily mentioned being thankful because the IG had played Durham "not that long ago" and yet "you came back." So it's not just joy in the audience, it was the joy of performing and of being welcome, being wanted. That's a powerful lure, whether you are famous or just a person. Anyhow, it was a delightful show, and I was surprised to find going home that the IG had done a cover of "Romeo & Juliet" from Dire Straits on their fourth album, so I think I need to order that.
  4. Come to think of it, wasn't The Golden Lion another Batman villain in the 60s?
  5. I don't know how the "Way Back" machine works, but in the past when I wanted to access an a Sopranos article I wrote for MHP, Peter found it via that site's archive of past Internet pages.
  6. kenmorefield

    808 (2015)

    I saw this movie four years ago at SXSW and it has kind of grown on me. I did find the last half hour a bit dragging, though I wonder if that is because it corresponds to the time I went to graduate school and stopped being abreast of popular music. Even so, the first hour is crackerjack, and I love the very last scene as well. (The notion of one man having such a profound influence on music and the idea of the accidental reason for the 808's distinctive sound are both examples of small things that have profound ripples.) Mostly though, as someone unfamiliar with music beyond what I like, it was fascinating to see and *hear* the connections between Phil Collins and Marvin Gaye or Usher and the Shannon. I don't think I'll ever be a Hip-hop fan, but this documentary certainly helped me understand and appreciate music, even music that is not my favorite, better.
  7. I admired the film (my favorite Linklater is Me and Orson Welles), though probably a little less than Andrew or Doug. I sorta understand how it divided critics even though I feel they were too stingy towards it. When it hits, which is not infrequently, it is phenomenally good. But every time it skirts with greatness it fumbles a bit. **spoilers I guess** The Good: --Billy Crudup is phenomenal. --The portrayal of father-daughter is, in many ways, more interesting than the mother-daughter relationship that is supposed to be at the center of the family. What impressed me most about this part of the film is that the daughter didn't see all (or even much) of the good that the father did, and he didn't feel the need to tell her all the time. Yes, she had an idealized view of her mother that both bracketed her behavior (and their relationship) but he was somewhat heroic (imo) in the way he owned his mistakes while also being the one who was there when mom disappeared. --I'm not a health-care professional, but the depiction of depression seemed to me to be one of the more honest ones I've seen. The film avoids putting a label on Bernadette, and it is the better for it. (It comes close in her long lunch with Laurence Fishburne and particularly in his reply, but I don't think the film totally supports the idea that his layman's diagnosis is the whole truth even if it is an important part of it.) --The resolution, which I've heard some refer to as a too forced or unearned happy ending actually struck me as much more beautiful for it not being overly simplified. The final coda that love is a choice seemed to me both honor Bernadette and her unique struggles and her husband and the work he has to do. The Less Good: --The mix of comedy with the drama didn't work for me. I appreciated the Kristen Wiig scene in the moment, but I would have been much happier with it elided and just the scene with her and the daughter walking the dog, leaving us to imagine what the living room scene renders too literally. --I hated the opening scene leading to a flashback. I went in spoiler free (not even a trailer) and one of the real pleasures of such films is not really knowing where they are going and that they take their sweet time revealing what they are actually about. The opening added nothing that I can see to the structure and dissipated much of the tension and all of the stakes of the second act. --There is some definite pacing problems in the third act. Stuff like the father-daughter stealing a Zodiac boat and running through some high security area and nobody having a phone or APB when she is presumed missing struck me as needless plotholes that were trying to create tension that wasn't really central to the film's meaning. --While I realize this is somewhat in conflict with "the good," the daughter's speech about how she *knows* mom couldn't have committed suicide struck me as, while perhaps defensible, not something the film really established and, at best, denying her (the daughter) a maturing view of her parents. Given that the film had a happy ending, I worry that such a scene implies to kids that if their depressed parents **do** commit suicide, they could have prevented it if they had had a special enough relationship. Again, this is a a tough call, because the film is coy about whether or to what extent Bernadette is mentally ill...and if so, how severely. I appreciated the attempts to explore the connections between creativity and depression and anxiety, but I worry that the film endorses (though the psychiatrist's intervention) an either-or dichotomy about the roots of Bernadette's behavior. I'm not saying people don't ever alter behaviors without therapy or medication, but the severity of her symptoms causing her distress make it a little hard for me to simply co-sign the implicit, "Hey, sometimes you just need to get away and recharge your batteries." I get that we in our society may over-diagnose and over-medicate...I'm reminded of Love & Mercy and how Brian needed to get away from some of that. But the movie also underscored that Brian was, for all that, sick, and not just a victim of a cruel, dishonest, health-care physician.
