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What should be eliminated? (UNOFFICIAL)


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Christian and Jeffrey have already voiced this much better than I could, but wanted to throw my two cents in: American Beauty is shallow, cynical and degrading. BLECCCHHH!!

... I think it's nuts that someone could think there's no spiritual side to American Beauty ...

Well, sure, it has a spiritual SIDE, but no DEPTH ... smile.gif

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I voted for Witness. I respect Peter Weir and probably haven't seen the whole thing for several years, but I fell it's the least I can do after neglecting the real Amish of The Devil's Playground in favor of the faux-Amish Kelly McGillis.

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I could go for American Beauty, for all the reasons mentioned by others, however, I've voted for Fight Club, which seems like a load of macho "myth of redemptive violence" taken to excess, to me, but maybe I just need a little help with the metaphors?

I don't recall the original nomination of this film, or what (if any) justification was given for its inclusion on a list of "Spiritually Significant" films, so if I'm just clueless, convince me, and I'll change my mind.

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Dan Buck said:

It's a Wonderful Life:  Sappy and ultimately the meaning goes no further than, the world wouldn't be the same without you.  Which is a VERY egocentric concept.  But the film fails to show what elements of the world might have been better had it not been for Jimmy Stewart's character's life.

mike_H said:

Sappy, yes, but the meaning
Edited by DanBuck

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Is there, in fact, a process we're going to use next year to amend the list?

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DanBuck wrote:

: And as for Signs - I'm okay with it on the list. I think the theological problems

: people have with it are hair splitters that only concern semitary students. I can

: see problems with the "water" part of the plot, but a minor plausiblity issue

: doesn't stop me from garnering serious spiritual value.

So how do you separate the film's theology from its spirituality? What, exactly, is "spiritual" about the film, as opposed to "theological"? And is it REALLY only splitting hairs when the "theological problem" that everyone points to is, in fact, the very HEART of the film -- its climax, its resolution, its denouement, etc.?

I'm not saying, mind you, that every film on this list has to be "spiritual" -- I am all in favour of including films that are more "mythic", like Star Wars and The Matrix, or films that are more "philosophical", like 13 Conversations..., even if they are not especially "spiritual" in any way.

: Especially from the dialogue on the couch between Mel and Joaquin.

That dialogue made no sense whatsoever.

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I'm not saying, mind you, that every film on this list has to be "spiritual" -- I am all in favour of including films that are more "mythic", like Star Wars and The Matrix, or films that are more "philosophical", like 13 Conversations..., even if they are not especially "spiritual" in any way.

I agree with you there, but I think 'spiritual' in the best sense encompasses all of these aspects. I know! Let's call it the 2005 Arts & Faith Top100 Spiritually, Philosophically, Theologically, Morally, and Mythically Significant Films. Or the AAFTSPTMMSF list for short.

I've never liked "spiritual films" as the category here, but we probably don't want to reopen that part of the conversation, do we? If so, then how about "Top 100 Films Highly Significant to People for Whom Spirituality is Central to the Way They Look At Films" Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw.

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I've never liked "spiritual films" as the category here, but we probably don't want to reopen that part of the conversation, do we?  If so, then how about "Top 100 Films Highly Significant to People for Whom Spirituality is Central to the Way They Look At Films"  Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaw.

Let's do, reopen that conversation. Can't we just call it the Arts + Faith Top 100. Doesn't that imply a spiritual element to what we think is important. This has always been a hang up of mine as well. If its a great film, it IS spiritual.

Edited by DanBuck

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DanBuck wrote:

: And as for Signs - I'm okay with it on the list. I think the theological problems

: people have with it are hair splitters that only concern semitary students. I can

: see problems with the "water" part of the plot, but a minor plausiblity issue

: doesn't stop me from garnering serious spiritual value.

So how do you separate the film's theology from its spirituality? What, exactly, is "spiritual" about the film, as opposed to "theological"? And is it REALLY only splitting hairs when the "theological problem" that everyone points to is, in fact, the very HEART of the film -- its climax, its resolution, its denouement, etc.?

I'm not saying, mind you, that every film on this list has to be "spiritual" -- I am all in favour of including films that are more "mythic", like Star Wars and The Matrix, or films that are more "philosophical", like 13 Conversations..., even if they are not especially "spiritual" in any way.

: Especially from the dialogue on the couch between Mel and Joaquin.

That dialogue made no sense whatsoever.

