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Darren H

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Everything posted by Darren H

  1. Some of us have been chatting on this and other forums for nearly 20 years, and I know that our spiritual lives (for lack of a better catch-all) have taken varied and unexpected paths. I'm curious to know how you describe yourself now and how the "faith" in Arts&Faith shapes your daily lives these days? I grew up in a conservative evangelical world and was an active participant in it until 2004, when my wife and I left the church. I'd been feeling increasingly alienated from the religious practice of my youth for several years before then, but our decision was precipitated in some ways by a traumatic event we suffered. It's a long, complicated story that I'm happy to dig through if this thread evolves into that kind of conversation. With no offense to others still in that world, I feel grateful now to have escaped that particular evangelical culture. But I've experienced the loss as a kind of mourning. Faith, theology, the big questions of what it means to be human -- and to be a good human -- have remained a constant preoccupation of mine. I mentioned in the discussion of our next Top 25 list that I'd been reading Richard Rohr lately. I suppose I started this thread because, to use his terms, I spent the first 30 years of my life in a classic "order" stage, have rumaged (happily, fruitfully) for the past 15 years in disorder, and am now wanting to reorder some sense of my daily practice, with no real idea of what it might look like. I'm deeply, seriously, hopefully ambivalent about my religious upbringing. I'm grateful for the language and the metaphors it gave me and that continue to shape my thoughts. I'm grateful for the friends and mentors I met during those years (including many of you). I'm also angry and regretful about the ways it warped my understanding of the world. Now that I'm a father, I'm trying to figure out how to create for my daughters an experience that is more of the good and less of the bad. This is a bigger issue for me than just finding a different church/denomination that feels right, which is why I'm curious to hear other perspectives.
  2. Darren H

    Your current spiritual practice?

    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!
  3. Darren H

    Your current spiritual practice?

    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.
  4. Darren H

    Top 25: Discussion for Nominations on Growing Older

    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!
  5. Darren H

    72nd Festival de Cannes (2019)

    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?
  6. Darren H

    Your current spiritual practice?

    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.”
  7. Darren H

    72nd Festival de Cannes (2019)

    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.
  8. Darren H

    Your current spiritual practice?

    So true. I haven't been writing much lately -- just some film festival reports and an occasional interview. I'd like to get back at it. I like Andrew's idea of thinking of writing as a kind of Sabbath activity. I'm sorry about your brother, Michael, and for all that you and your family have been through. I'm glad to know that you seem to have experienced some kind of grace in the process. I'm sorry to hear this too. I haven't written much online about the tragedies Joanna and I suffered because I was too traumatized by them. (Joanna's mother and father were murdered brutally by her brother.) When most of us met, I was working on my Ph.D., which I never finished because writing a dissertation while experiencing PTSD doesn't work. I couldn't sit still for several years and still struggle to concentrate for long periods of time. I mention that now because I still can't believe how totally inept the community of my big evangelical church was at responding to -- or even acknowledging -- our needs at that time. Friends have suggested that we left the church because the murders made us angry at God. I won't speak for Joanna, but for me it was more boring than that. The murders were just the tipping point. I've spent too much time over the past decade knocking down evangelical straw men and don't want to fall back into that now, but I can say, honestly, that the community I thought I'd built in that church totally failed me when I needed them most. Again, forgive me if I step on any toes when I say this, but I think the church culture I was part of is really good at creating and reinforcing a particular kind of social/cultural identity. (What Rohr calls building order.) I felt as if the murders stained us somehow. It was as if our encounter with real trauma, real tragedy, real violence, as opposed to the metaphoric, Sunday School kind, threw a wrench into that well-oiled machine. That's not a bad mantra. I'll add to my earlier story that one friend drove to Alabama for the funeral. He and I now live hundreds of miles apart but we make a priority of seeing each other a couple days every year and we text constantly. It's odd to realize that part of me still craves the simpler consolation of being part of a tribe. Another good mantra. I've still never read much George MacDonald but whenever I happen upon his name, my first thought is, "That's Ken's guy."
  9. Darren H

    Your current spiritual practice?

