Jump to content

Rob Z

  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About Rob Z

  • Rank

Previous Fields

  • 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

Recent Profile Visitors

The recent visitors block is disabled and is not being shown to other users.

  1. It's sure been a fun distraction to agonize over something as low-stakes as a list of films that mean a lot to me! My nominations breakdown: 1940s: 1 1950s: 3 1960s: 2 1970s: 1 1980s: 8 1990s: 3 2000s: 3 2010s: 4 USA 5 USSR/Russia 4 Denmark 3 UK 3 Canada 2 Italy 2 Japan 2 Sweden 1 France 1 Iran 1 Ireland 1 The other thing about my list that I found noteworthy is that 12 were on the 2011 list. Would have been more but I left off a half dozen in my 15-25 ranking that I figured were either sure to be nominated by someone elseor that were by a director who had a film I loved more. When it came down to it, MY list of spiritually significant films (both construed subjectively or objectively) has a lot of overlap with the 2011 list. I included a few more recent ones but left off others I deem worthy of consideration simply because they haven't been as meaningful to me as some of the older, canonical ones. My list is also not that diverse. I was moved by the recent conversation in this thread to include another film by a woman of color (in addition to another one) that had made my "long list" of about 90 films. The film it replaced is one I'm guessing might not be nominated by anyone else, but my last few inclusions felt pretty arbitrary among the riches of cinema to be considered.
  2. Yeah, this is what I was thinking, like if someone was really sick. I didn't mean just pushing back the deadline.
  3. I'll get my list in in the next couple days. There are still a few films I want to rewatch, largely in the "I love that film, but haven't seen it in 10 years, so I want to remember if I love it enough to fill out my top 25 right now" category. But I've had to shift all my teaching online, which has been very time consuming... I'm all for making some exceptions for those handful of people who've said they want to participate if they don't do it for some reason by April 1 (others can make that call), and I'm for reaching out and badgering via other means too, but I don't really know folks here personally.
  4. I'm not there yet! It was easy to come up with a top 20 or so (and then I admit I removed a handful thinking someone else was sure to nominate them, though I am keeping others I think will surely be nominated, too). I have 21 I'm pretty sure I'll nominate, but I made a list of more than other 40 films that I'd love to include, and I think what ends up getting the list to 25 will depend on how I'm feeling the day I submit it. I too am struggling to balance this. An honest top 25 films that are spiritually significant for me could include 4 or even 5 Tarkovsky films, but what I submit certainly will not have that many. My list would have multiple films by other directors, too, in most cases the usual French, Nordic, and Japanese suspects. The thing is, I think I have a better sense of of the kinds of films that A&F folks like (or have liked in the past) because they're films I like, too, but not as good a sense of what a long shot would be. There are several films on the 2011 Top 100 that are great films but that I would have surely called long shots! Had their been an initial grandparenting, I know I'd have both more quirky personal picks and more by "canonical" directors. It's been years since I read through those old threads, but I think it dropped off because the 2011 list had a new requirement that excluded films that were too recent. I have no idea if this is correct, but perhaps it just wasn't nominated in 2010? A film that is #26 on someone's nominating list (and doesn't get nominated) could still easily have made the Top 100 if it had broadly positive support.
  5. I believe the 2011 Top 100 list includes Born into Brothels and The Story of the Weeping Camel (the latter of which is partially scripted/reenacted, I think, but still a documentary). And Into Great Silence. Maybe others?
  6. I think you're right, and I have no problem accepting that. I'll just say that, conversely to Ken, I don't really get the argument for not considering this one exception Not that I need one. A list with The Tree of Life instead of Dekalog is certainly still a good one! I guess I shouldn't be surprised to find that Ebert considered those to be some of the greatest, since they are in my book, too! 1. Grandfathering (or grandparenting...) can serve two purposes. It can make the nominations process easier since certain films likely to be nominated will be already included. It's a convenience. Submitting blind lists will also streamline this process. But grandfathering some films would make the kind of tactical nominating Ken describes less likely or necessary. The other purpose it could serve is to make sure that a wider group of films get considered for voting. The way I see it, grandfathering some films would be one mechanism to ensure the latter, and that's the bigger issue. I am not at all attached to the idea of grandfathering films from the old lists. I, like Joel and others, find starting from scratch appealing. And I like the idea of submitting lists for nominations. But duplicates could result in a lot of "wasted" nominations, and films worthy of consideration could get left out. I guess I prefer a nominations process like the old way because that is a little more straightforward and gives us what we'll know covers the full range of films we might want to consider for the voting list. I'd rather consider as many films as possible and let the voting, rather than the nominations process, weed films out. I at least favor a stage after we submit our lists to suggest some more to be considered, as has been suggested. Sorry, I don't mean to be a contrarian! Just trying to articulate my thoughts. I don't have strong feelings on golden ticket or honorable mentions, but I think Ken makes a good point. A list of 100 films is a lot even without honorable mentions. Deciding later on films per director is fine. I think 3 or 4 seems right. Two is too few, but I do think some limit makes sense.
