Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dennis Cozzalio keeps me occupied for fifteen hours with his latest quiz for hard core cinephiles at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Here are my answers to:


1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie

Whenever someone asks me what my "favorite"
anything in a movie category is, I immediately come up with a list of at least 25 answers. I am willing to commit to a favorite movie musical, as I am inordinately fond of An American in Paris, but a musical moment? Here's a smattering of moments that immediately jumped into my head: Movin' Right Along from The Muppet Movie; the last supper scene (Suicide is Painless) in M*A*S*H; Deadfall's symphonic heist; the Hooray for Captain Spalding number in Woody Allen's Everyone Says I Love You; Rick's customers rallying behind Le Marseillaise in Casablanca; the Flying Trapeze song from It Happened One Night; and oh-so-many more... (I haven't even addressed musical scores)

2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews

Gotta say, neither actor is particularly compelling to me. Looking over their filmographies at imdb, I can confess to only having seen one of each performer's movies (The Lost Weekend and Laura, respectively). My response to both was ho-hum. I like the
name Ray Milland, though. It rolls off the tongue nicely: Ray Milland. I'm gonna go with Ray Milland (born Reginald Alfred Truscott-Jones).

3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie

I'm going to go ahead and classify Network as a Paddy Chayefsky movie so that I can throw this bone to The Verdict. Lumet, Newman, Rampling, Warden, Mamet, Mandel, and a sophisticated plot that puts most legal dramas to shame. The world needs more movies about alcoholic ambulance chasers, too.

4) Biggest surprise of the just-past summer movie season

Nicky Katt is in The Dark Knight.

5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth, but I have a poster of Tim Robbins hanging on my cell wall.

6) What’s the last movie you saw on DVD? In theaters?

The last movie I saw on DVD was Prom Night (2008), because internet piracy makes movie watching so affordable that I no longer have to be discerning about what I choose to see.

The last movie I saw in the theater was Tropic Thunder. It was retarded.

7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?

The Poseidon Adventure.

8) What were the films where you would rather see the movie promised by the poster than the one that was actually made?

'nuff said

9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung

I really enjoy watching Chow Yun-Fat shoot people in the early John Woo films, but Tony Leung blows me away as an actor. At his best, so far, I think in Kar Wai's In the Mood for Love. The man has a face that can make your soul cry.

10) Most pretentious movie ever

adjective 1 making an excessive claim to great merit, importance, fashionableness, etc. esp. without cause. 2 ostentatious, showy. (Canadian Oxford Dictionary)

You would think that some artsy foreign film would jump to mind, but a couple of mainstream movies tie at the top of my list:

Gladiator: a picture that wants you to believe that it is an historical epic in the vein of Braveheart or Lawrence of Arabia, but is actually just a sports film. In fact, it's not even Rocky... It's like ancient WWF.

Forrest Gump: a picture that wants you to believe that it is an insightful human drama that examines ideological perseverance in the face of political and personal adversity, but is actually emotionally manipulative, sentimental pap.

11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie

I'm not much of a Meyer fan, so I'll resort to the the title I like best, which is Wild Gals of the Naked West. I watched this flick on TV a few months ago, begging the question, what was I doing awake at 3:30 in the morning?

12) Name the movie that you feel best reflects yourself, a movie you would recommend to an acquaintance that most accurately says, “This is me.”

Cabin Boy. No, wait! That was an answer from your previous quiz... different question... I am uncomfortable with the idea of trying to describe my personality in relation to the content of a single movie, let alone someone else's art. It's a reductive and arrogant task. So I called my ex-girlfriend to ask which movie reflects me most accurately, and she said "Deconstructing Harry."

13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo

Wow. Both icons, both incredibly talented, both strikingly beautiful in such interesting ways. This question is more fascinating than the mundane case of Milland v. Andrews, but much more difficult to answer because the two actresses are so great. Because I hate to be uncommitted, I will give a slight edge to Greta, whose performance in the famous "Garbo Laughs" scene in Ninotchka had such an impact on me when I studied the films of Ernst Lubitsch. But I reserve the right to change my mind at any time without reason or accountability.

14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?

