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Joel Mayward

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Everything posted by Joel Mayward

  1. Just submitted my ballot! Apparently I like to make last-minute decisions on these things, and definitely swapped a few 3s and 4s as I read the titles again. Darren, thank you for your good work on the forms, spreadsheets, and voting process. Looking forward to seeing the results!
  2. Ken, World of Tomorrow is a *far* more mature work in terms of both form and content (and it's less than 20 minutes!). Both have the melancholic tone and dark humor, but the pacing of World of Tomorrow is much smoother and less draining, and its ideas about memory, time, technology, and existence are far more complex. And WoT is more...cute.
  3. This is a good point. And I will say again that the second round of voting for the Ecumenical Jury has nearly always resulted in some sort of significant change in ranking (for example, in 2017 The Salesman was ranked at #9 before the second round of voting but ended up at #2).
  4. Ed, here's Jeff's two-part reflection on The Muppet Movie.
  5. When I first watched It's Such a Beautiful Day (this was after having seen and been floored by World of Tomorrow), I had a similar reaction to Ken: it was initially charming, but began to feel like the same idea repeated or dragged out from a 5-minute short to an hour-long feature, and I was more exhausted by it than elated or affected. Lots I could appreciate, but little I could love. But when I watched it again recently, something had changed, and I was profoundly moved by it. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the timing (I was teaching a course on "the problem of evil" this semester, so philosophical views of death and existence has been on my mind), but I "got" whatever it is Hertzfeldt is doing with this film.
  6. If I can't attend the livestream, I'm okay with a single round of voting unless, unless, as Andrew mentioned, the list skews heavily towards a particular decade, or maybe a particular filmmaker (e.g. if Bresson or Dreyer or Malick or Tarkovsky or Ozu or whomever had both #1 and #2 on the list, or the top 10 only had 5 filmmakers).
  7. Jeremy, you're very invited, welcomed, and encouraged to vote and participate! AFAIK, the main criteria for participation is A&F membership. And I resonate with your sentiments, especially how significant the Top 100 from 2010 was for me—maybe even "spiritually significant." Somehow I've ended up as one of the academic-minded film critic folks, and I would largely attribute to my discovery of A&F via one of the Top 100 lists over a decade ago as a key part of that personal development.
  8. That video from Assayas is really helpful in highlighting what Antonioni seems to be doing, but I still struggle with the notion that Anna (a) represents the plot, almost metonymically or allegorically, and (b) that Anna's disappearance is essentially ignored for the remainder of the film, because it felt to me like that was the unsaid (or sometimes, said aloud!) question or presence which haunts the entire film. The observation from Assayas that there's the potential worry that Sandro could also disappear in the final act is really interesting, and something I didn't pick up on. I also wonder if Anna's disappearance would have been more striking or affecting to me if I wasn't aware of who Monica Vitti was, or if Lea Massari was more well-known or established, like if that shift in perspective was more pronounced based on our pre-understanding of who these actresses are, not just the characters they play. Going into the film knowing who Vitti is (and with an awareness that the plot revolves around abandoning the plot) likely informed my experience. Assayas seems to suggest that L'Avventura changed the very nature of what cinema could and should be, that it singularly marks a kind of "before" and "after." But I can think of other films from 1960 that were doing similar medium-challenging experiments: Psycho, Breathless, even Peeping Tom, all of which are very aware of the boundary-pushing decisions in how plot, perspective, structure, and editing can/should work in film. So, perhaps L'Avventura is a significant part, but also only part, of something larger in the post-war cultural zeitgeist regarding modernity and meaning-making. I mean, 1961 saw the publication of Vahanian's "The Death of God," and the rest of the 1960s had similar existentially-laden movements.
  9. I thought of The Mission and Fitzcarraldo too, as well as The Lost City of Z (another missed Top 100 nominee!). But the film that actually came to mind the most for me as I thought about it afterward was 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  10. The actor who played the elder Karamakate, Antonio Bolíver, died recently at age 72 from the coronavirus. From the report: "Bolívar was a member of the Huitoto indigenous people and was one of the last of his tribe."
  11. Welcome back, Stef!
  12. I absolutely agree with all of this, particularly the formal film theory/criticism dynamic which opens up more distinctly cinematic possibilities regarding the interpretation of a "Christ figure" in film. That irruptive nature of the Christ figure, and how cinema shows/displays/feels this, is so interesting. Do you have copies of those papers available or published? I'd be very interested in reading those (and in the book, whenever it's ready!). If I've learned anything in my PhD research, it's that simplistic or literary-based approaches to film analysis and interpretations are still far too prevalent in biblical studies and theology (even sometimes with well-established film-and-religion folks who should know better!).
  13. Michael, is there a YouTube link which includes subtitles? Criterion Channel isn't available in the UK, and the only video I've found is in French (my reading French is decent; my spoken French, not as much).
  14. Joel Mayward

