Mr. Arkadin

Arts & Faith Top 25 Films on "Waking Up" Discussion Thread

105 posts in this topic

I see that The Tree of Life hadn't been seconded. It's a pretty universally spiritually relevant film for me, though I don't associate it with "waking up." But I think that Sean Penn's character has some subtle moments of waking up. And this is especially true considering the arc of the rest of the film, which I take largely to be the older Jack's memories and reflections.

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On 3/31/2017 at 5:43 AM, NBooth said:

I Don't Want to Sleep Alone: I actually thought, after watching this, that it could very easily have gone on our "Mercy" list, but I think it works as well here. The characters all exist in a [literal!] haze, and part of their journey in this film is the need to "wake up" to other people, to human connection--which is itself a kind of transcendence (suggested by the final shot of the film):

This one indeed is very much about Mercy, but I didn't find it to be so much about waking up as about sleeping and dreaming. I'm glad I saw the film, though. It's really lovely--so many gorgeous images and careful observations.

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So I have this as our final list of nominees. Am I missing any?

 

  1. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
  2. Adam's Apples
  3. All Quiet on the Western Front
  4. Almost Famous
  5. Amazing Grace
  6. Amélie
  7. Angel and the Badman
  8. Another Woman
  9. Arrival
  10. Awakenings
  11. Barton Fink
  12. Blue Velvet
  13. Breaking Away
  14. Captains Courageous
  15. Children of Men
  16. Cleo from 5 to 7
  17. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  18. Contact
  19. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  20. David and Lisa
  21. Don't Look Now
  22. Edward Scissorhands
  23. Eyes Wide Shut
  24. Face to Face
  25. Fearless
  26. Fruitvale Station
  27. Gaslight
  28. Ghost in the Shell
  29. Groundhog Day
  30. Holiday
  31. I ♥ Huckabees
  32. Ikiru
  33. Inception
  34. Joe Versus the Volcano
  35. Journey to the West
  36. Knight of Cups
  37. Last Holiday
  38. Life, Animated
  39. Malcolm X
  40. Marty
  41. Metropolis
  42. Moon
  43. Moonrise Kingdom
  44. Mulholland Drive
  45. My Neighbor Totoro
  46. On the Waterfront
  47. Pan's Labyrinth
  48. Picnic at Hanging Rock
  49. Punch-Drunk Love
  50. Red Beard
  51. Running on Empty
  52. Searching for Bobby Fischer
  53. Selma
  54. Shutter Island
  55. Something, Anything
  56. Spirited Away
  57. Take Shelter
  58. Tender Mercies
  59. The Artist
  60. The Assassin
  61. The Color Purple
  62. The Double Life of Veronique
  63. The Edge of Seventeen
  64. The Fits
  65. The Great Dictator
  66. The Illusionist
  67. The Insider
  68. The Killer
  69. The Lives of Others
  70. The Long Goodbye
  71. The Matrix
  72. The New World
  73. The Pervert's Guide to Cinema
  74. The Secret of Kells
  75. The Traveler
  76. The Tree of Life
  77. The Trial
  78. The Truman Show
  79. The Way
  80. They Live
  81. They Might Be Giants
  82. This Is Martin Bonner
  83. Through a Glass Darkly
  84. Upstream Color
  85. Wings of Desire

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Is voting underway or about to happen?

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Paul is in the process of setting up the voting.

The Image folks are a little overwhelmed at the moment, so it might be a little bit.

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So some life and family issues stopped me from participating in the nomination process as much as I was hoping to, but this is looking good.  While I ought to spend some more time trying to discuss what I was trying to get at by this list, I can say that, as the one who first envisioned this list, I think there are easily more than 25 films among our nominated & seconded films that meet the theme I was going for here.  Some of you have made some comments and asked some questions that I will get around to discussing a little more.  I am also beginning to think things through in more detail now that we have a group selected list of films to choose from.

For starters, am I right in seeing that there are only 8 films from our top 100 list as prospective nominees?  By my count, this includes:

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Double Life of Veronique, The
Fearless
Ikiru
New World, The
Punch-Drunk Love
Through a Glass Darkly
Wings of Desire

Out of these I see IkiruWings of Desire and Double Life of Veronique as absolutely essential for the theme.  I can certainly see arguments for the others, particularly for Fearless.  The New World is interesting because it is John Smith who goes through the longest and most elaborate waking up process and yet he rejects it in the end.  It is certainly a film about being awake to the hidden and spiritual realities of the created things around us.

