in the realm of cinema, 2006 was a year much like 2005. the first half of the year sucked in an extreme way, while the last half turned out to be quite good. i remember thinking, when lady in the water came out in july: wow, we may finally get to see a decent film. (a couple of exceptions: thank you for smoking was released in april and was really good. a scanner darkly was released in may and was really good as well. maybe i should say the drought started abating in late spring).
anyway, here is my list. it's definitely not a "best of 2006" list, as i am no pro film critic or analyst and don't pretend to be. these are the movies i enjoyed and/or appreciated the most. a lot of the movies in this list were ripped to shreds by many reviewers; but who cares, right? (i've noticed my tastes diverging from a lot of the "critics" now anyway.)
1. children of men (alfonso cuarón)
2. pan's labyrinth (guillermo del toro)
3. stranger than fiction (marc forster)
4. the good shepherd (robert deniro)
5. lady in the water (m. night shyamalan)
6. little miss sunshine (jonathan dayton/valerie faris)
7. the departed (martin scorsese)
8. a scanner darkly (richard linklater)
9. babel (alejandro gonzález iñárritu)
10. the prestige (christopher nolan)
honorable mentions: thank you for smoking (jason reitman), borat: cultural learnings of america for make benefit glorious nation of kazakhstan (larry charles), cars (john lasseter), the illusionist (neil burger)
i'd love to hear your thoughts on this list, or how your own list differs.....
most of the times i've heard someone utter this challenge, it's because they had a sizeable lexicon of knowledge and experience, and it made sense for them to do so. [or, they simply had an overconfidence of such credentials and the result ended up being hollow.] an impressive example of the former scenario was my pastor in college, dr. tom westbrook. he would occasionally speak to students with the same theme as this post: an entire "sermon" consting of gool old q&a. however, he was exceptionally wise and educated, and his answers seemed to help people make sense of their various confusions.
i think one very positive fruit of postmodernism -- especially in the context of christianity -- is a shift from a paradigm of modernist apologia and dogma to that of questioning and deconstruction. i have always been extremely inquisitive, and that insatiable inquisitiveness has frequently poured into questions about truth, god, life, love, etc. however, asking such questions in some of the christian circles i've been a part of has not always been met with humble dialogue, but usually it's more like someone runs to get their quasi-metaphysical (or biblical) fire extinguisher to snuff out any tension the question may have effected.
i should make one thing very clear: i do not have all or even most of the answers. but in the last few years, i have tried to become as fearless as i can about asking hard questions in pursuit of truth. i think the fear of questioning has paralyzed much of the modern church. many christians do not know why they believe what they believe, and worse: some don't even care as long as they can fit into their respective faith institutions and feel somewhat normal.
nevertheless, i should clarify my point though: i don't want to convey that all faith must be rational and explainable, but quite the opposite. i do agree with kierkegaard and barth that to truly believe in god one must actually experience doubt and at some point, make an irrational and "absurd" leap of faith.
so to conclude this unorganized meandering post: i believe that maintaining an environment where asking questions is not only accepted but encouraged is a healthy thing. not because of the giving out of answers, but because there is value in asking a question and creating positive dialogue. without that our modern society will never grow up.
so: what's your question?? let's all tackle them together.
all this talk about loving photography and not much to show for it. well i finally upgraded my flickr account so that it's actually not worthless to use. i have uploaded many photos from this year including ones from new york, denver, tulsa, and the murder mystery dinner we attended last weekend. enjoy...
click here to see more...
wow. so i said i would post about once a week. that hasn't happened. i think it is mainly because i have not taken the advice i dished out last time.
nevertheless i've been thinking quite a bit lately about what i would like my life to be like. throughout most of my conscious life i have always debated "what i want to be when i grow up". being the abstract person i am, i have often theorized about how one goes about making such huge decisions and analyzing those decisions i see others making, including my own. anyway, the following ideas that seem to be "out there":
1. do what you're good at
i think that people arrive at this conclusion often and early. i think this does suffice in many cases. an exception to this arises though when one hasn't experimented with different activities or delved into different domains. i used to think photography was relatively pointless and uninteresting, until one time when i was dating amy and she wanted to go out and take random pictures. of course i had to try to impress her, so we went. three years later, i am crazy about photography (though not sure how good i am yet). but if i would have never tried it i wouldn't have ever known. obviously, making some kind of career (part time or full time) is quite another story.
