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Jeremy Ratzlaff

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Everything posted by Jeremy Ratzlaff

  1. Oh good - thanks, Ken. Just poor timing on my part. As silly as it may sound, I think the main trouble is that there's currently one click too many. If you just click on List (suggesting singular), you're presented with the entirely randomized "Latest Films Added" list, (which on any given day might make it appear as though Lego Batman is an Arts & Faith top pick), and it takes several moments to realize that the list you're actually looking for can be clicked in the less eye catching column on the far right. Could this be addressed as easily as having the List button take you directly to the current Top 100 list? Obviously the rest of the lists should remain accessible as well, but I wonder if they can be relegated to an "other lists" button for the sake of not losing any potential newcomers who are likely here because they're just hoping to check out *the* list. A bolder idea would be to have artsandfaith.com immediately direct to a splash page that offers two big, visually intuitive options: Forum or List. ...but all that's easy for me to say. I haven't touched web design stuff in years, but I'd be curious to poke around a bit if you were to trust me with any kind of back end access, Ken. I'd primarily be looking for ways to just "finesse" the visual intuitiveness using what you've already installed.
  2. Oh, I've viewed my own fair share of YouTube video essay criticism. There's no shortage of mystery as to where some of the more aggressive populist viewpoints get their steam from. Perhaps drawing a comparison between Last Jedi and Mulan doesn't make the most sense. I just don't currently know a single person in my day to day life who has had anything good to say about the new Mulan movie, which presents a strong dissonance from what I'd be expecting if I were to look at the critical consensus. I just don't remember that dissonance seeming so strong since Last Jedi. Ah, I didn't realize that. Interesting.
  3. I have a really basic question that I've been burning to get a satisfactory answer from movie critics for the last couple years now: Why are certain Disney mega movies seemingly the most divisive when it comes to audience and critics? I personally didn't care much for Mulan (2020) or Last Jedi, but that's less because there was anything I actively disliked about those films and more because I just didn't find anything of depth or interest (Mulan put me to sleep, and I don't really remember a single thing from Last Jedi with the exception of Laura Dern killing it). So while I don't relate to audience disdain / bandwagon backlash, I also find myself repeatedly puzzled when these uninteresting mega movies earn the "Certified Fresh" from critics seemingly without even trying, almost as if to spite the haters. What's happening here?
  4. This made my day! Thanks Jeffrey! I also agree with this, to be honest. I got some positive response from friends and acquaintances when I shared it myself, but I quickly realized that there was also some general confusion from those who had no idea what exactly this list was and with seemingly no way to just check it out at a glance. Ken, I'm not sure if you're currently working behind the scenes on some page updates, but at the moment of this posting I'm actually unable to find the lists on this website at all. Your links don't seem to be working (for me) as they should.
  5. This is exactly what I was very afraid of. Part of my own anticipation is that I had been excited to be able to recommend the "movie" version to so many friends and family that never had the opportunity to see the live performance, but after actually watching it for myself and feeling similarly exhausted, I have not mentioned it to anyone once... and in fact I rather hope they don't see it. It's such a massive shame that it was hyped up the way it was. It is, in some ways, actually a lesser experience than the bootleg camcorder versions that have been floating around the internet for years.
  6. My wife and I celebrated our anniversary just a month before the pandemic took hold by traveling to NYC to catch the show at the Richard Rodgers... and it was probably the most unifyingly impacted we've ever been by a piece of storytelling. Also... the timing of everything could not have possibly aligned more perfectly for Disney. As soon as it was first announced that Broadway was shutting down, my wife and I were talking about how "it would be insane for Disney execs not to push for an early release on their shiny new streaming platform." Hmm. I disagree with this, and I've spent most of the day today trying to fully parse out why. Even with braced expectations (I winced everytime Lin or Thomas would talk in an interview about how the movie both "gave you the best seat in the house" but was also "cinematic"), I found so many of the editing/camera angle decisions to be baffling. There is LOTS of cutting. I can relate to what the temptation probably felt like for the editor with at least ten different camera angles to play with and wanting to match the energy of the show, but my impression was that at least half of the cuts were unmotivated, which resulted in a jarring experience. I wonder how much the editing team was pressured to include the steadicam-on-stage-with-the-actors shots because those are what look really good in the trailer, even though they don't serve the experience of the production (and risk being even more jarring because keen-eyed viewers can tell they were taken from a different performance). That being said, I can't imagine the opportunity to capture a musical production on camera and not utilize even the occasional closeup, but everytime we see one (with all the glory of high definition sweat, unsubtle performance and harsh lighting) it's a reminder of all the ways that storytelling tools designed for live theater do not translate well to cinema.
