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Guest, 22 Jul 2006
Posted 22 Jul 2006
Posted 22 Jul 2006
It's unlikely I'll be able to do this. I've got a Film Forum due, a Miami Vice review due, a full week of full-time-day-job work, eight new film reviews for Risen Magazine, and 20-page fiction submissions from 16 different people that I have to critique... all by Friday.
On top of that, we're leaving Friday morning for Santa Fe, for the Glen Workshop, where we will be immersed in activity.
Today I'm in Portland visiting my father, who's been housebound due to surgeries for several months.
Tomorrow we're devoting the day to helping our closest Seattle friends whose baby just arrived ten weeks early.
So... does that qualify as an excuse?
Jeffrey, send me your invitation and I'll vote for you. Come November, I'll be willing to cast absentee ballots for anyone who doesn't have the time. (for legal protection, let me point out that I'm kidding, I don't support ballotbox stuffing -- even if I do vote more correctly than most people.)
Posted 23 Jul 2006
(for legal protection, let me point out that I'm kidding, I don't support ballotbox stuffing -- even if I do vote more correctly than most people.)
I don't support ballotbox stuffing either -- even if I do vote more times than most people...
(...as a segue back to our regularly scheduled topic, I'm proud of myself for actually finishing the voting already - although it was much easier for me since I hadn't seen so many of the nominees!)
Posted 23 Jul 2006
Well, I don't have an excuse (at least not a good one), other than that when I think about doing this, I get really, really tired and even a little depressed.
There are a lot of reasons that go in to that. Some we've talked about before in other threads about ratings and rankings and me. Others I may not have fully articulated.
I could pick one of the conglomerate of factors going into that emotion and run with it, trumpeting it as the reason I'm being anti-social while not wanting to be and coming across as coy when I'm not.
I'm also confident that I could construct a fairly inassailable list of things going on in my life that would allow me to not participate while saving face (though I don't mean to imply that is what Jeffrey is doing), and while it would be accurate it wouldn't be totally honest.
I'm deeply ambivalent about the list itself and the process, and my own participation (or not) feels to me like the one presidential primary I voted in after both Bush and Gore had already accumulated enough delegates to ensure the nomination.
I scroll through the comments here and I hear person after person saying, "Wow, I haven't seen so many of these films" and then I wonder, "Why does my vote matter?"
Recently, in a private message I happened to tell a friend (okay, it was Doug), that I didn't consider myself a "cinephile." He pressed me a bit on what I meant, suggesting I had "bona-fides" that I shouldn't dismiss so readily. I said I just meant that I don't feel the same sort of protectiveness over any of the "art" films in a list like this from the encroachment of popular culture nor, honestly over the commercial films from the arthouse snobs.
There's nothing on the list that's likely to get supplanted based on my vote (or the time and energy to stump for something to replace it), nor is there anything not on the list that I think likely to make it based on my understanding of the process and how and why people vote. My underwhelmedness at Magnolia is well known to the point of being schtick. My disappointment that more people don't consider the Godfather a spiritual film is "been there, done that." My belief that LOTR are three mediocre movies that are not masterpieces but shadows of masterpieces reflected on the wall of Plato's cave has probably never (and maybe shouldn't) shaken the faith of a single Peter Jackson disciple. I almost think more people are argued into (or out of) the kingdom of heaven than are argued into or out of their love of a particular movie. It's good that the definition of "spiritual" is left open, but one result of that is that it is nigh impossible to make a really persuasive argument for or against anything since those who disagree can always just say, "well, we have different ideas/definitions of spiritual."
I wish the list weren't so stocked with oppressively "heavy" films and that the shadow of death weren't the only thing in this day and age that could lend spiritual gravitas to a work of art. I wish there were more films about living as well as about dying. I wish there were a few films on the list that prompted joy and celebration in me rather than just weeping or seriousness. (I think Babette's Feast is probably the only one: Chariot's of Fire might have come close if it were a better movie and didn't have a stick up its a--.) I wish there were a few recogninzable comedies.
I know, I know, so why not vote for all these things? Why not be the man who planted trees and try to green the landscape rather than just lament my inability to change its face overnight? I feel this weird resentment when I look at my ballot. Not at Alan nor the list, just at this feeling as though I have to have a good reason for not doing something rather than for doing it or explain something that seems so patently obvious to me that I'm not sure how to begin to talk about it with someone who doesn't get it. It's analogous (though not as strong) as that feeling I get when a relative stranger walks up to me and says, "Why don't you and your wife have kids?" or "I could never be friends with a gay person."
I'm sure this all sounds very melodramatic and self-serving, and I really don't mean it to be. And I definitely don't mean it to be (to plagiarize/steal an expression from a bud) the Coquettish Dance of the of Coy Guy who Wants to be Wooed with Lots of Expressions of Community Love.
