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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. Thanks for getting the ball rolling on this! I think Ken's point is a good one from a practical point. I have a heavy teaching load, so I know if I'm going to write something longer than a blurb, and I'd love to contribute an essay to an anthology if possible, I'm going to need the summer to do it (which for me is mid-June to mid-September). If the list itself is finalized by June, or whenever, it could be used as part of a CFP to solicit essays before the actual list with blurbs is published on A&F, I suppose. I also think it would be a good idea to have a second round of voting to rank the list. The unranked list would be sufficient for a CFP, I think. The ranking round could happen during the early summer. I valued that second round of voting with the Growing Older Top 25 because it gave me the opportunity to view a few more films that I hadn't seen yet but knew were going to be on the list.
  2. I can say for sure that my personal top four films of the decade, in order, are The Tree of Life First Reformed Silence Certified Copy It's been several years since I've watched enough films during their year of release to make a meaningful end of year list, but I can definitely make an end of decade list, and I will give this some more thought.
  3. This difference seems pretty key to me. I love it when actual board users promote/link their stuff here. I agree with Andrew and Nathaniel, but I also would (find it annoying but) totally understand if it were just a few ads per year and they were clearly labelled as such.
  4. Rob Z

    Joker (2019)

    Hey, Andrew and others, thinking of films that perpetuate stereotypes and stigma around mental illness... What would you say are some of the best films (or TV) you've seen in how they portraying mental illness (of any kind), whether simply for accuracy or for helping audiences sympathize? I think this has come up before, and probably deserves its own thread, but...thoughts?
  5. You're right, Ken--"shooting off in the wrong direction entirely" is an overstatement, and stopping my sentence with the word "misses" would have been more accurate. My negative tone comes less from my objectively questioning the arguments about Dickinson's sexuality (there is a the wide range of plausibility) and more from my feeling that the biographical speculation gets in the way of really appreciating the poetry, and what we can know. And we do know that she had an intense and important relationship with her sister-in-law that deserves attention. But I'd want to foreground even more the ways that her poetry is queer in how it challenges social categories and hierarchies in ways that are still relevant today. Can that even be translated into a biopic? I don't know. I think someone in the A Quiet Passion thread said they'd never seen a good biopic of a poet. I tend to be wary of biography as criticism, but good biography doesn't go all in on speculation. I guess I shouldn't fault the film (or rather its trailer!) too much for lacking in academic rigor! That's a great point about overreach being understandable, too, and in general I agree since the history is very much not neutral as you say. I do honestly wonder how much overreach is warranted to make the point. Yes, that's interesting. I will certainly have to see the film before I make a judgment on it. P.S. Evan, I really liked your recent essay on Through A Glass Darkly.
  6. If I saw this trailer as an SNL skit, I'd think it was pretty funny. But I really dislike this kind of actively revisionist work that doesn't just overshoot but sets up a target (Emily's relationship with Sue) and then misses completely by shooting off in the wrong direction entirely. I haven't seen the film--I was keeping my eyes open for a local showing a couple months ago, so I either missed it or it didn't play here--but I'm not encouraged by what I see here. Reading Dickinson's poetry and letters to Sue certainly warrants claims that Sue was the love of her life and that Sue was her primary reader, even a muse. But I've read some of the scholarship arguing for a lesbian Dickinson, and I haven't found it convincing (not to mention that it distracts from the poetry itself, an even greater danger in a biopic) even acknowledging that we only have textual evidence to work with. Such portraits seem reductive and anachronistic, and only work by ignoring huge chunks of what we know about Dickinson. Much about her relationships were "queer" for the time, certainly, and deserve to be foregrounded. When you have a lot invested in a historical figure/writer, you want to see a biopic done well, I guess, which also makes you more prone to disappointment. I wasn't disappointed by A Quiet Passion, and I'd love to be pleasantly surprised by this one, but again...this trailer seems pretty clear where the film goes. I'd particularly be interested to see how they deal with the Todd affair and the later editing and publishing of her works, but the trailer again seems to set up her editors as straw men to be knocked down by the enlightened filmmakers. Just to quibble, the poem "Wild Nights" was a fascicle poem, not one sent to Sue, and it's entirely counterfactual and in the subjunctive mood. It's a poem of longing, as so many of Dickinson's are, not characterizing events. Oh well, I guess they weren't going to title it A Ribald Passion.
  7. Rob Z

    Harriet (2019)

