Saturday, August 29, 2009

Grading on the Curve

Time to add my two cents to the rest of the internet... I have seen Inglourious Basterds... Uh oh.... I think I should have forced myself to only look at the negative reviews - I would have come out singing a different song.

It is, taken as dispassionately as I can manage, a gripping, sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, superbly written and made film - that has more or less nothing at stake, probably due to having just about exactly one character in it. Everyone else is a function, a plot point - acted with aplomb (except for a few caricatures that are enacted with the perfect pitch of absurdity - think Eli Roth, Mike Myers, or the people playing the German High Command) - everything is made with great care and energy, but it is all just a machine. The exception? Christoph Waltz, playing a fairly transparent Tarantino stand in (motormouth, omniscient, demiurge, foot fetishist...), overall - I guess maybe not quite a character either - more the Author. Though, one might note, not the only author, or Auteur - heck, it's lousy with auteurs, inventing scenarios, enacting them, stage managing them, editing them - as well as, of course, making actual film... staging bits of actual theater... writing, or carving, things....

All of this, I'd have to say, erases most of the real history involved. I suppose you can argue about what it means to erase the actual history of WWII, especially WWII as a story about Germans and Jews - you could, but I don't think it's worth as much trouble as some of the critics (pro and con) are going to. He isn't denying that history - he isn't telling a story that justifies glossing over what really happened. The holocaust, the final solution, is treated as an inciting incident, a piece of backstory - that may be a loaded thing to do (therein lies Rosenbaum's objections, as I read them) - but it does not deny the holocaust. Maybe it treats the holocaust like any other historical phenomenon - subject, like all history, to absorption into stories, absorption into history - there is some point in resisting this, in treating the holocaust as somehow resistant to history... But it isn't. It is history, in the end, and will move, like everything else has moved, from lived reality to books and stories and signs, which is all there really is of the past.... Tarantino doesn't lie about that past - he just treats it as part of the grand text of history - but I can't say that he says anything terribly important about that past. It's a convention, a plot device - it's not history....

And besides, say the champions, it's more about film (history) than history (history), anyway. Which is fair enough - though even the film references seemed a bit like name dropping - "oh look! Emil Jannings!" - though to be fair, there are some pretty interesting names being dropped (not just Joe May [I think I caught a Joe May reference] - Karl May! Rather prominently, that...) I don't think, that is, one gets anything particularly profound out of the film references - though what you get, you get underlined, starred, bolded, in red. No bit of irony or meaning, no moment of audience manipulation and complicity goes unmarked... He seems very eager to make these points, and make sure no one misses them. You know - Hitler giggles and squeals over Zoller (hero of the film within a film) slaughtering hundreds of Americans - 5 minutes later, the audience in the real theater giggles and squeals in exactly the same way as Hitler and company - etc....

So no - it's not a great film. It's a marvelously well made film - but it doesn't do much with its powerful material, and it doesn't add up to as good a story as Tarantino at his best... But - you know - that's on a curve, set by all those gushing reviews....

...Because under it all run some interesting threads. For example - the role of language, words, accents - even signs, marks - semiotics. "Meta-signs" maybe, "metalanguage" - not what people say, but the language they say it in; not the language but the accents. Not even that - the betrayal of the body (hands; feet)... Or the way people assume other cultural identities - we have Jews hiding as French; Brad Pitt rather implausibly claiming to be Apache (which probably inspires the Karl May reference... Jonathan Rosenbaum brings this up, for instance in the comments at Bright Lights After Dark - Tarantino not only uses the holocaust as a plot device, he brings in references to Native Americans and scalping, but purely as a "movie myth"... But here, I'm not so sure just how dumb Tarantino really is. Yes indeed, he has Brad Pitt claiming to be Apache and using this as an excuse for his scalping routine - but: for heaven's sake - that's a character talking - whether Tarantino should use the myth or not, this is a character in the film invoking the myth... And then there is that Karl May reference - that is, a reference to a German tradition of completely invented American Indian mythology. I don't know - I think maybe all that mythologizing, all the cultural cross-dressing, all the complexities of language and culture and history and mythologies and dehumanizing analogies (Jews and rats, duly evoked) - might just start to rise to the level of content....) We have spies, assuming various identities, out of movies or not - we have clever casting jokes (they have to be jokes), like a German born actor being accused of not speaking proper German... All this gives a bit of a twist to Pitt's determination to make sure no one who serves the Nazis can ever escape that fact...