    Lourdes

    I watched this for consideration for the 2020 Top 100, and I am a bit floored by that ending (in a good way!). What a provocative, powerful film. I've seen Hausner's Little Joe and Amour Fou, but this is really striking. I'm curious as to the color palette, as the seemingly deliberate choice of the color red appears to suggest something. Really well-crafted from opening to closing shots.
  15. So, I watched this for the first time a week ago, and while I loved the cinematography and framing, I honestly struggled to see what made this film one of the greatest or most influential films in cinema's history. It's often described as a turning point r.e. post-war film (Michael even says such!), but what specifically shifted after this? Is it the seeming lack of concern for Anna? Because I was surprised by how the search for her didn't just disappear in the second half of the film—Claudia is wondering about Anna throughout the latter half, and there are numerous overt moments in the dialogue between Claudia and Sandro where Anna could be (even if these clues are implausible—why would Anna be hiding in an abandoned town in the hills?). I suppose I was really disappointed by Sandro, whose behavior seems less "shocking" and more selfish/lecherous, almost typical. So that final shot strikes me as sad, but perhaps not in a typical way, i.e. Claudia seems to be returning to and consoling the man who just lustfully went after another woman, when she'd really be better off without him (she's Monica Vitti—she can do better than this guy!). I'll give the other films in Antonioni's trilogy a look, and will need to revisit this film to understand it better, but I'll say for now that it impressed it, but didn't affect me.
  16. Joel Mayward

    Cloud Atlas

    When I read this, I heard it in David Lynch's voice, as if Gordon Cole were yelling, "put it all on 13!" Back to Cloud Atlas: a common theme in each of the six stories is that there is some sort of revolution being fought, a "transgression of boundaries," and at least a few moments a character will explicitly state this theme aloud in the narration. But by the end, as generally everyone was dying horrible and bloody deaths, I wondered what everyone was fighting for. If boundaries don't matter, if everything is just happening over and over in a cycle, and if death is inevitable (and for a few characters, apparently preferable), then there's a not-too-subtle romanticizing or glorification of what amounts to suicide. It essentially amounts to this: "Everything happens for a reason...which is that nothing really matters. We are all connected...so, prepare for death or even go kill yourself." And I cannot wrap my mind around that idea. Also, because of the editing and structure of the storylines, which I admit kept my attention at least (the stories were either predictably easy to follow, or absolutely indecipherable for me—the stories set in the future especially so, where I had to look up the plot summaries on Wikipedia). I can appreciate the ambition on display, just how bonkers the film is in its makeup and such. But the race- and gender-swapping was not a positive element, nor was the gruesome violence. And Tom Hanks' accents for various characters genuinely made me cringe. Still, I find it intriguing that some audiences genuinely love the film, and I want to understand what they see and what I didn't/couldn't see.
  17. Joel Mayward

    Cloud Atlas

    Resurrecting this thread by way of quoting Christian in order to say that these are my sentiments exactly. I found this to be a deeply troubling, even perhaps an unintentionally nihilistic or absurdist film in its endless violence and eternal recurrence. But it seems that some folks appreciate it, even love it. I did enjoy Hugo Weaving as the Babadook. Otherwise, I genuinely need someone to help me understand the meaning behind it all.
  18. Joel Mayward

