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Top 25: Choosing the second list's theme


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I like the comedy suggestion, but I'm sensitive to the concern that we may wind up plodding in the AFI's footsteps, and I like Greg's proposal to mix it up with a more thematic approach ... Greg's road movie / "pilgrimages" suggestion is a really interesting one, perhaps the best balance of everyone's concerns I've seen.

I'm being indecisive and unhelpful. I agree with everyone and everything.

I like this pilgrimage idea. It provides the opportunity to generate an introduction to the list that connects the Art and Faith aspect of Arts&Faith.

(Which, by the way, is a title I have never liked. Whose idea was "Arts and Faith"?)

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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We should post a poll in October, close by Oct 15, start noms on Oct 17, close noms on Nov 30.

I would not pick a theme until then.---this is a 1x a year thing, right? Pick a release date near the awards or valentines day or st paddy's day (assuming theme is top 25 award winning irish romantic comedies).

Even if we only do it once a year (for good PR timing for a release), I don't know why we should limit discussion and nominations to such a short time period. While I think I like the end result Top 25 Horror, honestly we were lucky with that one because it was far too rushed.

Also, the more time we allot for nominations and discussion, and more time we can spend refining the reasons and the philosophy behind our choices.

I like the important-urgent quadrant. Makes choice easier.

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M. Leary wrote:

: (Which, by the way, is a title I have never liked. Whose idea was "Arts and Faith"?)

Good question.

The board was previously known as promontoryarts.com, in honour of a group that Jeff was associated with at the time, and the earliest reference to artsandfaith.com in my archives dates to April 17, 2004. Shortly after that, I apparently started a thread listing some objections to all the many changes that had just been made to the board, so the new domain name was probably part of a much larger overhaul. (That thread doesn't exist here any more.)

I spent a few minutes looking for a thread where the name change might have been discussed beforehand, but I couldn't find anything. I did, however, find this thread from June 2004, in which the Promontory Film Critics Circle -- the precursor to the now-dormant Faith and Film Critics Circle -- pondered changing its name, too.

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I like this pilgrimage idea. It provides the opportunity to generate an introduction to the list that connects the Art and Faith aspect of Arts&Faith.

Thanks for saying this. It makes me even more partial to this idea since reconnecting to the Art and Faith aspect of Arts & Faith is a particular concern of mine at the moment.

(Which, by the way, is a title I have never liked. Whose idea was "Arts and Faith"?)

Yikes. Does anyone remember this? Was it the one we called Alan? I think he was responsible for transitioning from Promontory Film / Arts to the current broader scope of the site. I wouldn't be surprised if the name had been his idea.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Yikes. Does anyone remember this? Was it the one we called Alan? I think he was responsible for transitioning from Promontory Film / Arts to the current broader scope of the site. I wouldn't be surprised if the name had been his idea.

I hesitated saying that, but it was. I recall being miffed when it happened.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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Nope. The pilgrimage/road movies list idea is a far more interesting discussion, and such a list would give me the opportunity to argue for the inherent worthiness of Two Lane Blacktop and Vanishing Point.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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And that new movie with the roaming tire.

But I don't like that idea. I like comedies.

The other idea sounds like a Hallmark card or something from Lifetime.

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Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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The other idea sounds like a Hallmark card or something from Lifetime.

I literally have no idea what this is supposed to mean. By Hallmark/Lifetime I suppose you mean something like sappy, sentimental, shallow, etc. How the heck do you get there from road movies? Even if we specify road movies as inner journeys or pilgrimages of some kind (which a lot of road movies are anyway)?

I like comedies.

Ah, there's the giveaway. Yer just joshing, right?

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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The other idea sounds like a Hallmark card or something from Lifetime.

I literally have no idea what this is supposed to mean. By Hallmark/Lifetime I suppose you mean something like sappy, sentimental, shallow, etc.

Ah, so you do know what I mean.

How the heck do you get there from road movies?

I just do. It's easy. Try it: inner journeys, films about marriage, road movies, directly translated from very poor Swedish: "That Sap."

Even if we specify road movies as inner journeys or pilgrimages of some kind (which a lot of road movies are anyway)?

Perhaps I need to be convinced. But still:

I like comedies.

Ah, there's the giveaway. Yer just joshing, right?

I assure you I am not, however a full sentence should have read: "I like comedies for the next Top 25 list."

I like the idea of sticking with genres. I agree with Scott's statements from a few days ago, that genres are more about the films themselves. The Horror 25 is a pretty good indication that a good list can be made in genre mode. The Arts & Faith Top 100... well, not so much this time around.

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Road movies are not "sap." Off the top of my head, we already have at least three on our Top 100: The Searchers, Sullivan's Travels and The Straight Story. Look, a comedy, a Western and a drama -- that's what's potentially neat about a thematic approach; it cuts across genre lines.

Road movies also include -- not that I'm nominating for consideration, but just for example -- Mad Max, The Road, The Grapes of Wrath, The Wild One, Road to Morocco, Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise, It Happened One Night, etc.

