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Joel Mayward

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About Joel Mayward

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    pastor | theologian | film critic

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    St Andrews, UK

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    Pastor, Writer, Film Critic

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  1. Joel Mayward

    Come Sunday aka Heretics

    I think this is an example of why I found the film more interesting and complex than, apparently, you did Peter, in that it doesn't always portray Pearson in a positive light. He makes these impulsive, isolated decisions that have big community ramifications, then is surprised to be held accountable for his words and decisions. I think that's actually quite realistic and indicative of many Protestant evangelical senior pastors and leaders (e.g. see the recent Bill Hybels scandal and firing), in that they operate and lead quite autonomously, given significant power due to their rhetorical skills. The church literally lives or dies based on the one charismatic leader. The self-baptism scene reveals this complexity too--I think (I hope!) viewers would find such a decision to be problematic. So, I think the film is just as much about systems of leadership in evangelical culture as much as it is about theological questions.
  2. Joel Mayward

    Come Sunday aka Heretics

    So fascinating to see the early posts about this film and the various folks who've been involved! This film has finally been released via Netflix. Here's my review. Really great performance from Ejiofor, and a surprisingly good one from Jason Segal playing against type. I do wish we could have seen a Jonathan Demme version of this, and I'm glad Martin Sheen took the role of Oral Roberts instead of Redford.
  3. Joel Mayward

    A Quiet Passion

    FWIW, my review at Letterboxd:
  4. Joel Mayward

    Mary Magdalene biopic

    My review. I can understand the various criticisms--whitewashing, subtly anti-Jewish, dull and navel-gazing--but I found it quite moving and interesting, and I think Mara and Phoenix give better performances than people are giving credit. In a subgenre where melodramatic performances and big emotional speeches are the norm, seeing a Jesus film with quiet, contemplative (almost inert) performances really worked for me. I don't get into the details in my review, but one scene really stood out for me: Jesus sends out the apostles on mission in pairs, and he places Peter with Mary. The film portrays Peter as fairly antagonistic towards Mary, almost like they're playing favorites to Jesus. As they enter a village in Samaria, they discover that its been ransacked and burned by the Romans, leaving people to starve and die. Peter wants to move on, as there's nothing they can do, and no one to really hear their message. But Mary stays and cares for the starving and dying, leaving Peter to remark later something like, "What mercy! What mercy!" It's an extra-biblical scene, but it also highlights the emphasis not just on the words of Christ's kingdom message, but the praxis of such mercy and justice. To be clear about the humanistic/supernatural dynamic: Jesus does actually heal people miraculously, including raising one person from the dead (the scene plays out like the Lazarus story in some ways, but differs in key decisions), and there is a bodily resurrection--we see Jesus after he's come from the tomb, and he speaks with Mary. The film doesn't portray him post-resurrection with the other disciples however, so one could interpret this appearance in a non-literal way.
  5. Joel Mayward

    Creating Film Critic Circle?

    I aim for one new release film review per week, if possible, the goal being 40-50 reviews published per year on Cinemayward.com. This doesn't include pop culture reviews I write for other places, such as Think Christian. With CT's newsletter seemingly dead--Ted never responded to any of my questions about the newsletter--I'd definitely be up for writing 100-200 word reviews of any pop culture medium (film, TV, music, books). Still, one big question I'm wondering is how this type of email newsletter would differentiate itself and gain an audience without a large magazine/publication distribution. For better or worse, it seems to me that online content and reviews are distributed now more via social media (i.e. Twitter links/RTs and FB) rather than email newsletters or RSS feeds. At least this has been my own evolution in my online presence. Yet I think some sort of film critic circle or organization which connects Christian film critics would be beneficial, as I keep discovering and connecting with new Christian critics and writers all the time via Twitter, and it'd be great to have a way to either collaborate or share content with a wider audience. Also, I sent a blurb from my review of A Wrinkle in Time via Slido, just to test how it works.
  6. Joel Mayward

    Creating Film Critic Circle?

