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Mr. Arkadin

A&F Top 25 2016 Discussion Thread

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7 minutes ago, Evan C said:

Could someone float some possible titles for Films About Politics/Government list?

BEING THERE. THE CONFORMIST. IN THE LOOP. THE LAST EMPEROR. LINCOLN. NIXON. SEVEN DAYS IN MAY. Z.

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Great titles, Ryan. I'd second several of those.

Just real quick titles worth considering. Not sure I'd end up voting for all of these, but they'd be worth nominations.

Bob Roberts. The Manchurian Candidate. No End in Sight. Bulworth. Downfall. Good Night, and Good Luck. JFK. A Man for All Seasons. All the President's Men. The Queen. The Fog of War. Shoah. The Up Series.

I'd be tempted to nominate The Wire.

Edited by Overstreet

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Being There was one of my first thoughts. 

Some other options include Hail the Conquering Hero, The Lion in Winter, Paths of GloryThe Great DictatorDr. Strangelove, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Nashville .

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6 hours ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

I could see our crafting and putting together a faith-focused Top 25 Films about Politics could be really redeeming.  The timing would be perfect.

 

6 hours ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

 It would also be something that could transcend our culture's automatically assumed political ideological camps.  I can personally think of some more liberal films and some more conservative films that would both equally be ideal for such a list.

 

Not all of us are from the States though.  It might be a little bit too American-centric for some people if the list is largely in place because of the American election.  Just leaving the thought.  I'm not trying to be pricky about his and I'm not even sure how much it matters.  I mean a list about Politics and Government could go well beyond American politics.

Edited by Attica

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17 hours ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

Given the nature of 2016, and the horrible nightmare sensation I get whenever I hear the super-ultra-polarized and unpleasantly shrill Presidential election news on any news channel, I could see our crafting and putting together a faith-focused Top 25 Films about Politics could be really redeeming.  The timing would be perfect.

I also echo Jeffrey's thought that such a list would be better focused on the nature of political institutions and their effects on human nature, rather than loosely defined as "political."  I could see our list as one attempt to use the arts as a means of countering a great deal that is thoughtless and dehumanizing in our current culture, a way of saying "yes, that's what's on the news.  Here, watch this instead."  It would also be something that could transcend our culture's automatically assumed political ideological camps.  I can personally think of some more liberal films and some more conservative films that would both equally be ideal for such a list.

Edited: I see that John Drew eventually nominated "Films on Politics."  John, would you consent to focusing the list a little more and making it "Films About Government"?


Oh, I have no problem with that.  I like Evan C's combination title - Films About Politics/Government.  A few other titles to go along with some already mentioned - Brazil, The Tin Drum, The Candidate, Amistad, Amazing Grace (a good companion to Amistad, dealing with the issue of slavery from the British perspective), Wag the Dog.

Yeah, I'm sure we could get a pretty good list out of this topic.

Edited by John Drew

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I think Attica makes a good point; caution about becoming too America-centric with such a list would be warranted.  I think it would be very easy to stay international; 3 of my top 10 films from last year would fit the bill:  Fury Road, Beasts of No Nation, The Pearl Button.  

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1 hour ago, Andrew said:

I think Attica makes a good point; caution about becoming too America-centric with such a list would be warranted. 

Agreed; the political culture of the U.S. is very different, to my understanding, from that of Canada and the U.K., so language about "our" political climate, "our" culture, etc, should be moderated. Even if we're only speaking of the Anglophone world, I would be pretty skeptical of any one-size-fits-all diagnosis of contemporary maladies. 

This topic would give me a chance to finally watch Advise and Consent, so I'd be open to it. (And we could probably throw in The Emperor and the Assassin, Murder by Decree, The Banquet....)

[I would personally worry about over-determining the list by prematurely narrowing it; "politics" strikes me as a good, broad topic and we can narrow it as we discuss and start to see how the list is shaping up. But we should give ourselves wiggle-room--or, if you prefer, space to breathe--here at the outset. That's just me, though]

Edited by NBooth

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As to making the list too Americanized, we've never done that before and I don't think anyone here wants to.  Two of my favorite films for a list of films about government would likely be Akira Kurosawa's Ran and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's The Lives of Others.  In fact, one of the whole points of the making the list would be to counter the narrow and blinkered thinking of modern Western politics and that would, by its very nature, require advocating for more than American films.

