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Rob Z

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About Rob Z

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  • Occupation
    Graduate student and literature/composition teacher, University of Oregon
  • Favorite movies
    Ordet, Chariots of Fire, The Tree of Life, Blade Runner, Tarkovsky
  • Favorite music
    classical, Stevie Wonder, U2, Over the Rhine, Sufjan Stevens, Patty Griffin, RAIJ
  • Favorite creative writing
    Wendell Berry, Marilynne Robinson, Dostoevsky, Thoreau, Dickinson, religious and environmental poetry

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  1. I think The Queen would be a good fit for these reasons. I considered nominating it and The Iron Lady, which also deals with loss of a spouse, declining capabilities, dementia, and coming to terms with changing roles. I didn't because for some reason, it feels strange to put biopics on this list, even ones like these that are very concerned with aging. Like the aging theme in the film needs to be extra foregrounded to be more insightful that just illuminating an aspect of the person in the film. And I think I'd rather see A Quiet Passion over either of these, at least as a film. I very much think there is room on this list for the aspect of "growing older" that involves facing mortality, whether one's own death or a loved one. But not all films explore death or mortality in the context of aging. I don't think Ikiru or La Jetee do. The Fountain does, however, and also grasps for the spiritual significance of facing mortality in this context--no second? I haven't seen either Dreams or Rhapsody in August. If they were seconded, I'd love an excuse to catch up on some more late Kurosawa. Do others have reservations about seconding these (as opposed to the other Kurosawas, which have been seconded, and which I've already seen)?
  2. Synecdoche, New York (also some other dates already noted earlier) Caden's MacArthur Fellowship letter is dated March 21, 2009.
  3. Hint: it's a trilogy and a classic of world cinema.
  4. I nominated The Fountain, which alludes to the fountain of youth and is about a man’s quest (or is it three quests?) to find a “cure” for death by reversing aging. It’s largely about coming to terms with mortality—our own and those we love—an important part of growing older. I nominated While We’re Young, an excellent study of the process of growing into middle age, particularly regarding relationship tensions and insecurity around career achievements, and negotiating the envy of youth and firmer accomplishments of elders. I also really liked how it doesn’t just feature the interaction of people at different life stages, but also between individuals of the older millennial, older Gen X, and older Boomer/Silent generations.
  5. Just a few thoughts. Voting would begin the day after the final day for nominations, right? April 21 is Easter. I know it's optional, but it might be nice to have more than one week for this. Discussion for the companion book was for the Top 100, I thought--or was it both? I agree that under 50% is fine. It's hard to say what the line should be precisely considering these two factors (membership fluctuation and underseen gems) and the desire for the list to reflect some kind of consensus. Did films regularly get left off the lists in the past for lack of a sufficient percentage of voters? This is also gets at the trick of finding that balance/line. But this seems too unclear as to how it would actually translate into changes, or making the list more reflective of the voting of the group. I'd stick with Option A. This is really interesting, and I love this idea in principle. But it would definitely skew towards the more widely seen / lowest common denominator. The way to make an single round ranking more meaningful would be to require a certain minimum number of films to be seen (say, 50 hypothetically [it would be at least 25 for this list, I'd think]) and then adjust everyone's rankings on a 1-50 scale. So if someone had seen 53 films their 1 & 2 would be scored as "1," their 3 & 4 would be "2," 4 & 5 would be "3" and their remaining 47 films would be ranked 4-50. (The doubling could be done at the bottom, or anywhere really and that could be done by the ranker or the counter.) Then the ranks assigned by each person for of each film would be averaged to give it it's score, so it wouldn't matter how many total had seen it. This is a pretty straightforward mechanism, but it's not as simple as the 1-5 scale, and would require a lot more work for each voter (which might discourage people from voting). It would just be simpler to do this in the optional second round with the ranking of the top 25.
  6. Someone who has tallied votes in the past could have a better sense of this, but the 51% doesn't seem like a worthwhile parameter for making the list more representative. it's great if this list includes some relatively underseen yet strongly liked gems, I think. A lowest common denominator list shouldn't be the implicit goal, whether or not that might actually happen given the other voting mechanisms. It would be interesting to know how many have seen each film, but a relatively low absolute number threshold seems fine to me. I think that's too exclusive Without doing a precise count, I'm currently in the 50% range. I'll only speak for myself, but I think it might be unrealistic for me to have seen 50% once it's time to vote. Again, I'm not sure how this expectation would translate into a more representative list considering the 1-5 voting mechanism that's been used. If you've seen more films, you get to vote on more films, and thus have more say on whether or not those films make the list. Thanks for these qualifications. Again just speaking for myself, I think I am younger than average here and also I don't really work with film as a professional focus, which means I've seen fewer films than most here. I'd hate for anyone (including myself!) to be excluded because of these kinds of parameters. The place to have some kind of requirement for having seen a certain percentage of the films could be in a second round for ranking.