    Yes! And I'd love to see a film like this that foregrounded Tubman's faith. I must admit that I'd hoped such a film would get made and star Octavia Spencer after seeing the Drunk History take on her. I'm not a fan of the premise of Drunk History, but this one is pretty good.
  8. I totally hear you, Ken. I wish I had some tech expertise to offer--that would surely be more helpful than the editorial/proofreader stuff!
  9. Yes, thanks again, Ken! I agree that it would be helpful to have year and director but also that it looks much better in the gallery to only have the title. Could there be another page with just the 1-25 list that contained this information (basically what is at the beginning of this results thread with year and director)? That would deal with this issue, and address what I see as the most glaring omission—the list itself, in an easily readable form. At the top of each page, “List” could be added to Home, Gallery, and About with the link to that page. I love the click-advancing gallery with the blurbs, but a list like that would make the page much more user friendly. I think that list would be the appropriate place to link to the threads for the respective films in the forum (an idea I really like). Even better, perhaps that list could appear on the Gallery page (which currently just has pictures) in the form of captions under each picture that give the rank, the film title, director, and year. Those of us who have seen or at least been in on the discussion might get the hint as to what each photo refers to, but not someone who happens across the page due to interest in the topic. I think it would be a mistake to assume that anyone would find their way to the nominations or results thread in the forum, even if they wanted to. This is the spot. Those heading links do not appear at the top of the About page. It think it would be best to have them there to allow people to navigate within the site without having to rely on the browser’s back button. I know that clicking the title in the upper left also brings one back to Home, but the consistency would be nice, too. Speaking of consistency and that title in the upper left, it’s different in terms of line breaks on all three pages: Home has Arts & Faith Top 25: Growing Older About has Arts & Faith Top 25: Growing Older Gallery has Arts & Faith Top 25: Growing Older That last one (Gallery) is the one that looks best and makes most sense (3 lines of 2 prominent words each), and I think all of them should be changed to look like that. On the Home page, moving the cursor over the Gallery heading link reveals a drop down menu containing the words “Growing Older,” but if you click on that, it stays on the home page. Clicking the word “Gallery” obviously leads to the gallery. On the Gallery page, the text “(Click on a Photo for a description from A&F contributor)” should be subordinate (lower, smaller font) to the word “Gallery.” I’m not sure it needs to be in parentheses. Is there a reason why “Photo” is capitalized and not the other key words? I’d suggest “Click on a photo for a description and commentary from an Arts & Faith contributor. Click on the film’s title for a discussion of the film in the Arts & Faith film forum.” That would of course necessitate adding the rank, title, and ideally year and director to the gallery page, as mentioned above. Could there be a prominent link to the A&F home page? At the least, the “Artsandfaith.com” in the Our Mission section of the About page should be an active hyperlink. I still think that there should be a dedicated, aesthetically pleasing (like this one) A&F home page with links to the forum, Top 100 and 25 lists, ecumenical jury lists, etc. but that’s probably a project for another time. Some of these are quibbles; some are more substantive. I have used templates like this in the past and I know they can be very tricky, but if these changes are possible, I think that the consistency and additions would improve the site a lot.
  10. Shoot, I'm just checking in after some days, and I'm in the same boat. I likewise am still teaching for another couple weeks before summer, so it's been backburner, but I'll get to this asap. The site and the gallery look great! I can't wait to read everyone's comments on the films.
  11. Thanks indeed to everyone who worked on this, especially Ken. Very interesting to see this ranking! I'm not surprised to see that the 5 films overlapping with the A&F Top 100 ended up so high for the most part (1, 3, 4, 7, 18). And Late Spring at #2 was #47 on the 2010 Top 100 list, before the 3 films per director parameter was added. The finalist film I was saddest to see cut was The Old Man and the Sea. It very much is about consolidating memories in old age, like Brian mentioned as a thematic here--dreaming of the lions he saw in Africa, working before the mast as a child, the epic arm-wrestling contest. I'd hope an essay on that could bring in such films that didn't make the final cut. But the one I was most surprised to see cut was Synecdoche, New York. It's not a film I particularly like or agree with in terms of its worldview, but it's a very good film that is spot on thematically in terms of depicting growing older. I'd love to contribute an essay on The Man Who Planted Trees, but I have a lot on my plate in the next year, so don't let me be the deciding factor in whether a book happens or not. If the book happens, I'd certainly WANT to contribute, but that's all I can commit to at this point.
  12. Thanks for this discussion, Andrew, Ken, Brian, et al. It's been helpful in thinking about these issues of representation that we find problematic. There has certainly been some "growing up" the film industry has had to do in terms of what it finds acceptable to portray and in what ways...not that everything has necessarily gotten better or that there aren't still huge problems with representation... As I make my final ranking, I am tempted just to leave the small handful of films I feel that I've seen but ambivalent about in the "unranked" column. I'm hesitant to rank them ahead of films that seem worthier but that I haven't seen. I like the fact that our unranked/unseen films will still receive some points in this system. Is it the case that the only directors with two films on this current list are Varda and Ozu? I know we should just let the original method/parameters determine the list, but I wouldn't mind including only one from each director. The blurb could mention the other film that got fewer points as another worthy film on the theme by the same director. Oh well. It's much easier to compare films that are more thematically alike (like the "aging parent(s) and their child(ren)" films) than those that cover aging over longer periods vs focused on a short time in older age, an individual vs. a couple or a group, etc.
  13. I think we got this exactly right. The former films seem more on theme to me and the latter ones all more "spiritually significant" which I take to be defining feature, albeit one that can be interpreted in many ways, of the Top 100. Likewise, each of these films seems more Top 100 appropriate, except probably Mr. Lazerescu. I definitely feel good about the prospects for a new Top 100 based on the community's activity with this list. I look forward to participating.
  14. When you mentioned this, I remembered that someone had posted a spreadsheet a while back (after the Top 25 on Mercy) that had all films that had ever been on an A&F list. Glancing through that, and including this list and Waking Up, it looks like Tokyo Story and Wild Strawberries are the only ones with 7 instances. Both have been on all five Top 100 lists and two Top 25s.
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