P.S. Just thought of another one on our list, Apocalypse Now.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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MUNYURANGABO is also a journey movie. In defining road or journey movies, you'd have to put some reliable and agreed-upon fences around the pasture, but it's a pretty rich pasture.

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MUNYURANGABO is also a journey movie. In defining road or journey movies, you'd have to put some reliable and agreed-upon fences around the pasture, but it's a pretty rich pasture.

Yeah, I thought of that one too, but I didn't remember the structure well enough to be confident in including it.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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Many of my favorite films are road films/pilgrimage films. The aforementioned Munyurangabo, Paris, Texas, Walkabout, Dead Man , Badlands, Broken Flowers, Exils, Pierrot le fou, Straight Story, Vagabond... lots of good stuff in and around this theme.

But... I can imagine it being difficult to define this in such a way that the list would cohere.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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But I wanna talk about Steve Martin and why "He hates these cans" is the funniest thing you ever saw.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I still like the comedy idea the best. I can envision some very interesting discussions about what makes a comedy spiritual/transcendent/etc., as well as teasing out what brilliantly pokes fun at our foibles vs. what is just mean-spirited. I'd love to know more about what the folks here consider to be the pinnacle of comedic, and I could always stand to laugh more.

I second the notion of lot o'time to nominate, view, and discuss. I wouldn't even be opposed to a leisurely six months: e.g., begin in April, vote in October.

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I still like the comedy idea the best. I can envision some very interesting discussions about what makes a comedy spiritual/transcendent/etc., as well as teasing out what brilliantly pokes fun at our foibles vs. what is just mean-spirited. I'd love to know more about what the folks here consider to be the pinnacle of comedic, and I could always stand to laugh more.

I second the notion of lot o'time to nominate, view, and discuss. I wouldn't even be opposed to a leisurely six months: e.g., begin in April, vote in October.

I'm also keeping my vote for Comedies.

And yes, this is conditional upon being able to take the time to discuss what makes a comedy of any spiritual worth at all. And therefore it should also result in a discussion on why "Arts and Faith" exists in the first place, with particular emphasis on how we are interested in Christian Faith's interaction with the Arts. And also, yes, as I've always understood from the writings here of Greydanus, Overstreet, Chattaway, Hamaker and the other heavyweights here (who drew me here in the first place) ... that is distinctly Christian faith, not some vague, undefinable, applied to anything at all, merely spiritual faith.

I have this impression that comedies are quite often the type of film pointed to by the modern church as being mindless wastes of time with no spiritual value whatsoever. Add to this the dirty jokes and/or crass and uncouth humor that usually ends up in the majority of comedic film, and Comedies are often even more objectionable to the modern Christian.

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...And yes, this is conditional upon being able to take the time to discuss what makes a comedy of any spiritual worth at all.

If it exists, it has spiritual worth.

And therefore it should also result in a discussion on why "Arts and Faith" exists in the first place, with particular emphasis on how we are interested in Christian Faith's interaction with the Arts.

If I call myself a Christian and if I interact with the arts, then that is a Christian('s) intreaction with the arts.

I have this impression that comedies are quite often the type of film pointed to by the modern church as being mindless wastes of time with no spiritual value whatsoever. Add to this the dirty jokes and/or crass and uncouth humor that usually ends up in the majority of comedic film, and Comedies are often even more objectionable to the modern Christian.

I don't know that I find them objectionable as much as just a waste of time. I don't find any meat in comedies, and I am certainly one identifying with your suggestion that some in the modern church think comedies are "mindless."

I don't care about the crass humor or dirty jokes in and of themselves. I'm certain I've used such stuff over the years, depending on the timing in my life, the people I'm with, etc. (Quite a few on this board actually.) But the thing that baffles me about most comedies is how un-funny they are, compared to just hanging out with very real people that have a sense of humor. So if I'm not hanging out with those types, I certainly would rather see what is iin my mind a "real" film rather than a comedy.

I have great interest in seeing what a list like this would look like at A&F, and if I might change my mind a little bit. To be honest, I somewhat doubt it, because even if I laugh at a comedy, I typically walk away, give it a low mark and forget about it.

We do need to come up with a better word than "spiritual." I'm interested in that question, but the word has become very perplexing.

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Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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If I call myself a Christian and if I interact with the arts, then that is a Christian('s) intreaction with the arts.

Um, not exactly. If I call myself a doctor and interact with the arts, that doesn't make it medical arts. (I am not a doctor.)

There has to be a component of the historic, collective, Christian faith here. It can't just be Jesus 'n' me 'n' Picasso.

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If it exists, it has spiritual worth.

Woe and lamentations to anyone forced to defend the spiritual worth of ... oh, let's say Marmaduke, Grown Ups, Cop Out, Killers, Sex and the City 2, Jennifer's Body, Bride Wars, All About Steve, or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen based on the fact that they exist.

If I call myself a Christian and if I interact with the arts, then that is a Christian('s) interaction with the arts.

Ah yes, but isn't it possible for a Christian to interact with the Arts in a nonBiblical unChristlike way?

