Change of plans…. No Cornerstone for me this year.

Earlier I had announced that I’d be leading seminars at Cornerstone this summer.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to withdraw, due to some very good news that means I’ll be even busier this summer.

I hope to be able to share the news with you, but it could be a while in coming.

Anyway, Mike Hertenstein’s Flickerings Film Festival is still THE reason to be at Cornerstone this year. He’s got a great line-up of films planned. (Heck, LAST year, he had Mr. Chattaway up front!)

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  • jasdye

    I don’t know if YPJustin meant to say that RoboCop, et.al. were the nadir of sci-fi/horror, but I found it funny, if not telling (‘Aliens’ still messes me up. My fave horror movie of all time.) And I’m wondering if Brodine went to UI@Chicago. It’s gotta be the only place where they showed ‘Bonnie & Clyde’ in film class. I hope.

  • Brian Friesen

    “Blackboard Jungle” might be worth checking into. It captured a sense of the growing generation gap during the 50′s as the baby-boom generation was coming of age (or at least going to high school).

    The film was as much a success for the rock and roll soundtrack (one of the first films to boost and be boosted by record sales) which featured arguably the first commercial rock and roll song: “Rock Around the Clock”

    I like “Jasdye’s” distinction between generation-defining films and personal favorites that help define us individually. We don’t necessarily need validation for the experiences that begin our fascination with an art form like film, though we do often search for it, looking to those we respect for that validation. The films that first got our attention remain a part of us even if we come back to them later and find them paper thin.

    We all have had experiences with films or Saturday morning cartoons that were powerful or meaningful in some way. Returning to the sacred ground of those experiences to re experience them or to just consider them can be strangely treacherous. At some level, we are dealing with how our sense of identity is or was wrapped up in those things.

    We need Roger Ebert to resurrect the special show he once did with Siskel in which they talked about all the films that they couldn’t help but like even though they knew that technically and artistically, they were crap. Guilty pleasures. Whether film scholars validate our experiences for us as “sophisticated” or “worthy” in light of larger cultural artistic movements, we can learn a lot about ourselves and how films have worked to create certain responses in us. Or maybe we like a film for no reason we can explain (or explain away).

  • jasdye

    Yes, Matin, the 21st Century’s ‘Revenge of the Nerds.’ Let us take heart. (“She said something like I’m stuck in 1983″)

  • Nicholas

    When I said Vertigo was generation-defining, I think I should have said the major part of Hitchcock’s collective cannon of the late fifties/early sixties, instead.
    I am thinking of how Hitchcock’s films changed the way people watched movies, period. As film is such a huge part of our cultural collective, I would say that the way we watch them is a part of our definition, so a film like Pyscho, which kills off the lead actress in the first half hour, changed the way that people watched films, and is generation-defining. Am I making any sense? I think it is also arguable that the darker tone of most of Hitchcock’s films mirrored the perceived cultural changes between the 1950s and 1960s, but I’m not sure if I buy that or not.
    Just some thoughts.

  • Martin

    Please, not Napoleon Dynamite… nooooo…

  • jasdye

    I’m going to agree with Mr. Durnell here in this: Most of the movies we’ve listed may have been influential (cannot, cannot argue with Kurosawa) or personal favorites, but not necessarily generation-defining.

    I’m not so sure I could bring up too many myself in a way that Star Wars certainly was. Gone With the Wind and the Wizard of Oz are great examples. While Citizen Kane would be a huge influence on other films and film-making, but not on its generation.

    How about the Fred and Ginger dance-musicals? How about, maybe, Public Enemy and some of Cagney’s stuff? Or, another crime movie that caught on and captured the imagination of – maybe a cult – generation, Scarface (Pacino’s)?

    John Wayne’s Western and War pics? These may not be critically favored or so much remembered by us these days (gosh, how anybody can STAND Pacino’s screaming and over-acting is beyond my comprehension), but they played a huge role in their time.

    Ohhh, snap. Rebel Without a Cause.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    As a matter of fact, Chris, I have sent this to a class of college students. I’m eager to hear from them.

  • Chris Durnell

    I saw all three Star Wars movies when they came out (Star Wars though only as a re-release befor Empire), but to me the Star Wars phenomenon was over in 1983. Seeing the “new” 90′s versions was nice, as was the new trilogy, but to me Star Wars ended in 1983 and I think it did too for most people.

