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J.A.A. Purves

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Everything posted by J.A.A. Purves

  1. Fahrenheit 451 (2018)

    Den of Geek, January 11, 2018: “Fahrenheit 451 is one of the seminal dystopian works in all of fiction. Ray Bradbury's classic work is disturbing and increasingly prescient sci-fi. In the 1953 novel, released during the peak of the McCarthy era panic, books are outlawed and ‘firemen’ go around to make sure that they go up in smoke, lest any unapproved ideas make their way out into the world. Ramin Bahrani and Amir Naderi are adapting Bradbury's book, and Bahrani will direct. The timing, of course, as we find ourselves on the receiving end of an increasingly bizarre parade of "alternative facts" couldn't be more appropriate. In the unlikely event that the words HBO and Fahrenheit 451 in close proximity to each other aren't enough to get you excited, perhaps the cast will. Michael B. Jordan will play Guy Montag, the young fireman who starts to realize that maybe he's in the wrong line of work. HBO veteran Michael Shannon will play Captain Beatty, Montag's commanding officer at the fire department.The Mummy's Sofia Boutella has joined the cast as Clarisse McClellan (via THR).”
  2. 2018 Reading Journals

    January - Why Liberalism Failed (2018) - by Patrick J. Deneen - Prince Caspian (1951) - by C.S. Lewis - The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods (1921) - by A.G. Sertillanges - Paris in the Present Tense (2017) - by Mark Helprin - Four Quartets (1943) - by T.S. Eliot February - Some Permanent Things (2014) - by James Matthew Wilson - Thomas Traherne: Poetry and Prose (1650s-1670s) - by Thomas Traherne - The Wit & Wisdom of Winston Churchill (1920s-1960s) - by Winston Churchill - A Country of Marriage: Poems (1973) - by Wendell Berry - The World of Silence (1948) - by Max Picard March -
  3. The Lord's Prayer

    Absolutely agreed. Any liturgical prayer, poem, or song (even if spoken aloud in Greek or Latin) can still be explained to lay congregations so that they understand the meaning. The fact that a text may need to be explained is not an argument against the text itself being used in church or liturgical practice. This isn't even to mention the fact that rhythm and cadence for prayers (particularly for prayers designed to be spoken aloud communally) does matter, and pretending that it doesn't matter is more destructive (of beauty, of memorization, of music) than the revisers will admit. Meanwhile, Anthony Esolen just weighed in on the translation "lead us not into temptation" as being accurate from the Greek text:
  4. The Lord's Prayer

    Someone could, of course, inform Pope Francis that the line has been changed and butchered over and over again by almost a century of modernized English translations. “And let us not be put to the test” (Bible in Basic English), “And do not lead us into hard testing” (Complete Jewish Bible), “Do not bring us to hard testing” (Good News Translation), “Don’t allow us to be tempted” (God’s Word Translation), “Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil. You’re in charge!” (The Message Bible), “Keep us from falling into sin when we are tempted” (New International Reader’s Version), “And don’t let us yield to temptation” (New Living Translation), “And do not bring us to the time of trial” (New Revised Standard). The theological problems with some of the above, notwithstanding, The New Century Version is the one that gets it wrong in the sense the Pope complains of (“And do not cause us to be tempted”), which is not the same sense as “Lead us not into temptation.” “Lead us not into temptation” was never understood by the KJV/English Book of Common Prayer as implying that God causes temptation. See Matthew Poole’s 1660s Commentaries: “The term temptation in the general signifieth a trial, and is sometimes used to express God’s trials of his people’s faith and obedience, but most ordinarily to express Satan’s trials of us, by motions to sin; which may be from our own lusts, Jam 1:13,14; or from the devil, who is therefore called the tempter; or from the world. These are the temptations which we are commanded to pray against: not that God leads any persons into such temptations, unless by the permission of his providence.” In other words, praying “lead us not into temptation” is the same as praying “protect us from temptation” and it is understood as such by anyone who stops to think about it. Of course, the word “lead us” is also associated with a shepherd leading his flock (Psalm 23), so praying for Him not to lead us to temptation is asking for direction, whereas praying “help us to avoid times of trial” implies much more modern agency and has its own theological problems given that Christian theology does not necessarily direct Christians to avoid the world’s troubles or promise them that they may avoid trial. __________________________________________ See also: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” has been changed to “Do no bring us to the time of trial, but deliver us from evil.” Why? For the sake of clarity? (That is the usual answer.) I know, because every sense in my body informs me, and ever misinclination of my mind, what is temptation, from which we seek deliverance. But “the time of trial?” That sounds as if the Supreme Court is in session. - William F. Buckley, Jr., “His New Prayer,” November 17, 1977, Buckley: The Right Word, 1996, pg. 110 __________________________________________ Among other things, we aren't going to expect the current Pope to have an ear for the rhythms and poetry of old liturgical English.
  5. The Breadwinner

