Jump to content
kenmorefield

Top 100 Recommendations and Lobbying

Recommended Posts

Rome, Open City is certainly the most overtly religious of those three films, and there are some powerful moments (Pina's tragic death, the execution of the priest). But there's something about the visual composition and the narrative structure of Germany Year Zero that pushes it just a bit above Rome, Open City for me. The horror of war and ideology feels more pronounced and insidious in Germany Year Zero (and more timely/relevant than ever in our current American political climate), and the bombed-out landscape of post-war Germany is something that can't be replicated in a studio. There is something about "truth" and "reality" which the neorealism aesthetic captures in Germany Year Zero, even through a fictional film—it demonstrates the power of the cinematic form to be revelatory, even when it's simply showing us the world as it is (Rossellini does this in Rome, of course, but in a different way than in Germany). The final shot of Germany is a Pieta scene, and on par with any of the Dardennes' climactic affecting moments in terms of pathos. And perhaps what pushes Germany Year Zero into the "essential" territory for me is its influence on the Dardennes themselves (I know, I probably talk about the Dardennes way too much!). It's the brothers' favorite film, and in one of Luc's journals, he calls it "our model" for filmmaking. All this to say, if Rome, Open City made our list above Germany Year Zero, I still wouldn't be too heartbroken. Both are extraordinary films, and both worthy of consideration and contemplation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I nominated Faces Places, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, and Heartbeat Detector.  I can't lobby for Heartbeat Detector any better than has been done on its devoted thread.  Faces Places is a (mostly) joyous film that celebrates the beauty of ordinary humanity, and our list could use some respites from its (mostly) solemnity.  And I feel strongly that our list needs a Herzog film, given his oddball humanism, and what better film by him than Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the one that gorgeously, meditatively shows some of humanity's earliest known artwork?


To be an artist is never to avert one's eyes.
- Akira Kurosawa

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Rob Z said:

I'd say that's close to my reaction to seeing Rome, Open City. I think its religious elements tip it for me as a highly spiritual film. That's part of why it resonated for me so much. I think most others are more cinema-literate than I am, and I'd love to hear an argument for Germany, Year Zero (or Paisan) over Rome, Open City in terms of the cinematic quality or spiritual significance.

They are both great films. Was it Mike Hertenstein that used to talk about Germany Year Zero as a "rubble" film in these parts back in the day? Since Rome is a resistance film, it is more morally comfortable (at least for me). I'me always amazed at how films like Germany Year Zero and La Silence de la mer or Broken Lullaby are able to look for, much less find, shared humanity in people who were the enemy. In them, war becomes a greater enemy, and there seems something in it that is a bit more pressing today, about the human capacity to tear apart that which is good in our lives while pursuing some sort of nationalism or spiritual triumphalism. Mostly, though, the rubble film looks forward to the postmodern world that is being born rather than back at the modern film that is ending. (Year Zero). In that sense, it's maybe even a darker forefather of that Nick Hornby film I've been championing or other postmodern lamentations (such as No Country for Old Men, Run Lola Run, or An Education). 

And yet for all that, I'm not sure if I had to pick if I don't just prefer Stromboli or Journey to Italy for their ability to express that postmodern lament through the accessible anchor of a recognizable character or narrative hook that the gets blunted in the neorealist scope. 

Edit: Ah, knew it was Mike H. (It's almost like I wrote a book with that guy). Here you go: https://theotherjournal.com/2010/01/26/roberto-rossellinis-war-trilogy/

P.S. Jeff always used to get grumpy when I would poke him by dredging up old quotes he left years before on A&F, so I'll leave Darren to claim (or not), his comments about Germany Year Zero in this thread  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Andrew said:

And I feel strongly that our list needs a Herzog film, given his oddball humanism, and what better film by him than Cave of Forgotten Dreams, the one that gorgeously, meditatively shows some of humanity's earliest known artwork?

I, for one, will be rating this quite highly. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is one of the only films I've seen where the 3D experience feels essential to really grasping the entirety of what the film is doing. But even without 3D, it's a stunning documentary, and one of the best films about art (or perhaps it's a film about cinema?) I've ever seen.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a wonderful crash-course conversation by Assayas on L'Avventura on the Criterion Channel (or youtube...). He does a good job of articulating why this is such a landmark film, and how it fits this list as a formative reflection on spirituality and modernity. I know the arguments then start to turn toward which films of the trilogy are the best. But I like the case Assayas makes for L'Avventura as the first big, crucial movement in Antonioni's form.

