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Joel Mayward

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Everything posted by Joel Mayward

  1. This is currently streaming on Netflix in the UK (and possibly in the US as well?). I had to stretch it out over two nights, which somehow felt appropriate for this film. It's a bit of a slog, and intentionally so, in order to keep us in that same space with Lazarus Dante Remus, a name as saturated with symbolic allusion as Mr Lazarescu is with health problems. In our current pandemic crisis, where so many hospitals are overwhelmed with death, this might not have been the right time to watch the apparent failure of a socialized medical system. Interestingly, Netflix UK describes the film as this: "Amid a pandemic, an ailing man waits for his illness to overtake him as doctors try to pinpoint a diagnosis." I'm not sure that description fits the film at all. Probably John Q.
  2. Does this confirm my speculation that on Tatooine, the suns rise and set on the same horizon, and in the same order/position?
  3. Michael, I didn't address this in the essay, but I do in the corresponding chapter in my PhD thesis. The Dardennes' films do this frequently: who is the eponymous "child" in The Child—Bruno, Sofia, their baby, or even the adolescent boy Bruno has to save from the river? Who is the titular "unknown girl" in The Unknown Girl—the deceased young woman, or Jenny the doctor? Even the "silence" from Lorna's Silence may have multiple references. Ricoeur says parables as narrative-metaphors are both provocative and polysemic, containing potentially an infinite number of valid interpretations depending on the context they're being "read" from.
  4. Thank you so much, Andrew!
  5. Did we really not nominate Bergman's Persona?
  6. YES. Regarding Dekalog III, I suppose I don't have major objections to the nomination, although I will say that I wouldn't vote for it in the same way that I would vote for Dekalog as a whole. I ranked the film/series/whatever-it-is a few years ago, and III was #7 on my list. So, if only two Kieslowski films can make the list, I would frankly be quite surprised if Dekalog III outranks The Double Life of Veronique and Three Colors: Blue in our collective voting.
  7. Thanks for your openness about this. FWIW, my assumption has always been that book royalties would primarily contribute to keeping the A&F website going. And for my own personal academic pursuits, it's nice to have a line or two of publications added to one's CV. But yeah, I'm under no illusion that we'll be making loads of money from book sales, unless somehow a list of essays about "Spiritually Significant Films" suddenly resonates with the wider cultural zeitgeist.
  8. I wondered if there would be any Mann films nominated, but I'm pretty sure there aren't. If Ryan Holt were still active at A&F, I imagine there would have been nominations for Mann and De Palma films. I also noticed that we no longer have any films from the Apu trilogy, but we do have two Satyajit Ray films.
  9. Unfortunately, The Son is very difficult, if not impossible, to find on streaming. It is available on DVD in the US. Depending on your library service, some of these movies are available on Kanopy. For instance, I found Yella, The Death of Mr Lazarescu, and Tuesday, After Christmas all on Kanopy.
  10. Bumping this thread in our consideration for the Top 100 list. I nominated both this film and Singin' in the Rain, as both are musical films which contain a contagious sense of joy. They're about music, but they're also decidedly cinematic. And if our understanding of "spiritually significant" encompasses limit-experiences that aren't just depressing, weighty, existential, or about death (e.g. Ikiru, Wild Strawberries, Tokyo Story, Diary of a Country Priest, etc.), but are also those joyful, ecstatic, evanescent moments which make us more aware of the goodness of life and existence, then certainly Stop Making Sense is a spiritual (even a religious) film.