    I'll write more later, Michael, but I wanted to thank you for chiming in and to say that this really hits home.
  10. Darren H

    Your current spiritual practice?

    I wrote an article about it. (I just reread this for the first time in a decade. It's pretty good!) In my experience, "spiritual but not religious" is short hand for "I recognize that there is mystery in the world -- I've experienced it -- but church traditions and church practices, with their closed cultures and dualistic (right/wrong saved/condemned) teaching, alienate me from that mystery." When I say I might actually be religious but not spiritual, I think I'm trying to reject the wishy-washiness of that attitude. If we take Andrew's more rational/scientific phrase -- "emotions and neuro-physio-somatic responses to the world around us" -- then I suppose I'm looking for something like a religious practice that makes me more attuned to those responses. This all overlaps with my comments in the Top 25 thread. I'm sincerely interested in spending the rest of my life growing into the role of "elder." (The comedian/podcaster Pete Holmes tells a great story about seeing his 75-year-old father wearing a brand new Hard Rock Cafe jacket and thinking, "Really? An expensive logo-covered jacket? This is the model of maturity and wisdom you're living out for me?" Draw your own comparisons to our idiot president.) And when I read Richard Rohr or Thomas Merton, I hear two men who lived their entire lives in study of the Bible and other scriptures, and in service, and found their way to a sense of Christ as something closer to Joel's term "nepantla." Rohr calls it "third way thinking" or "transrational." I haven't put in the hours like he and Merton have, so I haven't earned their wisdom, but I trust that they earned theirs through the discipline rather than through belief. Does any of this make sense? When we stopped attending services, I stayed at the church for another dozen years, volunteering every Thursday night as an English as a Second Language teacher. I remember telling friends in our Bible study, soon after I started, that it felt more to me like church than actual church ever had. Maybe I'm feeling this itch right now because I stopped teaching a few years ago to focus on film programming and writing a screenplay (other forms of meditation, I'd argue). Maybe the long-story-short version of this is I need to get off my ass, out of my head, and back into service of some kind.
  11. Darren H

    Your current spiritual practice?

    For most of the past decade I would've described myself as "spiritual but not religious" but I've been wondering lately if I have that backwards. I'm no longer a believer in any standard sense. I can't in good conscience recite a creed or articulate a theology -- the thought of having to do so makes me tired, to be honest. I was raised in churches where, from middle school on, we were trained in apologetics, which in some ways I'm grateful for because I got a lot more practice in rhetoric and scansion in Bible studies than in school. But I'd be happy to never discuss the finer points of theology again. Still, I find great wisdom, pleasure, and consolation in the stuff of religion -- its metaphors, ancient practices, art, tradition, and so on. Andrew, you brought up the word "mindfulness," which in recent years I've read/heard five or six times a day from various sources. There's something in the air. I've downloaded the meditation apps just like everyone else and am curious about having some kind of regular contemplative practice in life. It's only been in the past few weeks, though, that I've realized I'm attracted to it because it's a kind of spirituality-free religion. (The 25-year-old me would weep to know the 46-year-old me just wrote that sentence!) That's so interesting, Peter! When I mentioned earlier that I was growing increasingly alienated from evangelical culture in the years leading up to our decision to leave, that book was one of the reasons. I was in a young couples Bible study at the time, and the leader, who was a decade older, suggested we read it together. I was in my late 20s and it was the first time I'd been exposed to Christian practices from any perspective other than American evangelicalism. I was also reading Thomas Merton, St. Augustine, Pascal, and Tarkovsky. Those guys did a number on me!
  12. Darren H

    2019 List Preliminary Discussion

    I pulled Cheever off the shelf on Sunday to read "The Swimmer" and decided it might be fun to read through the entire collection this year. So I read "The Death of Justina" before bed and last night and, yeah, that's quite a story -- certainly more formally strange than my general sense of Cheever.
  13. Darren H