  7. Congratulations on the NSI selection! I appreciated the last scene quite a lot. The earnest conversation with the older Sister resonated quite personally for me. I would of course love to see more in that vein! Even if keep finding yourself landing in that very small target niche, I believe that it's well-worth pursuing and I get really excited everytime I see valiant attempts at that tightrope.
  8. My feeling is that perhaps the "purest" option for these slots would be short, unedited clips from the films, unspoiled by trailer conventions. This clip from the beginning of Andrei Rublev is a good example. Alternatively, an option that would require a little more work could be something similar to the Criterion Channel's "Three Reasons" edits. I've always found those understated and brilliant, the way they wet your appetite for the film.
  9. Very exciting! Seeing this shake out the way it has has been an incredible treat, and I love the bits of trivia relating to the voting statistics. Thank you so much, Darren and Ken!
  10. Huh. My experience with Cloud Atlas has dramatically gotten *worse* for me. I tried showing it to my partner last year because I remembered thinking it was special the first time I saw it, but the only thing that held its value for me was the soundtrack.
  11. There's undoubtedly a "right and wrong side of history" to be on when broaching this topic, and that history is still far enough away from being settled that it seems next to impossible to enter it in such a way where strong and personal feelings aren't immediately invoked. In general I find myself agreeing with most of the content and certainly the spirit of Andrew's post, while simultaniously trying to suss out why it would feel so strange to see The Matrix pop up on a list like the one being discussed here. Perhaps it's because more people remember that film as a cultural touchstone directed by the Wachowski Brothers than would remember or even be aware of the fact that Lana and Lilly transitioned more recently, which would result in that film standing out and being confusing/controversial to such a degree that it would certainly overshadow and distract from every other film on the list. Can you imagine? It's not like anyone that would be interested in lists like this aren't already exhaustively familiar with The Matrix, so it's easy to anticipate the central talking point on its inclusion having far more to do with the method of its inclusion than with any qualities of the film itself. A statement for statement's sake? I try to imagine a hypothetical where a forgotten reel of Carl Dreyer is discovered that reveals a suppressed and lifelong dissociation with being a male. Had the times he lived in been different, he may have had the courage and/or incentive to come out to the public as female. Upon receiving word of this reel, would we (or other list makers) decide that Dreyer's films are now eligible for and would likely place at the very top of this list of Spiritually Significant Films by Women? Perhaps, but at what point would it start to feel unnecessary to catagorize films by particularly gendered directors at all? I think this is spinning off back to all the problems I find with catagorizing by auteur theory to begin with. While my personal experience in the film production industry mirrors what you might expect in the male/female ratio for *directors,* the majority of producers, casting directors, ADs, and screenwriters I know are female. Their influence on the content that is locally produced is greater than the influence of males, despite the fact that a male name more frequently takes the director's slot.
  12. I treasure Story of Film: An Odyssey dearly, while also finding bits of Cousin's voiceover silly at times. Perhaps because it presents itself more as a personal curation. The way he sort of clumsily sets up his creative b-roll shots with his cheap digital camera truly betrays it as a labour of earnest love. I can understand being put off by the way it often reaches, but more often than not there's so much value in the all the different destinations you didn't expect to get to that it's quickly forgivable. I really appreciated the way Jeff Overstreet referenced it as having "multiple legs all in different destinations" and leaning into so many surprising places, rather than just having two legs and going in a single direction. (Assuming I understood that correctly!) That's frankly what helps me find the one director approach to the Top 100 list more compelling. More legs, more leaning, more surprises.