As to allowing the topic to be about "politics" in the broader sense, wouldn't that defeat the very purpose of making the list in the first place?  Honestly, as Jeffrey said, anything can be argued to be political.  There is in fact, a "politics" of the workplace and a "politics" of the office.  There is a "politics" of the family and a "politics" of the bedroom.  There is a "politics" of the kitchen and even a "politics" of the playground.  There is a "politics" of the church and a "politics" of the sports field.

No matter the topic, we've never had any trouble thinking creatively about a list before.  I doubt a list of films about government would be any different.

 

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I'm warming to this idea about "Politics/Goverment." If we go that route, I'd love to write about Park Chan-wook's JOINT SECURITY AREA (J.S.A.).

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2 hours ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

As to allowing the topic to be about "politics" in the broader sense, wouldn't that defeat the very purpose of making the list in the first place?  Honestly, as Jeffrey said, anything can be argued to be political.  There is in fact, a "politics" of the workplace and a "politics" of the office.  There is a "politics" of the family and a "politics" of the bedroom.  There is a "politics" of the kitchen and even a "politics" of the playground.  There is a "politics" of the church and a "politics" of the sports field.

The polyvalent nature of the word "politics" is precisely why I prefer it to the more limited word "government." There's a productive ambiguity at play there. I prefer--as a matter of personal taste--to keep things ambiguous.

Then again, I get the sense that I'm the only person with strong objections on that score, so my comments shouldn't be taken as a strong argument one way or the other; I'm just suggesting that there's a virtue in not over-determining things at this stage.

[FWIW, reading back over Attica's post, I think part of the worries about "Americanization" is just as much the fact that such a list, coming out this year, might seem to prize goings-on in American politics over those of other nations where this isn't a Big Election Year. That's a valid, though not insurmountable, concern]

Edited by NBooth

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Since its an American election year, could we refine the theme to Top 25 Con Artist films? ;)

Have we done a Top 25 Animation?  That may open up a broader audience for awareness and would present an interesting lens looking at animation through the A&F vein.

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47 minutes ago, NBooth said:

The polyvalent nature of the word "politics" is precisely why I prefer it to the more limited word "government." There's a productive ambiguity at play there. I prefer--as a matter of personal taste--to keep things ambiguous.

Then again, I get the sense that I'm the only person with strong objections on that score, so my comments shouldn't be taken as a strong argument one way or the other; I'm just suggesting that there's a virtue in not over-determining things at this stage.

[FWIW, reading back over Attica's post, I think part of the worries about "Americanization" is just as much the fact that such a list, coming out this year, might seem to prize goings-on in American politics over those of other nations where this isn't a Big Election Year. That's a valid, though not insurmountable, concern]

Just as a matter of note, the Republican & Democrat National Conventions are being held the last 2 weeks of July. Publishing a list around that point could give us a good boost in the (US) conversation. And whoever winds up with nominations on either side, I suspect a list such as ours would be a perfect counter balance - especially because we will likely include films and perspectives not purely US-centric.

That said, I like Crime Films too.

15 minutes ago, Buckeye Jones said:

Since its an American election year, could we refine the theme to Top 25 Con Artist films? ;)

Well played.

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7 hours ago, NBooth said:

Agreed; the political culture of the U.S. is very different, to my understanding, from that of Canada and the U.K.

Yes it is.  But it's also one that many Canadians watch with interest (I don't know as much about the U.K.)  Partially because American choices can have an effect on Canada.  Like one of our Prime minister's said "Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."  Yet the way the world's climate is right now, American choices have a large effect on most everybody.

But also partially because (dare I say) it can be a bit of a head scratcher, and kind of entertaining at times.  I just can't imagine a character like Trump getting anywhere in Canadian politics.   Generally speaking we're more reserved and without the extremes (both ways.)

Those different dynamics can of course lead to some interesting films.

 

3 hours ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

As to allowing the topic to be about "politics" in the broader sense, wouldn't that defeat the very purpose of making the list in the first place?