    2019 List Preliminary Discussion

    It's the Hero's Journey, basically.
  14. Darren H

    2019 List Preliminary Discussion

    I haven't thought of that book for years! I think Doug Cummings turned me onto it soon after we first met. Rohr's is a more simplified version, I guess. His "ordering" phase would include Fowler's first three stages, "disorder" is Fowler's stage 4, and "reorder" is stages 5 and 6. For Rohr it's the crisis/skepticism of Fowler's stage 4 that divides the two halves of life. I wonder if it would be helpful to test this idea by proposing some films that might be included on the list? What I'm interested in (personally, as a 46-year-old) is the journey to becoming an "elder" as opposed to just "older." What does a well-lived second half of life look like? It's not an especially cinematic story! I watched The Swimmer (Frank Perry, 1968) for the first time this weekend. It's a brilliant and fascinating portrait of a midlife crisis but it doesn't even attempt to imagine any kind of redemption for the character. It's a grotesque world of adults wallowing in the first half of life. John Ford seems ripe for this discussion. John Wayne was my age when he made The Quiet Man, which could work. Eric Rohmer, maybe? A&F has always been dominated by male voices. One potential problem for this idea, I think, is that it could easily become a list about men.
  15. Darren H

    2019 List Preliminary Discussion

    Has anyone else read Richard Rohr's Falling Upward? It could be a useful way of thinking about this topic. In a nutshell, he sees the well-lived life as, first, a decades-long process of making order (ego formation), followed by a period of disorder, during which we discover that the tricks we've learned to make sense of the world are no longer adequate. The second half of life, then, should be devoted to re-ordering our selves in more honest terms. Falling Upward is a short book that might benefit from being even shorter, but I'd recommend it. Rohr's episode of On Being is a really great overview of his approach. It reminds me of a Thomas Merton quote I've shared on this forum before.
  16. Favorite US Releases of 2018 (Ranked) Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017) Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017) Dead Souls (Wang Bing, 2018) Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018) If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018) Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene, 2018) Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sunshine In, Claire Denis, 2017) First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017) Milla (Valérie Massadian, 2017) PROTOTYPE (Blake Williams, 2018) Favorite Feature Premieres of 2018 (Ranked) Jiang hu er nv (Ash is the Purest White, Jia Zhang-ke, 2018) Transit (Christian Petzold, 2018) High Life (Claire Denis, 2018) Le livre d'image (The Image Book, Jean-Luc Godard, 2018) Dead Souls (Wang Bing, 2018) Beoning (Burning, Lee Chang-dong, 2018) If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018) Bisbee ’17 (Robert Greene, 2018) L'empire de la perfection (John McEnroe: In the Realm of Perfection, Julien Faraut, 2018) What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? (Roberto Minervini, 2018) Favorite Short Films of 2018 (Alphabetical) Arena (Björn Kämmerer, 2018) Blue (Apitchatpong Weerasethakul, 2018) China Not China (Dianna Barrie and Richard Tuohy, 2018) Fainting Spells (Sky Hopinka, 2018) I Hope I’m Loud When I’m Dead (Beatrice Gibson, 2018) more than everything (Rainer Kohlberger, 2018) Please step out of the frame. (Karissa Hahn, 2018) The Remembered Film (Isabelle Tollenaere, 2018) Walled Unwalled (Lawrence Abu Hamdan, 2018) Wunschbrunnen (Wishing Well, Sylvia Schedelbauer, 2018) Favorite Features I Saw for the First Time in 2018 (Alphabetical) El Desencanto (The Disenchantment, Jaime Chávarri, 1976) Geschichtsunterricht (History Lessons, Danièle Huillet and Jean-Marie Straub, 1972) Kirmes (The Fair, Wolfgang Staudte, 1960) Mein langsames Leben (Passing Summer, Angela Schanelec, 2001) Moonrise (Frank Borzage, 1948) Only Yesterday (John M. Stahl, 1933) Polyester (John Waters, 1981) La pyramide humaine (The Human Pyramid, Jean Rouch, 1961) Seeking the Monkey King (Ken Jacobs, 2011) Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro, Hayao Miyazaki, 1988) Favorite Short Films I Saw for the First Time in 2018 (Alphabetical) L'arrivée d'un train à La Ciotat 3D (Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat 3D, Auguste and Louis Lumière, 1935) Billabong (Will Hindle, 1969) Boston Fire (Peter Hutton, 1979) City Film (Lewis Klahr, 1992) Dans le noir du temps (In the Darkness of Time, Jean-Luc Godard, 2001) Hand Held Day (Gary Beydler, 1975) Love It/Leave It (Tom Palazzolo, 1973) On Sundays (Bruce Baillie, 1961) Point de Gaze (Jodie Mack, 2012) Starlight (Robert Fulton, 1970)
  17. Darren H