  13. I'm also slightly confused/concerned by this poll... it says FIFTEEN MEMBERS HAVE VOTED at the top, but the breakdown of votes only adds up to 14. What? edit: Ken, so you'll be counting votes that are emailed to you and disregarding the results of this poll?
  14. That's wonderfully compelling! I really look forward to reading the accompanying write-up for each film, imagining each one being presented as a sort of entry portal into a bigger handful of spiritually significant work under the same director. (Assuming the vote goes that way.)
  15. How many strong feelings are going to be tied to the results, one way or the other, of the Ordet/Joan choice? My brain keeps spinning about this: there seems to be such a wildly extreme difference between the two films by Dreyer and the two films by Malick, for example. Malick's films are both stylistically identical, came out within the same decade, and were both written by him, I believe. That's a fine example of auteur theory. Dryer's films on the other hand were produced not only decades, but entire cinematic eras apart, are stylistically distinct from each other to the greatest degree, and for me at least presents a bigger affront to auteur theory as I understand it (Joan would not be anything without Falconetti). And if the limiting threshold is whatever name happens to be in the director's slot doesn't that cheapen just about every other unique factor that contributed to the film?
  16. This gives me quite a bit of comfort to read, as by far the most startling thing about the list for me was seeing three films in the top 25 that are less than five years old. The two Malicks up there make me feel particulary queasy, for some reason, even though I confess I did my part to help Tree of Life get there. Perhaps it has something to do with the unrivalled level of disdain so many seem to have for Malick's style, and how having those two right next to each other near the top potentially bends perception of the entire list, perhaps more so than other inclusions.
  17. I surmise this means that Phantom Thread would now be in the Top 100? Woah. I think the bthing I'll be most eager for is counting all the films that are less than ten years old! edit: or wait, did I read that wrong and Phantom Thread just narrowly missed?
  18. Speaking from the perspective of someone for whom the Top 100 list has been unspeakably formative in the journey of disovering international film to begin with - While I think making a one-film-per-director rule for the top 25 has a merit, especially after imagining the list in a curated book format as Daren mentioned, the Ordet/Joan problem is exactly what would make a rule like that seem particularly disappointing to me given the nature of those two films. Other than sharing the same director, they could hardly be more distinct from each other. If the concern is representing more diversity in selection, I would think a scenario that pushed Joan to #26 would have the opposite effect if it were to suddenly leave the Top 25 without such a rich example of cinema's silent era. (I imagine Sunrise might still be up there, but that's just an example!)
  19. Love this idea - I'm only slightly concerned about security as it relates to a widely accessible meeting. I know Zoom has jumped into action over the past month to address some of the concerns that were making headlines, however as recently as last week I had an acquaintance who was forced to shut down his virtual film premiere after someone bomblasted the meeting with pornography. With these forums being public/scrapable by bots, is there perhaps a more private way to make the invitation link accessible for those who are interested?
  20. My goodness, what an overwhelming response. Thank you, A&F community. I'm so encouraged by all the words written here not only for my own sake but because the vision and intention of this list has been made more apparent than ever, and that's a massively exciting thing to be apart of. Ken, that near-miss story is intense. I'm so grateful you stepped in the way you did! Checking in on these forums to read the A&F hot take after watching a film that surprised me has become almost a ritual ever since my first year of college and it would have been a devastating shock to see it just disappear one day. Can't wait to see the results!
  21. I was really pleasantly surprised to see this show on the list of nominations. My impression had been that Hertzfeldt-affinity was largely the property of a younger generation that (like me) came of age with internet video and followed (and probably pushed) the quirky, post-modern off-beatness of what he and the likes of Bo Burnham and Dan Harmon were doing in a sort of natural progression from "because the Internet" into a more mainstream niche. I'm the proud owner of a Kickstarter exclusive Blu-ray of this film, but I'm not sure if it holds a special place in my heart because of its own merit or because YouTube clips of "Rejected" played such a formative part of my youth.