  7. I find all the reasons Joel gives to be compelling arguments in favor of including Dekalog for consideration. I think it is an exception. More on this in a minute, but I’d add that Dekalog was #7, #3, and #1 on the other previous lists (although the first list ultimately was released unranked). The fact that this is still an A&F Top 100 suggests that the film (or the "work") deserves consideration on the grounds of continuity. I agree we don't need continuity of method for its own sake, but that's not how I see this. My understanding is that Darren would be open to considering individual episodes as made-for-TV films but Ken is opposed to them on the grounds that they make up a television miniseries and so it shouldn't be eligible as a whole or in parts. Is that correct? I see both as legitimate ways of understanding Dekalog in reference to the proposed guidelines. There is ambiguity. I think of "The Man Who Planted Trees" as a "short" film, but IIRC it was produced under the aegis of the Canadian public television company, as were Back's other short films. I don't know it's release history, but there could seem to be some ambiguity about categorization if someone wanted to argue it. (I don't want to argue it. Maybe this isn't a helpful example. Take it or leave it.) And either way, I think there should be room for an exception. I do, too. I think this is even more compelling as a reason. We talk about it as a whole along other films. So do many if not most other film institutions. The work has, in my understanding been received largely (though of course not exclusively) as a single work of film up to the present, including by Arts & Faith. As to this being a significant departure from past lists, I probably just value the continuity more than others. That said, I have little attachment to any trilogies that have in the past been considered as individual units, although the fact that Three Colors was conceived as a single artistic work was a point made strongly 10 years ago in the prior discussions of Top 100 grandfathering. A Top 100 that contains or at least considered, say, Blue and/or Red instead of the trilogy isn’t missing anything as an Arts & Faith list in my book. But a list that doesn't even consider Dekalog is missing something. I think the previous lists are stronger as lists of great cinema for including Dekalog, stronger in their "spiritual significance" for including it, and stronger as Arts & Faith lists most especially. This is a cinematic work that is close to the heart of the identity of Arts & Faith as a film discourse community, which makes me believe it should be an exception to the proposed guidelines, which I otherwise support. Let me try to articulate a deeper principle here. Are we trying to establish some good boundaries and then police them rigidly, or are we trying to make a list of films that reflect the core/identity of this forum and the cinematic works it values (reflected in those first two principles that Darren quoted). I think that the more flexible orientation to the "center" is just more helpful than a focus on the "boundaries." And as I said, I believe Dekalog is close to the heart of this community and the films it values. If you'll indulge in a few analogies, I think that a centering on Jesus (as Lord, Savior, Messiah, etc.) is what defines Christianity rather than policing the boundaries of the faith by making sure that certain things are believed or liturgical, behavioral, or other boxes checked. The center is what defines the faith for me, though of course arguments around the margins are worth having. What makes America the nation that it is? Is it it's borders, which must be rigidly bounded and even walled? Or is it its center, understood perhaps as principles articulated in its history and documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I for one say it's the latter. Nothing wrong with boundaries or rules or creeds, of course. We need them, but they're not the final, defining kernel. Continuity itself isn't the principle, but it's based on this deeper principle. That's my argument for including Dekalog, but ultimately I agree with Andrew that issues where there isn't consensus should be decided democratically. Could we have a poll that had two choices: allow consideration of Dekalog or not? (The only other work that I think maybe should be an exception is Jesus of Nazareth, but it's obviously not central to A&F and its lists the way Dekalog is.) Another question that could be polled would be whether or not to grandfather those 34 films mentioned above into the nominated films list (or rather 36 films, since it sounds like consensus would be, in this case, to grandfather Blue, White, and Red into the nominations as separate entries). Are there other issues to be polled where there is no consensus? Do we need more discussion? Golden ticket stage (one film per person) if under 20 participants vs. an honorable mentions list (one film per participant)? Number of films per director on final list (2? 3? 4? or no limit?)
