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Joel Mayward

2018 Arts & Faith Ecumenical Jury: Nominations and Discussion

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50 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

I nominate Shoplifters, a film consistent with Koreeda's affecting recent works exploring familial bonds, including a third act reveal which adds to the ethical complexity (and the weeping).

Seconded.

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20 hours ago, Peter T Chattaway said:

I've been toying with starting a thread on the way films increasingly use characters' attitudes towards sexuality to signify who the Good Guys and Bad Guys are (or at least to indicate which way our sympathies should be skewed). Come Sunday was billed as a film about a preacher who ceases to believe in Hell... but in many ways it's really a film about a preacher who comes to accept homosexuality. Green Book is a film about racism... but the Viggo Mortensen isn't *really* all that racist, and anyway, he's totally okay with homosexuality. And Vice... well, that one's still under embargo, so I won't say exactly what the film *does* do (and *doesn't* do) with the relationship between Dick Cheney and his gay daughter, but it's a thematically significant element.

Anyway, your "badge" terminology seems to dovetail with my own thoughts about this.

1

Boy Erased and Love, Simon come to mind, though those are movies overtly about homosexuality. Your post does remind me that one of the things I liked about Love, Simon was that it parlayed that acceptance of homosexuality into a marginal ability to be critical of the homosexual character rather than simply excusing anything he does wrong as stemming from fear. 

I am more specifically interested in characters who are comfortable around alternate sexuality that I wouldn't normally expect to be. I heard two colleagues argue this point about Green Book. That film does at least have Mortenson's character float the explanation that he worked at the Copa and if you are in the business you are around and get comfortable with, gay people. That explanation could extend to A Star is Born and suggest that part of the appeal of these movies is that they reflect back on the industry in a self-affirming way. 

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Hey has anyone seen Lean on Pete? The publicist was pushing this when I went to SXSW as something that might be of particular resonance with CT audience, but I didn't get to see it...and I just realized it didn't really show up on any screener lists...just sorta disappeared. 

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My wife and I saw it at TIFF last year and loved it, but FWIW, I don't recall any overt faith element to it.

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Most of you know Corby Pons at WITPRO. He is helping Netflix with Sandra Bullock's Bird Box. If this is something you want to screen for jury, let him know (if you have his address) or PM me for his contact info if you don't. (He said it was okay to post offer here).

 

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I loved the first half of Lean on Pete; I didn't find all of the narrative twists in the second half to be set up completely convincingly, but I still thought Haigh's directing and Charlie Plummer's acting were extraordinary. As a story of loss, connections, new beginnings, and unexpected acts of mercy it absolutely should be in consideration for our list, so:

I nominate Lean on Pete.

I also nominate Let the Sunshine In. This is a difficult film, and it wouldn't surprise me if not too many of us care for it. It's also kind of hard to discuss the reasons I like it so much without getting into spoilers, but for a film about a woman desperately seeking a relationship, often with some of the most toxic men she meets, it gives Juliette Binoche's character an incredible amount of sympathy and agency, even when she makes less than ideal choices, almost as an inversion of the romantic comedy arc in which a philandering man must learn to settle down. The film also explores the ways our culture influences our choices and how happiness comes from acceptance and not making some grandiose development or progression.

And since Jeannette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc has not been seconded, I second that.

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25 minutes ago, Evan C said:

Seconded!

Thirded. Just got back from seeing this, and seriously one of the best theatre experiences I've had all year. A spectacular film.

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FYI, if a member of the jury would like a screener link for Chosen: Custody of the Eyes, I have a few links/codes available from the filmmaker.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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On 12/1/2018 at 9:15 AM, Evan C said:

I also nominate Can You Ever Forgive Me? - a searing mockery not just of criminal enterprises, but also of greed and celebrity obsession which creates a void for said enterprises to fill. I thought the film did a fantastic job of balancing sympathy for its unethical protagonists while never failing to remind us how corrupt they were. And there's a late scene in which the characters discuss writing as a vocation, which acknowledges the misuse of Lee Israel's talents but also her humanity.