  22. As a younger, less-academically inclined sort whose life was changed ten years ago after finding the Arts & Faith Top 100 list from 2010, I'm struggling with a strong desire to participate in this ballot while also feeling a mounting tentativeness with every "Haven't Seen" box I'd have to check in order to get through the entire list. I spent a good couple hours with the spreadsheet this morning, and of the 350 nominees I've only seen around 170, or not even half of all the films on the list. On one hand, I'm eagerly anticipating all the diverse, new-to-me titles that will inevitably make it to the final 100... however, on that same hand, I'm very concerned that by participating in the vote I may inadvertently harm the chances of deserving titles that would otherwise show up higher on the list. I feel as though I *do* have strong, well-earned opinions relating to most of the 170 films I *have* seen, but I guess I'm just feeling anxious about not knowing how exactly my "Haven't Seen" boxes might affect the final scoring. This list just means a lot to me, and perhaps I'm overthinking it. But I would hope that one of the community regulars here wouldn't hesitate to be blunt with me if in fact it would be better for everyone if I just held off for another decade. (Or for that matter, if there's some eligibility criteria for participating that I've just flat-out missed.)
  23. Ken, thank you so much for the thoughtful response! (I managed to get my hands on the first volume of Faith and Spirituality after months of trying to find it, and it's everything I hoped it would be. So much gratitude for that, also.) I had to revisit this thread because I just discovered "it" again, in the closing moments of Bruggemann's Stations of the Cross (2014). The way the camera suddenly lifted up in a simple crane shot after spending the entirely of the film at eye level on sticks. I don't think a visual moment has hit me that hard since First Reformed's similar "unleashing" of the camera. You may be entirely right when you suggest that the term "transcendental style" doesn't hold much merit as a broadly-accepted category outside of Schrader's own pet term. That's sort of what I was fishing for by posting this thread. Do you think Schrader has just sort of been in his own bubble by codifying something that's inherently subjective? On a slightly unrelated note, I was a little surprised and disappointed to notice just now that Stations of the Cross seems not to have been considered at all for the new Top 100 list. Did it really fail to connect with anyone in this community?
  24. Greetings, all - it's been about five years since I checked in here! So thrilled to see a brand new Top 25 list fresh off the polls. Can't wait to dive into that. I've been on a pretty big Paul Schrader/Transcendental Style binge since seeing First Reformed earlier this year, and I've been burdened with a strong desire to do some personal categorizing for all the films that have spoken to my soul over the years and the films that I wish to deliberately seek more of going forward. One of the elements of the transcendental film that has most fascinated me is what I've heard Paul refer to as 'freeing the audience,' when he describes the way the Bresson will reward his patient viewers with a sudden burst of music at the very end or the way Ozu will suddenly let his characters be visibly emotional after being conditioned not to expect it, etc. (This interview includes a great short summary of this.) My heart leapt for joy when I heard this described this way, because it's very similar to a bold filmmaking technique that I began to notice in some of my favourite films years ago and that I used to describe as a 'Grace' moment. Specifically, I've thought of it as a moment that is essentially a small miracle (God overtly making himself known?) in a world then has up to that point been agnostic and/or whose characters have struggled with faith. Examples that have significantly stood out to me, personally, as 'grace' moments (POTENTIAL SPOILERS): Ordet, obviously. Stalker, when it begins to rain inside the Zone. Magnolia and, I would argue, several of PTA's other films (I made a video essay about this specifically) Breaking the Waves, the last shot. Dekalog: I, the ending with the computer and the church. I've been struggling to better finesse this definition, and maybe I'm completely reaching through the weeds in my attempts, but I'm curious if 'Release of Grace' sparks to mind any other examples? Am I misinterpreting or undercutting Schrader's definition as it pertains to transcendental style?
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