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  2. https://millstonenews.com/2017/01/religion.html
  3. Yesterday
  4. It's a lovely movie, even if it's more of a portrait than a story. Which is fine. I don't expect debut films to exhibit a mastery of every part of storytelling, just to be exceptional in a few key ways, which this is. I was listening to a critic discuss Samuel Beckett the other day, shortly after I'd seen the film, and I latched onto a word that the critic used to describe Beckett's view of people's mundane experiences: affirming. The Last Black Man in San Francisco is an affirming movie. It seems both deeply in love with the setting in a general sense and the specific house at the film's centre, but also the characters. I look forward to what Talbot does as a director next, and whether Fails uses this as a launchpad for a larger acting career. I was a bit surprised when I found out that Joe Talbot is white.
  5. Well, Anders and Darren, maybe our paths will cross in Toronto this year. This will "only" be my fifth TIFF - and including Full Frame in April, my ninth film fest overall - so I still get that Christmas Eve feeling as each festival approaches. Glad to see that TIFF will start making film announcements next Tuesday.
  6. Last week
  7. I might be in for a film or two. University starts here the week after Labour Day, so it's a tough time, but I might pop in on the weekend to catch something. My teaching schedule is Mondays and Wednesdays this fall, so I can conceivably make a Friday screening on first weekend.
  8. kenmorefield

    Rocketman

    No need to apologize. Your comments are interesting and on point. I don't think I am implying a line between two genres by calling them different. Just because "Christian" and "gay" are different categories doesn't mean to imply they never overlap. If I implied otherwise, I did not mean to do so. My shorthand for whether something is a "Christian" movie has been for the last few years whether or not it hit at least two of the following categories: by Christians, for Christians, about Christians. Obviously each of those three markers is ambiguous and problematic (or problematically ambiguous)? Does "by Christians" refer to the auteur? The entire crew? The cast? The production company? Does "for Christians" imply all Christians want the same thing? That a film is exclusively or only predominantly for that audience? This discussion makes me thing the three-fold test might be equally applicable (though equally problematic) for "gay" films. In particular, the question of whether the film is "for" gays may mean different things than saying a film is "for" Christians. But maybe not. I'd argue that some movies, like God's Not Dead, are made for and marketed for Christians but take on a veneer of "evangelism" as a means of claiming that they are directed towards those outside. But even if the film is evangelical (in intention), I think it is still made fore Christians...as a film some Christians could theoretically feel good inviting others to and feel they are doing something. This is somewhat different from a cross-over hit, which, I think, means in Christian circles that it wants to be identified as a Christian film but still palatable to a non-Christian audience. A non-Christian might theoretically have reasons he/she wants to see it other than that he/she has been invited by a Christian. (I'm skeptical that, for example, The Blind Side is perceived as a "Christian" film by the non-Christians who want to see it or enjoy it, but I think that's the sort of gold-standard in the Christian cottage industry). I think Bohemian Rhapsody might be on the other end of the spectrum...perhaps it tries so hard to invite straight audiences that it makes it hard to say it is "for" gay audiences in any meaningful way (except maybe something they can invite their more squeamish straight friends to). It sounds like Rocketman might be more like, I dunno, Woodlawn (but better quality filmcraft)...definitely made *for* the target audience and/or putting that audiences desires and expectations first but picking a subject that is not overtly hostile to the "outsider" and may even have elements that are of interest to them...
  9. I have no problem using these as a stopgap if you want to send me the files. Regarding the Mercy and Waking Up Lists...my understanding is that the individual authors retain rights to grant permission, so I could reprint blurbs but only with permission. Given that many writers are no longer here/active, it may be easier to solicit new blurbs or intros than for me (or someone else) to try to chase down a dozen or so people off-list and try to get permissions. By the way, we never did have an *intro* for the Growing Older list. If anyone wants to volunteer for that, I'd be grateful, but I'm certainly willing to do it myself. I think the Growing Older format needs to change to something that can be more consistent and integrated with the other lists. Prioritization, as I see it, is: 1) Stopgap formatting for previous lists. 2) Reformat and add intro for Growing Older list. 3) Change format (and file location) of previous lists. 4) Reconstruct Mercy and Waking Up Lists I'm open to reprioritizing that if someone wants to make an argument about how & why.
  10. NBooth