    I don’t mean to pick on other people’s picks, but many of the movies they selected, while very good or even excellent, are not “generation defining.” To be a generation defining movie, the movie must be referenced outside cinemaphile circles and utilized in ways outside of appreciation for it as a film. It must be appreciated as a cultural artifact. Youth Pastor Justin has the best selections in this regard.

    I was born in 1974 and thus, according to at least one email, I am a “child of the eighties.” This will affect my picks. One curious thread: all my picks seem to be adolescent in nature. Perhaps there is something about the period of adolescence which defines art as definitive. Maybe for adults “timeless” is a better descriptor.

    These are my picks:

    Breakfast Club: While Ferris Bueller and other John Hughes or Brat Pack movies are important, Club has an iconic status and a much greater appeal.

    Aliens: While I like Robocop better, this James Cameron movie was huge. It turned Lance Hendrickson from a supporting actor to cult favorite and made Bill Paxton a icon as well as giving Cameron huge Hollywood clout. BTW, I don’t think Youth Pastor Justin meant “nadir.”

    Platoon: This is THE Vietnam movie for my generation, not Apocalypse Now, Deer Hunter, or any other. Full Metal Jacket is near to it and probably has more iconic moments, but suffers from a sudden, inexplicable ending that is less than emotionally satisfying.

    Clerks: Although I find Kevin Smith’s later films to be a self-indulgent morass, it is a slacker classic. Everyone I knew, upon viewing it for the first time, seemed somehow empowered by its portrayal of fading adolescence.

    Heathers: Neither Christian Slater nor Wynona Rider would ever surpass their cultural status they achieved in this movie.

    Usual Suspects: Maybe this is within my own network of friends and cronies, but we quote this movie constantly. I suspect it does not have the carrying capacity for others. Too bad.

    There are of course many lesser, but enjoyable, movies that also defined the decade, but they don’t have resonance. ET was huge, but how many really care about it today? Likewise, Back to the Future, Goonies, Lost Boys, Bull Durham, or Batman helped define the period, but lack the continued resonance that causes people to keep talking about the movies.

    Beyond the early ’90′s, I am simply too far from the adolescent zeitgeist to know. I suspect the Harry Potter movies (and books) will be important. I would also say the Matrix, but its vastly inferior sequels have seem to have downgraded its status via contagion. A pity. I think Fight Club is a very important movie, and it had an effect on most of my friends, but it did not do fantastic at the box office. I can hope.

    Send this question to the college dorms: what movies are they renting and quoting from now?

  • Eriol

    I was born in ’84 so my perspective will be quite different than most of the other opinions. One difference is that nobody has mentioned “Lord of the Rings”. And though it will frighten the original Star Wars fans, the “Phantom Menance” is pretty big. Future action film-makers will echo the lightsaber duel from that movie- just as Lucas recalled “Ben-Hur” (a personally defining movie) with the pod-racing scene. Matrix (the first one) has also been important though I haven’t seen it. Movies before my time that are important with my friends and myself are “Hard Day’s Night”, “The Princess Bride” and “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Also a question, does my generation seem more incline to watch movies shortly after dealing with some sort of tragedy? (Columbine: The Matrix, The Phantom Menance; 9/11: Fellowship of the Ring)

  • Nicholas

    Brian,
    “Vertigo” is one my favorite films, and I would definately say it is a generation defining film:
    A. It further solidified Hitchcock as a so called “auteur” director. This theory basically changed the way films are perceived and created. Now, MUCH more attention is paid to the director as the visionary of the film, and directors now have more control of the films they are creating. As Hitchcock was a favorite of the French writers who coined the idea of an “auteur”, “Vertigo”, often considered Hitch’s defining picture, would definately be a generation defining film.
    B. There is a shot named after the film. To achieve Stewart’s feelings of vertigo, Hitchcock zoomed in and tracked backwards, simultaneously. I can’t think of many other films that share this distinction.
    C. Thematically (well, one of many themes), you’ve got an older white man that won’t let go of the past, and because of this, sacrifices the future to achieve a feeling of what once was. I do believe this was one of the main ideals fought against in the next decade.
    Honestly, no film creeps me out more than Vertigo. At a certain point in the film, I get chills that never subside. I agree that it doesn’t work as well today for a group because of the special effects, but every now and then I like to find a friend who hasn’t seen the film, turn out the lights, and throw it on. I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t feel uneasy at some point, and I have one friend (who also happens to be six inches under seven feet) who can’t even watch the dream sequence because he wets his pants.
    I guess one could argue that Vertigo was critically panned at the time of its release, and not much of a box-office success, but when looked back upon today, it sure stands strong…
    Ow! This soapbox is hurting my feet!

