An infrequently updated dumping ground for one culture junkie's thoughts on film and whatever else

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Quiz kid

Noted film blogger Dennis Cozzalio is known for posting occasional quizzes for other film bloggers to fill out, discuss, engage with, etc. I've seen 'em before but never participated. There's a new one, and I figured, why not. So here are my answers:

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.
The Killing. (#1 is Paths of Glory.)

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.
Either good or evil, depending on the filmmaker: the increasingly prevalent use of digital video (as opposed to film). Some directors (Fincher, Mann, Soderbergh, Lynch, Coppola, et al) have done lovely and/or interesting things with the new medium. Many others have used it to unwittingly create ass-ugly, shit-looking, hideous pieces of shit. Either way, it's the future of cinema and we have to deal with it.

3) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?
Sadly I've seen neither film as of yet.

4) Best Film of 1949.
Hard not to say The Third Man, but my heart belongs to The Set-Up.

5)Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?
The former.

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?
No—that's like asking if the Steadicam has become a visual cliche. It's just a visual strategy that filmmakers have at their disposal. Like anything else, it can be used for good or for evil. Is it sometimes used falsely or ineptly? Sure, but no moreso than, say, false or inept use of the 2.35:1 widescreen ratio (which rankles me a lot more). Whether or not it's overused is the wrong question; the important thing is how it's used.

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?
Hard to say, but the first one I saw theatrically must have been Amelie.

8) Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)?
N/A.

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).
There are a lot of major ones I haven't seen, so for now I'll say Stalag 17.

10) Favorite animal movie star.
Uh, has there ever been a good one? I will opt for a smartass answer and say the frogs at the end of Magnolia.

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.
Paul Haggis' Crash irresponsibly allowing smug, ostensibly PC white people in the audience to pat themselves on the back for not being racist like the characters on the screen.

12) Best Film of 1969.
Again, too much I've yet to see; I'll have to put down The Wild Bunch, even though it's not one of my favorite Peckinpahs.

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.
Theatrically, a double feature of Humpday and In The Loop. On DVD, Joe Dante's Gremlins 2: The New Batch. All splendid films in their own respective ways.

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.
The Long Goodbye. (#1 is McCabe & Mrs. Miller.)

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?
Impossible to pick just one since I take everything in via RSS feeds and such. But if I have to single something out, I get a reliable combination of laughs and enlightenment from Glenn Kenny's wonderful blog.

16) Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji? (Thanks, Peter!)
N/A.

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?
N/A.

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
Some Came Running. (I was going to say Carnival of Souls, but realized it doesn't actually feature a carnival.)

19) Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.
Motherfuckin' Zodiac, in a walk.

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.
Can't decide between McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Unforgiven. I like the former more in general, but I think the latter works better as a deconstruction.

21) Best Film of 1979.
It's been too long since I've seen Alien, which I suspect is the correct answer. In lieu of that, I will put down All That Jazz, which I can safely say is the greatest musical about self-destruction and thanatotic obsession ever made.

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.
I don't know about realistic, but for sincerity it's hard to beat Jacques Tourneur's underseen Stars In My Crown. (In the contemporary realm, of course, there are David Gordon Green's first two features.)

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).
As Val Lewton understood, the scariest creatures are always the unseen ones. Having said that, I love the Gremlins in Joe Dante's comedy-horror diptych. And those things in The Descent were fucking scary.

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.
Too many gaps in my Coppola viewing. I'll say Apocalypse Now even though I only saw it in my youthier days. (#1 is The Conversation.)

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.
The AV Club did a fun list related to this topic a while back. I don't know if I can think of one, since this question presupposes that movie franchises are a worthy undertaking, and I'm not convinced that's the case.

26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.
Any scene from the trashsterpiece Body Double. I love every moment of that giddily over-the-top, quintessentially '80s film. (And I suck at remembering individual sequences.)

27) Favorite moment in three-strip Technicolor.
Does the dream ballet in An American In Paris count as a moment?

28) Favorite Alan Smithee film. (Thanks, Peter!)
I am happily unqualified to answer this one.

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?
N/A.

30) Best post-Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.
I'm actually rather fond of his ingratiating, underrated comedy Scoop, from 2006.

31) Best Film of 1999.
American Movie: The Making of Northwestern (the only documentary I love as much as my favorite fiction films). For best fiction feature of '99, I'd pick Eyes Wide Shut.

32) Favorite movie tag line.
"Who will survive and what will be left of them?" (from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

33) Favorite B-movie western.
As others have pointed out, this depends on your definition of B-movie. I haven't really seen any true B-westerns (that's the cheapo kiddie stuff from the '30s, Roy Rogers and down). Closest thing I've seen is probably the Boetticher/Scott cycle, of which my favorite is Ride Lonesome, but even that's way above the B-movie station.

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.
Great question. I'd say Stephen King, but there have been as many shitty films based on his work as good ones. I'll go with Raymond Chandler: Murder My Sweet, The Big Sleep, and Altman's The Long Goodbye ... an unimpeachable trifecta, even if it can't quite hold up to the best King adaptations (Carrie and The Shining being the preeminent examples).

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?
The former.

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.
Is cameo the right word here? I can't think of anything.

37) Bruno (the character, if you haven’t seen the movie, or the film, if you have): subversive satire or purveyor of stereotyping?
Inconsistent—the film is half satirical, half farcical. Cohen can't decide if he wants to expose hypocrisy or make himself the butt of the joke; his stuff usually works better when in the latter mode. Either way, I don't think negative stereotyping is really an issue, although he does rely a bit too heavily on the premise that gay sex and male nudity are inherently hilarious.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet. (Thanks, Rick!)
Damn, tough one. Orson Welles is a given. Billy Wilder would be a delightful conversationalist, I'm sure. Martin Scorsese, obviously—we know that man can talk. In the actor realm there's Jean Arthur, because I have a long-standing crush on her. And finally a man who I conceivably could meet, given that we share a city: the one and only Roger Ebert.

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