    Rocketman

    On another note, here's Matt Zoller Seitz:
  11. I've created a set of pages for the older top 25 lists in hopes that they'll be serviceable for the short term. Sneak preview here: https://simplegifs.com/stuff/artsandfaith/top-25-horror.html https://simplegifs.com/stuff/artsandfaith/top-25-road.html https://simplegifs.com/stuff/artsandfaith/top-25-marriage.html A few notes on these pages: This is not a professional quality design. I'm offering them simply as a stopgap until we have time/resources to put a more permanent solution in place, on the theory that they reach the "better than nothing" level. The images in the lists (not the images in the nav bar) are taken from the old versions of the top 25 pages. They should be responsive and at least readable on every commonly used device/browser. If they fail at this, please tell me. Also please mention any other accessibility/readability/usability concerns. The "Mercy" and "Waking Up" lists, as far as I know, have never been hosted at A&F at all, but only at Image (where they still are). I don't know the implications of that for re-hosting the lists on this site.
  12. NBooth

    Rocketman

    Yeah, this touches on a number of points that have (afaik) been going around in LGBTQ discourse since the '90s, at least--the problem of how, exactly, to define the "gay" or "queer" experience. Or, in another phrase, "How queer is queer?" It can get pretty divisive; I've seen people accuse Call Me By Your Name (!) of being "a gay movie for straight people" or suggest that it isn't "queer enough." An odd claim, from my perspective, but suggestive--the question is, is a movie "gay" just because it features two people of the same gender-identity falling in love? Does In & Out count as a "gay" movie? Does Rope? Certainly if I were to create a queer film canon I would include Rope and exclude In & Out, even though the latter has a character who openly says he's gay and the former does not, but what are the grounds of this distinction? Etc. [EDIT: I'm sure you've encountered this book, but let me quickly plug In a Queer Time and Place, which runs through the above questions w/r/t the trans experience] Put another way, Adams isn't talking about BR and "other gay movies"--he's suggesting that BR isn't a gay movie at all. I think Adams' critique is precisely the opposite to the issue you allude to in your second 'graph. The problem for Adams isn't that Freddie isn't "incidentally gay" but that he isn't gay enough. If I understand Adams' objection to Bohemian Rhapsody, it's that Freddie's queerness is pretty much incidental--so incidental that, when they brought the movie to China, it was possible to remove all of it with the excision of a couple of minutes--and that whatever queerness is shown is seen as a source of anxiety and depression (this is Adams' critique, not mine, since I've not seen BR, which I should have noted above). Which, when you're dealing with a character so obviously and deeply queer as Freddie Mercury, seems kind of an odd choice. The thing about having the "right gay voice" is that (again, by Adams' estimation) it allows Rocketman to get at some realities of gay life that might seem obvious from within but are often not obvious from without. This argument raises the specter of "authenticity," which I think is a red herring, but it also suggests one of the ways that having (for instance) a diverse writing-room can make a piece of art stronger or more interesting. Now, as far as the larger scope of issues you bring up--yes, there's broad similarities between Christian film and LGBTQ film (up to and including the fact that most examples of both forms are, first, produced by members of the in-group and, second, pretty terrible). I do think we could make some important distinctions regarding why filmmakers from each group (insofar as they're separate groups; I'm uncomfortable with the implicit line between "Christian" and "gay" but I'm accepting it as a generic distinction as far as film goes) make their films. There is, as you note, a hunger for representation from each group, and the respective genres fill those needs. What I'm not sure of is the extent to which the question of evangelism comes up. Christian movies have a weird thing where they're kind-of-sort-of trying to "win souls" or whatever while at the same time "preaching to the choir" because, let's face it, it's mostly Christians watching these things. Meanwhile, a gay flick like John Apple Jack seems pretty uninterested in even pretending that straight audiences exist (I imagine the same could be said for the Eating Out series, but I've never seen them). [EDIT: There's also a question of audience-expectations. The audiences for God's Not Dead, based on my Facebook feed, seem to take a tremendous amount of pleasure in being told they're right, while the audiences for most gay movies--again, based on the discourse I see online--are happy to settle for being told they're valid. I wouldn't want to insist on this latter point too strongly, though, because my personal experience is limited and idiosyncratic.] In fact, the only time a movie with queer themes starts considering a straight audience is when it's pitched to go big like Call Me By Your Name or Bohemian Rhapsody. There may be parallels here, too, in the way (for instance) Christian themes got rinsed out of the Narnia franchise, etc. Anyway, sorry for the wall-o-text. Your comments just got me thinking.
  13. Amazon's "Prime Day" is pretty underwhelming, but but most of the Criterions are another 5-10 $ off from Barnes & Noble sale if any sets or Blu-rays are at or near your squeal point.
  14. I guess I'll just note here that the Constantine character (played by the same actor) was brought back on CW's Legends of Tomorrow series, adding a dark supernatural thread to the sci-fi time-travel plotlines.
  15. kenmorefield