So if I'm not hanging out with those types, I certainly would rather see what is iin my mind a "real" film rather than a comedy. I have great interest in seeing what a list like this would look like at A&F, and if I might change my mind a little bit. To be honest, I somewhat doubt it, because even if I laugh at a comedy, I typically walk away, give it a low mark and forget about it.

So ... sounds like creating a Top 25 list of films that aren't "real" would be pretty challenging then.

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If I call myself a Christian and if I interact with the arts, then that is a Christian('s) intreaction with the arts.

Um, not exactly. If I call myself a doctor and interact with the arts, that doesn't make it medical arts. (I am not a doctor.)

Calling yourself a doctor isn't the same as being a doctor. If one calls themself a doctor and isn't, and practices the medical arts, it is grounds for going to jail.

Typically people that call themselves Christians are those that believe in Christ, unless they are swindlers like Marjoe Gortner. Without getting into a ground war over the fruits of the spirit, etc., for the purposes of creating a decent conversation about Christians who interact with the arts, it is usually assumed that most who call themselves Christians actually are Christians.

And then there are others in the room who might say they don't like the word "Christian," but like Mr. Jesus in general, if he exists, and are willing to live by the Christian story because it makes the most sense. That is a category I might fall into, but if pressed, I would call myself a "Christian."

There has to be a component of the historic, collective, Christian faith here. It can't just be Jesus 'n' me 'n' Picasso.

I guess if you want to sort through which history, which collective, and which Christian faith then that is up to you. But it is still going to come back to you and your beliefs in the end.

An eight year-old talking about why The Secret of Kells is important to her in her understanding of the book that is created and preserved is as much a "Christian" conversation as anything else.

If it exists, it has spiritual worth.

Woe and lamentations to anyone forced to defend the spiritual worth of ... oh, let's say Marmaduke, Grown Ups, Cop Out, Killers, Sex and the City 2, Jennifer's Body, Bride Wars, All About Steve, or Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen based on the fact that they exist.

A better way to say it might be: If you exist, then you have inherent spiritual worth, and whatever you do is an inherently spiritual act.

And agreed. Woe and lamentations to most that have to wade through the disappointing spiritual act of seeing many of the films you just mentioned. But it is all about the journey, and life is filled with disappointment along the way.

If I call myself a Christian and if I interact with the arts, then that is a Christian('s) interaction with the arts.

Ah yes, but isn't it possible for a Christian to interact with the Arts in a nonBiblical unChristlike way?

Yes.

So if I'm not hanging out with those types, I certainly would rather see what is iin my mind a "real" film rather than a comedy. I have great interest in seeing what a list like this would look like at A&F, and if I might change my mind a little bit. To be honest, I somewhat doubt it, because even if I laugh at a comedy, I typically walk away, give it a low mark and forget about it.

So ... sounds like creating a Top 25 list of films that aren't "real" would be pretty challenging then.

I think I've proven countless times here that I'm willing to be convinced if I'm shown, in fact I believe I'm known for it. Being willing to be convinced and willing to change your mind is a sign of growth, and I am open to that. I do doubt it will happen in the "me vs. comedies" routine, but one never knows, and I'd look forward to the possibility of a list that would make me further investigate.

Besides, I like to laugh, and there's nothing better than a dirty joke for that.

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It's absolutely true that choosing a genre like comedy would lead to fascinating conversations, insights, etc.

But the world outside A&F will be much less interested in a comedy list than a thematic list like "road movies" or "conversion stories." (I'm not saying those are the best examples, just a couple that have been mentioned.)

The reason horror worked so well is that the very genre seems potentially opposed to religion, faith, etc. in a common sense sort of way (what's spiritual about death and dismemberment, etc.).

In general, genre lists offer much to cinephiles, but little to the public at large.

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It's absolutely true that choosing a genre like comedy would lead to fascinating conversations, insights, etc.

But the world outside A&F will be much less interested in a comedy list than a thematic list like "road movies" or "conversion stories." (I'm not saying those are the best examples, just a couple that have been mentioned.)

The reason horror worked so well is that the very genre seems potentially opposed to religion, faith, etc. in a common sense sort of way (what's spiritual about death and dismemberment, etc.).

I agree with your assessment of why the horror list worked in regards to A&F, and its potential to bring in other people who would not normally seek out this site.

In general, genre lists offer much to cinephiles, but little to the public at large.

But I'm not too sure I would agree with this, and the best example I can offer you is the way that Netflix breaks down their recommendations for its customers, which I think is represented more by "the general public" than "cinephiles" (who may be more attracted to a place like MUBI). Netflix recommendations are all broken down into genres.

I would say that cinephiles would be more interested in seeking out, and more welcoming to a non-traditional thematic list rather than being given more of the same old genre lists. But, if the idea is to get the attention of "the world outside A&F", then genre lists make more sense to me. Not that I personally prefer them. I'd much rather see something deeper.

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Road movie/pilgrimage is attractive (although I'm not sure the two are completely synonymous). Other themes that could be interesting: justice, racism (although I suspect we are as a body whiter than the general population which would tend to make that questionable), sin, eschatology.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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