  • Caleb

    I might have a different perspective on things, still being in my early 20s. My earliest movie memories were The Neverending Story, Flight of the Navigator, and Short Circuit. Forget Star Wars, forget Jaws, those three movies were what made me love movies, even if I only ever watched them on video.

    One from the 90s that really does not get enough credit is the Blair Witch Project. In my opinion, it was the real mainstream catalyst for extreme-low-budget independent digital-handheld movies that could actually succeed in the popular market. Forget Dogme 95, I say it was Blair Witch that genuinely revolutionized movies in the 90s.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s too easy to say that there was a seminal film out there–to me, when I was younger, Star Wars and Raiders were as awesome as critically-panned “1941″ and Xanadu.

    My appreciation for film actually came from TV, watching those critics shows (Siskel & Ebert, with Bill Harris, Rex Reed, Michael Medved, Neal Gabler and Jeffrey Lyons on their own shows) that I became more enthralled with the larger world of film, disdaining crappy remakes and learning to admire the vastness of foreign films.

    If there was an under-represented film here that, to me, represents the fullness of imagination and the furthest a film can stretch, my nomination goes out to: “Last Year at Marienbad.”

    Nick

  • Brian Friesen

    E.T. had a pretty big impact in the decade or so after its initial release. My younger brother grew up with ET and Ewoks as important figures.

    The film school generation highly revered the films of Kursowa. The Seven Samuri was remade at least twice in the west. The likes of Coppola, Lucas, and Spielberg still speak of the impact Kursawa’s films had on their early careers. Many recent films (Memento, Pulp Fiction, Courage Under Fire) owe much to the subjective, psychological rendering of “Rashomon.”

  • Gary

    I also want to add that I don’t really care about Episodes 1-3, even though I was around for the whole shootin’ match. Perhaps it’s because I am older (48). Anyway, part of the draw of the original trilogy was that the beginning of the story was alluded to and I could fill in the blanks in my imagination. This is part of the excitement of storytelling, especially in written (books, poetry) and oral (radio, campfire tales) form. The listener/reader imagines what is described in their own unique way, and thus begins to make the story their own.

    Lucas took a big risk filling in the pre-story after telling so much of the primary story, so I give him credit for that. But, I haven’t been caught up in the hype of it, and frankly, don’t understand it.

    What is it that people are searching for in these films? What truth is being answered for them? While the films mentioned by myself and others impacted culture, it wasn’t in the same way. People didn’t wait in line in costumes for months to get tickets.

    And for me personally, other films have impacted me deeply on a personal level, answering questions of truth on God’s behalf. But I guess that is a different question altogether, isn’t it?

  • lbrodine

    I’m trying to dig back into my film history class…

    “Bonnie and Clyde” comes to mind, mainly because my parents and I had a good discussion about it after I saw it.

    “Casablanca” is pretty up there for me, but I know that it wasn’t all that popular when it was first released in the 40s. It did get the Looney Tunes/Bugs Bunny treatment, which would say to me that it had a pretty strong impact.

    And then there’s “Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind”, which took the feature film to a new level.

    “Memento” is my pick for recent years, along with the aforementioned “Matrix” (part 1, only).

    And no one has brought up “Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail”?!? “Come back here, I’ll bite your legs off!”

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    You guys are fantastic. You should all have your own blogs.

  • Anonymous

    When defining seminal films of the seventies and their impact on society, it would be criminal to neglect “Race with the Devil”. Its commentary on the paranormal frenzy of the era was as disturbing as it was right on!