  8. Looking forward to your report on the new Koreeda. Say hello to Jessica for me!
  9. This documentary is getting a one-night run on 9/11 through Fathom Events. I admit to being a bit miffed at the back end, which turns into a commercial for the Broadway musical, but the story itself is so great, it kinda carries the day. https://1morefilmblog.com/2019/08/24/you-are-here-a-come-from-away-story-mossanen-2018/
  10. Hi Scott, Thanks for sharing. For some reason this article reminded me of one that was circulating a couple of years ago about House, M.D. and talking about how the myth of the "exceptional" individual is that some sort of singular talent was justification for being an a--. I don't have much invested in the Holmes canon, but it feels to me like previous iterations of Holmes leaned heavily into this portrayal -- insisting that Holmes was singular, exceptional, and that this justified all. (The myth of the tortured genius is an old one, and I suppose one feature is the insistence that the torture is mainly from isolation -- not being understood -- being alone. I think the article, if I remember said these sort of gloss over the damage and pain caused by the exceptional individuals. Sort of epitomized by Libby's speech to Jack Staunton in Primary Colors: 'What kind of s---t is that? Oh, yeah, I forgot, it's the same old s---t that nobody ever calls you on because you're so f---king special!" I'm not as big an Elementary fan as my spouse, but I do appreciate the way this iteration (and Miller's performance especially) explores the tension in Sherlock's awareness that he *is* special in some important ways and yet that special-ness doesn't exempt him from universal laws or principles.
  11. Copied from Letterbox'd: Cindy called this "clunky in spots" but sweet, and I agree. It's a bit on-the-nose, and some of the stylistic choices (such as words on the screen) did not work for me. It was formulaic. But the formula was well executed. It's always nice to see the supporting characters (even the dad) have *some* nuance. (The scene where he hocks his wife's jewelry, for example, is well done, and the choices, from the close up on his hand reaching out to take the money to the playing of Pakistani music over it, work well.) One nagging reservation is that I kept wondering why this whole genre (musical bildungrsoman) is framed as a quintessentially *male* experience. I thought about Toni Morrison: Pieces I Am, and how there are spaces for how literature (or film) has inspired or become spiritually meaningful to women, but there just feels like there is a hard to articulate difference between say, this or Yesterday, and Mamma Mia or Ricki and the Flash, where the music just becomes the generic soundtrack for a conventional melodrama rather than being about the female's relationship to the art. This is a biographical piece, and Patel is a guy, so I offer that not so much as a criticism of the movie as a nagging thought about the genre that mediates my enjoyment of individual entries in it.
  12. I haven't seen the film, so I guess I should avoid this sort of clickbait engagement, but...she gets "high" and "sings about pooping"? Really? https://letterboxd.com/kurstboy/film/dora-and-the-lost-city-of-gold/
  13. Burgle Bros 2 is now being funded on Kickstarter:
  14. I've done this before, though not with MD. If you want to discuss, feel free to send me a PM or e-mail.
  15. I am certainly okay with that, as Joel had a nice balance of inclusion of A&Fers and welcoming people not regulars here. As far as publication, I''m pretty much open to whomever someone acting as coordinator wants to work with. My preference is that any outside publisher would have an understanding (as I did with CT or Image) that they get exclusive rights to publish the list/results for 30-90 days, after which we are free to republish on the site (usually with a link back or rider saying "this article originally appeared at blah, blah, blah, reprinted with permission.")
  16. kenmorefield

    Cats: The Movie

    And yet...she appeared to know all the lyrics to "Hakuna Matata" by heart.
  17. No, the Bruce Lee depiction was not the worst thing in the movie, but it did bother me: https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/13/entertainment/quentin-tarantino-bruce-lee-trnd/index.html This is not as asinine as saying Batman could win a fight with Superman, but it's in the same bloody ballpark of asininity.
  18. kenmorefield