I think so.  Many, many films have a political subtext.  Yet how broad could it go?  I mean films like Dr. Strangelove are overtly political.

 

1 hour ago, NBooth said:

FWIW, reading back over Attica's post, I think part of the worries about "Americanization" is just as much the fact that such a list, coming out this year, might seem to prize goings-on in American politics over those of other nations where this isn't a Big Election Year. That's a valid, though not insurmountable, concern]

Yes that's part of what I was getting at.  I don't think it's insurmountable either.

 

1 hour ago, Buckeye Jones said:

Have we done a Top 25 Animation?  That may open up a broader audience for awareness and would present an interesting lens looking at animation through the A&F vein.

I could be interested in that.  There *are* a few good animated films outside of the mainstream that would be worth looking into.

 

 

Edited by Attica

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6 hours ago, Buckeye Jones said:

Since its an American election year, could we refine the theme to Top 25 Con Artist films? ;)

 

I'm sure we all feel the sting everyday.

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I was thinking more along the lines of WAG THE DOG...but THE STING is head and shoulders above it.

11 hours ago, John Drew said:

 

I'm sure we all feel the sting everyday.

 

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I find myself thinking this might be a good time to rewatch the Iranian film Secret Ballot (I *think* that's what it's called?). If memory serves, it's all about a woman going around in some remote part of the country and trying to encourage people to vote, some of whom need persuading. I don't know if that would fit better under a "Politics" or "Government" label, but I think it's important to show some sense of the on-the-ground political *process*, instead of focusing purely on the political elites; plus, of course, getting an inside view of the Iranian scene might temper certain lazy stereotypes that people over here have about people over there.

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Just when I was thinking that "Crime" might finally get Kind Hearts and Coronets on an A&F list, "Politics" raises its ugly head! But seriously, I do think politics has some interesting angles beyond the "dark, cynical films of corruption." Bollywood examples: Lagaan, or Jodhaa Akbar, or Asoka.

Some are more "popular" and therefore might not pass muster artistically--e.g., Dave or The American President. My Name Is Khan is a bit over the top in hammering home its point in the continuing climate of anti-Muslim paranoia, but it's also sweet.

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Two of the things that would be most intriguing about choosing “politics”:

-A & F doesn’t naturally gravitate toward this breed of films, which makes it an adventurous and fascinating direction to take.

-I don’t naturally gravitate toward this breed of films, which makes me feel adventurous about the concept of exploring the politics films that have riches to offer. 

 

Truly, though, the same things would be pluses about choosing “crime”…relatively unfamiliar territory for this group, and so quite fascinating.

 

One suggestion I would like to make : If either “crime” or “politics” is chosen as the theme this year, let’s make next year’s theme the other of these two.  Crime and politics films would be fascinating counterparts, and could comment on each other in compelling ways.  In the end, the 2 lists could be printed up side by side.  Notwithstanding the possible overlap between the two groups, these two lists would make an excellent pair! 

Edited by Brian D

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Forgive me if this has been mentioned already, but I think "crime and punishment" could actually make a more interesting list.  One could thereby incorporate notions of retribution and punishment vs. justice and forgiveness therein. 

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3 hours ago, Brian D said:

A & F doesn’t naturally gravitate toward this breed of films, which makes it an adventurous and fascinating direction to take.

Possibly true.

 

3 hours ago, Brian D said:

I don’t naturally gravitate toward this breed of films,

Neither do I.  But this makes me trepidacious about such a list.  I just don't know if I would find it worthwhile (I'm not all that political.)  But of course being stretched a little here and there can be a good thing.

 

1 hour ago, Andrew said:

"crime and punishment" could actually make a more interesting list.  One could thereby incorporate notions of retribution and punishment vs. justice and forgiveness therein. 

I like this idea quite a bit.  I would be interested in films that truly try to explore those themes.  Many films of course have some of those themes within them without intentionally digging into them (and the consequences.)   Digging to find films that handle those themes with wisdom, insight, and some maturity, might be a worthwhile endeavour.

I nominate - Crime and Punishment...   :)

Edited by Attica

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