    Rocketman

    Some day, perhaps, I will get around to writing my long noodled think-piece about the ways in which gay films and Christian films are ironically parallel in terms of representation. (I've been thinking about that ever since Todd Haynes's famous interview post Far From Heaven when he equated representation of gays to that of African-Americans in the '60s as embodied by Sidney Poitier. I haven't seen the film yet, but based on what I've heard so far, Adams is articulating the ways in which films have a harder time representing something the writer or culture is less familiar with (a sexual orientation or religion not of their own) as part of a fully-realized character who is not simply defined by that one attribute. I think that's a big reason why there are so few "incidentally 'x'" characters. In one casting documentary, I remember them making a big deal that Danny Glover's character was not written to be black in Lethal Weapon. The casting director noticed that there was nothing in the character as written that necessitated him being of one color, but she still got resistance. That's probably just a long way of saying is sounds like Adams is pointing out that BR (or other gay movies) are better at using standard gay tropes or markers than in thinking through the experience of specific gay characters. (Caveat: I am aware that there is, I think, some contention over whether Freddy Mercury should be called gay or bisexual, so I don't mean to get derailed into that debate.) But I also think that difficulty (ethnic/religious/sexual character tropes/markers vs. fully realized characters) isn't limited to representation of gays. To the extent I follow him correctly, I am also not sure I agree with Adams' contention that the difference is the presence of the "right 'x' voice" in the room. Part of it must be the talent of the writers and performers, I would think, their skill level. I suspect, for instance, there are plenty of Christian writers who have had authentic experience but, when called to write, have trouble going beyond framing those experiences in specific genre/writing conventions or tropes. I can't help but wonder if the same is true for those trying to write about the gay experience.
  16. For my money, this and Midsommar are the most interesting things on US screens right now. Based on this directing debut, Joe Talbot and Barry Jenkins seem birds of a feather, elegaically crafting visually beautiful and psychologically rich portraits of black American experience. Here's my full review: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/07/the-last-black-man-in-san-francisco-is-a-bounty-of-beautiful-melancholic-debuts/
  17. NBooth