    This film is absolutely beautiful. The visual imagery is gorgeous, not to mention the Persian art styles interlaced in the fairy tale story within a story. Not only does the film offer a very strong young female character (among other strong woman characters), but she is believable, vulnerable, and feels real in ways that even the recent self-assured independent Disney princesses have not been. The main story and the fairy tale story are both haunting, and they mesh together with a wallop with an ending that is revealing of deeper tragedy and redemptive at the same time. My wife and I loved it. If she's not careful, Ms. Twomey is going to start taking various awards away from Pixar.
  6. Wonderstruck (2017)

    (A&F links to I'm Not There (2007), Carol (2015), and thread on Selznick's book.) Alissa Wilkinson: “Because kids grow up to be adults, giving them smart and artful cinema seems just as important to their development as giving them smart and artful books — to give them, essentially, a training ground for learning to approach the world with serious, sustained attention. But kids’ movies that treat their young audience as if they’re smart and capable of appreciating lush visual storytelling are rare. I’ve been mulling this idea for the past week, as I had one of the worst moviegoing experiences of my life last weekend, when I screened Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul. Unsuitable for both adults and children — few of whom likely enjoy feeling like a movie is instructing them to laugh at designated points — it might have been a bearable 20-minute episode of TV. As a feature film, it was unforgivable. But Todd Haynes’s Wonderstruck, which premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, is Wimpy Kid’s polar opposite. Gorgeous, moving, and innovatively told, it may even be too smart for some adults. Kids will get it just fine, though ... Wonderstruck feels like a magical fairytale, though nothing about it is supernatural. Told partly in color and partly in black and white, the film contains long stretches that are virtually silent, with musical accompaniment (composed by Carter Burwell) that sometimes adds atmosphere, and sometimes punctuates what’s happening on screen, similar to how musical accompaniment worked during the silent-movie era.” Katherine McLaughlin: “Adapted by Brian Selznick from his illustrated children's novel, with Carol's Todd Haynes directing, this is a delicately crafted film that continually references the process of turning the written word into elegant visuals and vice versa. Yet it is this ambitious detail that detracts from the telling of the tender coming-of-age stories, with huge portions unfolding via people scribbling on pads or reading aloud to keep the audience up to speed. Rose's narrative takes the form of a silent film with Julianne Moore as a screen siren and Carter Burwell's score providing playful accompaniment. Haynes' 1970s New York echoes Martin Scorsese's crumbling inner-city grit as seen in Taxi Driver, though the overall tone is much sweeter, like Hugo. Wonderstruck shines brightest when its characters interact with the setting or the incredible panoramic model of the city. As the children roam the halls of the American Museum of Natural History their curiosity is realised with a spirited vigour. Haynes' camera whooshes between the different time periods and cinematic stylings, with his film painting the progression of the city over 50 years. It's part heartfelt love letter to New York's history and part ode to the ever-changing visage and vibrations of cinema.”
  7. The Lost City of Z (2016)

    A James Gray film fan, I heard earlier that this was in the works. Meant to post the news from firstshowing.net on here earlier as I can't seem to find anything at Arts and Faith on it yet.
  8. Look & See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry (2016)

    It's time we had a thread on this film. I just saw it over the weekend, and it is very easily one of the most important films of the year (whether last year or this year). It's beautiful. It gives glimpses into the values that Berry has been advocating for decades (including precious footage of a debate back in the '70s). It focuses very much on farming and agriculture, turns very bleak and then offers reason for hope if the members of the audience would only start acting on what they know they should act upon. Watch your theaters for it and order the DVD.
  9. What is 21st Century Education?

