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Darren H

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Everything posted by Darren H

  1. No. Sorry to have implied that in my earlier post. Diop's short films are all quite unconventional--experimental, even. They're also very small productions. Financing is so hard to come by these days, and public funding organizations typically require completed scripts before lending their support, so there's a push for convention in the process itself. This is all speculation on my part, but I feel like there's a tension in Atlantics between the storytelling and Diop's interest in formal invention (a series of beautiful, washed-out shots of the ocean are the only parts of the film that look like her other work).
  2. Sorry to hear about Jessica's pneumonia. It just occurred to me that, aside from a cold one year and an occasional bout of anxiety/panic (usually brought on by exhaustion and the stress of interviews), I've never dealt with any health issues in all of my years of attending fests. On top of the pain of the sickness, that must've been incredibly frustrating! I saw 25 films/programs during my five days at the fest. Of the 16 TIFFs I've attended, this was the worst lineup yet. It's such a huge program, so I'm always hesitant to make generalizations based on 10% of what screened, but that seemed to be the general consensus among critics too. A few friends had already seen most of the top-line stuff at Berlin, Cannes, and Locarno, so their TIFF was especially bleak. I realized this year how much I crave a "wow" experience at a fest, because I didn't get one this time. Even the Wavelengths shorts program, which is usually the highlight of my film year, only included two or three pieces that really worked for me. I still need to catch up with a couple noteworthy TIFF films -- Synonyms, Parasite, Marriage Story, Uncut Gems, Portrait of a Lady on Fire -- and maybe one of those will give me that "wow" I'm chasing. Or maybe one of the films that didn't play TIFF -- Reichardt, Desplechin, the Dardennes -- will be my film of 2019. As it stands, I didn't give any feature at TIFF a rating higher than a 4. My favorites were I Was at Home, But (Schanelec), Liberte (Serra), The Traitor (Bellocchio), and, the most pleasant surprise to me, A Hidden Life. I thought I was done with Malick, but this one complicates my sense of his spiritual project. I mean, I was even disappointed by Pedro Costa! And Atlantics was a big disappointment too. I love Mati Diop's short films, but the feature just doesn't work. I feel like there might a good film in there somewhere but it was lost in the edit. Most scenes don't work. The shape of the entire film doesn't work. I'd be curious to hear the inside story of what kind of pressures she felt to make it a more conventional, Netflix-friendly film. I wonder, even, if the cut was rushed to meet the Cannes deadline. She spent a decade trying to get a feature made, so I hate that the result feels compromised in some way. The good news (at least for me, as a believer in her talent) is that she won some awards and got distribution from Netflix, so hopefully it'll be easier for her to finance the next project.
  3. Here's the latest draft of my schedule. I only get to watch films for five days, so I'm cramming in as many as possible. 9/5 - Endless Night (Enciso) or A Hidden Life (Malick) - Atlantics (Diop) - I Was at Home, But (Schanelec) - Zombie Child (Bonello) - Bacarau (Mendonca) 9/6 - INTERVIEW or Guest of Honor (Egoyan) or Short Cuts 1 (including Lanthimos) - Proxima (Winocour) - The Whistlers (Porumboiu) - Three Summers (Kogut) - Wavelengths 1 - Vitalina Varela (Costa) 9/7 - INTERVIEW or Cunningham (Kovgan) - The Traitor (Bellocchio) - Workforce (Zonana) - Seven Years in May (Uchôa) / My Skin, Luminous (Rodríguez, Pereda) - Wavelengths 2 - Krabi, 2562 (Suwichakornpong, Rivers) 9/8 - INTERVIEW or The Burnt Orange Heresy (Capotondi) - Martin Eden (Marcello) - Lina from Lima (González) or The Audition (Weisse) - INTERVIEW? - Liberte (Serra) - Wavelengths 3 9/9 - The Moneychanger (Veiroj) - Ema (Larraín) - State Funeral (Loznitsa) - Wavelengths 4 - Wet Season (Chen)