Finally... as history - I have nothing against alternative history, but there is one thing that is very much a-historical about this film. Though again - it's a strange and maybe haunting kind of ahistoricism. Is it, shall we say, entirely a coincidence that Eli Roth plays someone called the "Bear Jew"? That this Bear Jew and his comrades are murderous, cruel, irregulars operating behind German lines? partisans, basically - not subject to the rules of warfare... and... Because what is missing from this film is most precisely the Bear - and what the Basterds do would probably not seem too out of place behind the lines on the Eastern Front. Where is the Eastern Front? where are the Russians? All this talk about ending the war by killing the German high command is fine and good - but even if that happened - what do you do about Stalin? Even the war movie-in-a-movie, set in Italy, sounds a lot more like something you'd get in Russia somewhere... Eli Roth, at least, has the decency to swipe a few shots from Eisenstein - otherwise, the reds would be completely missing. But - this film, the Basterds especially, plays a lot more like an eastern front movie might - atrocities and horrors on all sides (though played for laughs.) And I suspect some of that is supposed to be there - Tarantino is too attentive to his words not to mean something by calling his most brutal character (played by a Jewish actor with Russian heritage) "The Bear Jew"...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Cost of (Inglourious) Delay

I seem to be the only film fan in America who did not see Inglourious Basterds last week. I had my reasons and I will stick by them - Basterds might turn out to be a better film than the two I saw, but 24 City was only showing that weekend, and I'll bet on Park Chan-wook over Quentin Tarantino any time (not to mention my terror at the short runs Asian films - even great Asians films - get) ... but it's a bit maddening to watch the kinds of conversations it's sparking and not be able to get involved quite yet. Watching the entries from the conversation between Dennis Cozzalio and Bill at The Kind of Face You Hate come across the RSS feed, and not actually read them (let alone jump into them, or any of the other conversations about the film) is very painful. Oh well - 2 more days! Though in the meanwhile, I get to watch my own anticipation about the film go through a fine roller coaster ride. I remember when I first started seeing comments about it - I figured, it's Tarantino, it will be entertaining, but it looks rather pointless... Then people started seeing it - some whining, but a lot of them starting to push it up - Glenn Kenny in particular made it seem very unmissable... but now, alas - the flood of hyperbole is starting to wear on me to the point that the curmudgeons start to sound like they have a point. Or not! I don't know! Terrible!

I admit, even now, I'd put my money on Thirst being the film that holds up... There are the facts: that Tarantino has never really matched his first three films since; that this is taking on History, and History is not always to be trifled with... though there are other facts - that for all his reputation as a fanboy's director, he's always made art films, playing with narrative structure and form, in scenes and whole films, and between films - this sounds like more of the same, maybe even more adventurous and sophisticated than ever; that for all the talk of a slump, he's really (in my opinion) only made one crappy film - Kill Bill I - part 2 was a nice comeback, and Death Proof is as formalized, "parametric" as - I don't know, pick your favorite formalist. And - while History is not to be trifled with, Great Things can emerge from giving it a twist here and there - I'll take Alexandria Why? or Once Upon a Time in China over pretty much any more "responsible" historical filmmaking - if Tarantino can approach those heights (and it's not unthinkable here) - then we could be on to something.

So - 2 more days.... it's been a while since there has been a film getting this much attention in the blogosphere that I actually cared about. I admit I'd be a lot happier if Thirst was getting this much attention - but hey...

I will end with one more comment - Eric Rentschler, who wrote the book on the subject of Nazi cinema, is offering his Nazi cinema class through Harvard's extension school this year... that's something else to look forward to...

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Kennedy

Ted Kennedy is dead. He's a complicated figure - he did things that make you cringe; he used his position and family to get away with them - but he also served the country long and honorably. He did as much good as any politician in the last 40 plus years - medicare, immigration reform, health care - it's an impressive record. It would have been a crowning achievement if he could have helped get us out of our current disgraceful health insurance situation - it would be a great monument if it were passed now. He was a politician you could believe actually meant it - he stuck to his political ideas, and they were good political ideas - there was nothing bought and payed for about him. He will be missed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Quick Reviews

I need to keep a hand in here... it was a good week for movies. All the talk is about Inglourious Basterds, but that was the odd one out, this weekend. Jia Jiang-ke's 24 City was playing, a handful of shows, only one really convenient, so there was that... and it seems to me, the big release of the week, at least in Boston (some people are getting The Headless Woman, aren't they? Though I've seen the Headless Woman, so...) is Park Chan-wook's latest, Thirst. Tarantino can wait.