There are some spots in L'Avventura which rival entire films by Bergman, Kubrick, Renoir and other consciously modernist filmmakers. 


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/25/2020 at 4:22 PM, Joel Mayward said:

I, for one, will be rating this quite highly. Cave of Forgotten Dreams is one of the only films I've seen where the 3D experience feels essential to really grasping the entirety of what the film is doing. But even without 3D, it's a stunning documentary, and one of the best films about art (or perhaps it's a film about cinema?) I've ever seen.

Same here! I refreshed myself on four potential Herzog films for this list, and landed on Caves as my potential nomination. This is where all his thoughts on art, history, nature, and his Pascal "condition of man" vibe really coalesce.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The last few weeks have been like a film festival experience in that I have been thinking as much about how films interact with each other as I have been consuming individual films in isolation. 

I've never been a huge fan of Stories We Tell, but it suddenly feels a bit more important without films from the 7 Up series. 

Given the absence of Shoah or The Last of the Unjust (I opted to nominate Triumph of the Will, which I stand by, but I assumed these others would be tabbed), The Act of Killing and Night and Fog are important. But one or the other? Or both? And if both, do I add 12 Years a Slave and part of a subset of films about historical atrocities? 

I like It's a Wonderful Life a lot more with Queen of Versailles on the list than on its own. 

Sunrise, with its influence on the Dardennes, ends up being more important to me than Faust, but...

If we go Grapes of Wrath, then I'm a bit more interested in The Gleaners and I than some other Varda. 

Does A Hidden Life replace A Man for All Seasons (I hope not) or do the two end up buttressing one another? 

Total aside--I've tried and failed over the years to cultivate any kind of appreciation for Miyazaki....I've seen them all the nominees but if it's time to revisit *one* which one do you recommend for someone not already a fan?

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ken, these are exactly the kind of questions of relationships between films that I've been thinking through, too. You make some great connections here. I hope that there are some historical genocide/atrocities films, some stand up for your conscience no matter the cost films, etc. I think that kind of diversity is important as well. However, I don't have any criteria for what makes me want to include fewer films (for instance, my wanting to include Heartbeat Detector as a post-Holocaust film makes me want to include Ida less). Other times I think buttressing makes sense. I certainly hope both A Hidden Life and A Man for All Seasons make the list, and Sophie Scholl as well. 

3 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Total aside--I've tried and failed over the years to cultivate any kind of appreciation for Miyazaki....I've seen them all the nominees but if it's time to revisit *one* which one do you recommend for someone not already a fan?

I wonder what it is that gets in the way of your appreciation? Can you identify it?

Well, I nominated two Miyazaki films, so I'll advocate for both Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. I think the former is his "best" and the latter is my favorite. They're both pretty epic, so if you want something more intimate (not exactly the right word), go for the others. Those two films I think have the strongest narratives, really staging in helpful ways some of the thorniest questions that face us personally and societally--questions about human-nature relationships, questions of the powerful relating to the weak, questions about the efficacy of violence or militarism. And they depict complex interpersonal dynamics as well. I think these two have the strongest environmental messages, but also the most nuanced and complex, and that's important to me, as Andrew also mentioned.

Spirited Away has some of the richest, lushest animation I've seen, but I didn't find it superior to Princess Mononoke, and I didn't think Spirited Away's story or characters were as compelling in any of the other nominated films, nor did I feel like its anti-consumerism or environmentalist resonances were as strong with me. I find that Miyazaki's animism resonates strongly with my creation-oriented Christian faith, and I find that many of his protagonists have Christ-like qualities. I'd go so far as to call Nausicaa and even Ashitaka in Princess Monomoke "Christ figures," and I've read (what I took to be quality, culturally sensitive) scholarship arguing the same. I love Totoro for so many reasons, but especially its depiction of the benevolent spirituality in the midst of upheaval and uncertainty, especially in nature. Honestly, these two films, which I do love, have been a puzzle for me in thinking about how to rate them or rank them with other films because they're Top 100 level for me...but only if the other two Miyazaki films don't make the list. I wonder if directors with a handful of nominated films will end up having votes split amongsfilms and losing films off the list for that reason apart from the 2/director rule or, on the other hand, if have several films nominated means that they're so well loved they're sure to have several voted highly. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have come to realize that many of the remaining unseen nominees for me are in the almost-3-hours-or-longer category: A Brighter Summer Day, Cloud Atlas, Jodhaa Akbar, Fiddler on the Roof, Mysteries of Lisbon, The Turin Horse. This may sound silly, but any suggestions for how one goes about watching these longer films in segments so as to not fall asleep? I'm an advocate for watching a film uninterrupted and on the largest screen available, but with three young children at home, distractions happen. So I usually find myself starting a film after their bedtime (or at least when they finally fall asleep), which means I'm sometimes starting a film close to 9:00pm, and thus likely to nod off. Beyond caffeine, any practical ideas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps schedule an appetizer/sampling day where you watch the first 10-15 minutes of 5 o r 6 of them. This should give you an idea of which, if any, you are seriously considering voting for and need to devote more careful scrutiny to. 