    Rocketman

    Saw this last night and--ok, yeah. I'm not an Elton John fan, even--I know the "greatest hits" and "Your Song" has a certain emotional weight for me--but I'm not really all that familiar with his deeper discography or with his life-story. So I'm not coming at this as a hardcore fan, but more as a casual observer. As far as the movie goes, pretty much every narrative beat is straight from the music biopic playbook. Patrick H. Willems did a video on this around the time Bohemian Rhapsody came out that dissects the formula pretty neatly: All of that granted. But I really liked this one. I liked the way it tweaked the formula just a bit by centering around the support-group meeting. I liked the way the songs were staged as part of the action. I liked the imagery. Rocketman manages to avoid feeling too trite by leaning into a kind of low surrealism. It's a solid, sometimes exceptional, take on the genre. On another note, Jason Adams, who hated Bohemian Rhapsody, points out an important difference between the two movies:
  18. Earlier
  19. Not at all. While I would obviously prefer people use Arts & Faith projects to drive traffic to Arts & Faith, I understand perfectly the board's complicated history and how/why that might lead people to prefer to read it elsewhere. I do think it is important that some form of the lists be preserved at A&F since we have no control over Image content or access to it. Also, I recognize that some parts of various content in connection with A&F lists (Ryan's reflections on "memory," films, Darren's reflection on "Road" movies, commentary on first couple of Ecumenical Jury results) exists only at Image. If they are not included in reworked or reformatted versions of the lists it is because A&F may not have rights to simply copy content that Image never posted here.
  20. There are still quite nice-looking versions of the lists on Image's website. Is it frowned upon to link to those now?
  21. I'll be there for a few days. I'm teaching my first Cinema Studies course at UT this fall, so my plan is to fly up on Wednesday, skip my Thursday class, and then fly back on Tuesday in time to teach that afternoon. I have to admit that the TIFF thrill is finally -- after 15 years! -- starting to fade for me a bit. I'll be able to watch films for five full days, including all of the Wavelengths shorts programs, pick up some interviews, see a bunch of friends, and eat a couple good meals. I'm usually ready to leave on Tuesday morning anyway, so this should work out well. With the short TIFF trip, I figure I can also justify going up to New York for more of Projections during NYFF. My course is on film criticism, so the department head is encouraging me to go to fests. My boss at my day job is also supportive. I'm really grateful for the opportunity.
  22. I'm sorry to read this, but I certainly understand the timing issue for you. I'm glad we have Full Frame to catch up in person at least once yearly.
  23. I didn't go last year just because I was suffering some post-tenure burnout, and I missed it less than I thought I would. (Partly because of the inaugural Filmfest 919 in Chapel Hill and better access to FYC screeners). Due to budget cuts at work, I didn't put in to go this year, though I think I will return at some point. Just such a hard time of the year for me since my university starts classes the end of August. I will miss seeing you and Jessica though.
  24. It's a definite sign that I'm ready for this muggy Tennessee summer to end, that I'm checking the TIFF website daily for any news (none yet, naturally). So, who's going? Jessica and I will be there for its entirety.
  25. Sigh...Bradley Whitford's brand of know-it-all smarm is becoming tiresome. I will, however, give the upcoming HBO series about a fraudulent televangelist a shot, solely because it stars John Goodman.
  26. Hey, better late than never. After my initial reservations about Season 2, I fell wholeheartedly for this show. I've watched it 3 times through - the only other series I've done that for is The Wire - and I love it at least as much each time. The depth of character, the scintillating dialogue, the flashes of humor, the ideas wrestled with - it's all done superbly. I forgot to post my review for the TV movie that wrapped up the series last month, so I'll share the link here. Its key is significantly more major than minor, compared to the series, but I found it quite satisfying: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/06/at-last-a-sunny-day-in-deadwood/
  27. Premiere date Sept. 26, 2019. Promo summary: "An Ivy League professor [Whitford] becomes director of a rural church choir." You know that's going to be a bucket of laughs. https://youtu.be/Gv2fXZfsqYE
  28. The entirety of this is now streaming on Prime. I generally avoid such shows as I find the content more than I prefer to take in (the “skip 10 seconds” feature is my friend); however I’m a sucker for westerns and for the complexity and artifice of the dialogue, once you get past the vulgarity. I do believe Doc Cochran is one of my favorite characters and the engagement with loss, religion, and relationship he embodies is near perfect.
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