Thirst certainly delivers. A vampire film, starring Song Kang-ho as a priest who volunteers for a medical experiment, dies - and then - Vampire! He goes home, rumored to be able to heal the sick, and runs into some old friends, a rotten hypochondriac, and what the priest thought was a sister, but turns out to have been a foundling... and their formidable mother... Before long priest and bullied girl are enacting Zola (or James M. Cain, though it's Zola gets the screen credit...) and sharing diseases... As in all of Park's films, morality and sympathy shift and blur - the priest would do good, but has evil in him - he is, after all, a vampire; the girl has suffered all her life, and now - well... she does not have to suffer quite the same way anymore, and more, she gets to taste all the pleasures long denied.... Park shoots the whole story without committing to any side, quite - or any style, or tone - it veers constantly from horror to comedy to the kind of persistent sadness that appears in all his films I've seen.

And, while I'm here - 24 City is another strong film from Jia Jiang-ke. Set in Chengdu, it's partly a documentary about Factory 420 - which has been sold, and is being leveled, to put up "24 city" - a condo high rise. Workers from the factory are interviewed, telling stories about their lives - about coming to Chengdu from the north (Shanghai, etc.) - about growing up there - about making their way after the factory closed. The twist is - the interviewees are delivered by actors, playing the interviewees... the strangest moment perhaps being Joan Chen playing a woman who was nicknamed "Little Flower" at the plant - because she looked like Joan Chen, in a film called Little Flower... The stories themselves are driven by loss, sometimes recognition (as the final story and shot, a young woman who understands her parents for the first time when she sees them at work - then turns and the camera pans across the city...) - the sense of the old world being replaced, perhaps buy things that are, in fact, better - but without acknowledging what went into the old world... A theme running through Jia's work.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Another Quiz?

It's a scorcher, here in Beantown, hot and humid, and my normal lack of summer ambition is multiplied by the weather... But lo! happy day! another movie quiz! Via Thrilling Days of Yesterday (and at a blog I hadn't been reading... nice!) - some midweek content... The quiz itself is a week or so old, but that can't stop me...

1. Your favourite Humphrey Bogart film in which he doesn't play a gangster or a private eye. (Oh, and not including Casablanca either.)
A. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I imagine. Or to Have and Have Not - he's a fisherman there, I guess.

2. Your favourite appearance by a star in drag (boy-girl or girl-boy).
A. In the end, it's Jack Lemmon in Some Like it Hot.

3. Your favourite Laurel & Hardy film; short or feature, or one of each. (This will sort out the men from the boys - or perhaps the men from the girls.)
A. Liberty! Haven’t seen the features in ages, or any of the sound shorts.

4. Your favourite appearance by one star in a role strongly associated with another star. (Eg: Ricardo Cortez as Sam Spade, Grace Kelly as Tracy Lord, Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates...)
A. I should think about this some: Peter Cushing as Sherlock Holmes?

5. The thirties or forties star or stars you most think you'd like, but have yet to really get to know.
A. Jimmy Cagney - don’t have a handle on him yet.

6. Your favourite pre-Petrified Forest Bette Davis film.
A. Not sure. Maybe Three on a Match?

7. Your favourite post-Mildred Pierce Joan Crawford film.
A. Haven’t seen many, if any.

8. Your favourite film that ends with the main character's death.
A: McCabe and Mrs Miller? No - only half the main characters die; Pierrot le Fou? My Life to Live? The Gospel According to Matthew?

9. Your favourite Chaplin talkie.
A: M Verdoux

10. Your favourite British actor and actress.
A: Julie Christie and - Cary Grant? Though I have a soft spot for the bad guys - Basil Rathbone; Alan Rickman.