    So I have been informed by my sister-in-law that public school teachers are being repeatedly shown this video before little motivational meetings at their schools. They are being told that times are changing, and that they can't just copy the past but need to make their teaching more "dynamic." My sister-in-law was trying to ask what they meant by "dynamic" and the school principle told her that, instead of just teaching the kids how to solve a problem, she needed to give them more room to explore and figure out the problem for themselves. That sounds nice, but, well, she is a math teacher. Anyone seen this before? Is it perfectly harmless or is there something wrong with this? Thoughts, comments, questions?
  10. This is still a work in progress, so let me know what else any of you would add from published books for this year - https://underlyingassumptions.org/2017-books-to-read/
  11. Paterson (2016)

    Adam Driver Hangs Out With a Bulldog and Writes Poetry in Jim Jarmusch's Cannes-Bound Drama: "Paterson (played by Driver) is a bus driver in the city of Paterson, New Jersey — they share the name. Every day, Paterson adheres to a simple routine: he drives his daily route, observing the city as it drifts across his windshield and overhearing fragments of conversation swirling around him; he writes poetry into a notebook; he walks his dog; he stops in a bar and drinks exactly one beer. He goes home to his wife, Laura (played by Farahani). By contrast, Laura’s world is ever changing. New dreams come to her almost daily, each a different and inspired project. Paterson loves Laura and she loves him. He supports her newfound ambitions; she champions his secret gift for poetry. The history and energy of the City of Paterson is a felt presence in the film and its simple structure unfolds over the course of a single week. The quiet triumphs and defeats of daily life are observed, along with the poetry evident in its smallest details."
  12. Paterson (2016)

    I'm still playing catch up around here, but I was able to write a little about this lovely film.
  13. Columbus (2017)

    Brett McCracken: “When I knew him, Kogonada talked a lot about Postman and cited 'Technopoly' often. He worried about the ways technology might be making us dumber and number; numb to the beauty which is everywhere around us if only we have eyes to see and interest (or attention-spans?) to look. This techno-skepticism is on display in Columbus. Richardson’s character proudly flaunts her antiquated flip phone, which she calls a “dumb phone” because it has no Internet access. She prefers spending time at libraries and trying to remember facts rather than resorting to Google. Happier and more alive to the beauty of her hometown (refreshingly unburdened by the wanderlust and status envy stoked by the “connected” life), she provides a compelling model for what joyful resistance might look like in a technopolized world. Indeed, at a time when more and more are noting the disturbing psychological and de-humanizing effects of technology, Columbus offers a glimpse into a world we can have if we want it: a world of serendipitous discovery rather than utilitarian Google search; quiet contentment rather than clattering consumerism; sensory encounter rather than disembodied distraction; a world where the physical nouns (people, places and things) in front of us are more compelling and comforting to us than the digital abstractions we might find on the other side of a hyperlink. Cinema is often framed as escapism, and indeed it has that quality. We watch movies to visit far away places and times, and to understand the experiences of others. But cinema at its best, and certainly Columbus fits that bill, doesn’t stop at escapism; it helps us return well to reality, with new eyes to see and love the world beyond the screen.”
  14. The Image Film Issue -- Help with PR

    I'd be happy to write a review of it. I'll message you for more details.
  15. (A&F links to Andrei Tarkovsky and Stalker) Alright everyone, one of our most anticipated books of the year is out in the stores now. We might as well have a thread for it. Since Stalker is now going to be ranked #2 in our soon to be released Top 25 Pilgrimage films list, it's rather nice that there's a book coming out just now on it. From The Guardian - From The White Review - From Ruthless Culture -
  16. Ready Player One

    Well, that certainly looks headache inducing. Sort of Speed Racer meets Transformers meets World of Warcraft to equal a Tron knockoff. No thanks.
  17. Same here. As a rule, I always wait to close to the very end voting date in order to watch a few of the nominated films I haven't seen yet.
  18. Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)

    Alright, now I am surprised that I, or no one else, ever started a thread for this film. I think I now understand the complaint that has been voiced a few times now that A&F has not spent much time or conversation on comedies. I'd argue that this is precisely the sort of film that we'd want on a "Divine Comedies" list. If you haven't seen it yet, then see it. Also, here's a little write-up I did for the film about five years ago (although, I do wince a little at the writer that I was back then).
  19. 2017 Reading Journals