I couldn't agree more with the first half of your post. Things are getting very sticky when we're trying to determine what is spiritual.

As for Signs, the theological issue most people have with the film is the difference bewteen God causing evil and God allowing it to happen. And I've always had trouble giving a rat's ass which it is. But we could find my initial thoughts on this film in the archives, where we repeatedly hashed this out.

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I see your point. But "it garners more attention" is not a good enough reason to do it the wrong way, in my point of view. I agree that we should always emphasize that morality, theology, and the spiritual elements of life impact our decision-making, but we should also emphasize that we think all criticism should. Or de we?

Tagging spiritual onto our list is like tagging Christian onto our movies or music. It's the sacred secular thing all over again.

Edited by DanBuck

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I'd prefer The Top 100 Spiritual Explorations in Film.

That way, we're not saying the films are "spiritual" in that they are "truthful," but that they are "spiritual explorations" worth investigating for what they bring to the larger dialogue about spirituality and art.

I don't find Fight Club to be very spiritual, but it certainly gives us plenty to talk about in a discussion about contemporary spirituality.

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I'd prefer The Top 100 Spiritual Explorations in Film.

That way, we're not saying the films are "spiritual" in that they are "truthful," but that they are "spiritual explorations" worth investigating for what they bring to the larger dialogue about spirituality and art.

I'm curious to know why the "spiritual significance" qualifier generates so many qualms in connection with the A&F100, but none whatsoever (as far as I've ever noticed) on the year-end PFCC list.

As far as my vote for the first film I would remove from this list...

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.

Really groovy love story, yup. Nifty camera tricks, yup. But what's it doing on this list, apart from the fact it has "ETERNAL" in the title?

The Ronster

P.S. Cool to see the list once again generating discussion. And drawing in some new folks - I hope you stay! This board has pointed me to so many movies I might never have heard about, helped me look closer at so many that I've seen, it's my favourite place on the web. Welcome!

P.P.S. Absurdly long sig file, I know. I'll delete it in a few days, I promise. But I was at the used book shop getting a copy of The Manchurian Candidate, and I saw this old issue of National Lampoon, and I just had to share.

Edited by Ron

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It's good to have you here, a70eezchild, but could you post your comments on the film to the actual thread for the film?  That way, the odds will increase that any responses to your post will go to the proper thread, too.

Piffle. On a free-wheeling, multi-movie thread like this, it's great fun to throw in two bits worth on whatever film (or topic) comes up. Frankly, you're more likely to get a conversation going about a much-previously-discussed film (such as most of the ones mentioned above) in a thread like this than if you dig through the archives, find the stale "single-movie" thread, and post there.

People who want to read up on a particular movie in the archives are going to use the search engine, which is going to lead them to the various places where the film they're interested in has been discussed. So why not here?

(And if we're going to play thread copy, Peter, shouldn't the purely theological conversation go over to that other forum designated for purely theological conversations? wink.gif )

Ron

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Ron wrote:

: On a free-wheeling, multi-movie thread like this, it's great fun to throw in two bits

: worth on whatever film (or topic) comes up. Frankly, you're more likely to get a

: conversation going about a much-previously-discussed film (such as most of the

: ones mentioned above) in a thread like this than if you dig through the archives,

: find the stale "single-movie" thread, and post there.

Hmmm. Do we really want a full-fledged conversation about one single film to dominate a "free-wheeling, multi-movie thread like this"?

: And if we're going to play thread copy, Peter, shouldn't the purely theological

: conversation go over to that other forum designated for purely theological

: conversations?

I thought about that too, but there is a difference between discussing theology in the context in which it is raised (e.g., discussing the merits of depicting Christ visually in the context of a list that includes films about Christ) and introducing subjects out of the blue in a thread that isn't about them (e.g., I do not see The Gospel of John mentioned anywhere in the list above).

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The Matrix -  unimpressive tired philosophical cliche'  (the Evil Genius / The Cave) 

That's one aspect of it. An aspect that interested me not at all. Here's how it connected with me spiritually (seeing it without any preconceptions): they were telling the story of my conversion. A long suspicion that there was "something more," then suddenly discovering a group of people who confirmed that I'd been right, that there was something to wake up to, something "more real" than what I'd been led to believe was the sum total of human experience. As part of this awakening, the discovery of the miraculous. Of a sense of calling, of being called out. Of joining a battle against something that wanted to keep people asleep.