 

 

Second Can You Ever Me?

 

Evan's comments capture much of what I liked about the film, though I thought it less of a "searing mockery" as a dispassionate chronicle. I commented to Cindy that while there was no scene in Bohemian Rhapsody that we did not know what its point was and what it was doing in the movie by the end of the scene (usually through a character articulating the point in dialogue), there were several scenes here that built on other scenes or set up other scenes: Jack helping Lee clean the filthy aparttment, Jack waking up to feed the cat, Jane Curtain's barb that at the party that would have been sufficient for another movie but set up a longer exchange in her office, Anna Deveare Smith on the park bench. 

This is  a film that will, I think, get a lot of praise for the acting, which is deserved, but may overlook the direction and writing because they conventionally well done rather than being flashy. For our list, though, the thing that fascinates me is the way it explores in a somewhat nuanced way the balance between circumstances and voluntary hardening of heart in contributing to the choices we make. There are a lot of films that I can think of that come down hard on one side or the other of that divide, but this film does the harder work of showing both--and the ways that they can frightfully synergize with each other. 

 

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14 hours ago, Joel Mayward said:

FYI, if a member of the jury would like a screener link for Chosen: Custody of the Eyes, I have a few links/codes available from the filmmaker.

yes, absolutely

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Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse - BIG YES!

I'm not sure if this is anywhere in the thread - But I nominate (or second, and third ) Mary Poppins Returns. Emily Blunt shines. The music, message & pure beauty of classic Disney make this simply one of my favorite films of the year. Family, loss, hope, faith and rediscovering innocence all ring loudly here. 

 

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On 12/13/2018 at 4:45 PM, kenmorefield said:

Most of you know Corby Pons at WITPRO. He is helping Netflix with Sandra Bullock's Bird Box. If this is something you want to screen for jury, let him know (if you have his address) or PM me for his contact info if you don't. (He said it was okay to post offer here).

 

I'd like a screen BirdBox -yes

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I'm pretty sure each of the titles mentioned in the Think Christian roundup of the best movies of 2018 we just published have already been nominated (Annihilation, Eighth Grade, First Reformed, Isle of Dogs, Leave No Trace, The Rider, Support the Girls, You Were Never Really Here), but this group would probably enjoy the capsule reviews written by the contributors. (Including a few Arts & Faith jury members!)

https://thinkchristian.reframemedia.com/the-best-movies-of-2018

 

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On 12/16/2018 at 8:00 AM, Joel Mayward said:

FYI, if a member of the jury would like a screener link for Chosen: Custody of the Eyes, I have a few links/codes available from the filmmaker.

Hey Joel, I would also be interested in seeing this.

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On 12/17/2018 at 9:53 AM, Noel T Manning II said:

I'm not sure if this is anywhere in the thread - But I nominate (or second, and third ) Mary Poppins Returns. Emily Blunt shines. The music, message & pure beauty of classic Disney make this simply one of my favorite films of the year. Family, loss, hope, faith and rediscovering innocence all ring loudly here. 

 

 

I will second Mary Poppins Returns with the caveat that I'm still processing it and trying to articulate a better argument than I currently have about why it should be on this list as opposed to just being a personal favorite. 

Mary makes a comment late in the film about how adults will quickly forget magical things that happened. So there is a part of me that wants to twist this into an allegory of faith. Similarly, there is something important about the way London itself is transformed and not just the individual characters. 

As I say, I'm not sure I'm there yet as far as spiritual significance, but then again when asked about the significance of Ready Player One for Christians, I wrote "do Christians like fun?"

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I nominate The Guardians, from the director of Of Gods and Men, it's a story about the cost of war (in this case, WWI) on those who stay at home and the ways the tragedy of war can alter or reaffirm our prejudices as well as the horrific things we can convince ourselves are moral in the name of honorable intentions. It also shows the beauty of virtue and not returning evil for evil, as difficult as that can sometimes be.

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