    March - Conserving America?: Essays on Present Discontents (2016) - by Patrick J. Deneen - Whose Justice? Whose Rationality? (1988) - by Alasdair MacIntyre April - The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation (2017) - by Rod Dreher - Tales from the Perilous Realm (1997) - by J.R.R. Tolkien - The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981) - by J.R.R. Tolkien May - One Man’s Dark (2017) - by Maurice Manning - Letters to Atticus, Vol. I - by Cicero - The Apostolic Fathers, Vol. I - by Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp - Passage to Modernity: An Essay on the Hermeneutics of Nature and Culture (1993) - by Louis Dupré - The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? (2005) - by David Bentley Hart June - Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life (2016) - by Tish Harrison Warren - The Singing Bowl (2013) - by Malcolm Guite - Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (2017) - by Anthony Esolen - Sounding the Seasons: Seventy Sonnets for the Christian Year (2012) - by Malcolm Guite July - Orthodoxy (1908) - by G.K. Chesterton - The Thirty-Nine Steps (1914) - by John Buchan August - The Silmarillion (1977) - by J.R.R. Tolkien - The Long-Legged House (1966) - by Wendell Berry September - For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy (1973) - by Alexander Schmemann - Another Turn of the Crank (1995) - by Wendell Berry - The Hobbit (1937) - by J.R.R. Tolkien October - Metaphor and Reality (1962) - by Philip Wheelwright - On Living Simply: The Golden Voice of John Chrysostom (1997)- by John Chrysostom November - The Life of Samuel Johnson (1790) - by James Boswell December - The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 (1983) - by William Manchester
  20. So some life and family issues stopped me from participating in the nomination process as much as I was hoping to, but this is looking good. While I ought to spend some more time trying to discuss what I was trying to get at by this list, I can say that, as the one who first envisioned this list, I think there are easily more than 25 films among our nominated & seconded films that meet the theme I was going for here. Some of you have made some comments and asked some questions that I will get around to discussing a little more. I am also beginning to think things through in more detail now that we have a group selected list of films to choose from. For starters, am I right in seeing that there are only 8 films from our top 100 list as prospective nominees? By my count, this includes: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days Double Life of Veronique, The Fearless Ikiru New World, The Punch-Drunk Love Through a Glass Darkly Wings of Desire Out of these I see Ikiru, Wings of Desire and Double Life of Veronique as absolutely essential for the theme. I can certainly see arguments for the others, particularly for Fearless. The New World is interesting because it is John Smith who goes through the longest and most elaborate waking up process and yet he rejects it in the end. It is certainly a film about being awake to the hidden and spiritual realities of the created things around us.
  21. You Were Never Really Here (2017)