That is not perfect by any means as there are some films that start slow and reveal themselves gradually and others that depend more heavily on building expectations through order, etc. But I've seen all of those films except "A Brighter Summer Day" and...at least for Fiddler, CA, and JA, you know what you are getting pretty early. And, I mean, I get wanting to watch non-interrupted, but if that means fighting tiredness, you aren't doing the movie any favors. (Isn't Lisbon closer to 4 1/2 hours than 3?)

I've told this story many times, but my first semester of full-time teaching I was assigned a class in Neoclassical period and as it was a lot of boring and dry material, I decided to end the class with a treat! Tom Jones by Henry Fielding. A delightful romp that my wife and I had read aloud before sleep time over the course of weeks. Students hated it. I learned from that experience that the reading situation matters, and when you are having fun, nothing can be too long. But if you are reading for a deadline or assignment, long is a different kind of deadly. (It took me longer to concede it wasn't a good idea to end the semester for American list survey with Billy Budd (it's his shortest work!) because it reads slower due to his use of language. It's not just length, it's the demands on your attention. Fiddler and Cloud Atlas are more accessible Hollywood fare that are long but aren't necessarily requiring of the same level of concentration.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/29/2020 at 2:51 AM, Rob Z said:

I wonder what it is that gets in the way of your appreciation? Can you identify it?

 

I watched Nausicaa this morning. It's....tone.

The music always feels to me to be divorced from the action, and the animation style (I find this in Manga too) skews younger. It's like listening to a bunch of tween girls read a screenplay for something serious and giggling every five seconds. That's an attempt to answer the question, not an objective description. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ken, I had a longtime block with Miyazaki too until I started watching them with my kids. Those films tap into childhood imagination and sensory experiences better than most. I haven't seen all of the nominated films, but I'm giving highish scores to two of them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 minutes ago, Darren H said:

Ken, I had a longtime block with Miyazaki too until I started watching them with my kids. Those films tap into childhood imagination and sensory experiences better than most. I haven't seen all of the nominated films, but I'm giving highish scores to two of them.

I don't suppose you'd care to share which two?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to guess one of them is My Neighbor Totoro, and maybe Spirited Away.

My Neighbor Totoro is firmly in my greatest films of all time category. Not greatest animated. Just best films. Period.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bumping this thread since Round 2 cage fights are underway.

I probably have the strongest feelings about the Bresson films and the Murnau films. 

Someone, I think it was Joel Mayward, noticed there seemed to be a lot of clerical films. I esteem Diary of a Country Priest, but A Man Escaped is a bitter fit on this lit, in my opinion. The subtitle "The Wind Blows Where it Will..."  helps underline that Fontaine's experience is maybe supposed to be more universally symbolic, more about the human experience rather than the still interesting but more narrow clergy experience.

I prefer Sunrise to Faust both because it is more widely known. (I think it came in 6th place is OFCS's rankings of all Oscar Winners.) Also because of its influence on the Dardennes. Since part of what interests me about canonicity is the way newer films interact with older films, Sunrise feels right to me. (Aside, that's also one reason why in Round 1 I voted for Sacrifice over some of the other Tarkovsky films -- the reference in First Reformed felt so pointed that it seemed a shame not to have Sacrifice, but that was more of a personal preference than something I felt the need to push on others.)

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm with you on Bresson and Murnau, Ken, and for similar reasons. The two I'm really struggling with are Dreyer and the Dardennes. At the beginning of this process, I said The Son seemed like the right choice for the top spot, but as we've discussed diversity issues, I'm now leaning toward The Kid with a Bike. It's my favorite of their films, and I like the idea of choosing one with a female protagonist. The Son is one of the few films they've made without any women at the center.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Darren H said:

I'm with you on Bresson and Murnau, Ken, and for similar reasons. The two I'm really struggling with are Dreyer and the Dardennes. At the beginning of this process, I said The Son seemed like the right choice for the top spot, but as we've discussed diversity issues, I'm now leaning toward The Kid with a Bike. It's my favorite of their films, and I like the idea of choosing one with a female protagonist. The Son is one of the few films they've made without any women at the center.