  8. The more I mull it over, the more I think that the contents of the list itself should be determined through our voting and not through the "golden ticket" method. It appeals to me, too, but I think it's an unnecessary step that will indeed dilute the idea of this being a community list. Switching up the nominations process and having a second round of voting to rank the list (plus a few smaller changes) are good changes to the method of selection already, and I think the specifics of the golden ticket might make it too complicated. I do, however, strongly support the idea of an Honorable Mentions list, where each participant can name a spiritually significant or otherwise essential film that didn't make the Top 100. Yes, I think Dekalog is the one essential exception. I guess if we're not going to do the grandfathering of a small number of essential films before the nominating of our top 25s, I'm not sure if we need something this formal. But there should be some period after the list of compiled nominations is posted but before a ballot for voting goes up so that people can indeed look and point out any important films like Balthazar that should get considered but might have just been people's #26 top film. I don't know if a committee is necessary, but whoever is doing things at that point (Darren? Ken? Joel?) could just add a few that people raise to the ballot. Agreed.
  9. Good to know. I let my Prime subscription lapse a year or so ago and haven't missed it for the most part. I just checked my local public and academic library systems, and it's not there yet, but will be before too long, I bet.
  10. I like the idea of submitting a Top 25 list for nominations a lot. This timeline works for me. A couple considerations: I know I won't need a full month to come up with a list of 25 films. Do we want to make the deadline late March sometime so that the nominated films list/ballot can actually be ready to go on April 1? I am not sure 2 weeks each is quite enough time for the two rounds of voting. I will want to be watching or rewatching some of those films at both phases, and that takes time. But I'll do what I can in April if this timeline is what works best for folks. I like Ken's third step of getting to pick one film per person to be on the list. But what if a lot of people come out of the woodwork and we end up with 50 idiosyncratic picks? This isn't likely, I know, and there might be some overlap of people's top picks, but I think maybe need some more discussion of the process on this one. Do we want a list that has this feature? I might propose allowing one film per person to be assured a place on the Top 100 if fewer than 20 people submit nominating lists, but that if more than 20 submit, then the list will be determined solely through voting. I agree that this is a potential problem with the method of submitting a Top 25 list, and like Ken I'm a little wary of revising the plan on the fly. There are lot of films on the 2011 Top 100 that would absolutely be in my own (hypothetical) top 100 all time films list. But not my top 25. Yet I'd still love to see them on another Top 100. It's for this reason that I think we should grandfather some films into the nominations. It would ensure that those essential films get consideration, and it would free us up to nominate fresh films. There will still be plenty of overlap from nominated films, even from the past 10 years, I'm sure. I, for one, do not mind voting 1-5 on a list of a few hundred films. For grandfathering, one option would be to grandfather the entire 2011 list of 100 films. But I think there is a better option. I think that those 34 films that have been on all 5 previous iterations of the A&F Top 100 should be automatically grandfathered in. That's what I propose. I found that list here in a write up by SDG: http://www.decentfilms.com/blog/2011-arts-faith-top-100 Ordet (Carl Dreyer, 1955) The Passion of Joan of Arc (Carl Dreyer, 1927) The Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieślowski, 1989) The Son (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 2002) Au Hasard Balthazar (Robert Bresson, 1966) The Gospel According to Matthew (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1964) Babette’s Feast (Gabriel Axel, 1987) Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966) Diary of a Country Priest (Robert Bresson, 1951) Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) The Seventh Seal (Ingmar Bergman, 1957) Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (F. W. Murnau, 1927) Three Colors Trilogy (Krzysztof Kieślowski) Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) The Apostle (Robert Duvall, 1997) Man for All Seasons (Fred Zinnemann, 1966) La Promesse (Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, 1996) A Man Escaped (Robert Bresson, 1956) Magnolia (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1999) The Mirror (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) Wild Strawberries (1957, Ingmar Bergman) Wings of Desire (Wim Wenders, 1987) Day of Wrath (Carl Dreyer, 1943) Tender Mercies (Bruce Beresford, 1987) Tokyo Story (Yasujirô Ozu, 1953) Chariots of Fire (Hugh Hudson, 1981) Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand, 1989) It’s A Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) My Night at Maud’s (Éric Rohmer) The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999) Ponette (Jacques Doillon, 1999) Yi Yi: A One and a Two (Edward Yang, 2000) Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) Close-Up (Abbas Kiarostami, 1990)
  11. Rob Z