    Something, Anything (2014)

    Without a distributor there's little chance we'll ever see a Something, Anything physical release, but for $9.99 you can download a copy.
  18. Darren H

    Something, Anything (2014)

    Something, Anything, which premiered last week at Wisconsin and Sarasota, will almost definitely be of interest to folks around here. It's about a young woman who has a spiritual crisis and ends up visiting the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. The film doesn't have distribution yet, but it will definitely spend most of the next year on the festival circuit. I'd recommend seeing it if you get a chance. I'm hopeful it will find a buyer. My interview with writer-director Paul Harrill (who also happens to be a friend) was just posted at MUBI.
  19. Darren H

    Something, Anything (2014)

    I'm social media friends with most of you, but in case anyone missed the news, Paul's new film, Light from Light, will premiere at Sundance in a couple weeks. There are still some tweaks to be made, but I've seen a mostly-finished cut and, well, if you're a fan of Something, Anything, you'll love this one too. And if you've never heard of Marin Ireland, you're in for a treat. It's been really fun getting to go through much of this process with Paul. It's a lovely film, and I'm really proud of him for getting it made.
  20. Darren H

    Criterion sale at Barnes & Noble

    I had a coupon and needed to buy a book and then somehow Only Angels Have Wings, Moonrise, Cat People, and The Black Stallion found their way into my shopping cart. I keep saying I'm done with physical media.
  21. Darren H

    TIFF 2018

    I'll be back again -- for the 15th straight year, which is crazy. This is the best lineup in years. The final announcements--including the Discovery program and some stray titles--and the schedule will be unveiled tomorrow. Until, then here are my top 50 titles! (Currently saying prayers to the scheduling gods.) High Life | Claire Denis | Germany/France/USA/United Kingdom/Poland | World Premiere Wavelength Shorts 1 Wavelength Shorts 2 Wavelength Shorts 3 Wavelength Shorts 4 Chocolat on 35mm The Image Book | Jean-Luc Godard | Switzerland/France | North American Premiere The Grand Bizarre | Jodie Mack & Those Who Desire | Elena López Riera | Switzerland/Spain Ash Is Purest White | Jia Zhang-ke | China/France | North American Premiere Transit | Christian Petzold | Germany | North American Premiere Hotel by the River | Hong Sang-soo | South Korea | North American Premiere Long Day's Journey Into Night | Bi Gan | China/France | North American Premiere L. COHEN | James Benning | USA & Arena | Björn Kämmerer | Austria What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? | Roberto Minervini | Italy/USA/France | North American Premiere Burning Lee Chang-dong | South Korea | North American Premiere Monrovia, Indiana | Frederick Wiseman | USA | North American Premiere Dead Souls | Wang Bing | France/Switzerland | North American Premiere In My Room | Ulrich Köhler | Germany/Italy | North American Premiere Cold War Paweł Pawlikowski | Poland/United Kingdom/France | Canadian Premiere Non-Fiction Olivier Assayas | France | Canadian Premiere A Faithful Man | Louis Garrel | France | World Premiere Asako I & II | Ryusuke Hamaguchi | Japan/France | North American Premiere Maya Mia Hansen-Løve | France | World Premiere The Old Man & The Gun | David Lowery | USA | International Premiere The Trial | Sergei Loznitsa | Netherlands | North American Premiere The Flower | Mariano Llinás | Argentina | North American Premiere Erased,___Ascent of the Invisible | Ghassan Halwani | Lebanon | North American Premiere RAY & LIZ | Richard Billingham | United Kingdom | North American Premiere Donbass | Sergei Loznitsa | Germany/Ukraine/France/Netherlands/Romania | North American Premiere 3 Faces | Jafar Panahi | Iran | North American Premiere If Beale Street Could Talk | Barry Jenkins | USA | World Premiere The Stone Speakers | Igor Drljača | Canada/Bosnia/Herzegovina | World Premiere Belmonte | Federico Veiroj | Uruguay/Spain/Mexico | World Premiere Wildlife Paul Dano | USA | Canadian Premiere Jinpa | Pema Tseden | China | North American Premiere Fausto | Andrea Bussmann | Canada/Mexico | North American Premiere Ulysses & Mona | Sébastien Betbeder | France | World Premiere Our Time | Carlos Reygadas | Mexico/France/Germany/Denmark/Sweden | North American Premiere Meeting Gorbachev | Werner Herzog, André Singer | United Kingdom/USA/Germany | Canadian Premiere Museum | Alonso Ruizpalacios | Mexico | North American Premiere American Dharma | Errol Morris | USA/United Kingdom | North American Premiere Graves Without a Name | Rithy Panh | France/Cambodia | Canadian Premiere Putin's Witnesses | Vitaly Mansky | Latvia/Switzerland/Czech Republic | International Premiere Styx | Wolfgang Fischer | Germany/Austria | North American Premiere Mid90s | Jonah Hill | USA | World Premiere The Quietude | Pablo Trapero | Argentina | North American Premiere Galveston Mélanie Laurent | USA | Canadian Premiere The Land of Steady Habits Nicole Holofcener | USA | World Premiere The Wild Pear Tree | Nuri Bilge Ceylan | Turkey/France/Germany/Bulgaria | North American Premiere Diamantino | Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt | Portugal/France/Brazil | North American Premiere
  22. Darren H