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29 minutes ago, J.A.A. Purves said:

For starters, am I right in seeing that there are only 8 films from our top 100 list as prospective nominees?  By my count, this includes:

4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days
Double Life of Veronique, The
Fearless
Ikiru
New World, The
Punch-Drunk Love
Through a Glass Darkly
Wings of Desire

The Trial and Tender Mercies are also in the Top 100. I might be missing something, but I think Fearless, Punch-Drunk Love, and Through a Glass Darkly are not on that list.

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Hey guys, Paul here (despite Tyler's old handle). Thanks for your patience!

 The survey is now live:  rank your top picks with a 5 and your lowest picks with a 1. Folks who have been a part of our community actively will have their votes weighted base on how often they've contributed to A&F, but anyone and everyone is welcome to participate. If you don't know a movie, do not rate it.

We will close voting at noon PST on Wednesday, June 14th.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D23V2D5

Go for it! 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 hours ago, TylerMcCabe said:

Hey guys, Paul here (despite Tyler's old handle). Thanks for your patience!

 The survey is now live:  rank your top picks with a 5 and your lowest picks with a 1. Folks who have been a part of our community actively will have their votes weighted base on how often they've contributed to A&F, but anyone and everyone is welcome to participate. If you don't know a movie, do not rate it.

We will close voting at noon PST on Wednesday, June 14th.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/D23V2D5

Go for it!

As a newbie here, I haven't participated in any voting before. Would someone mind articulating how the 1-5 scoring and weighted voting works exactly?

Mostly, I'm just curious what the system is. I've seen some discussion of the system in past threads, but I'm just not clear on what it is. I also would like to know how 1-5 scoring translates into a ranked list. Is it just the average score each film receives regardless of vote total? something more complex? That will likely affect how I score various films. Thanks!

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6 hours ago, Rob Z said:

As a newbie here, I haven't participated in any voting before. Would someone mind articulating how the 1-5 scoring and weighted voting works exactly?

Mostly, I'm just curious what the system is. I've seen some discussion of the system in past threads, but I'm just not clear on what it is. I also would like to know how 1-5 scoring translates into a ranked list. Is it just the average score each film receives regardless of vote total? something more complex? That will likely affect how I score various films. Thanks!

I don't remember the details, but you can rank each film 1-5; 1 being you strongly disagree with it being on the list, 3 being neutral, and 5 being you strongly agree with it being on the list. The weighted votes mean that those who have a higher post count and have thus put more time into shaping A&F will have their votes weighted slightly more heavily, which started as a precaution against anyone setting up an account just to vote and then never participating in the forum. I forget the equation to calculate the ranking, but it's not a simple average; the average of the scores, combined with the number of votes a film receives, plus the weighted votes all contribute to a film's ranking. E.g. A film that gets nine 5's and one 4, would still rank higher than a film that gets two 5's and nothing else.

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4 hours ago, Evan C said:

I don't remember the details, but you can rank each film 1-5; 1 being you strongly disagree with it being on the list, 3 being neutral, and 5 being you strongly agree with it being on the list. The weighted votes mean that those who have a higher post count and have thus put more time into shaping A&F will have their votes weighted slightly more heavily, which started as a precaution against anyone setting up an account just to vote and then never participating in the forum. I forget the equation to calculate the ranking, but it's not a simple average; the average of the scores, combined with the number of votes a film receives, plus the weighted votes all contribute to a film's ranking. E.g. A film that gets nine 5's and one 4, would still rank higher than a film that gets two 5's and nothing else.

Thanks for these clarifications. I'd be interested to see the algorithm used to know the precise weighting of votes vs. averages, etc., if it's public, just out of curiosity.

Also, if this info is available, does anyone know the range of scores that a typical list includes. I'm sure it varies from year to year, but does a #1 film clock in closer to 4 or 5? Does a #25 film clock in closer to 3 or 4? Are there precise numbers for this?

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I want to make sure I’ve put in some rationale for the films I nominated that are in the running. Although at this point the purpose is also to make some arguments as to why these films belong on the list.

