Films for Lent 2014: Ash Wednesday - About Schmidt and/or The Seventh Seal
At the imposition of the ashes the priest says “you are of the dust and to the dust you shall return.” We set a regular time to repent and aspire because our time is short. Here’s two movies that carry the notion of mortality and using well the time we have. I will try to always have two recommendations: mainstream and stretching. Naturally the films won’t be identical but complimentary - for best results know yourself when choosing or watch them both
The Seventh Seal
This pick is from world cinema and serves as a good introduction to Ingmar Bergman, foreign language film, and art house cinema as well as a meditation on mortality. In the famous opening sequence, a Crusader plays chess with Death.
In this film we wrestle with the brevity of life and the silence of God. Burning bushes are rare (and suspicious) while most of us hurtle toward death with very little divine intervention. This was also a film I watched when I gave up God for Lent last year.
Can we live in faith in light of so many challenges? How do we respond when faith feels empty? These seem to be Bergmans questions which are answered by embracing love over nihilism. Love of living and experienced with others helps us reckon with life’s (and death’s! ) absurdity. This is not an answer but a way of living with the unanswerable.
This film is more about the mundaneness of life than problems of faith, but like The Seventh Seal is haunted by the specter of death.
This film affirms that much of life is meaningless and absurd but it is the responsibility of humans to make sure it is not entirely so. The challenge is to make those differences we can in the lives of other human beings. You are going to die anyway, so why not be a source of love and joy while you can?
Much more cheerful than the Seventh Seal, this film is strong enough to resist sentimentality and schmaltz-iness that is typical of these “life is for living” films.
In a similar vein, check out Kurosawa’s Ikiru
Films for Lent 2014
This Lenten season I will be recommending films of repentance and aspiration as I prepare for Easter. Feel free to journey with me as I watch seven films in corporate repentance of sin and spiritual aspiration- conversation on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Letterboxd.
After Sight & Sound’s coup against the reigning king of film, Citizen Kane, it is interesting to look at Guillermo Del Toro’s contribution to the revolution, which does not include Citizen Kane or Vertigo.
1) “Frankenstein” (1931, dir. James Whale) 2) “Freaks” (1932, dir. Todd Browning) 3) “Shadow Of A Doubt” (1943, dir. Alfred Hitchcock) 4) “Greed” (1925, dir. Erich Von Stroheim) 5) “Modern Times” (1936, dir. Charlie Chaplin) 6) “La Belle Et La Bete” (1946, dir. Jean Cocteau) 7) “Goodfellas” (1990, dir. Martin Scorsese) 8) “Los Olvidados” (1950, dir. Luis Bunuel) 9) “Nosferatu” (1922, dir. F.W. Murnau) 10) “8 1/2″ (1963, dir. Federico Fellini)
I have to say that his taste is impeccable; These are great movies all around. I wonder at the influence of his pick of La Belle Et La Bete on his work in bringing Beauty and the Beast back to the screen.
Much as I love Citizen Kane, Welles does not manage to hold both stylistic virtuosity and mastery of storytelling, as his pacing get very slow in the third act. Hitchcock holds it all the way.
What do you think of this change or film lists in general?
My favorite Hitchcock film.
And then what did he do? Did he train you? Did he rehearse you? Did he tell you exactly what to do, what to say? You were a very apt pupil too, weren’t you? You were a very apt pupil! Well, why did you pick on me? Why me?
My favorite East meets West mashup from Kurosawa. Shakespeare meets feudal Japan, and Buddhism meets Ecclesiastes (which is eastern too, but its reception through Christianity causes some interesting interplay). Watch this on Netflix now!
Vertigo (1958): Film classification controversy. Film Noir? Neo-Noir? Near Noir? Not Noir?
This still, taken in black and white makes me think this must be Noir and the timeframe (1958) says to me, not Neo-Noir, but classic Film Noir that happens to be shot in color. That is my position, let the debate begin!
This raises the old Film Noir question as to whether it is a genre or style since it’s shot in color not to mention, the various sub-groupings of Noir with which I opened this post. How do you classify Vertigo specifically and Film Noir in general? What qualifies, and what doesn’t?