11. Your favourite post-1960 appearance by a 1930's star.
A: Once Upon a Time in the West?

12. Dietrich or Garbo?
A: Marlene!!!!!

13. Karloff or Lugosi?
A: Karloff.

14. Chaplin or Keaton? (I know some of you will want to say both for all of the above. Me too. But you can't.)
A: Keaton.

15. Your favourite star associated predominantly with the 1950's.
A: Frank Sinatra? Or Toshiro Mifune?

16. Your favourite Melvyn Douglas movie.
A: Probably The Old Dark House...

17. The box-office failure you most think should have been a success.
A: what counts? Vertigo? It's a Wonderful Life?

18. Your favourite performance by an actor or actress playing drunk.
A: Chishu Ryu, in Tokyo Story?

19. Your favourite last scene of any thirties movie.
A: Probably the end of the Awful Truth - though the end of Tabu is nearly perfect horror.

20. Your favourite American non-comedy silent movie.
A: Probably Sunrise? maybe Broken Blossoms, or even Birth of a Nation, for certain values of "favorite".

21. Your favourite Jean Harlow performance.
A: Bombshell

22. Your favourite remake. (Quizmaster's definition: second or later version of a work written as a movie, not a later adaptation of the same novel or play.)
A: Lord, I don't know - the best ones usually turn out to be adaptations, not always of specific works - Batman movies and Vampire stories and the like... so though I'd like to say Jimmy Stewart and Doris Day in The Man Who Knew Too Much - I don't think that quite measures up to the first one. But both versions of Floating Weeds measure up - it's Ozu.

23. Your favourite Orson Welles performance in a film he did not direct, not including The Third Man.
A: Yikes - The Ricotta?

24. Your favourite non-gangster or musical James Cagney film or performance.
A: See question #5.

25. Your favourite Lubitsch movie.
A: Trouble in Paradise

26. Who would win in a fight: Miriam Hopkins or Barbara Stanwyck? (Both in their prime; say in 1934 or so.)
A: Stanwyck - if only because I’d hit anyone who went after her with a chair.

27. Name the two stars you most regret never having co-starred with each other, and - if you want - choose your dream scenario for them. (Quizmaster's qualification: they have to be sufficiently contemporary to make it possible. So, yes to Cary Grant and Lon Chaney Jr as two conmen in a Howard Hawks screwball; no to Clara Bow and Kirsten Dunst as twin sisters on the run from prohibition agents in twenties Chicago, much though that may entice.)
A: Heavens - though in fact it's easy: Stanwyck and Jimmy Stewart in a Frank Capra joint.

28. Your favourite Lionel Barrymore performance.
A: It is Mr. Potter, I guess.

29. Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard or Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour? (See note on question 14.)
A: haven't seen much but the Lamour films...

30. You won't want to answer this, but: there's been a terrible fire raging in the film libraries of all the major studios. It's far too late to save everything. All you can do is save as much as you can. You've been assigned the thirties. All you'll have time to drag from the obliterating inferno is one 1930's film each from Paramount, MGM, RKO, Columbia, Universal and Warners. Do you stomp around in a film buff's huff saying 'it's too hard, I can't choose just one' and watch them all go up in smoke? Or do you roll your sleeves up and start saving movies?
But if the latter: which ones...?

Paramount - Duck Soup
MGM - Bombshell!!!
RKO - Top Hat
Columbia - Mr Smith Goes to Washington
Universal - Bride of Frankenstein
Warners - I can’t do it. I can’t. I’d break down and cry. I'd dig for gold, pray for blessed event, shuffle off to buffalo and look for a night nurse by the employees entrance... But I'd probably end up with The Adventures of Robin Hood.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Les Paul

Les Paul died Thursday, aged 94 - as a guitar music fan, I can say - he was one of the big ones. Not just a great musician, but central to the development of the instrument, the music industry, the art form.

Here he is playing some Duke Ellington:

And let's not forget the guitar he invented - figuring in the hands of many other great musicians. such as?

Old Neil?

Duane Allman?

Sonny Sharrock:

Peter Green (and Danny Kirwin gets his licks in in this clip):

This Jumping at Shadows has Green front and center, though there's no footage:

And, oh well - Jimmy Page - the business end of Dazed and Confused - skip the crap and play, Jim:

[Had to update - put the first Fleetwood Mac clip in twice, instead of the second one.]