2. do what you're passionate about
similar to #1, except it deemphasizes whatever talent one thinks he/she has, and shifts focus to some external object or people. i have often thought that god communicates a good part of his plan for our lives to us by the dispensing of such passions. i believe this is not a bad approach, unless one is passionate about a new thing every day and throws himself/herself into the wind. i suppose true passions stand the test of time.
3. pray and fast and isolate yourself until god strikes you with lightning
this one is obviously further into the emotional end of the spectrum. i don't personally follow this approach but have seen it many times in the quasi-christian atmosphere i've always lived in. i believe there is some value in it but this doesn't really work out of the context of other approaches and a community of people who care about you, moving in the "withward" direction.
4. minimize the importance of choosing a career/job/whatever
i think we may see this happening increasingly more as the postmodern mindset slowly saturates our culture. pouring all our efforts, thoughts, and money into a specialized life-long career seems to me a very modern and almost ascetic thing to do. i have friends who take this approach to some extent and are relatively content and enjoy life, partly because they are not fixated on, say, climbing some corporate ladder, for example. i suppose this blog post doesn't fit into this category too well...
the main point:
i'm sure there are many more approaches to this subject, but it's getting late. i guess the main point of this one is: i think i have an idea about what i would like to do for the foreseeable future. i would like to score films and/or television. of course this will not be as easy as 1,2,3 to get into. but i have stumbled upon some decent connections and i am possibly going to start working on a portfolio soon. and i think i have arrived at this conclusion with some of the aforementioned approaches (except the lightning part). not that methods are all-important. but my main passion in life, music, also happens to be my strongest talent, and i have always visualized the music i write against the emotional backdrop of a movie, whether hypothetical or an actual one. so there it is (hope my boss isn't reading this, yet anyway).
You scored as Emergent/Postmodern. You are
Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from
older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern
culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we
have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place
in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather
than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in
spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help
them to do this.
i hate to break my tradition of only having one post with one word. but it's probably necessary. so without further ado, here is something that i've been comtemplating for quite some time:
the last several years of my life have been plagued by knowing that god has given me some ability to create. not just an austere ability, but a fire in my bones for it. this is problematic for me because the more excited about creating something i become, the more tangled i become in both mindless day-to-day distractions and mind-strangling perfectionism. any potential product of creativity is extinguished before it's even started. i think it's similar to the paradox that can be found in romans 7:14-16, except that instead of dealing with sin, i'm struggling with being uncreative.
or is it the same? one of the wisest people i've ever encountered told me that pride is simply disagreeing with god about your identity. i suppose this kind of pride could take root and bloom as a passive sin of omission.
the other day i was reading an interview with [my current favorite songwriter] sufjan stevens, and he mentioned something i will not forget. he explained his embarrassment with the way his fans often associate his music with himself personally. i was astonished by this because i [and maybe most people?] tend to identify many artists and musicians by their work; therefore the distinction is not made. furthermore, i also tend to think that most of the best artists would not want that distinction to be made. yet what truly sparked something in me from that interview, though, is that he described his creative process as though he were tapping into something completely outside himself, something that already exists "out there".
actually this makes perfect sense, looking back at just about anything i've ever created (or should i say discovered) that seemed to have value. in those [unfortunately rare] creative sessions, the only true labor on my part was making myself simply sit down at the piano, or simply getting away and putting my pen down on the paper or my fingers to a keyboard. from that point forward, if i just prevented myself from trying very hard or caring too much about the outcome, my best work would flow. i suppose that tapping into the stream of ideas from "out there" really just involves us letting that stream filter through our emotions and thoughts onto the paper. (to be honest, i didn't have much of an idea what i was going to write about in this post, but here i am rambling along, not that it's particularly interesting...)
this presents a stark contrast to the way i have always viewed artistic composition. for whatever reason, i always felt that poignant emotion or a brilliant and original thought was the only way to birth any creative work. i'm coming to think that the emotion and thought is more a filter through which we let the ideas flow.
a perfect example (not to offend the newer fans of death cab): i was talking about the band with my friend spencer, who told me that the last couple of albums had marked the beginning of ben gibbard actually "trying" to write music. this helped me, an avid fan myself, understand the significant difference between the last two albums and the first three (which i perceive as vastly superior): the first three don't feel forced, and are some of the best albums of indie rock that will probably ever exist. the most recent ones are more formulaic and mainstream, and though they are indeed good records, you will not find such raw poignancy and originality in them.
anyway, this idea gives me hope for growing closer to who i really am (and to quit disagreeing with god about my nature)...