Tuesday, January 8, 2008

J.R. Jones' difficult and refreshing standard

I admit I have a degree of hero worship with Jonathan Rosenbaum, so it's interesting that this post contains a link to J.R. Jones' end of the year list of the best movies. He shares what he calls the Finding Forrester principle that I think we as LDS filmmakers could, and should, consider seriously.

Please share your thoughts.


Schmetterling said...

Now THERE'S a standard! Shoot, so many movies waste my time--if I died right after watching most of the movies I've seen--man, what a sad way to go.

I think that this FINDING FORRESTER standard is most excellent. For a scripturally-based near-equivalent, look up D&C 50:23--it's pretty clear cut. If we're to have a respectable LDS cinema (and we really ought to), I think that verse would be a great sort of mantra or mission statement or something--and not just for cinema but for all forms of art.

The low quality of art in the LDS community makes me very sad; we produce a lot of fluffy, worthless nonsense. I mean, we make a lot of good stuff, but a brief stroll in a Deseret Book reveals rather quickly that Mormon Culture is more cutesy that saintly.

Man. Sorry to make my first comment on your blog so lengthy; please forgive me if I'm intruding. I just found your blog today (I was referred to it by my Thmazing brother, if you know him), and I find it fascinating. Feel free to peruse my blog and tell me what you think; I'm not sure it's as refined as yours, but I like to think I say some okay things from time to time. You might consider starting here.

Schmetterling said...

Okay. I screwed up the hyperlink.


Let's try it this way:


Trevor said...

You're more than welcome here. I doubt that "refined" is the word I'd use to describe this blog, but thanks.

About the Finding Forrester standard: I'm glad that you reminded me of the D&C reference. It was one of my favorites on my mission, and after. I had remembered it so wrongly. I went into this severe post-mission depression for about 8 months and in that time that scripture especially got all twisted and macabre. It really is a beautiful thing and I thank you for your footnote.(By the way, I applaud you for noting it, so many people just talk about verses 17-22 and stop).

And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.

I had remembered that verse as defining everything that was not of God, was darkness, and therefore did not edify, which is a much narrower and far more exclusive world view. That definition would exclude much of what I think is the most important in world cinema right now. But if 'edification' is the rubric, then God becomes more accessible.

Still, I think of some of my favorite films that teach me to "mourn with those that mourn" simply, and are not concerned with 'edifying' (also, I guess we should define our terms), may fall short of the D&C standard, but still allow for me to be closer to God. I'm specifically thinking of Kurosawa's The Lower Depths. It may be my favorite of his films, but it only shows a downward descent. Though it does not glorify the descent, there is no upward motion.

I'm wrong. There is the humbling priest/monk figure, isn't there? I don't know. I'll keep thinking about it.

Either rubric may make the difference between A Clockwork Orange (which I have not seen, and don't plan to) and Eye's Wide Shut clearer. Neither film is for those with a weak stomach, and Eyes Wide Shut, as a friend said "Should never be watched unless you've been married for at least three years," but the later, in my opinion is drenched in morality and does seek to edify.

I find it interesting, however, that Into Greater Silence was one of the films featured on his list for the year. Ashley, my wife, and I both tried to catch it at Sundance 2 years ago, but couldn't and ended up settling for something entirely forgettable.

I wanted to say something about your distinction between "cutesy" instead of "saintly," but that will wait for another novel.

Thanks for your comment

Schmetterling said...

I eagerly await that "novel."