    This is a question which deserves a much more detailed and thorough response, but I haven't the mental space for it now. There seems to be a polarizing evolution of the review format between the lengthy analytical "hot take" and "long take," and the star-rating with super-short blurb review/plot summary for Rotten Tomatoes purposes. Regarding the creation of a film critic circle, I think it's something worth pursuing, especially as it may add legitimacy to the reviews that are being written by/for a religious audience, as well as continue the connections we've fostered within the A&F Ecumenical Jury each year. I'd certainly want to be a member of it. I think there's also something to be said for podcasting, although I don't have the knowledge or equipment to start one.
  7. Joel Mayward

    Mary Magdalene biopic

    I do plan on seeing this if it plays near me in Scotland. But who knows? Sounds like its distribution has been up in the air for awhile now.
  8. Good point. Here's Part 2. Read the write-ups at Image; our list and jury members' honorable mentions are listed below: The Top 10: 1) The Unknown Girl 2) The Salesman 3) The Florida Project =4) Personal Shopper =4) The Lost City of Z 6) Graduation 7) A Quiet Passion 8) Mudbound 9) Columbus 10) mother! Honorable Mentions: Anders Bergstrom (3 Brothers Film)—Blade Runner 2049 Josh Cabrita (MUBI Notebook / Cinema Scope)—First Reformed Peter Chattaway (FilmChat)—Marjorie Prime Evan Cogswell (Catholic Cinephile)—Lady Bird Steven D. Greydanus (National Catholic Register)—My Happy Family Christian Hamaker (Crosswalk)—Only the Brave Josh Hamm (Freelance)—Song to Song Gareth Higgins (The Porch / Movies & Meaning)—Endless Poetry M. Leary (Filmwell)—Last Flag Flying Noel T. Manning (Cinemascene)—Logan Joel Mayward (Cinemayward)—Dunkirk Kenneth R. Morefield (1More Film Blog)—The Work Jeffrey Overstreet (Looking Closer)—The Breadwinner Kevin Sampson (Picture Lock)—Get Out Melissa Tamminga (Seattle Screen Scene)—24 Frames
  9. Joel Mayward

    Maurice Pialat retrospective

    I watched Graduate First (Passe ton bac d'abord) the other evening, and have Pialat's debut Naked Childhood (L'Enfance nue) awaiting me at the library. The former was like seeing a director in a realist mode--more Cassavetes than Rossellini--make Dazed and Confused. It'd be a great pairing with Mungiu's Graduation, as both deal with the "bac" final exams and the anxiety of adolescence with a similar realist style, but from remarkably different perspectives. Naked Childhood is about a 10-year-old boy struggling to navigate the foster care system after being abandoned by his mother, and sounds like it could have had an influence on the Dardennes' The Kid with a Bike. I attempted to watch Police, but the DVD from the library didn't come with English subtitles, and while I am improving my understanding of French, I'm not quite ready to see a French film without subtitles.
  10. Joel Mayward

    Congratulations, Joel.

    Just as an academic update: I've had a paper accepted into the International Religion & Film Conference happening in Toronto this year, so if there are Toronto-based A&F folks, it'd be great to connect. Also, I was accepted into membership with INTERFILM, the international network aiming to connect the church and film, mainly by participating in film festivals as ecumenical juries and awarding prizes. Finally, if someone here in academia wants to move to St Andrews, the Institute of Theology, Imagination, and the Arts is hiring a Lecturer in Theology and the Arts.
  11. Joel Mayward

    The God Particle

    The Cloverfield Paradox was released this week via streaming on Netflix after a surprise reveal during the Super Bowl. Having now seen it, it's unbearably mediocre.
  12. Joel Mayward

    The Good Place

    I just received an acceptance email from an academic theology conference where I submitted a paper proposal with this title: "A Divine Comedy? Mortality, Morality, and Metaphysics in 'The Good Place.'" In preparation for presenting the paper, I intend to rewatch all of Seasons 1 and 2 and create a full reading list of all the philosophy books and ideas referenced or shown.
  13. Joel Mayward

    Phantom Thread

    Finally saw this last night, and it's exquisite. The kind of film I immediately wanted to rewatch as soon as it ended, as I wanted to revisit the story and characters, as well as better appreciate the beauty of the environments and costumes. And the Jonny Greenwood score is magnificent. I hope to write a full review, but as an initial reaction, it seems PTA-and-DDL films are *much* more interesting to me than PTA and Joaquin Phoenix.
  14. Bryce, while these don't all employ the monomyth framework implied in the original question, here are some films and filmmakers which I think touch on the transcendent by way of the immanent in terms of both form/style and content: The films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Le Fils, The Kid with a Bike, Rosetta, La Promesse). Seek out and watch every one of their films. The films of Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life, The Thin Red Line, Days of Heaven) The films of Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, The Past, About Elly) The films of Andrei Tarkovsky (Mirror, Stalker, Andrei Rublev) Individual films which aren't already on the A&F Top 100 list would include Ida, Of Gods and Men, Take Shelter, This is Martin Bonner, Selma, Silence, The Gleaners and I, The Fits, Philomena, and Hail, Caesar!