  4. With the Wavelengths and Masters lineups announced today, this is shaping up to be a really strong year. My only major disappointment is that it looks like Kelly Reichardt's new film will premiere at Telluride and then skip TIFF before screening at NYFF. I'd also heard rumors of a new Tsai Ming-liang feature that didn't make the lineup, apparently. I wonder if I'll be able to squeeze in 30 films in five days?
  5. I'll be there for a few days. I'm teaching my first Cinema Studies course at UT this fall, so my plan is to fly up on Wednesday, skip my Thursday class, and then fly back on Tuesday in time to teach that afternoon. I have to admit that the TIFF thrill is finally -- after 15 years! -- starting to fade for me a bit. I'll be able to watch films for five full days, including all of the Wavelengths shorts programs, pick up some interviews, see a bunch of friends, and eat a couple good meals. I'm usually ready to leave on Tuesday morning anyway, so this should work out well. With the short TIFF trip, I figure I can also justify going up to New York for more of Projections during NYFF. My course is on film criticism, so the department head is encouraging me to go to fests. My boss at my day job is also supportive. I'm really grateful for the opportunity.
  6. Falling Upward is a small book with one very useful central idea -- the order/disorder/reorder model that I mentioned in that other thread. It's the kind of book you might gift to someone and encourage them to read over a weekend. The Universal Christ is much more ambitious. It's a plainspoken but exhaustively researched and supported expression of Rohr's theology of "the Christ." (The joke-y pullquote is "Christ isn't Jesus's last name.") It really feels like the summation of a life's praxis. Forty pages in I worried that the book would only be a presentation of this one idea -- that "the Christ" was/is God entering our universe -- but he then provides historical context for this understanding and traces it through central ideas like the life and death of Jesus, sin and grace, religious practices other than Christianity, salvation, and the life/culture/politics of the church. I've scribbled notes on more than half of the pages in my copy -- it's one of those books. I'd be curious to hear what non-protestant friends think of it. I was raised in a culture that was ignorant of church history from, say, the 2nd century to Billy Graham, so I relish the sections where Rohr presents theological notions that sound almost blasphemous to my evangelical ears with Biblical passages (that I get to reread with fresh eyes) and historical traditions of theology about which I'm completely oblivious. The Liturgists podcast did a great two-part interview with Rohr about the book.
  7. I'd love to have an excuse to write at length about Denis's films in this context, but my fall is booked up with other projects. Good luck, Ken!
  8. Nice to see this thread resurface. For what it's worth, I've just about finished Richard Rohr's new book, The Universal Christ, which is exactly the book I needed to read. He mentioned in a recent interview that his publisher forced him through seven or eight edits, which apparently exhausted him, but the work shows. It's by far the best thing I've read by him -- it feels like the culmination of his life's work and thinking (he'll celebrate his 50th year as a priest in 2020). I'm grateful for this book if for no other reason than it presents a version of the Christ story that feels intuitively right to me, and it's given me a way to reclaim the vocabulary of Christian religion. Highly recommended.
  9. I wasn't expecting either of these! My trip to Toronto will probably be short this year, so I'm already hoping the scheduling gods will allow me to see them both.
  10. I was happy to see the new film announced today! I was worried that, after working so hard to get your accreditation, you'd find yourself at a Dardenne-less Cannes.
  11. Those are the films I've seen, in ranked order.
  12. The survey requires you to rank all of the films, so only people who have seen all of the films will be able to submit a ranked list. I'm actually okay with that. I love many films on this list but don't feel qualified to rank them because I've only seen half.
  13. Darren H