Friday, August 07, 2009

Writing the City

(Cross-posted at Film of the Month Club.)

One of the things that struck me about Hands Over the City was the number of representations of the city that appear. So much of the film is structured around ways of describing the city. We see Nottola's model (above) - we see several maps - we see his office, with a map painting on one wall, huge photos of the city on other walls, as well as windows looking at the city, and the model itself. But the city is represented by more than just images - there are words and numbers about the city, reports, statistics. The archive room is as much a representation of the city as the maps are.

But none of these representations are adequate - they are often quite flawed. The episode discussing the common wall of the house that collapsed is a case in point: the officials explain that they had no way of knowing - the scale of the map would make a meter thick wall 1/2mm wide line - their pens have 1 mm nibs - they can't represent the real width with their tools. It's a common theme - the reports are all accurate, in their way - but all miss things. You see the various officials making excuses and avoiding responsibilities - but their information, their maps, records, etc., are all equally ambiguous. The representations of the city tend to hide it as much as reveal it. Da Vita gets at this, with his all too apt metaphor - everything was by the book, but the book needs to be rewritten...

While most of this misreading and ambiguity is unintentional, Nottola emerges as a character who can exert willing control over things. He is determined and focused, he knows what he wants. And he sees - and he promises a view of the bay to everyone.. He can imagine it, and represent it - hreates the big model - his office is lined with maps and pictures. He is a visionary - he imagines the city as it will become, he sees it when it is not there. He will build it - but before he builds it, he imagines it, he is, rather literally, a writer of the city:

Now it is true, he is as apt to see the profits he can get as the biuldings he can build - he still falls into that class of ambiguous villains, the 20th century developer. There was a nice piece in the New York Times about a new book about Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses, her campaign to stop him from bulldozing Greenwich Village for a superhighway, or driving an interstate through Washington Square Park. Nottola is in the same vein as Moses - more of a crook, maybe, but still, someone trying to realize a vision of a city - though a vision that usually forgets about the people living there. Or reduce them to lists of names...

Anyway - it's a good film about a pretty substantial part of 20th century social history - the reinvention of cities. A process still going on - there are echoes of this film in recent films about urban renewal - Pedro Costa's In Vanda's Room and Colossal Youth, or Jose Luis Guerin's Under Construction - complete with the tour of the new buildings - handsome, safe, boring, and priced out of reach of the people who are being displaced...

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Summer School for CinemaGeeks

Though summer is supposed to be vacation time, Mr. Dennis Cozzalio of Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule blog insists on assigning home work - blaming it on poor Alan Rickman.... Yes, it's PROFESSOR SEVERUS SNAPE’S SORCERER-TASTIC, MUGGALICIOUS MID-SUMMER MOVIE QUIZ - 38 questions to be answered.... I've certainly been loafing my summer away, but I think I have managed to answer this - so - here goes:

1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.
A: The Killing

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.
A: I think I have to say, the change in media. The shift from film to digital video; and the shift from film for exhibition to, again, digital forms of exhibition and distribution - from DVDs to digital projection to the internet. In fact - yes - this is what matters most, I think. I don’t know what it is going to do to the art form - but art follows technology, and I expect what emerges from the new systems of production and distribution will have its own value.

3) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?
A: Buffalo Bill - when in doubt, it’s always Altman.

4) Best Film of 1949.
A: Late Spring, easily.

5) Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?
A: Jaffe - that’s one of the great characters of the 30s.

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?
A: as much as anything, no more than anything else. It is, but you can say than about almost everything.

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?
A: I don’t know for sure. Some of the earliest ones I remember were Seven Samurai, the Seventh Seal - I think I saw them on TV somewhere, but I don’t remember when. I definitely saw Ivan the Terrible in 1986 or so, but I was used to subtitles by then, so I must have seen something. Seven Samurai and Seventh Seal were two of the earliest I deliberately sat down to watch, I know that.

8) Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)
A: Probably Lorre, though I haven’t seen much of either.

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).
A: I would say Kon Ichikawa’s Fires on the Plain.

10) Favorite animal movie star.
A: I thought this would be harder, but - a bunch of us were talking about the Thin Man at work - that’s the answer! Asta!

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.
A: Not sure what this means, exactly. I suppose I might as well take the opportunity to express, for the first time in a couple years, just how godawfully insultingly stupid Life is Beautiful is. It's all right, kiddies, just pretend it didn't happen and it will be like it never happened! hooray!