Adam’s Apples is the film, of the ones I nominated, that I most hope makes the list. It is dark—an interpretation of suffering in the lineage of Job—but also very funny and a comedy in the classical sense. The neo-Nazi Adam wakes up to the reality of the evil of his former ways, and the value of organized religion, limited as it is, to help people, including himself, out of their antisocial behavior. The priest also wakes up out of his naïve religiosity to the dark reality of his suffering. The film demonstrates how questioning and doubting the easy platitudes of faith is part of spiritual awakening. The film suggests in the end, and I like that it isn’t explicit but it is definitely shown,

that both the central characters come to a deeper understanding of the depth of God’s love

. This is a very good film showing the stages of spiritual awakening and development.

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In I ♥ Huckabees, pretty much every character undergoes a kind of waking up experience. Jason Schwartzman’s character wakes up to his connection with others, even those he despises. Jude Law’s character wakes to the shallowness of his “successful” life. Naomi Watts’ character to the fact that she is a whole person, not just a smiley face and a hot body. Mark Wahlberg wakes up to the personal consequences of single-mindedly pursuing his otherwise good principles and the fact that pursuit of those principles shouldn’t dominate one’s existence. Hoffman & Tomlin and Huppert wake up to the reality of the world’s fallenness and ongoing creational goodness and redemptive qualities respectively. That’s my take on their various awakenings. Others might have different takes, but “waking up” to the meaningfulness of life is definitely a major theme.

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Posted (edited)

Children of Men charts Theo’s awakening out of cynicism to purpose and even hope.

Red Beard charts the medical intern's awakening to the dignity of the lives of the poor and the meaningfulness of serving them.

Edited by Rob Z

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I just watched Joe Versus the Volcano with my wife (she loves Tom Hanks), and I think it would be a great film to include. Not only is “waking up” to living life fully explicitly mentioned in the film, but Joe (and arguably even Meg Ryan’s final character) has a true spiritual awakening as well. He awakens to God and spirituality, to helping others for their own sake (rather than his own), and to the futility of self-centeredness. Even in the fantastical plot and overall weirdness, Joe’s prayer toward the end felt utterly sincere. The richness of the theme of waking up the film explores with seriousness is all the more striking for it being packaged in a silly RomCom romp like this. I made some more extensive comments over the thread for this film, in continuity with the discussion that was already registered there.

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Thanks for these comments, Rob Z. Especially on Joe Versus the Volcano, which doesn't get enough appreciation. It was nominated for the "Comedies" list a couple years ago and didn't make it, but I agree it is very much a film about spiritual awakening and to a larger vision of the meaning of life.

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Joe versus the Volcano is one of the movies I watched because of this list that I probably wouldn't have otherwise. Having done that, I hope it makes the list. Not only the prayer that you mention, Rob, but the whole story is a very real process of spiritual awakening in the midst of bizarre, fantastic world created. That's an incredible achievement that has been overlooked way too long. Thank you (or who ever nominated it) for your nomination that pushed me to see this great movie.

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Rob, also I'm sure from what you wrote above that you're the one who nominated Red Beard. I've been a Kurosawa fan for a long time, but somehow that one fell through the cracks. I don't remember ever even hearing about until looking it up after you nominated it. I agree whole heartedly with your assessment of the waking up in it. I would extend that to the girl he treats too who wakes up from the abusive situation she's endured to a new world where kindness and goodness exist, and the changes in her behavior that result from that awakening are remarkable but very believable. So, I hope Red Beard is on the list too.

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Posted (edited)

Joe versus the Volcano:

 

 

 

I saw this in the theater in 1990 at age 15.  As an Ebertophile who believed everything Roger Ebert said, I went to see the film based on Ebert’s 3 ½ star review.  This turned out to be one of the few instances where I allowed myself to sharply disagree with Mr. Ebert.  I took my teen movie critic pen and scratched something in the neighborhood of 2 stars into my movie notebook.  This film, its appeal, and its world were completely lost on my 15-year old mind.

 

Flash forward to 2017…what’s this?  Is this film really being held up as a cornerstone example for our “waking up” list?  I have to see this again.

 

How delighted I am to finally come into line with that Ebert 3 ½ star review.  He is totally right when he said the film “achieves a kind of magnificent goofiness.”

 

So it is perhaps the magnificent part that has caught our eye here at A and F.  The intimations of eternity, the waking up to something greater.  I think we are right to highlight the film in a list like this. 