    Frisco Jenny

    This film appears to be totally unavailable in the UK apart from an import DVD, which is quite frustrating, as I've been really hoping to see it based on Darren's praise.
  19. I also nominated Singin' in the Rain. I have so many thoughts about this, but as I'm about to head to bed, I'll keep these brief and preliminary: I think there is a link between holiness and humor, in that the postures of joy and hope in the midst of a broken and ostensibly cruel world are nothing short of miraculous. There is something deeply spiritual about genuine, deep, good laughter. It's cathartic, it's communal, it's contagious, and it's healing. And Singin' in the Rain is not only a perfectly-crafted musical comedy which also has a complex and layered perspective on the medium of cinema itself—it's a film about film, after all—but it's also consistently fun, and (as Darren mentioned) quite pleasurable. It is cinematic goodness. And that consistency in its goodness is incredible to me, how it brings a smile every single time and I never seem to tire of it. The musical genre is one that I typically find too over-the-top and obvious (I know, that's part of the style!), but Singin' in the Rain is as if the goodness of the created world were turned up to 11. It's not escapist; it's...emphasist; it's intensely and vibrantly reminding us of what is important and what we are capable of as human beings. Even in its more shallow or cynical moments, there's an underlying lightheartedness to it all, a hidden knowing wink that everything will turn out all right. It's empowering; renewed in spirit, we can face the most dreaded rainstorm with a smile and a song. On a personal level, it's one of the only movies my film-hating children have ever watched all the way through and enjoyed, then requested to watch again or quoted from it later (the only other such films they've liked: My Neighbor Totoro, Sherlock Jr., Mary Poppins, and The Sound of Music). So that's very significant to me, in that I will always have the memory of them laughing uncontrollably at "Make 'Em Laugh" and "Moses Supposes" and "Singin' in the Rain."
  20. Joel Mayward

    Monsieur Vincent

    I'm really glad this was nominated—it was on an early version of my list but I ended up removing it. It's definitely worth seeking out and viewing.
  21. Bumping this thread for our Top 100 consideration. If you have not yet seen Embrace of the Serpent, you definitely should make it a priority. I'm not sure where it's streaming in North America, but it is currently available on Kanopy (depending on your library).
  22. This article quoted by Beth has a taxonomy of 25 characteristics displayed in cinematic Christ-figures.
  23. I have come to realize that many of the remaining unseen nominees for me are in the almost-3-hours-or-longer category: A Brighter Summer Day, Cloud Atlas, Jodhaa Akbar, Fiddler on the Roof, Mysteries of Lisbon, The Turin Horse. This may sound silly, but any suggestions for how one goes about watching these longer films in segments so as to not fall asleep? I'm an advocate for watching a film uninterrupted and on the largest screen available, but with three young children at home, distractions happen. So I usually find myself starting a film after their bedtime (or at least when they finally fall asleep), which means I'm sometimes starting a film close to 9:00pm, and thus likely to nod off. Beyond caffeine, any practical ideas?
  24. I think one could make the argument exegetically, but my issue is that usually Christian scholars of religion approach such films with a posture of supposed "dialogue" where their theological hermeneutic ends up having both the first and final word in interpretations of the film, without necessarily allowing the film to speak for itself. Such "dialogue" ends up becoming a "monologue" where the theologian or religious film critic uses the film to illustrate their theological/religious viewpoint. And that's what this particular paper felt like, especially in the admission that the scholar had not engaged with researching the Maori religious beliefs at all. So, I think I *am* actually saying that Christian theology is often employed as a hegemonic lens, a sort of "theological imperialism," to use a phrase my doctoral supervisor uses. But I also do think that divine truths and resonances can and do appear in ostensibly non-religious cultural works, which can be discerned in a Christian way. I do take your point—there are Christological resonances in Whale Rider in the character of Pai, and one could make a valid interpretation about the film in this way. But I would question any view of the film that only or primarily viewed Whale Rider in this way, because I'm not at all convinced that the film or filmmakers are doing this, i.e. presenting Pai as a clear Christ figure, rather than a savior figure in Maori spirituality and culture.
  25. Do we really not have a thread devoted to Playtime? This is the only one I could find. I'm working on a long-form essay on Playtime and thought I'd check A&F to see what's been said. As Playtime is a nominee for the 2020 Top 100, I'd also recommend giving it a view (or re-view). It's a film I appreciate more ever time I revisit it.
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