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  2. #8 on A&F's Growing Older list, The Gleaners and I helped Agnas Varda establish a new, unique voice in the cinema world. She had already developed a profound voice through her masterful work from the 1960s-90s, but Gleaners was a transition for her. From this point forward, she would be representative of senior citizens. She embodies a life of purpose and hope that transcends natural age-related limitations. Her last film Faces Places (also on our list) was released a little over a year before she died, and her documentary series Varda by Agnes was aired posthumously. Every second of The Gleaners and I (about 19 years before her death) challenges all people to make the most of their lives and to keep living productively no matter how much the body might rebel. This message especially speaks to those of her own age group, and as its prominent messenger, she demonstrated what that can look like through her later films, beginning with this one.
  3. Today
  4. Ed Bertram

    Limelight (1952)

    Charles Chaplin's Limelight ranked #6 on our Growing Older list. It's not just Chaplin's character that's become older. His occupation as a clown has been disregarded by those who were once his fans. By having the other great silent comedian, Buster Keaton, perform a skit with him, Chaplin seems to communicate that the story is also about the death of Chaplin's classic "little tramp" character. There's no more room in the movie world for silent comedians (aka clowns). As the clown learns to reorder his life and embrace aspects of the aging process, he gives everything he's learned to give from his career to a young, suicidal woman instead of to an audience. Chaplin was slow to transition to the world of sound movies making silent masterpieces City Lights and Modern Times after the sound era was in full swing. As he reordered his career, he used all the techniques that made him a great silent comedian to make his first sound film, which was probably the most socially-conscious film to date, The Great Dictator. Limelight's clown has a life and career with a parallel direction to Chaplin's transition from silent film to sound. Just as Chaplin's "little tramp" had to die to make room for a biting satire that took aim at Hitler as best as possible for a movie filmed within the first year of WWII, the clown's limelight had to die to pave the way for greater purpose in his life, purpose that extends mercy and wisdom to someone in desperate need of what he's gained through his years.
  5. By the way, if you wish a photo to accompany your bio blurb, please send me a headshot. If not, I will use whatever avatar you have at A&F.
  6. Yesterday
  7. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on this book.
  8. Unfortunately I've only seen the TV print. But the film is so great that it's easy for me to overlook the limitations of the format.
  9. Possible spoilers. I saw PARABELLUM about a week after seeing TOLKIEN, and I’m of a mind that the John Wick films have entered into a strange parallel with the Middle Earth books. The original John Wick, like The Hobbit, would have worked satisfactorily as a one-off film. Now JW plays as a self-contained preamble to the much larger world that JW C2 and JW C3:P are inventing, much in the way that THE LORD OF THE RINGS expanded Middle Earth beyond the limited scope of THE HOBBIT. I enjoyed PARABELLUM. Not as much as I enjoyed JW C2, which floored me with its spectacle. I think I rated JW 4/5, and JW C2 4.5/5. PARABELLUM, which I admit runs longer than it should, rates a 4/5, with the admission that it could fall to a 3.5/5 on rewatch.
  10. Just curious, Ed: What version/format of this film did you watch? The Criterion 4K restoration is lovely, but so was my earlier laserdisc. The movie's good enough that the format probably doesn't hurt, as long as it's not an old washed-out TV print (perish the thought).
  11. Last week
  12. SPOILERS S2 is also very good. I like Daniel's wife and the way she handles the potential Johnnie - Daniel showdown. I like how Miguel shows up with the Medal of Honor and the other kid doesn't slam the door in his face. It doesn't solve everything, but the show avoids the standard TV shortcuts of *always* having someone make the wrong decision or assume the wrong thing or get stopped by circumstance. I really liked, for instance, how the other Cobra Kai's from Johnnie's day tell him not to give Kreese a second chance. Even with Johnnie's redemption arc they present drama through trying to muddle through conflicting intentions rather than always and only being a choice between black and white. I've said elsewhere that I thought Zabka's look when Kreese says "sweep the leg" in Karate Kid is one of the greatest reaction shots of my movie-viewing life. He has another one here when Daniel announces that someone stole Miyagi's Medal of Honor. But mostly I dig how rather than just make this an inversion (ala Maleficient or Wicked) they make it about shades of grey. Johnnie's not *better* than Daniel, but he has the harder path. I'm reminded of Malcolm Gladwell's chapters about disadvantages in DAVID AND GOLIATH and how they sometimes become the very things that lead to our greatest strengths. I hope that is what happens here.
  13. Brian, I sent e-mail (and then redacted your e-mail address from message above.) Russ, you are welcome to send via A&F Messenger or e-mail. I can do either. P.S. I'm back from Ireland everyone.
  14. Russ