 

However, there is an aspect of “waking up” and this film that sticks in my craw.  I see and appreciate the waking up element throughout 90% of this film.  But what about the big decision Joe makes near the end of the film in response to the natives’ request?  Is this really an enlightened decision?  It strikes me more as a moment of foolishness, an example of trying to unselfishly help others in a misguided way that will result only in self-destruction.   (Help me out, fans of the film.  Should I just ignore Joe’s decision, or is there really a case to be made for the decision being a part of Joe’s awakening?)

 

But then again, why am I going to great lengths to argue about foolishness and wisdom with a film whose main character suffers from a brain cloud? J   Overall this movie is a joy, and it would give me joy to see it land highly on our “waking up” list. 

 

Edited by Brian D

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It’s interesting that there is a subset of nominated films about “waking up” that might be called “terminal diagnosis” films. Of the nominees, this includes Adam’s Apples, Last Holiday, Ikiru, Cleo from 5 to 7 (anticipated diagnosis), Joe Versus the Volcano, and Arrival (sort of—not involving a protagonist). (How different these are from your standard romantic teen cancer weepies!) There might be others I haven’t seen or missed. And of course, many other nominees involve waking up in ways that are also intertwined with death, just not a terminal diagnosis. It’s interesting that these diagnoses are resolved so differently:

a grotesque and possibly miraculous healing, revealed to be a mistake just before the character dies anyway in a car crash, hidden from everyone until after the character’s death, revealed to actually be not that serious of a diagnosis, revealed to be a fraud, and embraced somewhat deterministically

respectively. Yet with the exception (I’d argue) of Arrival, each of these diagnoses spurs some sort of (spiritual) growth in the protagonist.

Honestly, these are some of the films that seem to me most appropriate for this list (again except for Arrival—I like the film, but I don’t think “waking up” really fits it—and Last Holiday I could take it or leave it). I look forward to seeing how many of these make the final list!

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On 6/11/2017 at 5:10 PM, EdB99 said:

Rob, also I'm sure from what you wrote above that you're the one who nominated Red Beard. I've been a Kurosawa fan for a long time, but somehow that one fell through the cracks. I don't remember ever even hearing about until looking it up after you nominated it. I agree whole heartedly with your assessment of the waking up in it. I would extend that to the girl he treats too who wakes up from the abusive situation she's endured to a new world where kindness and goodness exist, and the changes in her behavior that result from that awakening are remarkable but very believable. So, I hope Red Beard is on the list too.

Yes, I agree there are other ways it fits the theme. I was in a hurry when I wrote the justification. Yeah, I think Red Beard is a real gem that gets overlooked among the riches Kurosawa has to offer

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Posted (edited)

On 6/13/2017 at 9:45 AM, Brian D said:

However, there is an aspect of “waking up” and this film that sticks in my craw.  I see and appreciate the waking up element throughout 90% of this film.  But what about the big decision Joe makes near the end of the film in response to the natives’ request?  Is this really an enlightened decision?  It strikes me more as a moment of foolishness, an example of trying to unselfishly help others in a misguided way that will result only in self-destruction.   (Help me out, fans of the film.  Should I just ignore Joe’s decision, or is there really a case to be made for the decision being a part of Joe’s awakening?)

Great question, Brian! I’ve been wrestling with that too.

As a teaser without spoiling, I hope, I’ll say that I interpret the volcano as Joe’s cross (in the Christian sense, though I wouldn’t say Joe is a Christ-figure) and Joe and Patricia get baptized in the ocean.

Before I get to that, I came across this fantastic interpretation of the film when doing a little searching inspired by your question. http://www.tor.com/2017/02/20/the-unlikely-philosophy-of-joe-versus-the-volcano/

It is largely an argument that the film critiques capitalism and 80s film tropes, which I think is spot on. Good reading of the moon/prayer scene, too. Regarding the climactic decision, the writer argues that

 

Joe’s jumping comes from his keeping his end of the bargain, as the film states. He faces death without conquering his fear, which is what other narratives would have us expect. He’s still terrified when he jumps. So the jump represents a ceding of control over one’s life to a higher purpose. I like that. She (the author) also notes that his life wasn’t freely given, it was bought by Graynamore. She argues that the volcano represents absurd, ridiculous life (the ethos of the film), and that Joe’s jumping embraces that life even if it means death.

I can accept that up to a point, but I think there is a spiritual richness that exceeds this interpretation.