It was electrifying. Later I realized that there's a whole mish-mash of philosophical and religious stuff going on, but part of what's going on happened to resonate with my own experience of finding Christ, signing on with the Kingdom of God, in a way that no other film or story ever has.

Neo as saviour? Doesn't work for me. Neo as saved? You bet.

Prince of Egypt:  Its okay, but past the opening sequence I find it dull and uninspired. It takes the God-wallop out of the equation. And it feels too clean and pretty for what really must have been going on at this time. 

Fair enough, on all points except the first. I found the scene where Pharaoh defies God one last time, leading to the death of the first-born Egyptians, played out in front of the mosaic of Pharaoh's killing of the first-born Hebrews, incredibly insightful and moving. Even artistically compelling.

It's a Wonderful Life:  Sappy and ultimately the meaning goes no further than, the world wouldn't be the same without you.  Which is a VERY egocentric concept.

Bullarkey! It's a film about a man who consistently sets aside his own desires - the trip to Europe - to quietly serve his community. He ends up in despair - a not uncommon result of such a choice, believe me - but then is given a divine glimpse of what his servanthood has wrought. The opposite of egoism, it's about servanthood and community. Deeply Christian, at that level. Dan, you're full of hops! (And to think you like that ALCOHOLIC BUNNY MOVIE!!!!)

Star Wars:  Come on!  the FORCE?  This is a cheap plot device by a mediocre novelist and a worse screenplay writer.  The films were ahead of their time in look and feel, but spiritual?

Yeah, I had to be convinced on this one. But I was, ultimately, and I think Mike H nails it in his pithy response.

Punch-Drunk Love:  I can see a quirky and clever self-exploration element to this film.  But I have trouble loving it as much as others on this board and I DEFINATELY have trouble seeing big spiritual ties

I love it as much as many others on the board, but am with you in seeing how it's got a significance that's distinctly spiritual. The "flawed person experiencing transformation because of love" is as close as I can get in that department.

13 Conversations about One Thing:  If our list were the top 100 films that try the hardest to be spiritual, this one would be near the top for me.  But ultimately, this feels like a meandering, lumbering mess. 

Nah. I liked it plenty the first time, but the film really hit me when I gave it a close second viewing. When I really thought through the chronology of the events, which choices (and choices of attitude) led to which results, I found it deeply affirming of faith and generosity, and not at all about randomness and chaos. Its surface suggests that good and bad things happen pretty much at random to good and bad people, but I honestly think that if you look at it rigorously, it's abundantly clear that the people of faith (or at least hope, or perhaps love) find that the worst breaks imaginable end up "working together for good," while even the blessings visited on the selfish or self-consumed or vengeful end up going sour. Which is to say, 1) it's far more faith-affirming than is often concluded, and 2) there are nuances and complexities that only yield themselves up on close viewing.

But, all that being said, I'm the first one to admit - if it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for you! Alcoholic bunny rabbits indeed....

Ron

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Ron, you're nuts.

Flattery will get you nowhere.

ESOTSP is the best film of the year so far.

So? What's spiritual about it? That's my question.

BUT I would state that I am generally opposed to putting ANY films from the last 1-2 years on the list as a matter of principle. ...

...I wouldn't mind using the same idea for the A&F Top100. I mean just look at how PADDED the list is with films from the 2000s!

But look how many more films are being released lately (say, in the past five years?) that actually dig in on spiritual things! I actually think we're in the middle of a really significant confluence of film and faith and, for my money, it would be self-defeating to rule out this spiritually significant era (heh heh heh...) in a list such as ours. Especially since the group itself came into existence within that time. Sure we consider older films (a lot, which is great), but a huge part of the buzz around here is wrestling through the significance of current releases.

Still, to be honest, I had my way with this year's list, more or less. I'm eager to let somebody else be the "editor" of the thing next year, adjust the parameters (and procedures, for that matter) and see what sort of differences those adjustments make. I'd be totally keen on seeing a list that is nothing but a tabulation of everybody's all-time favourite films - how intriguing to see what odd (and unpredictable) titles would surface as widely-identified favourites when cut loose of any sort of content specifier. HAROLD & MAUDE, PLEASANTVILLE, ROLLERBALL... Who knows!

Ron

P.S. I don't know which Alan Thomas quote maketh my heart more glad: "Ron you're nuts" or "Ron, you were right." The one that makes me grin the most, though, would be the one about putting the phone booth back on the table. THAT I'd like to see! You'd need a dining room with a high ceiling.