    The Rider

    I haven't seen many 2018 films yet, but The Rider is among my favorites. I'm guessing I'm the only arthouse film critic who lives on a horse farm and has spent a lot of time around rodeo riders, so it was fun to talk horses and horse culture with Chloe Zhao. I'm proud of this interview.
  23. Darren H

    Podcast Recommendations?

    Pete Holmes (comedian & creator/star of Crashing on HBO) is an acquired taste. He's goofy and laughs too loudly at his own jokes and interrupts his guests constantly, but I really enjoy his podcast, You Made it Weird. The episodes are long (usually two hours), which allows for a lot of diversions and surprising revelations from guests you might have heard interviewed a dozen times before. Holmes was raised in the church, went to Gordon College on a track to become a pastor, and then gradually drifted away from religion. But he's a devoted, obsessive seeker, and every episode of his podcast is designed to eventually work its way to questions of belief and meaning. He's especially good, I think, when talking with name-brand Christians like Rob Bell or his latest guest, Kent Dobson. David Bazan is predictably great too.
  24. Darren H

    First Reformed

    Just a quick note for A&F old-timers. It looks like I'm gonna have a sit-down interview with Schrader next week for Filmmaker, and I intend to talk to him about transcendental style, Bresson, Bergman, Tarkovsky, and all of those topics we debated so passionately here (and in other fora) 15 years ago. It feels like a coming home.
  25. Darren H

    La Fille Inconnue / The Unknown Girl (2016)

    Thanks, Jeffrey. It's funny that you mention that particular line because I'm not sure that I totally believe it. Even when Jean-Pierre said it, it felt rote compared with the rest of our conversation -- like it was an idea that they were committed to and liked to mention to interviewers. I can imagine them trying to take that stance as writers, but everything about their production model is so measured and controlled. I think they pull more strings than they're willing to admit. My favorite part of the interview is when I pressed them on their expressionist style. Luc is much more chatty and he rambled for a while around the question. Then there was a pause and Jean-Pierre broke their pattern (they always take turns answering questions) to add, "It’s true. [pause] We do try to pick primary colors. We liked to see Jenny dressed in blue and burgundy." I'm weirdly proud of getting that out of him. Critics seldom talk about their films in that way, and the two of them never do.
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