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Greg Wolfe

Top 100 2010: General Discussion--**Poll re-opened**

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And, for those like Persona, Beth, myself and others who are "amateur" film critics or cinephiles to be inspired by - one thing that makes this list unique is it's focus on that intersection between faith and film. We have a wonderfully diverse membership that includes (or has included) film critics, clergy, authors, artists, academics and laypersons with an interest in this intersection. I view this not as a weakness in developing a film list focusing on such an intersection, but a strength.

You forgot weirdos. We've attracted more than one or two of those over the years.

I was struck by the relative lack of comic films. (At least I only recognized a few as such: Groundhog Day, The Big Kahuna, The Man without a Past, etc.). I was curious to know if dropping the "Spiritually Significant" descriptor would lead to the inclusion of more comic films. Is it that we see serious drama as a more suitable vehicle for the spiritual than comedy? Or is there just a paucity of "spiritual" comic films out there? At any rate, in the case of M. Hulot, I know of no film more infused with what Roger Ebert calls "an amused affection for human nature." It is a series of comic miracles. And Being Earnest elevates wit to the level of high poetry, treating some of the deepest issues of human life such as identity and marriage. As Chesterton observes, "men are always speaking gravely and earnestly and with the utmost possible care about the things that are not important, but always talking frivolously about the things that are." If this is the case, why not pay tribute to those works which speak to what is serious with the most artful frivolity?

I appreciate your passionate fresh perspective on this but I intend to influence everyone here to hate comedies as much as I do. :) (save The Jerk and Planes, Trains and Automobiles) "He hates these cans!"

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du Garbandier wrote:

: For one thing, in looking over the 200 grandfathered films from previous lists, I was struck by the relative lack of comic films. (At least I only recognized a few as such: Groundhog Day, The Big Kahuna, The Man without a Past, etc.). I was curious to know if dropping the "Spiritually Significant" descriptor would lead to the inclusion of more comic films.

An excellent, excellent point.

And now, for some reason, I'm reminded of how people in "art" (and especially "spiritual" art) circles tend to debate whether Blue or Red is the best of the Three Colours trilogy, but I'm one of those people (along with, say, Leonard Maltin) who thought White was the best.

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I intend to influence everyone here to hate comedies as much as I do. :) (save The Jerk and Planes, Trains and Automobiles) "He hates these cans!"

Yeah right. How could you hate comedies when from what I can tell you've cultivated one of the more passionately loopy personae on this board? You can't tell me you aren't a closet comedy devotee. You're probably like Jonathan Swift, who had a reputation among his friends for delighting to appear far worse than he really was.

:lol:

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I love laughter, I laugh quite often here when reading posts. I laugh at/with my kids. I enjoy close friends and love to enjoy them, but I gave up on comedies a long time ago. I just don't find them funny.

The Man Without a Past, however, is much more broad than simply a "comedy," and I'd be all for it on this list.

And now, for some reason, I'm reminded of how people in "art" (and especially "spiritual" art) circles tend to debate whether Blue or Red is the best of the Three Colours trilogy, but I'm one of those people (along with, say, Leonard Maltin) who thought White was the best.

This is simple, really: You are wrong.

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Man it's great to be back! What thoughtful posts. (Well, except The Artist Now Known As Persona. But we'll let that go.)

Fact is, I'm thoroughly convinced by Greg's argument that for public presentation we should keep the title simple - no further descriptors needed. In fact, I'd prefer "The Arts & Faith 100", rather than putting the website glop at the end, or including the redundant word "Top." Clean and simple, that's what I say.

And Peter's point (amened by others) is a very good one: the voting can be relied on to refine things well beyond what happens in the free-form nominating process.

Here's what I think I'm looking for. (Still haven't found it, but hey, I'm in good company.) That when we open the voting, we instruct voters to take into account the intersection of faith and art in the films they vote for: to clarify (in those cases where it needs clarifying) that we are to some degree specializing. That we are focusing specifically on works that in one way or another involve faith. That when we vote, we're not ONLY affirming a film as having artistic quality, but also saying that we find in the film some sort of spiritual resonance - however each of us might define "spiritual," or however much we might individually swap in some other adjective ("religious", "Biblical," "life-affirming," "transcendent," "in touch with the Divine," whatever) in place of that one.

All of this is only to see if we can't ensure that the list remains distinctive. And helpful to somebody who looks to the list for tips of films where they might further explore questions of art AND faith.

By the way, I posted a piece about the poll at Filmwell.

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That when we open the voting, we instruct voters to take into account the intersection of faith and art in the films they vote for: to clarify (in those cases where it needs clarifying) that we are to some degree specializing. That we are focusing specifically on works that in one way or another involve faith. That when we vote, we're not ONLY affirming a film as having artistic quality, but also saying that we find in the film some sort of spiritual resonance - however each of us might define "spiritual," or however much we might individually swap in some other adjective ("religious", "Biblical," "life-affirming," "transcendent," "in touch with the Divine," whatever) in place of that one.

Yes.

What he said.

And no Groundhogs and no comedies.

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The Man Without a Past, however, is much more broad than simply a "comedy," and I'd be all for it on this list.

Here I would need to really reflect on the penumbral vagaries of the lexicon of comedy. To put too fine a point on it, I would describe The Man Without a Past as a comic film but not necessarily a strict comedy (although it is a comedy in the classical sense of "ending well," as in The Divine Comedy.) The Man Without a Past is comic almost in the same way that Samuel Beckett is a comic writer but not a writer of comedies. As readers of his novels (especially Watt) know, Beckett is much funnier than he is usually credited for. Anton Chekhov is another writer I might classify as comic-but-not-comedic.