  7. As to what the 1-5 meant, I think that was pretty much up to individuals, no? I remember seeing the final scores of one or more of the past Top 25 lists, and I think that all 25 of the films were between 4 and 5. Because of that, when I voted last time, I thought of 5 really being the only score for films that I thought should be on the list since a 4 was a score that was below the scores of the films that would most likely actually end up on the list. Scores of 1-4 were more for how much I thought that a film shouldn't be on the list. But I'd be fine with a more delineated set of meanings for each 1-5 score. I strongly agree! How does this work with the Ecumenical Jury? It would be good if there were a little time to catch up with a few more of the films once we know which will be on the Top 25. I also think that the second round of ranking should include films over the limit for each director that would have otherwise been in the Top 25. Four Kurosawa films might conceivably be in the Top 25, but not all will make the final list because of the limit on films per director. It would still be good to have a chance to rank them, too, to determine which ones make it. April 1 was mentioned as a date to end the nominations period.
  8. The Silence contrasts the intellectual and the carnal, the irascible and the appetitive, the rational and the passionate in the form of the two sisters. But both these sisters have in common that they are aging, and they both struggle to come to terms with what that means. The setting—a journey in an unstable place where the language isn’t clear—suggests their situation of disorientation as they age as well. Wild Strawberries is probably the best film on growing old that I’ve seen. Reflecting on key moments in life, telling one’s story to those younger, being honored (in both small but meaningful and large but shallow ways), reconciling familial relationships, finding forgiveness (especially of oneself)—these strike me as some of the most important tasks of old age, and they are just what the film portrays in Isak Borg’s journey toward finding peace. The use of flashbacks and dreams are wonderful.
  9. Title: While We’re Young Director: Noah Baumbach Year: 2014 Language: English https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1791682/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNEKFG0eAKE http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?/topic/26682-while-were-young-2014/&tab=comments#comment-253053
  10. Title: The Fountain Director: Darren Aronofsky Year: 2006 Language: English https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0414993/ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m8IlyFCbNZg http://artsandfaith.com/index.php?/topic/7177-the-fountain-2006/&tab=comments#comment-90086
  11. These are good points, but I question the extent to which Unforgiven is really about growing older, even if the main character is older and reflects on his past, etc. There are other cantankerous old man Eastwood characters processing their pasts, but Gran Torino seems to me easily to be the most appropriate for this list. Are there earlier instances of this deceased wife/spouse dynamic?
  12. Great point. Both these films (I’ve only seen Ladybird) seem like much better fits in the “coming of age” category, but I see “coming of age” as a subset of “growing older.” They’re not mutually exclusive, and I really like the distinction of this list focusing on “the ongoing transformation wrought by time rather than experience,” or at least accumulation of experiences (or traumas) rather than overcoming something or going on a hero’s quest. Another telos for the bildungsroman is the marriage of the protagonist, or the integration of the individual into society in some form. I’d really love for the list to focus on the growth of those who are already integrated into society, or couples who are already married. But I don’t mean “focus” to be exclusive. Films that are peripheral to this focus but still anticipate the kind of accumulation and “growing wiser” we’ve talked about would add value and scope to the list, and that could include some coming of age films. But I think it’s too broad to have the list just be on transitions from any life stage to another. And I’m not sure Ladybird really fits the bill.
  13. First his sister dies Then his father, mother, wife Yet, for him, life wins
  14. Hope Springs—an empty nester couple goes on a relationship counseling retreat to improve their joyless and sexless marriage. It shows the kind of growth that is hard but possible in older age. Thinking back on the film, I’m not sure the film quite earns the transformation in the couple we see by the end, but it works on the character level and the lead performances by Meryl Streep and especially Tommy Lee Jones are what make it convincing. It shows really well how difficult it can be to work past the hang-ups of a stable but stagnated middle age relationship. Another Year, another empty nester slice of life. I thought it a better written and directed film than Hope Springs, and it's less melodramatic, but I saw these films with my wife close together and I liked this one, and its characters, less. It depicts less growth, too, and I lean toward emphasizing the “growing” part of our theme, though this isn’t really an exercise in lack of growth either. This was on the Top 25 Films about Marriage. One of the first films that came to my mind with the “growing older” theme was Sunset Boulevard. When Ken mentioned it, I thought I’d nominate it, since the list wouldn’t be complete without at least considering this one (though I’m not really attached to including it on the final list). It’s obviously a classic, and I’m not the best one to sing its praises. Among other things it does a great job of depicting how youthful fame impedes aging gracefully.
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