I'm leaning towards Ordet because, as I mentioned elsewhere, the Top 25 feels a little too Catholic to me rather than more broadly ecumenical. But that could change pending the Malick and Rossellini votesas well as be addressed in a reshuffling, so I certainly get the people who prefer Joan.

Shameless plug -- I wrote a chapter on Dreyer (but mostly about Ordet) in Faith and Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema, so I have a bias towards that film anyway. But I could probably find a way of sharing that chapter privately if anyone is interested. I've subsequently riffed on that chapter (in the Artists of Faith lecture that Doug mentions in the announcement forum) to make a claim (who knows how persuasively) that Ordet is a pivotal film in moving the pendulum away from depicting miracles and the miraculous not through special effects (and thus thinking of them as part of fantasy/imagination) but rather depicting its miracle as part of the real world and as part of a film asking to be taken as "realism" rather than allegory, fable, metaphor, or myth. To that end, its DNA is present in subsequent films as varied as The Exorcist (Friedkin has cited Ordet as an influence) to "Christian" films like Risen.

I think the Pasolini film does some of the same thing, but given how high up Silence is, and that Scorsese's/Endo's narrative is about God's "silence" (and possible absence), I'd love to see a counterbalancing film high up that illustrates God's "speaking" (the Word) and celebrates the occasional glimpses of His presence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forcing me to choose between The Son and The Kid with a Bike is so incredibly difficult. On the one hand, I think The Son is a rare perfect film—every element, from the performances to the cinematography to the editing, is absolutely brilliant, and I wouldn't change a thing. It's also probably more of the distinct "Dardennean" aesthetic. On the other hand, The Kid with a Bike is my favorite of the Dardennes' films, and perhaps the most distinctly "spiritual" in the way we've described it here. Luc Dardenne's little book of philosophy, On the Human Affair, is something he wrote while making The Kid with a Bike, and suggests that both the film and the book are essentially about humanity's search and longing for God—for a sense of "Home"—when the traditional "Father" deity of institutional religion is gone. The Kid with a Bike makes me cry every single time, because Samantha is one of the strongest embodiments of human goodness I have ever witnessed. And I agree with Darren's observation that The Son is one of the only films—if not the only film—the brother have made without a strong female character at the center of the narrative. So, I'm torn...but I'm leaning toward The Kid with a Bike.

Also, while I love both Malick films, I will advocate for The Tree of Life here. A Hidden Life is definitely the most overtly religious (i.e. Christian) of Malick's films (which is saying something!), but The Tree of Life is, I would argue, the most spiritually significant, both in the way that we've defined it here, and in a wider sense for whatever audience reads the list.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Joel Mayward said:

A Hidden Life is definitely the most overtly religious (i.e. Christian) of Malick's films (which is saying something!), but The Tree of Life is, I would argue, the most spiritually significant,

Yeah, this one is tough too. The lack of experimental films on the list makes me lean toward The Tree of Life, which is a wonderfully strange movie. On the other hand, Fani in A Hidden Life is more interesting to me than any of the men in either film. Even as a middle-aged white guy, I'm getting a bit bored with stories about middle-aged white guy ennui and nostalgia.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Darren H said:

Fani in A Hidden Life is more interesting to me than any of the men in either film.

Fani, in my opinion, is the hero of A Hidden Life. But Jessica Chastain's Mrs O'Brien in The Tree of Life is deservedly iconic, and I think the performance she gives there (and Brad Pitt's performance) are some of the best of their careers. This is to say, The Tree of Life is more than just white guy ennui—it's also about moms floating in the air and dinosaurs!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Andrew said:

Part of my voting here had to do with ranking on the Top 100 - so, for instance, much as it pained me to wave goodbye to Red Beard, I'd rather see a Kurosawa film in the Top 25.

Andrew, you heard the part where we decided that whichever film was selected would be slotted in the higher slot, right?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Andrew said:

Part of my voting here had to do with ranking on the Top 100 - so, for instance, much as it pained me to wave goodbye to Red Beard, I'd rather see a Kurosawa film in the Top 25.

Hold on a second. Was it ever decided that the film would stay in the same ranking or that whichever film by a director is chosen, it would occupy the higher spot. The former makes more sense to me from a process point of view, but I would be happy to see Red Beard in the Top 25 even if it is an awfully big jump. This will definitely affect how I vote.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...