  11. Oh, I have all sorts of thoughts about how solely interpreting the Dardennes' films through a Levinasian lens is decidedly limiting (and ironically "un-Levinasian," as Levinas seemed to dislike visual art and cinema). But even if we take that interpretive approach, I'm also not sure Two Days, One Night is the culmination or conclusion to this Dardennian face-to-face encounter motif, as it also occurs (but is purposefully subverted) in The Unknown Girl, and happens in its own distinct way in the climax of Young Ahmed too. But even as I think The Son and The Kid with a Bike are the strongest of the Dardennes' films, I also nominated Two Days, One Night because I actually think it's a bit of an anomaly in the Dardennes' oeuvre, both formally and thematically. The use of a mainstream famous actress in Cotillard, the simple-to-follow narrative structure of Sandra's journey, the digital camerawork which is much more stable and less shaky, the warmer color palette, and the concluding non-abrupt "happy" ending are all much more accessible than any other Dardenne brothers film, which is why it's the film I typically recommend to people when they ask which of the Dardennes' films they should check out. So, in this sense, it may be helpful on our list as an entry point to challenging social realist Belgian cinema.
  12. I am definitely in for this book project, and I could contribute more than one entry/chapter, if that's a possibility. I'm very interested in writing on what "spiritually significant" means for both the list and for cinema as a whole, especially in light of our community's ongoing discussion about it. I'd also be happy to write about any Dardenne brothers films which make the list, but I'm also interested in potential themes that may emerge from the final Top 100, particularly around memory or time. Ken, do you want us to submit formal abstracts or proposals to you, or (as you mentioned above) are we to send them to the publisher?
  13. I strongly debated nominating Andrzej Żuławski's Possession and Hiroshi Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes, but ultimately figured they were too "out there" for this particular list. I tried to focus on films that prompted some sort of paradigm shift, either in my understanding of what the cinematic medium was capable of and/or my own understanding of God/transcendence/existence itself. Both films had a profound affect on me when I watched them, but both are kinda bonkers in their own unique ways.
  14. Okay, this and Rob's comment makes me think a 6-point scale could be really great for this process. I really like the idea of the rubric, and use a similar system for my own star ratings on my website and Letterboxd. (On a related note: is there any possible way to see Wavelength beyond crappy YouTube uploads? I've wanted to watch it for years.)
  15. I had assumed it would be too, which is why I didn't nominate it originally, so I'm grateful for the +1 opportunity. I wonder this about a few of the nominated films—with limited access to libraries and such at the moment, I know there are great films that I simply can't see at the moment because Criterion Channel isn't in the UK and the uni library is locked up for the foreseeable future (this latter reality is a Very Big Deal for final-year PhD candidates).
  16. This is an excellent pick, and I wanted to point out that Embrace of the Serpent is also a nominated film about indigenous spirituality.
  17. I'm a fan of Reichardt's work, though I find I'm more contemplating it afterwards rather than affected by it while watching, which is perhaps why I didn't nominate any of her films. And good catch on the one Akerman film, Darren. I haven't seen it!
  18. I can appreciate not wanting to lose momentum, though I want to see as many films as I possibly can before voting...which, now that I think about it, prompts me to figure out how many films I've seen/not seen on from the 300+ films. Which is to say, if May 4 is the chosen date, I'm in. Update: Turns out I have seen 250 of the nominated films, not including +1s.
  19. My quick kneejerk thoughts to the questions: 1) +1 deadline should be very soon, whether Ken's 72 hours suggestion or at least by the end of this week (April 10). 2) I like the idea of a 7-point scale over 5- or 6-points, as it allows for a "neutral" middle while better differentiating between strong approval and general approval (and disapproval, etc.). I can see how a 10-point scale would also be doable, as this matches Letterboxd, IMBd, and other 5-star rating systems that allow 1/2 points. And Darren, thanks for developing an app for voting! Perhaps it could be adjusted for use with the EJ in the future? 3) I'd like to settle before voting too, even if I'd be curious to see other iterations. Two director limit is my preference at this point (I could be swayed towards three directors, but I doubt we're going in that direction). 4) I think having a Top 25 ranked list makes a lot of sense, and feels feasible. That said, I think we need to consider Ken's point about whether or not the Top 25 would be an arrangement of the actual ranked Top 25 films, or our own personal Top 25 of the 100 final films (i.e. I rank 25 of any of the films). I think I'd prefer the former over the latter (though I could easily be persuaded to change my mind on this), as our initial 25 lists kinda feel like our own personal 25, in a way. Strange to say this, but I like the restriction of having to rank 25 films, even whether or not I've seen them. When it comes to the due date for voting, I'm inclined to have a date later than May 4, which is less than a month away to try to catch up on many possible films (I, sadly, think the social restrictions and quarantine measures won't necessarily be over by then, at least in the UK, unless a vaccine is made readily available and doesn't make matters worse). Would June 1 be too late? That's eight weeks away from today. 5) I'm curious if Christianity Today would be more interested in at least having some sort of write-up about the list this time around. The editors there seem to change quite frequently though, so it's difficult to say; right now, there's an editor there who is very interested in getting the "Entertainment" parts of CT back up and running. And I don't know what A&F's relationship is like with Image any more these days, as so much has changed there as well.
