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Joel Mayward

2017 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury Nominations and Discussion Thread

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Evan C   

Because of your nomination, Ken, I am going to watch The Boss Baby before the nominations close.

 

Also, I'm not sure I've seen any film this year more enjoyable than Valerian.

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Evan C   

I second Hunter Gatherer and 20th Century Women. I really encourage everyone to check out Hunter Gatherer; it's the sort of quiet look at misfortune, obsession, and attempting to change your life after you've constructed a rut for yourself that seems right up our collective alley.

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M. Leary   
11 hours ago, Evan C said:

I second Hunter Gatherer and 20th Century Women. I really encourage everyone to check out Hunter Gatherer; it's the sort of quiet look at misfortune, obsession, and attempting to change your life after you've constructed a rut for yourself that seems right up our collective alley.

And a really wild score to push the whole thing along. Andre Royo here is one of my favorite performances of the year. Glad you also caught this one.

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I could have sworn I watched 20th Century Women during the mad rush to see as many films as possible before *last* year's awards. (And I remember liking it, too.)

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3 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

I could have sworn I watched 20th Century Women during the mad rush to see as many films as possible before *last* year's awards. (And I remember liking it, too.)

From IMDB, the release date schedule: 

Screen Shot 2017-11-16 at 07.00.39.png

It was also nominated for a 2017 Oscar and a Golden Globe, and was nominated or won for a variety of 2016 critics' list awards. So I'd be very hesitant to consider it a 2017 film.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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Many of the critics' groups got FYC screeners for 20th Century Women, so it's quite possible Peter did screen it in the mad rush before some other awards.

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I don't know if it is because I had only an abbreviated stint at TIFF this year or if things are really wide open, but I feel very lost. I usually come home from TIFF with a pretty clear idea of frontrunners and favorites, but I got the A24 FYC package in the mail today and was looking at the titles and thinking, "Have I even heard of these movies?" Menashe, Good Time, It Comes at Night, The Lovers, The Ballad of Lefty Brown.

I've got like 60 titles and very little indication of how to prioritize...so beyond nominations if anyone wants to put in an enthusiasm metric for stuff that has been nominated, I'm certainly willing to hear it. 

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Has anyone else seen The Breadwinner

It's emotionally devastating animated tale set in contemporary Iran. I guess the most obvious point of comparison would be Persepolis. I esteem the film, but I am still not sure if it is something I necessarily recommend for a Christian audience. We've had films that depict World Religion before (Timbuktu; Gett), but some of those have generated discussion about how or why the depiction of another religious community is relevant to Christian audiences. 

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On 11/2/2017 at 10:31 PM, kenmorefield said:

I nominate Roman J. Israel, Esq. 

There is some obvious religious language in a story arc about tensions between the law and grace (Roman/Israel, get it?). 

 

Second.

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I second Mudbound. Best of the films Netflix has produced.

And I nominate Aki Kaurismaki's The Other Side of Hope.

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Evan C   

I second Lady Bird, and I noticed on the first page that Hunter Gatherer isn't listed as seconded, which I have as well.

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The Boss Baby is now streaming on Netflix.

You know what to do! Don't make me come over to your house and tie you to a chair and watch.

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Nominate: 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri.

Really good. Kinda in the wheelhouse for certain kind of Christian viewer -- complexity, some surprises. More about meaning of life than explicitly religious, and I'll get it if the priest scene puts of SDG or Evan -- it's an angry scene in the way that sometimes Irish Catholicsm can be, but despite that scene I don't think it is anti-religious. Don't want to give away too much of the plot, part of the pleasure is in the way it defies conventions and expectations. But I really recommend. 

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Evan C   
1 hour ago, kenmorefield said:

Nominate: 

Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri.

Really good. Kinda in the wheelhouse for certain kind of Christian viewer -- complexity, some surprises. More about meaning of life than explicitly religious, and I'll get it if the priest scene puts of SDG or Evan -- it's an angry scene in the way that sometimes Irish Catholicsm can be, but despite that scene I don't think it is anti-religious. Don't want to give away too much of the plot, part of the pleasure is in the way it defies conventions and expectations. But I really recommend. 

I'm seeing it in twenty minutes so we'll find out soon, but I'll say, this is my second most anticipated film of the year end, behind Lady Bird, and considering how much I like In Bruges and even Seven Psychopaths, I have fairly high hopes for this.

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Evan C   

Heartily second Three Billboards.

As to the scene with the priest, it's a legitimate expression of very justifiable anger that runs out of control, and I don't think we're meant to agree with Mildred's sweeping condemnation any more than we're meant to agree with the other acts she does as her anger escalates.

Edited by Evan C

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I suppose the condemnation of the priest might be viewed as akin to Rockwell character's use of the "n" word or the verbal attacks on gays. It's certainly understandable, and the film depicts actual violence (mostly against women) to really force us to consider ways in which rhetorical and physical violence are related, different, or feed into each other. 