    While the story itself doesn’t sound very impressive, the reviews for this one are looking good. A.A. Dowd: “In Lynne Ramsay’s fragmentary, ferociously beautiful ‘You Were Never Really Here’ (Grade: A-), Joaquin Phoenix takes a scary new shape—a bulkiness every bit as psychologically revealing as the bony odd angles of Freddie Quell. Phoenix plays Joe, a muscle for hire. (“I hear you can be brutal,” someone says to him, awe and a little fear on their breath.) If the idea of this particular actor starring as someone paid to bring the pain sounds implausible, then you just haven’t seen the human wrecking ball he’s made himself into this time, complete with a shaggy gray beard that seems to enhance his fearsomeness and his outsider vulnerability all at once. You also haven’t seen his way with a hammer. The character and story come from a novella by ‘Bored To Death’ creator Jonathan Ames. Ramsay, the Scottish director who made ‘Morvern Callar’ and ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin,’ twists that source material into an existential nightmare noir. There are shades of ‘Point Blank’ and ‘The Long Goodbye,’ of ‘Taxi Driver’ shattered into shards, of ‘The Limey’ suffering a nervous breakdown. And in the sinister, serpentine swell of its Johnny Greenwood score—coupled with the sight of Phoenix playing another mad war veteran—it sometimes suggests ‘The Master’ reconfigured into something more savage. All of those influences shine dimly under the skin of ‘You Were Never Really Here,’ but it remains its own bewildering animal, unmistakably Ramsay’s. She is said to have arrived at Cannes with the DCP only yesterday. Who knows if the movie is done—it ends with no credits, just an empty black screen, the void out of which Greenwood’s thrumming cacophony emanates. But if the version we saw is unfinished, at a refreshingly brisk 85 minutes, it’s to great elliptical effect. Ramsay has made a terrific short story, economical as hell but also so moment-for-moment gripping that you want to pore over its every shot, its every dark cranny.” Bilge Ebiri: “‘You Were Never Really Here’ not only turned out to be the best film in the official competition, this 88-minute nervous breakdown of a movie provided just the jolt this Cannes needed. Based on Jonathan Ames’s novel (loosely, I’m gonna guess), it follows the agitated, fragmented inner journey of Joe (Joaquin Phoenix), a kind of vigilante for hire who finds missing people. The plot ostensibly concerns his search for the daughter of a local politician who’s involved in a child sex-trafficking ring. But as depicted by Ramsay’s frenetic, staccato editing style, Joe does not think in linear fashion. His mind is a tangle of memories and flash-forwards and what-ifs, all rendered in short, sharp, shock cuts. We see glimpses of his childhood with an abusive father and feel his impotence at not being able to help his mother. We glimpse footage of a girl killed in Iraq (is it Iraq?) and we understand that somewhere along the way, Joe wasn’t there for her as well. His world is a kaleidoscope of failures both real and imagined: Standing on a train platform or drinking from a water fountain, he sees young women looking at him through dead or wounded eyes. Are they just pointedly posed bystanders, accusing specters from his past, or ghosts of failures yet to come? Some have compared ‘You Were Never Really Here’ to ‘Taxi Driver,’ some to ‘Taken’ — both understandable references. The film it reminded me most of is John Boorman’s Lee Marvin–starring genre deconstruction ‘Point Blank,’ which also disposes of the particulars of its standard-issue crime story and opts to create meaning through style. But another film it closely resembles is Ramsay’s own ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin,’ in which Tilda Swinton’s character’s overwhelming sense of maternal guilt cast her in a kind of surreal waking hell, as she repeatedly replayed her recollections (some clearly unreliable) of a failed parenthood. In Ramsay’s cinema, emotion is memory, and it feeds the present and the future. So, in ‘You Were Never Really Here,’ Joe’s absence is both his great shame and his great skill: When he infiltrates a bad guy’s compound, he vanishes. The film’s action scenes…well, the film has no action scenes, that’s the whole point. When we catch up to a confrontation, whatever has to happen has already happened — we catch a glimpse of a bloodied head, a slit throat, a shot of our hero stepping away from the camera. Because he disappears; that’s what he does, for better and for worse. He’s like a superhero whose special powers are self-loathing and self-negation. As much as he needs to break free of his demons, his demons are also partly the reason why he’s able to do what he does. He could even be a stand-in for an artist, come to think of it.”
  22. La Fille Inconnue / The Unknown Girl (2016)

    Still waiting for August 25th. There is no way the Dardenne brothers should have to wait this long to get a U.S. release.
  23. In Pursuit of Silence (2016)

    Finally, in what feels like a long drought of the last six months of 2017, I just came across this gem.
  24. La La Land (2016)

    (A&F links to Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench (2009) and Whiplash (2014).) Wikipedia: “La La Land is an upcoming American musical comedy-drama film directed and written by Damien Chazelle. The film stars Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone, J. K. Simmons, Finn Wittrock, John Legend, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Meagen Fay. Summit Entertainment will release the film domestically on July 15, 2016.”
  25. Rectify

    - Premieres on the Sundance Channel on April 22, 2013. - Created by Ray McKinnon (Reverend Smith in Deadwood), director of Chrystal (2004). - Stars Aden Young, who I've never seen before. In fact, the only member of the cast I recognize at the moment is Adelaide Clemens who was just Ms. Wannop in Parade's End. Synopsis: One of this season’s most highly anticipated scripted dramas, Rectify revolves around Daniel Holden (played by Aden Young) who is released after nearly 20 years of complete isolation on death row. He returns as an outsider to his family, to his community, and to the times. Somehow, he survived the mental and emotional strain of his imprisonment, but now the walls have suddenly come crumbling down and Daniel is set free in a world he no longer understands. He’s an outsider, lost in a once familiar world, struggling to navigate his newfound freedom. Combined with two decades of technological and social changes to his small town and the larger world, everything he encounters is a puzzle.