I just keep thinking, "Hey, if anyone wants to know what films I think are spiritually significant or whether I think a particular one is, they can ask me. I tend to be free with my opinions; perhaps too free. At last count I think I had seen exactly 50 of the 100 entrants (though 6 out of 10 Decalogue and 2 out of 3 Three Colors, but I figure all 3 LOTR so, hey, I'll give myself credit for all three), and I suspect that would put me somewhere in the top half of total respondents, but pffft, I spent a significant portion of the summer writing about ONE film, and I think I could spend a whole year just thinking about any ONE of most of these films, so I fear on some level that even a list like this one feeds some of the worst instincts in us rather than the best, threatening to turn some of our richest and best art into a checklist of "What's next?"--making it more important what (and above all how many) I've seen rather than allowing me (at least) to ever stop long enough to give serious reflection to what I got out of it.
Why do I want a list? So I can see more films on it than Matt or Dan or Rich or Leary or Darren or Russ and thus feel validated? Don't get me wrong, I'm an academic, which means I succeeded in school, which means I'm all about the mad rush for visible credit and signs of quantifiable achievement. I've just always thought of my love of film as a thing relatively less tainted by all that and find the closer I get to this list the worse are the things it brings out of me.
So. I'll echo Jeffry's question, is that a good excuse?
Thanks for your thoughtful post Ken. It's helpful for someone who is just beginning to delve into the film world to get a bit of perspective.
I agree with you and Ellen. We have plenty of profundity and conviction in the movie world, movies immersed in solemnity, as can be seen on the list. But where's the joy? Where's the celebration of life?
I suppose this is why I tend toward movies like Life Is Beautiful, or Chocolat, or as you said Ken, Babette's Feast, which celebrate goodness, and happiness. I think there's a tendency when coming to art to assume that truly profound art comes out of sadness, and heartbreak; but true art comes from finding the light through it, seeing joy anyway, not wallowing in despair.
When I was in my 20s (and, not coincidentally, fairly depressed), I thought that all the "serious" movies were the really important ones. the older I get, the more I appreciate both gentle humor and outright silliness - and the more I actually need those qualities to get through life (which is mos' def' hard stuff) and enjoy it, too.
I love Mos Def. He's awesome.
I'm in the top 50 users?!
Survey complete. I lost the original email. Sorry...
I'm ashamed by how few I've seen. Thought I'd made a decent effort at getting through them but apparently need to try harder. Ask me again next year
Posted 24 Jul 2006
Heh, that was my reaction. I don't post all that often, either. At least, I didn't think I did.
I'll look, but can't make promises. So much going on.
Survey complete. Does being in the top 50 users make me part of the A&F elite? If so, I guess I'll have to post less often.
Here's the gripe that I am now entitled to:
American Beauty: Still on the list. Mary Poppins: Still not on the list.
<---Officially thanks Jeffrey for taking vanguard (by choice or not) on deadbeat status so that he can bear the brunt of the heaviest criticism.
I'm dealing with some huge deadlines at work right now, but I'm working through the survey and hope to finish soon.
Russ hacked into my email and voted. If The Mosquito Coast doesn't make it, it is not my fault.
I'm working on my Master's Essay right now (aiming for August defence), and have a number of house guests, but I'll try to get to it before the weekend.
And Martin, the day Mary Poppins makes the Top100...will be, um, bad. So there.
Perhaps, but not as bad as the days some of the other choices made it...
Posted 25 Jul 2006
Done, and done.
Anyone else feel that "Deadbeat" should be changed to "superior time managers who are able to put their desire to fill in the Top100 survey ASAP to one side until they have dealt with more pressing issues"?
In fact, the time I spent filling out that survey rates far closer to "deadbeat activity" than most things I've done this week. I'm so far behind the deadline on paying gigs this week that I can't excuse the time I spent deliberating over whether or not The Year of Living Dangerously is spiritually significant...
But oh well. At least my name won't be appearing in all caps as a public enemy anymore.
Keep sitting on your hands, Ken. I'm seeing the top spot for MAGNOLIA in the near future.
Posted 26 Jul 2006
Sorry, dudes - I have mono and limited access to the internet and I'm moving across the country in two weeks. Not gonna happen. But I'm honored to be included among the deadbeats!
I'm so far behind the deadline on paying gigs this week that I can't excuse the time I spent deliberating over whether or not The Year of Living Dangerously is spiritually significant...
Here is some help: It isn't, but The Mosquito Coast IS.
Posted 27 Jul 2006
Ken, just do what I did. Don't watch any of the movies.
Goes a lot quicker that way.
Posted 31 Jul 2006
Wow, sorry for the delay.
Filling it out now.... wishing there was a "I've not seen this movie but from everything I've heard about it I'm appalled that it was nominated" button.
Is anyone a little dumbfounded by the humming and hawing of those who haven't done it ?
It doesn't take long folks. It's not rocket science, shoot from the gut! That's wherethe spirit lies BABY!!
Took me 25 minutes.
Posted 31 Jul 2006
What Dan B. said. And also:
... wishing there was a "I've not seen this movie but from everything I've heard about it I'm appalled that it was nominated" button.
I'd like that button AND a "I've not seen this movie but from everything I've heard about it I'm going to vote for it anyway," but that would make the process so complicated that it would take 35 minutes...
I dunno. I just feel like I need to be a model to Jeffrey Overstreet here of how a Christian Film Critic should be willing and able to stand in the face of community peer pressure.
Smiley of the month.