But the film also sets up Mildred's Catholic-gang comparison by having the priest criticize her without any real attempt to hear her or aid her. We get no sense that Mildred is religious, attends service, has any prior relationship with him, etc. Why is he there except to condemn her and leave the low-hanging fruit of "sez all the pedophiles!" Plus, in a film that is remarkably real and honest about representing the circular nature of violence, he (and the religion he represents) is surprisingly omitted from any growth, awareness, or small steps towards reconciliation. 

It may well be that the film (especially the back half) contrasts institutions with individuals. It wouldn't be the first to show organized religion as uniformly corrupt and failing when compared to individuals who are still capable of giving and receiving grace, mercy, and forgiveness. But when I think about how careful the film is to represent, say, the police force as being comprised of individuals with different levels of understanding, complicity, guilt, dysfunction--but also genuine caring--and how the violence (actual and rhetorical) against the members of that institution, while understandable, is never justifiable, I think the treatment of the priest is of a different shade/tone. 

I guess to put it succinctly, in Evan's terms, I think we *are* meant to agree with Mildred's sweeping condemnation of the Catholic priest/church, which is odd given how the rest of the film shows anger (on all sides) raging out of control, leading to more harm, and as something that needs to be overcome with grace and love. Harrelson's letter is the film's coda, is it not? It's hard for me to view the film as one that includes the Catholic priest in the category of those who are capable of growth and/or reconciliation.


Don't get me wrong, I loved the film. Definitely a top tenner, especially in a weak year (so far). But like a mishit note in a well-played sonata, that scene sticks out as a clunker because it seems out of tune with the rest of the film. 

Post-script/random thought. It is a *great* speech. Superbly written and delivered. Just not sure it fits well in this movie. I know many writers/directors capable of falling in love with speeches and having a real hard time cutting them precisely because they are so good. 

 

 

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Evan C   

I started a Three Billboards thread, and I think Scott Renshaw says it eloquently and succinctly, which is why I quoted his review over there. Yes, it is the sort of speech that gets audiences nodding along, especially as we haven't yet seen how far Mildred's anger is going to take her and at that point we only know her as a victim protesting gross injustices, but through the course of the film McDonagh implicates the audience and condemns our anger when it leads us to make similar sweeping condemnations. John Hawkes' line is on the nose, but not overly so. "All this anger only begets greater anger" is what the film is about, and Mildred's swipe at the priest is one of the earliest examples of that anger.

As to the priest not getting a quasi-redemption even the way Sam Rockwell's Dixon did, Mildred makes it clear that religion has no part in her life (whether that's because of Angela's death, earlier hardships, or something else is unclear) and since the main opposing forces are her and the police department, it didn't bother me that small supporting character of the priest, whom Mildred has no time of day for, didn't reappear later in the story.

I started writing a review, and I realized I was making this sound like another Crash - everyone's more complicated than they appear, even racists - and I think the film is much more nuanced and complex than that, so I abandoned that review to think over the film some more. But I will say: while it's quite plausible McDonagh wants the audience to agree with Mildred's remarks to the priest, then I think that's because he wants to turn the tables on them. As McDonagh is Irish, I was wondering if that broad condemnation was his initial reaction to the sex-abuse scandal and if he was using that speech to condemn his own propensity for anger as well.

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I nominate Molly's Game

I waffle on whether this is not typical of our list or exactly typical of it. But I do think about recommending films for faith audiences, and

the depiction of the court system and the way it cynically tries to break Molly makes her final plea both counter-cultural and kinda extraordinary.

Plus I'm very much in the fan camp when it comes to Sorkin's writing. Aside from the morality issues of the justice system, I think the film evokes several resonant themes: role-models, shame, repentance, socialization vs. free-will. And in the way some people thought about O.J. last year --that race is an issue that should be inherently important to Christians -- I think this film really makes you feel and understand the long-term anger around long-term gender subordination. 

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(Now that the "social sentiment embargo" has been lifted...)

No nominations for The Post yet? Very well, then, I nominate it, not least because its treatment of ethics in journalism viz-a-viz political power seem pertinent to our own current situation.

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2 minutes ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

(Now that the "social sentiment embargo" has been lifted...)

No nominations for The Post yet? Very well, then, I nominate it, not least because its treatment of ethics in journalism viz-a-viz political power seem pertinent to our own current situation.

Haven't seen the film yet as I had a conflict on the screening date; hope to catch up with it before voting. 

 

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The Post is superb, but I hadn't thought to nominate it for this list.

Nevertheless, I'm happy to second Peter's nomination.

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FYI: I am updating the list of nominations and seconds on a weekly basis. If you see a discrepancy or that I've missed something, please feel free to let me know! You're also invited to email me or DM a nomination or second.

The Florida Project and Good Time both open near St Andrews this weekend, and I hope to catch both films before they're gone.

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A note about Hunter Gatherer: IMDB has it as a 2016 film (see the release dates below). So, unfortunately, I don't think it's eligible for this year's list.

Screen Shot 2017-11-30 at 20.52.32.png

Edit: the same should be noted for Aquarius, which had a limited US release on 14 October 2016 (also played Cannes, TIFF, VIFF, and NYFF in 2016).

I will try to continue looking through the list of seconded films to make sure we're only including eligible films from 2017 on our list of films to vote for.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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