    Make Way for Tomorrow

    It's positively counter-cultural to contemporary Americans because Bark and Lucy put their own love story ahead of everything else. Or, rather, what comes natural to them is taking pleasure primarily in life out of their love for one another, with everything falling into subordinate place after their own love. That doesn't mean they neglected their kids or wouldn't have given their life for their kids, but means that the value they place on their own marriage is what contextualizes everything else. It's what allows them to let their shitty kids off the hook when they act in accordance with their myopia. Their love is so unadorned but genuine that is has a transformative effect on every stranger who comes into direct contact with it. Only their own kids are by and large immune to its power.
  15. Yeah, should the blurbs be sent to you by message, Ken, or to an email address?
  16. My laptop seems to struggle with being able to access the Arts and Faith messenger. I've managed to send messages intermittently, but not today. Ken, would you mind sharing your email address with me either here or by sending it to me at [...] I wanted to send you another message or two in relation to my blurbs. Thank you!
  17. Ranked #5 on the Growing Older list, it's about time Col. Blimp gets its own thread. As he promoted the film's inclusion on our list, Brian D. brought up two quotes that get to the heart of the movie and its power. I think they're a great way to start this thread, so I'll add them here. This glorious film is about the greatest mystery of all: how old people were once young, and how young people are in the process of becoming old. – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian Made in 1942 at the height of the Nazi threat to Great Britain, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's work is an uncommonly civilized film about war and soldiers--and rarer still, a film that defends the old against the young. – Roger Ebert
  18. BTW, since the OP for this topic has been deleted (I think it was an Alan Thomas thread), here’s a link to the press release from the Harvard School of Public Health, which contains a link to the Ratings Creep study. https://archive.sph.harvard.edu/press-releases/archives/2004-releases/press07132004.html
  19. Digging up an old thread. I’m not sure if SDG’s questions pertain to PG films released prior to the PG13 inclusion into the ratings system, but here’s a PG rated film that has not been rerated since it’s release, which may fit the bill. Last night I caught up with Warren Beatty’s 1981 film REDS for the first time since 1982. I really didn’t remember a lot about the film, so it was like seeing it for the first time. It’s a good film, with some great moments. I was very impressed with the lineup of “Witness” testimonials used throughout the film - actual interviews made by Beatty of people who knew both John Reed and Louise Bryant, which Beatty began filming as early as 1971. It was around the 20 minute mark, during one of these testimonials (I’m pretty sure it was novelist Henry Miller), that the first F-bomb gets released. Reed has impulsively asked Bryant to come away with him to New York, where she’s introduced to the artists/activists/radicals populating Greenwich Village, all of whom seem to be living a fairly bohemian lifestyle. It’s here that the Beatty cuts to Miller’s testimonial where Miller rather bluntly states, “There was a lot of f***ing going on, back then.” It kind of caught me off guard, because this was PG rated, and nowadays using that word in its actual context gets the film an automatic R rating. I figured maybe Beatty got away with it because he was using what could be described as documentary footage of a renowned author. But within 45 minutes Reed and Bryant have a heated argument where the f-word is used 3 or 4 more times, as a descriptor of the act, not used as a curse. Example - John Reed: Louise, I love you. Louise Bryant: No, you love yourself! Me, you F***! The argument goes on from there. The film contains nudity (a scene on the beach with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton), as well as a sex scene which was at least on par with a similar scene in the R rated THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR. CONDOR was a more violent film, however it feels less “adult”, for lack of a better term. If released today, CONDOR might get downgraded to a PG13. Perhaps Beatty’s clout at the time did factor into the ratings decision. Following his success with HEAVEN CAN WAIT, where Beatty became only the second person (Orson Welles being the first) to have been nominated for four Academy Awards (producer, director, screenwriter, actor), he may have received some leeway. Also, REDS was an expensive production ($35 million), and Hollywood was still rebounding from the colossal failure of 1980’s $40 million flop HEAVEN’S GATE. Perhaps an underlying reason for some ratings leniency was to see positive box office return. REDS did go on to make $40 million, not a great return, but far exceeding HEAVEN’S GATE, and not too shabby for a 3hr 15min film that favors the expression of controversial ideas, and is short on action. Beatty would also repeat the astounding feat of being nominated in the same four categories for REDS, as he was for his previous film. For this film he won Best Director.
  20. #4 on Arts and Faith "Growing Older" list. As much as I normally prefer Ozu to almost any other director for films of everyday family realities, I am very happy that McCarrey's film ranked higher than Tokyo Story, the Ozu movie it inspired. I don't say this because Make Way for Tomorrow is the "original." Matters of redefining parent-child relationships with age don't have any film or literary origins; stories this honest and simple have their origins in real life. Rather, I'm pleased about MWFT because of the emphasis on the marriage that Tokyo Story doesn't make as prominent. When MWFT does emphasize the children, it's always on decisions related to the parents' care as they age. Tokyo Story is primarily about the adult children choosing their careers and their own families over spending time with their parents even though they know it's probably their last trip to Tokyo. While MWWFT's children are no nobler, it develops the ways the parents deal with the traumas of changing parent/child relationships as a couple. It's about how they try to age gracefully and grow older and wiser together even if they perceive their children as getting in the way of that.
  21. I have a hard time with Bergman too for the same reason. It's easy for me to recognize his masterful use of the film medium but extremely difficult to emotionally recover after watching such hopeless views of humanity. I only watched Wild Strawberries for the sake of this list and experienced nothing close to my usual Bergman-induced depression. Much like the professor in Madadaayo, Dr. Borg recognizes that with age comes the decision to either let himself fade away or to allow his professorial relationships to change in ways that continue to bring transformation. The aging process for him becomes a type of spiritual awakening where he recognizes the limitations of human knowledge and wants to encourage the younger people around him to seek wisdom more lasting in addition to the human knowledge that he continues to value. Even though the people who became surrogates for students in the story (his daughter-in-law and those they traveled with) didn't receive his attempts to impart wisdom very well, Dr. Borg's willingness to embody both an intellectual and spiritual knowledge keeps the movie centered in the possibility for better lives than these characters were currently experiencing. To call it optimistic would be wrong, but Wild Strawberries possesses enough hope to steer clear of the relentless pessimism we've grown accustomed to seeing from Bergman. It left me with the sense that Bergman must have believed people are capable of changing for the better and of encouraging the same transformation in others, but that he was merely reluctant to expect it as normative.
  22. Excellent review of the finale from Myles McNutt at the AVClub. Spoilers, obviously, but I think this quote is safe:
  23. Once you have (mysteriously, somehow) seen the finale, you may find that Cathleen Falsani and Fr. James Martin generally agree with you, based on their Twitter posts. Are there plotholes? Yes. Was I happy overall? Yes.
  24. Andrew