    The Green Knight

    I am really excited for this. Thanks for sharing. I've always imagined a film adaptation foregrounding this as a Christmas film since the setting is around two Christmas seasons a year apart, and that's something I found significant in the book. But there are obviously so many ways to go with such a rich story. I started watching this some years back because of my love of the source material, but it was so bad I just had to stop!
  12. I don't think it's out yet on DVD or streaming (at least where I'd find it). I do look forward to seeing it.
  13. Rob Z

    Other Dardenne Films

    This was the first film I saw of theirs, and this was/is my reaction exactly. My favorite is The Kid with a Bike. It's not quite as consistent in the naturalistic or Bressonian aesthetic as some earlier ones, but that's fine with me. I think it's a stronger film for that. What works for me about the Dardennes films is still here, and I found it the most emotionally affecting as well, even though the emotional stakes felt a bit lower in this film than in their others.
  14. Rob Z

    Stop Making Sense

    I had heard a few Talking Heads' radio hits before watching this. A college housemate who was a big fan convinced me to watch it with him. The drama of the stage really hooked me right way--I mean how the first few songs add musicians and their gear one at a time, and how the camera almost never shows the audience at all. Now they are one of my favorite musical groups. I showed my wife a few clips, and she said seeing David Byrne really gave her insight into how I dance and use my body musically! Agreed! 1984, my birth year, was a great year for pop music and also for films about music (Stop Making Sense, Amadeus, This is Spinal Tap, Purple Rain).
  15. 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). I strongly favor a second ballot based on the experience in the past Top 25 lists. I do think it will make a difference in the order actually reflecting the groups thoughts. I think 25 would be the right number for the second ballot. I’m guessing most everyone will have seen 25 out of the top 100 (or could watch a few more during the voting period), so no one would have to rank a movie they hadn’t seen, but it would be enough to generate a meaningful ranking of the films. It seems that there are at least two options here. The second round could be to rank, say, one’s top 25 films which would determine the top 25 and the initial results from the 1-5 ranking would determine the rank of 26-100. OR, and I think I would prefer this, the second round could involve ranking one’s top 25 films and the resulting rankings would determine the ranking of the entire list. (All the films left out of an individuals Top 25 would have to receive the same score (either a 0 or 26, depending on how scores were given), otherwise a single number 1 ranking for a film that was on no one else’s second ballot would earn maximum points. If a film was not put in a top 25 by anyone, then the initial ranking would apply, but coming after all the films ranked in people’s top 25. Another possibility: this latter method could be used to generate a top 100 ranking and that could be averaged with the rankings of the initial 1-5 ranking. Then there would be two ranked lists, and the final ranking could be an averaging of the two, with ties being broken by the score of the initial ranking. That would seem to me to generate the list with the greatest balance of the overall consensus as well as how passionately people care about the films. (It’s kind of like how when baseball journalists consider a players’ Hall of Fame worthiness, they consider both career performance and peak performance together.) I don't have strong feelings on whether the initial ranking is 1-5 or 1-10. If it were up to me, I'd say let's have one single ballot where everyone ranks their Top 100 films of those nominated. :-) Makes sense to me. I favor some grandfathering for convenience's sake in the nominating process. I think only the previous 2011 list should be automatically on the ballot though. Films from earlier lists can be nominated the normal way. I generally (but not rigidly) agree with Ken and Darren (I can't figure out how to quote from them from the previous page of 25 posts) on the issue of series and TV. I am open to film series being considered on a case by case basis, but I see the need for some consistency in criteria. A quick scroll through the old lists reveals at least 6 entries that don’t fit this. On the 2011 list: Dekalog, Three Colors, Apu Trilogy On earlier lists: The Lord of the Rings, Jesus of Nazareth, By Brakhage: An Anthology I move that these 6 entries be allowed to be on the nominations list but no other series entries or works make for TV. (I may have missed some.) This sticks to some precedent and gives continuity to the lists. It’s a compromise. Those 3 from the 2011 list have been on every single A&F Top 100, and it would be a shame if they fell off on a technicality. That said, I personally wouldn’t mind voting separately on the different films in Three Colors and Apu. But Dekalog I think should remain a single option no matter what. I’m happy to offer a further defense of these for inclusion. As to the others: By Brakhage: An Anthology-- a single Criterion release; I’d consider this but I know I’m not going to favor including any individual Brakhage shorts. The Lord of the Rings-- not only conceived of as one project based on one literary work, it was also shot simultaneously. I certainly have thoughts on the films individually, but they really do constitute a single filmic work. Jesus of Nazareth—a TV miniseries but the narrative is pretty seamless, no more episodic than the biblical narrative. Nowadays everyone talks about this as if it were a film, it seems to me. Of these latter three, I feel most strongly that this one be allowed. I would also favor allowing short films. Masterpieces (that I have found spiritually significant) like The Man Who Planted Trees or The House Is Black (on the 2010 list) deserve a shot. December 31, 2019 seems like the right cutoff for a film's inclusion to me. Especially if there’s a second round of voting, there shouldn’t be an issue with whatever is hot right now being placed too highly on the list. If there's a second ballot, I think that just two months for the whole process might be too tight, especially considering its 100 rather than 25. I know I'll want some time between the initial list and the second ballot to watch or rewatch some of those films.
  • Create New...