I wrote a question of my own along the same lines as Brian’s over at the thread for the film, which I’ll put in spoiler text here:

One thing I didn’t know quite what to make of was that the zig-zag path to Joe’s work was the same as the company’s logo, the wall art in his dingy apartment, and the path up the volcano. Didn’t know how to read the connection, especially since the volcano represents for Joe a heroic way to die rather than a pitiful way. Maybe the visual connection suggests that the volcano is really just dehumanizing in the service of someone else’s greed, like his work. When Joe is on the verge of the final decision, I thought of 2 other films: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and The Return of the King.

 

Is the jump a “leap of faith” and Joe, like Indy, just needs to “believe”? Or does he fail like Frodo does, by taking his life into his own hands, though in a different way, only to be saved by an act of Providence? Or could it be both?

I’m actually just going to spoiler my thoughts because the final decision is so important to the film, I think.

 

Regarding my earlier reflections, I definitely think it’s both. Joe makes a decision—to jump—that is both misguided and redemptive at the same time. The same is true for Patricia. Of course it’s a bad idea to jump into the volcano. But honestly, I think the dialogue in that scene is crucial to understanding the decision, especially since Patricia who was trying so hard to convince him not to jump, ends up jumping, too.

The scene has some great witty banter!

The fact they just got married, and Patricia says “We’ll take this leap, and we’ll see” reminded me of a line from Wendell Berry’s “Poetry and Marriage,” “you do not know the road; you have committed your life to a way.” They can’t know what’s ahead of them, and so I agree with the article I put above that they are giving up control of their lives in a good way. “What are [they] hoping for?” “A miracle” is what, and I think the film wants us to consider that as more than banter.

In the film, Joe moves from an attitude of carpe diem (buy buy buy for tomorrow we die!) to memento mori (gratitude for his life on the raft, preparation for death) and this in turn leads to sub contrario, “under the opposite,” the way Luther said God worked: power comes through the weak, and new life comes through death on a cross.

Am I comparing Joe Versus the Volcano to Luther’s theology of the cross? Yes! The volcano is Joe’s cross. Patricia’s, too. She’s gone from believing not in God but only in herself to hoping for a miracle! Instead of brutal torture by Roman imperialism, we have the human sacrifice of various kinds—in the volcano, in the workplace, to our personal fears—all connected, says the motif of the lightning path.

Why does the volcano (and the human sacrifice it stands for) sink? “Death, thou shalt die,” as Donne put it. And that “crooked road” that led him there? The symbol of soul-sucking capitalist dehumanization becomes a means of redemption in that it led him to Patricia, his true love (and vice versa). Jumping is dying to ones’ self in order to be raised…perhaps not in Christ, but whatever the equivalent of that is in the world of this film, and I’d say in the conventions of the film means being with one’s true love happily ever after, which is where the story ends.

After they get spit out of the volcano and land in the Pacific, and come up, as if they had just been baptized by immersion (not to mention by fire!). Baptism is paralleled with Christ’s crucifixion in the Bible, so I don’t think I’m reading this into it. Especially since they acknowledge that it was indeed. Patricia’s “God, we lucked out” can be taken religiously as well, I think. As can Joe saying “This is great! I’m saved!” when he realizes he doesn’t have a “brain cloud” has pretty distinct Christian overtones as well. And that line “your whole life is ahead of you” is cliché, sure, but it points to the reality of new life “happily ever after” and “away from the things of man,” the mammon the film critiques so well. And the final thing we see is the full moon, which represents God’s presence here and in the earlier raft/prayer scene.

 

So this film is pretty much telling the truth of the gospel in fairy tale form, a la Frederick Buechner.

Edited by Rob Z

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Hello all!

As you've probably seen, voting for the 2017 top 25 films on Waking Up is officially closed! The Image staff are currently working to calculate those results; they should be ready by the end of the week. 

Thanks for your input, and your patience in a very busy season at Image!

-Paul 

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Posted (edited)

5 hours ago, TylerMcCabe said:

Hello all!

As you've probably seen, voting for the 2017 top 25 films on Waking Up is officially closed! The Image staff are currently working to calculate those results; they should be ready by the end of the week. 

Thanks for your input, and your patience in a very busy season at Image!

-Paul 

 

Hmmmmm.... Bummer....  I guess I should have followed this Facebook link to the actual A&F  post, where the date said June 14th...  Am I the only one who thought we had more time?

 

A&F25.JPG

Edited by John Drew

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