In his remarks on Chekhov in Lectures on Russian Literature, Vladimir Nabokov (also very funny) points to what I think is a key element of much comic-not-comedic art:

Chekhov’s books are sad books for humorous people; that is, only a reader with a sense of humor can really appreciate their sadness. There exist writers that sound like something between a titter and a yawn – many of these are professional humorists, for instance. There are others that are something between a chuckle and a sob – Dickens was one of these. There is also that dreadful kind of humor that is consciously introduced by an author in order to give a purely technical relief after a good tragic scene – but this is a trick remote from true literature. Chekhov’s humor belonged to none of these types; it was purely Chekhovian. Things for him were funny and sad at the same time, but you would not see their sadness if you did not see their fun, because both were linked up.

"Funny and sad at the same time"--sort of like The Man Without a Past, sort of like Watt, sort of like life itself.

At the other end of the comedy spectrum you have, say, Year One, which although perhaps technically a comedy, is in no wise comic and maybe not even a film at all.

(I have more to consider here. I may open up a separate thread on these matters, to prevent further digression on my part.)

Edited by du Garbandier

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FYI: I'll be leaving for a work trip today (in the snow; prayers appreciated) and will be run ragged for the next four or five days. If you don't see me in these parts, that's why. I hope the nominations finish strong.

As for the simple title advocated by Ron and Greg, I have little doubt that it will create more questions than it answers among those who read about the list but aren't part of this community. But realizing that those within the community can't agree on any standard definition for our group, I have no better alternative to propose.

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VOTE NOW!

Thank you for all your nominations! The Polls are open and will be open until midnight Sunday February 21st. Votes will be tallied and the final list will be posted on February 25th.

To make sure your vote counts towards this list, follow http://www.keysurvey.com/survey/292964/1333/?LQID=1& to our 2010 Arts and Faith Top 100 Voting Poll. You can only vote once.

How it works:

Every film must be rated 1-5 (1 being the lowest score, 5 being the highest). For those films that you have not seen, vote "Not Seen."

We have created an algorithm which balances the ratings of the film against the individual member weights which are calculated as follows:

· Members who have posted up to 500 posts will receive a weight of 1

· Members who have posted between 500-1000 posts will receive a weight of 2

· Members who have posted between 1000-2000 posts will receive a weight of 3

· Members who have posted between 2000-3000 will receive a weight of 4

· Members who have posted over 3000 posts will receive a weight of 5

Please Note: You will be asked your Arts and Faith Display Name and email address. Please fill these out; this is will let us know that you have voted and how to calculate weight.

It doesn't matter if you're a cinephile or a now-and-then movie-goer - we want YOUR vote.

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I note that there is a film called "Title" that does not have a director or release date listed. I guess I'll vote "Not Seen" for that one. ;)

FWIW, it occurs to me that there are some films on this list that I HAVE seen, but it was so long ago that I'm reluctant to assign any ratings to them. (I shudder to think that I took my first film course way, way back in the '80s. Well, okay, the LATE '80s -- '89 to be exact -- but still. I saw a number of "classics" in that course that I have never revisited since, and even if I COULD remember what I thought of them at the time, I wouldn't trust whatever sensibilities I may have had back then.)

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I have never seen Devil and Daniel Walker.

Oh dear! Looks like that should be the Devil and Daniel WEBSTER.

I don't know if we can change it on the poll but we'll notify the general public. Good catch, MLeary. And PTC for the "Title."

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Two notes: the date for The Child (L'Enfant) is wrongly given as 1981 (should be 2005 I think), and, more important, The Grand Canyon (I believe the title is just Grand Canyon) is listed twice. I had to resist the urge to induce chaos by giving two different rankings.

Edited by du Garbandier

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Ach! Thanks for the sharp eyes. Fortunately I was able to edit the questions. Please comment here if you find more mistakes.

All right, 'fess up, who voted for "Title"?! Now I can't delete it! Ha.

Seriously, though, we appreciate your patience.

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Thanks for all of your work on this Anna (and Christy?) What a project.

I can't wait to carve out enough time to vote. Hmmm. When will that be...?

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Thank you for pulling this together. I haven't visited the voting pages yet, but trust they're easily operable.

I've come down with a stomach virus, so 1) I have lots of time to do this, but 2) I don't feel up to it.

Soon, though.

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Shoot! I forgot to nominate Pleasantville.

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I'm using Firefox 3.5.7 and am having trouble lining up the title and voting rows. Is the first row on the list "********" supposed to have voting options by it?

Or is that just me?

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I'm using Firefox 3.5.7

Doubleshoot! I forgot to nominate Firefox.

Edited by Persona

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I'm using Firefox 3.5.7 and am having trouble lining up the title and voting rows. Is the first row on the list "********" supposed to have voting options by it?

Or is that just me?

I don't know, but I do know that the system wouldn't let me submit the survey until I had clicked on a bubble in EVERY row, including the one where a duplicate had been removed and (what the heck) the first row. I just clicked "not seen" for both of them since--honestly--I haven't seen any movies called *********** and I hope the vote counters can figure it out.

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I forgot to nominate another version of Les Miserables! I think that story is one of the most spiritually significant in Western culture, yet the version on the list I find so loathsome I wish there were negative numbers to assign.

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