    HIgh Life (2018)

    My piece is up at The Notebook. Here's a very on-brand tease:
  14. Darren H

    HIgh Life (2018)

    > I'm hoping to read something insightful soon that will help me say, "Okay, I'm glad I sat through this." I think Nick Pinkerton is the best critic of late Denis. His cover feature for Film Comment is great. If all goes as planned, my long essay will be published this week, hopefully on Monday. Only the last fourth is specifically about High Life, but I felt like I was wearing my old A&F hat when I wrote it. I call the film a "theologocal/ontological puzzle box." It's Denis asking "Why live?"
  15. Granted, the world doesn't need another film podcast, but I'd love to listen to one about cinephilia and parenting.
  16. Based on his ubiquity on soundtracks, it seems likely Arvo Part will endure. Here are a few other pieces that I think are great. I've been lucky to see nearly all of them performed with the composers in attendance at Big Ears over the years. Whether they'll endure, I don't know. Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich If I could save the work of only one late-20th/early-21st century composer it would be Reich. Honestly, I'd save his music before everyone from the classical and romantic eras too, but I'm a horrible person. In C by Terry Riley The other masterpiece of pulse-driven minimalism. Anthracite Fields by Julia Wolfe Winner of 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Music. Coming Together by Frederic Rzewski Hearing Will Oldham perform this with Eighth Blackbird wrecked me. The Sinking of the Titanic by Gavin Bryars Also Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet. The Little Match Girl Passion by David Lang Or, just sample the music Lang, Wolfe, and Michael Gordon have written and performed as/with Bang on a Can. In the Light of Air by Anna Thorvaldsdottir Another tip: check out all of the composers International Contemporary Ensemble collaborates with. Gay Guerrilla by Julius Eastman Expecting the Main Things from You by Nico Muhly Muhly's latest opera, Marnie, premiered at the Met a few months ago.
  17. I haven't read Pollan's book, but I've enjoyed listening to him discuss it in several interviews. I'll be curious to hear if the rest of the book lives up to your early excitement, Christian. It does feel like we're living through a paradigm shift -- not just about the legalization and medical benefits of marijuana and psychedelics, but about the connections between mystical experiences, brain science, and spiritual development. I've been reading, listening, and thinking about it quite a bit lately. For what it's worth, I really enjoyed my experiences with psychedelics when I was younger. In fact, I swore them off in part because I enjoyed them so much (and also because I fell in love with Joanna, whose family was destroyed by addiction). I don't smoke pot now but only because weed isn't legal in Tennessee. I want to be completely honest with my kids -- and a good model -- when they're old enough to talk about this stuff.
  18. A scene from the drive home: Wren (6): Daddy, could you tell that I was trying really hard to not cry at the end? Rory (8): Me too. Darren (46): Me too. I think it was Fishlegs hugging Meatlug goodbye that finally got me. We saw it last Friday night and then spent a rainy weekend stuck in the house, so we rewatched the first two. You know, it really holds up as a trilogy. Keith Phipps wrote a nice piece about how each of the films is built around transition points in Hiccup's life.
  19. > Darn it, I actually shed a couple tears near the end, My daughters and I are looking forward to shedding a couple ourselves this weekend! Their anticipation for this movie rivals mine at their age, when I was waiting for The Empire Strikes Back.
  20. It's good to hear from you, Jeff. I can't remember if I told you this at the time of Anne's crisis, but I once woke up to find Joanna on the floor, struggling for the first time in her life to get her heart back in rhythm during a tachycardia attack. I sped her to the emergency room, and a few weeks later we were in Michigan for heart surgery. On top of everything else we'd been through, I think it was that late-night experience that triggered my years of anxiety attacks. I'm so sorry you and Anne suffered through those times. What you're describing rings so familiar to what I went through in 2004-2008. (The re-election of Bush after the catastrophe of the Iraq War is, to me, even more unforgivable than Trump.) That struggle you feel to sit still and concentrate? That constant craving for the adrenaline rush of political news and outrage? It wasn't until 2011 that I finally got treatment from a therapist, who told me, "Darren, this is a form of PTSD, and there are ways to address some of its effects." Of course, as you probably know, I'm still addicted to moral outrage, although I feel like I've made some progress recently in weening myself from it. For what it's worth, I've been fascinated lately by a couple statistics: 28% of Americans think shutting down the government was worth it in order to build the wall, 28% say they will definitely vote to re-elect Trump, and 29% think he should not be impeached even if he's proven to have obstructed justice. So, just under a third of Americans really want Trump, and nothing I say to them -- including pointing out their hypocrisies -- will make the slightest difference. I chased that political tangent for a minute because, for me at least, it's one of the core issues in this thread. I spent the first 32 years of my life developing a concept of god/truth within a culture that I now realize -- and have hard evidence to prove -- is the wellspring of American white nationalism. That realization in itself is f'ing traumatizing!
  21. That last part was/is the rub for me. I don't know if what I'm about to describe is a hallmark of many churches or only of the ones I've attended, but I was raised to believe that something transcendent happens when two believers study the Bible together or pray together. I wouldn't have been able to articulate it like this at the time, but I really believed that the only authentic communion we can experience is born somehow in the workings of the holy spirit. That was why I attended small group Bible studies for decades. We were supposed to read the same chapters, talk about them, pray together, and then, inevitably, magically, we would be blessed with true relationships. What a comforting thought! Once that was proven to not be the case, I felt strangely unburdened.
  22. In Rotterdam last week, I saw Romina Paula's debut film, Again Once Again, and it's such a perfect fit for this list that I mentioned Richard Rohr during our interview!
  23. Joel, I mentioned your situation to my friend Danny Kasman, the editor of Mubi's Notebook. He's conducted dozens of interviews at Cannes over the past decade. He suggested not even attempting to set up an interview there. Instead, he thinks you should reach out to them via their production office. Send an actual letter, introducing yourself, describing your project, and requesting an interview at their convenience. It's someone's job there to read mail and field those kinds of requests, and that person will have a sense of their production and travel schedule. Maybe you can find some research funds for a trip to Liège?
  24. I’m in an airport, tapping on my phone, so I can’t respond at length to the last few post right now, but I will this weekend. John, I don’t know if you remember this, but we touched on this subject when we had dinner in Knoxville years ago. I asked you why you remained active in your church, and I still quote your first response: “a lot of people there love my kids.”
  25. How fun! I'm jealous. Not to be a downer, but I suspect you'll need press accreditation in order to get an interview. I haven't been to Cannes, but I know from a lot of friends' experiences that wrangling interviews there is a challenge, especially with someone of the Dardennes' profile. At world premieres, sales agents are trying to get their films into major media in as many global markets as possible, so there's a brutal pecking order for press. At Cannes it's a caste system, with different badges for different critics. As an example, I've been trying to get another interview with Claire Denis for almost a year. If all goes as planned, she and I hope to chat a bit next week in Rotterdam, but the sales/publicity team aren't giving me an interview because they're focused right now on getting High Life into more markets. As far as they're concerned, they don't have to worry about the US until April, when it's officially released. (I've been promised some time with her then, but we'll see.) Best case scenario for you, Joel, would probably be 15-20 minutes, and with their interpreter involved, that means asking two or three questions. Let me know if it comes together, because I've been in those situations before and have found some strategies for making the most if it.
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