  20. Here's me: The Kid (1921) - Somehow heartbreaking and humorous, its the Chaplin classic film that I find most affecting, perhaps due to Jackie Coogan's phenomenal child performance. The Red Shoes (1948) - Maybe the greatest film about art ever made? Germany Year Zero (1948) - I could have picked any number of Rossellini films—particularly ones which are more overtly religious or spiritual—but this one remains the most haunting for me. The landscape of a real-life nightmare. Singin’ in the Rain (1952) - A perfect, joyous film. The Night of the Hunter (1955) - One of my all-time favorite films. Some day I will write an article (or book!) on the religious side of James Agee, film critic and this film's screenwriter. The 400 Blows (1959) - Coming-of-age stories strike me as distinctly spiritual and transformative—they're stories of how we "grow up" into a new person, how the seed of our Self sprouts into its more mature form. It's why I've advocated for a Top 25 coming-of-age list every year, and why I think Truffaut's classic should be considered here. Deep down, we are all still the person we were as a middle school-aged person, and the meaningful experiences we had during that season of life can shape our entire life trajectory. Wanda (1970) - Upon a rewatch this week, there are so many religious allusions in this, from Wanda walking through hills of coal in angelic white, to the presence of large churches on the edge of the frame, to the strange visit to Holy Land USA. And I think every single one of the Dardennes' films makes some visual nod to this film. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) - A coming-of-age film as well as a nightmare of sorts. Blade Runner (1982) - From what I can tell, this film was not included on previous Top 100s. I cannot fathom why. A philosophical treatise in cinematic form. Stop Making Sense (1984) - Another perfect, joyous film. Secrets and Lies (1996) - This captures the adult adoptee experience in remarkable ways. Mulholland Drive (2001) - Maybe it's cliche to say that this is the best Lynch film (apart from Twin Peaks: The Return), but if that's wrong, I don't wanna be right. I love that we have more than one Lynch nominee on our list. The Son (2002) - I mean, it's *The Son*. See my 5000+ word essay on it here. Lost in Translation (2003) - This was one of those before/after films for me; watching it as a senior in high school, raised in a conservative home where movies weren't usually allowed, this moved me profoundly then, and still moves me now. A picture of the need for belonging and community, of feeling alone even when surrounded by people, and the mystery of human connection, i.e. why we love the people we love. I recognize now that there is a possible argument to made for co-opting culture ("using" Japan to tell a white upperclass tale of ennui), but there's still something humanistic in the best way about this film. Children of Men (2006) - A Nativity story. The Secret of Kells (2009) - I love the colors and images, as well as the resonance of the story and its celebration of both sacred texts and sacred relationships. The Tree of Life (2011) - My all-time favorite film. The Kid with a Bike (2011) - My other all-time favorite film. Upstream Color (2013) - I wrote an academic journal article about Carruth's cinema, and described this film as a pneumatological post-secular film—there is a Spirit to this film, but not in any traditional sense. Two Days, One Night (2014) - A beautiful and cathartic Via Dolorosa. Selma (2014) - A biopic which powerfully captures what it means to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. I find myself increasingly drawn to films about saintly figures who practiced social justice (Romero, Of Gods and Men, Monsieur Vincent). We need a really good Bonhoeffer or Dorothy Day biopic. The Fits (2016) - Every time I've shown this film to others, it's elicited a strong reaction: either they hate it and don't get it, or they're deeply moved and can't stop talking about it. Blessed are those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Cameraperson (2016) - At the very last second, even as I writing the email to Darren, I included this film rather than Rashomon (I figured someone else would nominate Rashomon, which apparently didn't happen!). A montage memento mori. First Reformed (2018) - It prompted a spiritual and existential crisis for me, so I suppose that's something. A Hidden Life (2019) - Though there are so many moments, two parallel scenes really stick with me: 1) when Franz gets a suitcase for an older woman on a train, and 2) when Franz picks up a fallen umbrella in a store and puts it back in its place. The smallest, most insignificant gestures of kindness and goodness are captured by Malick's camera. I deliberately focused on films that were not included in previous Top 100 iterations, as well as more recent works (i.e. since 2011) that were worth our consideration. Which is why no Dreyer or Tarkovsky or Bresson or Ozu appears here—I figured others would have that covered. But the fact that films like The Red Shoes or Blade Runner had not appeared on a list seemed like a significant omission.
  21. From my perusal of the nominees, we failed to nominate any films from Kelly Reichardt, Jane Campion, Chantal Akerman, or Lucrecia Martel. That feels like an oversight. And yet, despite my desire to nominate something from one of these incredible directors, my +1 is Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon (1943), which I watched for the first time back in February, but which has lingered in my mind ever since. A surreal Lynchian avant-garde dreamscape, it's now streaming on Kanopy.
  22. We nominated The Promise, The Son, The Kid with a Bike, Two Days, One Night, and The Unknown Girl. Which means we didn't nominate Rosetta (!), The Child, Lorna's Silence, and Young Ahmed. The lack of Black Narcissus is felt, but instead of the latter, I nominated The Red Shoes, a film which AFAIK has not been on one of the Top 100 lists.
  23. WOW. Thanks Darren, for your coordination of this part of the list-making process. It'll take me some time to personally process what's here (and what's missing), but my initial reaction is overwhelmingly positive. So many great films I'd hoped to nominate myself but didn't are here, as are so many films I'm now thinking, "yeah, of course!" as well as a few I've not seen or heard of before (and a few which honestly have elicited a "huh?" reaction). Lots to consider here.
  24. Just by way of commentary, I think the questions and observations raised in this ongoing discussion thread strike me as being insightful, charitable, and fruitful, and the final Top 100 list will be stronger for it (and hopefully we'll be better film-viewers and critics as well). Even if Ken still doesn't like Magnolia. Some very quick thoughts: 1) I like the limit of two films per director, but wouldn't like limiting it to just one, 2) the "juke the stats" idea is highly problematic on a number of levels, but I don't get the impression that Darren or others are really interested in going that route, 3) including LGBTQ+ filmmakers in our potential +1 makes sense to me (e.g. Stephen Cone's Princess Cyd was a film I considered nominating), even as 4) I agree with Ken's observation that our apparent auteur focus can sometimes overemphasize the director against actress/actor, screenwriter, editor, etc., so perhaps our write-ups and the book commentary can draw attention to these other cinematic dimensions, and 5) I just now realized I somehow didn't nominate a single Wes Anderson or Coen brothers film.
  25. Though I rarely watch TV series these days, when I do, for some reason I seem to be drawn to comedy series over dramatic. Thus, I have been watching seasons 5 and 6 of Brooklyn 99. I also anticipate re-visiting Twin Peaks: The Return at some point in this pandemic situation. And we will watch various BBC shows in the evening as a family; the last one was Arctic Academy, a reality TV show about Scottish teenagers going on an expedition to the Arctic circle in Greenland.
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