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Joel Mayward

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Everything posted by Joel Mayward

  1. 1) The more I consider it, I think I prefer we start from scratch. No grandfathering (or grandmothering). All nominations come from this year's iteration of A&F community list-making. 2) Maybe the "golden ticket" idea into the Top 100 if there are not truly enough nominees? But I'd prefer to delay on this until we see what comes out of the various Top 25 lists. 3) I still like the 3-films-per-director limit, but I can appreciate Ken's response, that it may not matter until we have a list of nominations.
  2. I like your hypothesis, Ken, and think it's worth considering further. When you just look at the still frames, some of those vertical lines are so obvious that they have to be intentional (especially the brick wall shots). The scene with Timur is definitely unique in its composition, as it's more of a close-up than a medium shot, primarily outside/exterior, and shot in a long take where the camera shifts back and forth rather than leaving both characters within the frame (an uncut shot/reverse shot). I've also wondered if nearly every shot of Sandra in motion when walking is primarily an upward climb of some sort, whether climbing stairwells or up a street or a literal hill (the one major exception I can think of is when she comes down the stairs after
  3. This could make for a great future Top 25 topic.
  4. I want to reiterate this central point from my earlier post. Tangentially, I recall that Ebert included Dekalog on his Sight and Sound poll lists for years, until in 2012 when they changed the rules and Dekalog was considered 10 short films, and thus essentially ineligible. So he replaced it with The Tree of Life on his 2012 list.
  5. I'm quite happy not making exceptions for Dekalog, Three Colors, or other trilogies/series (the Apu or Before trilogies, for example), and sticking with the guidelines Darren suggested in an above post. But I also would not be surprised if this approach will mean Dekalog in particular wouldn't end up on the final list at all, if individual episodes from Dekalog were nominated. This would be a significant shift from earlier iterations of the Top 100, where Dekalog was #2 (2010) and #4 (2011). Perhaps I'd be mistaken and there's a favorite individual section from Dekalog which would stand out in the nominations and voting. Again, I'm still not suggesting that we make an exception, only that we are aware of what that approach would entail for this new list. For me, I do view Dekalog as a whole rather than a series of individual films (and I think Kieslowski ultimately viewed it as such, though this is debatable), and I think its impact/significance is precisely in receiving the film as an epic whole, which is distinct from the trilogies considered or something like Twin Peaks: The Return. But I'm also quite willing to concede for the sake of a smoother list-making process.
  6. I feel like I need to confess that I've been trying to create a list of 25 films to nominate, and it is *difficult*. Too much great cinema.
  7. Andrew, I'm so glad you gave this film a look. I remember it coming out the same year as The Immigrant, a film I considered to be Cotillard's best performance...until I saw Two Days, One Night. One aspect of the Dardennes's aesthetic that will likely only get a footnote in my PhD dissertation is their use of music in films. Every film lacks a score or soundtrack, except for two instances: the very last shot of Lorna's Silence, and four moments in The Kid with a Bike. But every one of their films (with the except of The Son, I think) has a "music" moment in it, a scene where characters are singing or dancing along to music, often in a way that isn't particularly vital to the plot machinations, but is still very revealing about the characters themselves. I think the two music moments in Two Days, One Night—the songs on the radio, "Gloria" and "La nuit n'en finit plus"—carry a lot of symbolic weight regarding Sandra's transformation over the course of the weekend's events. The Dardennes are definitely influenced by socialist/leftist political theory and philosophy, and their early documentaries are mainly about telling the stories of workers in the post-industrial wasteland of their hometown, Seraing, where all of their films are set (well, Seraing and Liege). One example is that the name of their first production company, "Dérives," was at least partially inspired by Guy Debord's situationist theory/philosophy. And I would suggest that every one of their films (apart from perhaps Young Ahmed, which is noteworthy) has the major theme of "work" and "money" embedded within it, i.e. what is the purpose of work for human meaning-making, and what is the role of money in that purpose? For instance, the opening scene of The Promise is Igor stealing money from an older woman's purse; the opening shot of Lorna's Silence is on her hands as she deposits a large sum of money in the bank; Rosetta, as Ken noted, is desperately trying to get and keep a job. Where someone like Ken Loach is very deliberate and somewhat preachy in his critiques of capitalism within his films (and the Dardennes have produced some of Loach's recent films), the Dardennes' critique is more subtle and indirect, focusing on individuals' stories and provoking questions in us as to how they arrived to be this situation, i.e. what are the systems and cultural norms in place that have led this person to these actions and circumstances?