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Wow! Two people voted against Blade Runner? In group viewing situations, I find that to be one of the most interesting and rewarding films. All kinds of room to talk about the relationship between creator and created, the difference between survival and love, the difference between justice and grace, what makes us human, what happens when man sets himself up as god, what pride does to the human heart.... Not a significantly spiritual film?

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Although several of these are well below the level of mediocrity, the presence of Fight Club (surely the worst piece of trash I have ever witnessed) must be voted for.

wink.gif

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Although several of these are well below the level of mediocrity, the presence of Fight Club (surely the worst piece of trash I have ever witnessed) must be voted for.

The first time I saw FIGHT CLUB, I had quite an aversion to it, and found it mighty depressing. But then I spent some time looking at it more closely, and came to really appreciate it, though I think it doesn't know what to do with itself at the ending.

What do you dislike about it?

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Although several of these are well below the level of mediocrity, the presence of Fight Club (surely the worst piece of trash I have ever witnessed) must be voted for.

wink.gif

Below the level of mediocrity? Several? I wouldn't say that. All of these films are well above the level of Mediocirty (except the Matrix), but some of them may not be as directly explorating spirituality, or at least not the Top 100 films that do so.

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Although several of these are well below the level of mediocrity, the presence of Fight Club (surely the worst piece of trash I have ever witnessed) must be voted for.

The first time I saw FIGHT CLUB, I had quite an aversion to it, and found it mighty depressing. But then I spent some time looking at it more closely, and came to really appreciate it, though I think it doesn't know what to do with itself at the ending.

What do you dislike about it?

It struck me as very self-important when it had little to say. It is the kind of shallow philosophy that considers itself deep in the vein of the Matrix. Also, it is my best friend's favourite movie so I have to bash it hard. wink.gif

Dan: I'd consider all these four some of the most worthless films I've seen.

Fight Club/The Matrix/The Sixth Sense/Signs

Chariots of Fire/It's A Wonderful Life/The Passion of the Christ/ and the Shawshank Redemption also barely toe the line of a good film for me.

I'm not trying to tread on any toes, I love this list, its variety only makes it better. Has it been published anywhere?

Sorry if I'm being too opinionated, it's a bad habit.

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Well, I normally would scoff at any 16 year old claiming some of these films mediocre, but is VERY clear to me even at your age, your coming from an informed position. It has been published, and there's a thread about where, but Alan... where is that thread?

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The one thing I'm going to insist on is keeping turnover to a minimum. It's not going to be a whole new list, just an update. I'm not sure what the number will be, but the first step in the process will be to decide which films will be thrown back into deliberation -- not necessarily eliminated from the list, mind you, just up for grabs again. I'd like to see that be no more than, say 20, films be open for change in any given year. That might change -- perhaps up to 30 or 40. I haven't really thought about it all that much. It might be a larger number next year than in subsequent years, given that it will be the first major revision to the list.

That means that next year's process will be much, much simpler than the 100-fold complexity you dealt with (rather handily) this year. And AFAIUI, you didn't have your way with the list so much as the process, and that was a brilliant accomplishment on your part. (Am I making you dizzy yet?)

Perhaps we need a new thread on this? I kind of agree, but also kind of wonder if we can't restrict it too much. For example one of the (desired for) results of this list will hopefully be that people see the list and want to join the forum (we've seen a bit of this so far already). Its likely that the biggest groundswell will occur in the first year of publication, so we could maybe tighten it ater that.

I guess I wouldn't want to have a list that became 100 films that aren't entirely the ones we think are most spiritual anymore but we're sticking with them anyway

Besides I specically watched Joseph with the view of considering for next years Bible Jury (Ignore that comment though its not really the issue and I would have got it anyway)

I think the recent films ban could also do with some debate. Would seem weird to have "Tha Passion" in this year and not next.

Dunno, just some thoughts to throw around.

Matt

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It could become chaos. Does there yet seem to be consensus on films needing rethinking? It would be wise to hold out for near unanimity, particularly with respect to the replacement films. It would also be wise to leave open the possiblity of some film with a quite spectacular spiritual POV to come along in a given year, again with significant consensus.

Why not revise after a particular period of time, say shorter than the interval between Sight & Sound's lists?

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I agree that American Beauty should be out. And I'm not too sure about the Star Wars trilogy. How come Central Station isn't on the list, I thought there was a genuine spirituality there, not least in the section where they find themselves at a religious festival in a small town. I love Fight Club but wonder about its relevance here.

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