    Cats: The Movie

    I think I shared this on Twitter and Facebook, but this trailer played before The Lion King and the two women sitting next to me had the following exchange: Woman 1: It's Cats! Woman 2: It's not Cats... Woman 1: No, the *musical* Cats.... Woman 2: Cats is *not* a musical!
  19. Joel and Peter mentioned in another thread that it may be worth opening this topic a little earlier than in year's past. (It's been my experience in the last two years that *awards* season has been pushed up. My feeling is that the A&F Ecumenical Jury is worth continuing, but since we don't have a partnership with Image any longer, I get that people may want to focus their efforts elsewhere. I am happy to participate but I am not sure I want to coordinate. If anyone wants to take point on this, you are welcome to do so with my blessing.
  20. kenmorefield

    Them That Follow

    Done. Are you not able to do that? I thought moderators could.
  21. That makes sense. I think he posted something on Facebook a while back that he was not a "fan" of Tarantino (which can cover a broad spectrum), but found this film brilliant, or well-executed, in ways he himself did not yet fully understand. (I disagree with Steven about the value of the film, but his post on FB was sort of a textbook example of *starting* with your reader/viewer response and using it to examine the film--how it creates that effect as opposed to so much of what passes for film or literary criticism these days, which is just making your visceral reader/viewer response the end all of your take.)
  22. Hi Jeff, Do you not interact with Steven any longer? I have no issues with this post, just wondering why you didn't ask him about it?
  23. I think that would ultimately be up to the point-person. I would be happy to offer suggestions or input but don't necessarily want to dictate. I guess my assumption was that it would be early in the year since that is slow season, movie wise, particularly after Oscars. Also, worth considering how long we want to keep nominations open. Perhaps that is or should be part of the discussion. I heard at least one participant say that perhaps the 2019 Top 25 dragged on a bit; I didn't necessarily feel that, but there is a different energy from maybe ten years ago when there was fresh content a couple times a day to here where we have more leisurely conversations. I haven't been involved in the Top 100 since one of the real early ones...like 2006 maybe? So anyone taking point may need to do some listening and then some decision making about things like dates, rules (limit number of films by one director? count trilogies? reinstate the Dekalog Exemption? made-for-television movies now that Netflix is a playa? what requirements, if any, for voting? do we need to revisit the weighted voting? iMy management philosophy, such as it is, is to try to allow the people doing the work as much leeway to make the decisions. I am certainly interested, though I tend to not think much about End-of-year stuff until post-TIFF, which is when I think awards season really gets going. Still, if the EJ involves drumming up jurors, a little too early is better than a little too late. I can post a forum for it it shortly.
  24. Greetings all. In the discussion leading up to this year's Top 25, there was some indication about doing a Top 100 in 2020. That conversation has extended offline when I discussed book project(s) with possible contributors. Although it is some months off before 2020, one thing I learned in the 2019 Top 25 is that the smaller number of current A&F participants means such projects need a slightly longer lead time. Part of that is the principle of inertia -- people aren't in the habit of checking in at A&F as frequently. Part is the difference between "interest" and actual intention. It is harder for people to carve out time in their schedules for projects that pop up and need proximate attention. Consequently, I went ahead and set up this forum and began this thread in order to: Announce the intention to do a Top 100 list in 2020. Solicit volunteer(s) to handle the logistics. Settle on dates and mechanics so that those on the fence would have a clear idea of how and when we would proceed. I have had 1-2 people tell me privately that they would be willing to take on an administrative role for a Top 100 list. I'm happy to just assign that, but I want to be conscious of giving anyone who wants to take a more active role a chance to speak up rather than just reflexively going to my friends or those I'm most comfortable with. So, what is this thread for? I'm glad you asked. I'd like to take a week or so and have a thread where anyone interested in doing a 2020 Top 100 posts any questions or concerns they might have and anyone can post his/her willingness to take on one or more administrative roles. It's my hope that the division of labor can be done by consensus, but I'm willing to make *some* decisions if needed. I just don't want a Top 100 to be "Ken's" project. I don't think it will be, but I'm worried that absent *someone* who is the final decision maker for logistical questions, thinkg will stall and dissipate because everyone is waiting for *someone* to make a decision but nobody feels empowered to do so.
  25. Watching this was a listless, joyless, slog that reminded me, among other things, how much I didn't care for the underlying material in the first place.
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