  8. I'd be much more open to grandfathering in Dekalog than Three Colors, if we were going to go that route. I also like the idea of a "golden ticket" film we can include on the final list, but that might also depend on how many people vote (i.e. if 30 people voted, and thus 30 "golden ticket" films were included, would that final list be a reflection of our *community* if nearly 1/3 of the films were individual choices/preferences?). Or would the "golden ticket" essentially be an Honorable Mentions list, films separate from the final Top 100 but still worth including?
  9. I think I can say that I agree with all of these parameters, without qualification. I like the idea of having fairly wide open boundaries for the initial individual 25 lists, then to narrow those boundaries more in the final voting/ranking for the top 100.
  10. I would agree with Darren and Ken that Two Days, One Night is the most emotionally dynamic and accessible of the brothers' major films, and it also might appeal to you, Andrew, from a mental health perspective. I think it's one of the only Dardenne films which directly addresses depression and mental health concerns. It's also perhaps my all-time favorite political film. The Promise is also interesting because while it has the signature Dardennian feel to it, it's also still quite dynamic in the performances and emotions, and the camera movements and editing aren't quite as shaky or close-up as Rosetta or The Son. And if you want a wonderful anomaly, Lorna's Silence is, in my opinion, the strangest and most narratively complex of their films, almost like their attempt at film noir (though The Unknown Girl could be described as noir too).
  11. Also, Young Ahmed opens in the U.S. this week in New York. As far as I can tell from Kino Lorber's website, it will play in four cities (NYC, LA, New Orleans, and Seattle), one theater and one week apiece...and that may be it.
  12. The Kid with a Bike and The Son are the two films I recommend that best capture the Dardennes' distinct aesthetic in similar-yet-different ways; I would be willing to say that both are "perfect" films. Two Days, One Night is, I would say, the Dardennes' most readily accessible and affecting films, mainly due to the performance from Marion Cotillard and the narrative structure. And Rosetta is just so intense, relentless from its opening shot to the final frame, and definitely worth seeing for the lead debut performance from Emilie Dequenne as the eponymous character. Andrew, which of their films have you seen before, and what do you think was off-putting about it? I think one of my first of their films (if not *the* first) was The Child, which I really struggled with initially because of the deeply unlikeable nature and actions of the central character, Bruno. I didn't rewatch it for years, and it's still a "lesser" Dardennes film for me.
  13. Blind submissions makes sense to me. Would the Top 25 submissions be ranked or unranked lists? Regarding overlap, I think we could look at this past year's top 10 lists of 2019—how much overlap is there, and how much diversity? It's just for one year, but there are many outliers and idiosyncrasies, as well as many films common to our lists.
  14. My initial reaction to Darren's suggestion of submitting personal top 25 lists for a starting point is YES. It raises questions about procedure (i.e. when and how we would submit such lists, and when/how to vote on the subsequent communal list), but it'd certainly shake things up a bit, and in a good way, IMO.
  15. In previous list-making, films needed only one second, while TV series (e.g. Dekalog) or trilogies where the films were made at the same time or were deemed interconnected enough that you needed all three to appreciate the narrative (e.g. LOTR) needed a third. Regarding #1, I have a mixed feelings. On the one hand, by grandfathering in the previous Top 100 (2011), we can focus our collective attention on newer or different nominations while also appreciating what was contributed in the past, and it probably includes films which might not be nominated now due to lower website traffic, but still reflect A&F's historical ethos (i.e. it's more "traditional"). On the other hand, there's a part of me that wants to start afresh and create a whole new list that reflects A&F *now* in 2020. So, if we chose to nominate films that were on previous A&F lists, it's because we (i.e. whoever is presently participating at A&F) find those films to be valuable and significant, not because they were grandfathered in. Which is all to say, I'd be okay grandfathering the list more for practical purposes (we wouldn't have to make so many nominations!), but would prefer to create a new list for 2020, with new nominations from the active participants here.
  16. Joel Mayward