12) Best Film of 1969.
A: A Touch of Zen?

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.
A: Since it's taking me most of a month to answer... when I started - 7/17/2009 - the answer was: Tetro in the theater; Happy Feet on DVD... As of 7/25/09: In the Loop in theaters; Lang's Spiders on DVD. Today? 8/5/2009: Hands Over the City on DVD; The Lost World (1925 of course) in a theater; Up new in a theater (though that's almost second run, too...) [Just a coincidence, by the way, seeing Up and the Lost World so close together... a nice one of course. You can work Spiders in there as well - hot air balloons flying to South America?]

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?
A: CinemaScope? Or Bordwell and Thompson’s blog?

16) Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji? (Thanks, Peter!)
A: I can’t really say, I don’t know how many times I have seen one of them (especially Mao) without knowing it - but I remember Meiko Kaji, so I’ll say her.

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?
A: Lean toward Tomei . . . in fact - it’s almost always Tomei, who is gorgeous, and wonderful, in everything she does.

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
A: I’ll say some came running, maybe especially since I get to include a picture!

19) Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.
A: Zodiac? Che? Both are first rate. Zodiac, I suppose, gets the nod for being more specifically built around DV - the lighting possibilities and so on. Che is just gorgeous, but it would be just as gorgeous or more on 35. Zodiac would kind of have to be a different looking film.

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.
A: There are probably lots of these - I might as well say McCabe and Mrs. Miller - which is and subverts everything it is exquisitely.

21) Best Film of 1979.
A: Kieslowski’s Camera Buff

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.
A: Not sure. The art film division probably starts with Hou Hsiao Hsien and Wu Nien-jen - City of Sadness, A Time to Live a Time to Die, A Borrowed Life . . . though if I wanted to be perverse, I could say Satantango . . . American - Some Came Running is in there; so are Preston Sturges’ small town films - Miracle of Morgan Creek, Hail the Conquoring Hero. Or maybe it’s Local Hero . . . Or better - Whiskey Galore?

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).
A: A really good question . . . Bridgitte Lin?

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.
A: The Godfather Part I.

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.
A: DArkman comes to mind. Though actually - just about any of the Coen brothers’ films would count - Marge? The Dude? Ulysses Everett McGill? Hi and Ed McDunnough? You bet I’d pay to see more of any of them.

26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.
A: I can’t really answer this

27) Favorite moment in three-strip Technicolor.
A: Probably something from The Adventures of Robin Hood.

28) Favorite Alan Smithee film. (Thanks, Peter!)
A: I’m not sure how to find this - I don’t think I’ve seen any of the classics listed on IMDB . . .

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?
A: Buttermaker, of course.

30) Best post-Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.
A: Husbands and Wives is actually pretty good. The only one since then that counts as a genuinely good movie (of those I have seen.)

31) Best Film of 1999.
A: Charisma - Kurosawa’s . . . (where’s 89? City of Sadness, is that answer.)

32) Favorite movie tag line.
A: I can't answer this on demand. I will think of it sometime tomorrow, in the middle of a meeting or walking home...

33) Favorite B-movie western.
A: I'm not sure what counts as a B - but if it is, Seven Men from Now seems like an obvious choice. And 40 Guns, especially given the final question below...

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.
A: Well - why not Dashiell Hammett? The Thin Man films, Maltese Falcon, all the various versions of the Glass Key and Red Harvest - why not?

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?
A: I’ll have to say Susan Vance.

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.
A: I could probably come up with more, but it’s hard to beat Ricky Nelson and Dino in Rio Bravo.

37) Bruno (the character, if you haven’t seen the movie, or the film, if you have): subversive satire or purveyor of stereotyping?
A: satire - whether it works or not, I don’t know.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet. (Thanks, Rick!)
A: Nice question.... Well? 1) Barbara Stanwyck, for I am a groupie. 2) Sam Fuller, of course. 3) Boris Karloff, because not only was he in so many great films - he’s supposed to have been a really nice guy. 4) Speaking of Karloff - Val Lewton. 5) Jean Luc Godard - because - you gotta have Godard. And Jacques Rivette. They’re both alive, so I get the extra one, right?