    A Quiet Passion

    I suspect the latest Emily Dickinson biopic will engender a similar love/hate response: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/secularcinephile/2019/05/wild-nights-with-emily-dickinson-comedy-with-earnest-intent/
  25. Popping by A&F to say that I'm publishing reviews from Cannes at both Fuller Studio and Cinemayward for those who are interested. Here's my review. It was striking, both visually and thematically. The word "haunting" gets used a lot in film criticism, but it feels so appropriate for this film.
  26. kenmorefield

    Gertrud (1964)

    #13 on A&F Top 25 List of Spiritually Significant Films about Growing Old(er) Well, we see how long this resolution lasts, but I was hoping to write about some of the Top 25 over at 1More Film Blog. Here are my thoughts on Gertrud, which I was reminded did not have a dedicated A&F thread yet.
  27. Earlier
  28. Ironically, I was discussing World Cinema with a guy at conference this weekend, and this pervasive pessimism was my central knock on why I've always had a hard time warming up to Bergman. Maybe it's time for me to revisit WS. Also, I think it is interesting how many professors were on our Growing Older nominations. (Although we didn't nominate Stalker, my conversant reminded me that one of the characters in Stalker was "The Professor." This profession is an easy symbolic shorthand for intellectual knowledge, so it probably shouldn't be surprising that our Growing Older list looks at the limits of human knowledge and its contrast with some sort of experiential or spiritual insight through the use of characters who embody one or the other.
  29. The most striking thing for me about Wild Strawberries is that hope that MattPage mentioned in his review that doesn't exist in most of Bergman's work. The aging process for the professor provides a means for him to come to terms with past failures, rectify past wrongs where possible and share his wisdom with those around him through hope. All the characters seem to exist on autopilot like the professor did most of his life, but as he learns to live, he gives an opportunity for those around him—especially the younger people around him—to do the same. His presence in their lives challenges them to embrace hope and to not wait until they're old to truly live.
  30. So I finally saw "The Bells" (can't say how). I understand why those who were disappointed were, but it seemed the logical (if rushed) end of many of the character arcs. I get that we all love and want a good redemption story and are, hence, saddened by Jaime or Dany, but Arya's turn away from vengeance to survival (juxtaposed against another little girl in King's Landing who is having an Arya moment) kinda got swept under the rug in chatter, no? (Or is it just that I'm limited in the chatter I hear?) Also, I don't think enough/much at all has been made of Melesandre's comment in S8 that the Lord of Light follower kept getting resurrected because he had not yet fulfilled his purpose (to save Arya so that she could kill the Night King). I know some people may howl when I say this, but that's a very Gandalf thing to say, and it broadens the questions of religion/cosmology within the series overall as well as forcing us (or me) anyway to re-examine Melesandraes character in light of Jon Snow's (and the series') "this is the only war that matters" mantra. I will be immensely surprised (but also immensely pleased) if the series returns to this claim in the finale in reference to Jon Snow's resurrection. The series has been indifferent on this point, maybe, but "The Bells"certainly seems to be breaking in the direction of a central division between those who fight for self or self or personal reasons (Circe, Jaime, Sandor, Tywin, Joffrey, CatelynLittlefinger, Bron, Renly, Stannis, Euron, hell, even Drago) and those who fight for some sort of perception of the broader good (Jon, Varys--lately, though not completely, I think, Tyrion, lately, Hodor, Jorah--eventually, Brienne, Eddard). This doesn't bode well for Sansa or Dany in the finale, but I'm dubious that the series would conclude in or with some sort of implied moral framework that implies that, you know, the arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice. It's been a little too inconsistent in that regard. I could, perhaps, even be argued that I'm projecting my own value system onto the character's actions rather than reading the show's presentation of them in it.)
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