    The Trial

    Finally watched The Trial, and there's not a single uninteresting shot in this film. Not sure it sticks the landing in the final scenes, but everything leading up to it is perfectly nightmarish.
  17. What a non-reveal. Even with my screen's brightness turned up all the way, you can't really see anything in this shot beyond a chin.
  18. This is a film I would love to see considered and/or included in the 2020 Arts and Faith Top 100 list.
  19. Do we not have a thread for this amazing concert documentary? The closest thing I could find is this thread about Byrne and Eno collaborating, with some comments about how incredible this film is. I was expecting it to be good, as far too many people had sung its praises, but I'm not sure I could have anticipated it being this good. I'm not super familiar with Talking Heads' music besides the more popular well-known stuff, so I didn't imagine I'd be so profoundly moved by the film, but there's just a prodigal amount of joy and generosity here. I'd love to hear others' thoughts on this film; I'm still in recovery mode, trying to discern just how and why it struck me the way it did.
  20. Joel Mayward

    Night and Fog

    The 2020 Film-Philosophy conference is happening in Toronto this upcoming summer, hosted by John Caruana and Mark Cauchi. I've submitted a paper on the Dardennes, so if it gets accepted, I'll be back in Toronto in July. You should submit something too!
  21. This is what Steven wrote at First Things back in 2011 to describe the intent behind the Top 100 list: "Spiritual and moral concerns" as a general unifying principle, as well as the list being a reflection of the personal journeys of the voting members—this all still rings true to me for this new list. Regarding the missional aspect described by Ken, while it may not be the primary concern (i.e. creating a list in order to get more clicks and/or forum members and participation), I will say that the Top 100 list was my introduction to Arts and Faith over a decade ago with the 2008 iteration, and I've encountered a number of people over the years who have told me about this "Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films" list they found once (e.g., a professor I had in seminary was elated when he learned I was involved with A&F, because the 2010 list introduced him to Dekalog). So, even if publicity isn't necessarily the main motivation, we should still appreciate that publishing a list—both online, and as a book!—is a deliberately public act which invites those outside of A&F to consider both the films on the list, as well as the nature of the online community itself. If we were going to do a second ballot for ranking, I think something like this would be doable (or even a Top 25), rather than ranking 100 films. I will say that the second ranking ballots have made a significant difference for many of the final Ecumenical Jury lists; whether that's a benefit or not is debatable (i.e. if film moves from #3 or #4 to #1). Well said. I think this speaks of a formative/transformative aspect of the films we'd like to appear on such a list as well—these are films which may have affected and changed us, guided us and challenged us, enriched us and enlightened us, expanded our spiritual/moral/personal/existential imaginations, made us more aware. And such contemplation and appreciation is perhaps akin to a spiritual practice or discipline in the vein of Thomas Merton or mystical theologians, where contemplatio is to "gaze" at the invisible transcendent presence and be more aware its reality.
  22. To Darren's point about what exactly we're voting on, I do think having some connection to "spirituality" remains valuable, even as we could define "spirituality" on fairly broad and inclusive terms, using language like a "recognition and celebration of transcendence, connection, meaning, and truth, usually (but not necessarily) in relation to a higher power or deity," or something along those lines (I do like the word "contemplation" too). What I've appreciated about the Arts and Faith Top 100 Films in the past are the genuine appreciation of arts and faith, even as both have wider connotations than merely an ostensibly "religious" film—Brakhage, Tati, Kiarostami, and the Dardennes were there next to Dreyer, Bresson, Rohmer, etc. They were films that expanded my understanding of both the distinctions of the cinematic medium and my understanding of God/humanity/time/existence/love/suffering/connection, etc.
  23. Okay, I see that there was a poll for the 2011 voting process, which asked a number of questions about short films, voting scale, inclusion of TV series and trilogies, etc. You can see the results of the poll here: If the poll results were followed, then short films weren't included in 2011, there was a limit to 3 films per director, there was a 1-5 scale (not 1-10), there was a cutoff release date of December 31 2008 (so, two years), and nominations had to be seconded (which seems normative). For the 2010 list, the "Spiritually Significant" label was dropped by IMAGE, all the previous included films (about 150 films) were grandfathered in automatically, A&F members could nominate up to 25 additional films in a thread, and (to quote Greg Wolfe in the linked thread), "We are going to try to get away without worrying too much about the issue of eligibility." It was a 1-5 scale, weighted voting by post count. There was also something about a "Peculiar Treasures" list which was going to be made by specifically chosen film critics? Here's the link to the post. I've never seen a Peculiar Treasures list, so perhaps this was abandoned or published elsewhere? I've not found anything regarding how many votes a film needs to qualify to be on the list, i.e. how at least 50% of the jurors on the Ecumenical Jury have to have seen/voted on a film for it to be included. Any thoughts on this from the community? So, a final question (for now): should there be a similar poll like there was for the 2011 list, voting on how we'll do the nomination/voting process which we'll democratically follow based on the results? Or, should the list organizers determine the nomination/voting parameters based on feedback from the comments and past lists, which is more "top down" but a bit more streamlined?
  24. Have "short films" not been eligible in the past? IIRC, a Brakhage collection was included at one point.
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