Who decided that popcorn was the movie snack of choice. Yeah, I just love to hear those kernels squeaking between your teeth while I'm trying to watch a picture. Throw in those crackly candy packages and
nachos?!? You might as well leave your cell phone on, 'cause the theater is beginning to sound like a STOMP! production. My vote is that we allow only pudding.

15) Current movie star who would be most comfortable in the classic Hollywood studio system

Jeremy Northam. While watching the film Cypher, I was struck with the thought that he could easily slip into a number of Cary Grant's roles.

Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?

Yes, but not without having first seen Herzog's 1999 documentary, My Best Friend.

17) Your assignment is to book the ultimate triple bill to inaugurate your own revival theater. What three movies will we see on opening night?

Steamboat Bill, Jr.

The 400 Blows

The Muppet Movie

18) What’s the name of your theater?
(The all-time greatest answer to this question was once provided by Larry Aydlette, whose repertory cinema, the Demarest, is, I hope, still packing them in…)

Hmmm... The all-time greatest answer beats anything I could come up with. Is Aydlette looking to franchise?

19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie

The Awful Truth... no, Duck Soup. Or maybe The Awful Truth? (Stop, I'm both right!)

20) Most impressive debut performance by an actor/actress.

I don't know because I haven't seen them all, but recently I'd have to say that those kids in The Kite Runner were really quite good.

21) Biggest disappointment of the just-past summer movie season

Learning that Bill Maher's Religulous would not be released until the fall.

22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung

Maggie Cheung. Every bit as good as Tony Leung in In the Mood for Love.

23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated

Iron Man

24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated

In Bruges (more underexposed than underrated)

25) Fritz the Cat—yes or no?

No to Ralph Bakshi in general. But yes to Robert Crumb.

26) Trevor Howard or Richard Todd

Too arcane. I wouldn't be able to pick either one out of a lineup.

27) Antonioni once said, “I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.” What filmmaker working today most fruitfully ignores the rules? What does ignoring the rules of cinema mean in 2008?

If one adopts the attitude that everything has been done, then breaking the rules simply means chiding the unions, in which case Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are our most prominent rebels.

I still believe, however, that there are narrative and stylistic frontiers yet to be explored. A fruitful rule breaker in 2008 is someone who proves that you can work against expectations and still connect with the audience on an emotional and/or cerebral level.

Some contemporary rule breakers:
Michael Haneke
Charlie Kaufman/Spike Jonze
Michel Gondry
Steven Soderbergh
Julian Schnabel
the Coen brothers
Thomas McCarthy

28) Favorite William Castle movie

I'm going with House on Haunted Hill because I have seen it.

29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie

The Gods Must be Crazy (I am so not as racist as this answer would suggest).

30) What’s the movie coming up in 2008 you’re most looking forward to? Why?

Religulous. The world is in desperate need of perspective when it comes to religion, and Bill Maher has perspective in spades. Real Time doesn't air here, so I've been jonesing for a hit of Maher since Politically Incorrect was canceled.

Also, Bangkok Dangerous because I'm a sucker for hit-man movies.

31) What deceased director would you want to resurrect in order that she/he might make one more film?

Oooh. Toughie. I would love to see a modern day political thriller from Alan Pakula, but comedy has been on the decline for nearly two decades now, so I think I would have to resurrect either Ernst Lubitsch or Preston Sturges.

32) What director would you like to see, if not literally entombed, then at least go silent creatively?

Ron Howard. Lets cremate his lousy films while we're at it.

33) Your first movie star crush

Yes. I have admitted to this before: the very first poster I hung on my wall for reasons of crushiness was of Brooke Shields. I have no idea where it came from; in fact, I'm fairly certain I had never seen her in a movie previous to decorating my room with her visage. To be honest, though, I still kind of dig her.


Dennis Cozzalio said...

Okay, John, the Brooke pic is very nice... but that Maggie Cheung shot is one of the best of her I've ever seen. Gee, I thought I was beyond swooning...

I like your #10 too!

Thanks for the great answers!

Anonymous said...

Here's my answers to the Sergio Leone/Infield Quiz:

Oh, btw? I'll see your Maggie Cheung and raise you a Michelle Yeoh picture! :-D