  • Gary

    Films that come to mind for me that had an impact on culture are: The Godfather; 2001: A Space Odyessy; Saturday Night Fever; The Matrix; the James Bond films and in another way, Toy Story opened up the world of animation from 2D good storytelling to 3D great storytelling – a complete paradigm shift in much the same way that Star Wars and The Matrix did for CGI.

    And, we can’t leave out the Dirty Harry series. So many quoteable quotes – Go ahead, make my day. A man’s got to know his limitations. And a host of others.Dirty Harry was the everyman who imperfectly upholds what is right under trying circumstances. Something we all can relate to (being imperfect) and admire (doing the right thing) and wish we could do in the battles of our life (standing strong in difficult times). Which, of course, is what God calls us to do in the power of the Holy Spirit when we have Christ. Quite the opposite of what Cinderella Man portrays, sadly.

  • Youth Pastor Justin

    As a child of the 80′s and a teen of the early 90′s, the film world for me pretty much begins in 1983 and goes on from there. Other than Star Wars, the defining films of my generation have been:

    * The Breakfast Club / Ferris Bueller / 16 Candles: John Hughes tapped into the teen culture in a perfect and heartbreaking way, offering us timeless parables about growing up, dealing with teen issues, and wanting to have a really great time

    * Terminator / Predator / Aliens / RoboCop: All of these combined are easily the nadir of action-horror-scifi for pretty much everyone I’m friends with. It wasn’t just the gratuitous action, but the freedom of imagination that created exciting blockbusters, the like of which really aren’t seen today.

    * Pop Culture Quotables: Airplane!, Back to the Future, Spaceballs, Tommy Boy, PCU… etc…

  • mark

    Frightening as it sounds Animal House had a huge and lasting impact. It did not merely tell the tale of the degradation of our university system but it went a long way towards blue printing it. Its current revival must seem quaint to those exposed to our State universities on a daily basis.

  • Andy Whitman

    For better and worse, “Woodstock” and “Easy Rider” had a tremendous impact on young people in the early 1970s. By that time the “counterculture” was, in fact, the mainstream culture for the youth of America. The real hippies were gone, replaced by millions of hippie-wanabes from the suburbs. Those two films were crucial in that transformation.

  • crimsonline

    The Princess Bride was a film that I think defined the coterie of students who were in college with me in 1989-1993. The whole time I was in college, virtually everyone saw that film 10-15 times. It was huge.

  • Matt Page

    I would imagine the Jazz Singer (1927)would be one such film, as would The Matirx (for all the crapiness of it’s sequels).

    Matt

  • Joel Buursma

    This is on a slightly different tack, but in terms of recent films, I think The Passion of the Christ needs to be considered. It was a major intersection of Hollywood & religion whose impact will be felt for some time. I just hope that The DaVinci Code doesn’t eclipse it.

  • Brian Friesen

    I’ll just nod in the direction of Alfred Hitchcock, who had a small impact on film from the silent era on into the color era. He had a string of pictures in the fifties and early sixties that rarely dipped below the status of masterpieces. From “Notorious” on, he was on a role (well, until the end, anyway)

    It seems Hitchcock was esteemed pretty highly by the French new wavers and Truffaut nearly worshiped the man.

    I had a film professor once who spoke of seeing “Vertigo” as a young man. The dazzle and horror of his first viewing still hung on him as he worked to express the impact the movie had at the time of its release. The psychological complexity of the film was a shock that he could not compare to film viewings since. (“Vertigo” was one of the first supposedly unaccessible, artistic Hitchcock films – a pre-Psycho film). The professor tried to invoke the terror of seeing, for the first time, Jimmy Stewart’s animated vertigo dream with the spiraling head and tracking zoom shot from the roof – the scene which only brought laughter from the class during the viewing of the film. He said the scene gave him literal nightmares and kept him up at night.

    I don’t know about “generation defining,” but I know at least one person who was changed forever by a few Hitchcock films.

    My own experience with Hitchcock began after moving out of my parents house. He was still very taboo to the Christian parents I had who grew up avoiding his films for their intensity as much as their portrayals of evil. Even today, films like “Vertigo” and “Psycho” are still explored in publications. The films still get richer after many viewings.

    And then there was one of the first blockbusters in a little film called “Jaws”, still one of the most mind-blowing things out there…


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