Saturday, October 13, 2012

Professor Arthur Chipping's Back to School Quiz

Time for another of Dennis Cozzalio's quizzes - PROFESSOR ARTHUR CHIPPING’S MADDENINGLY DETAILED, PURPOSEFULLY VAGUE, FITFULLY OUT-OF-FOCUS BACK TO SCHOOL MOVIE QUIZ this time. I am, as usual, dreadfully late in this assignment - I offer as my only excuse that I am back to school in the atom world, and have been eye deep in William Butler Yeats this past week... so there is that. Still - sooner or later we'll get there!

1) What is the biggest issue for you in the digital vs. film debate?

A: I am not sure, though I think it is probably the question of which films will make the jump. And - the oft-overlooked question of whether digital films will be worth anything in X years. I am haunted by the erosion of digital storage - I have spent quite a bit of time this year digging through photos, for instance - and it makes you wonder. I have 2 video cameras, both mini-DV cameras - both of them still work fine as cameras, but the motors have died on the tape drives. And so - I have a box full of mini-DV tapes full of video that is as inaccessible to me as if they had been thrown in the trash. Meanwhile, a couple weeks ago my brother found a tintype in an old desk our grandmother used to have. Also, a sheet of paper covered in drawings she made in 1936. Digital is very useful, no question - once you get these things on a computer, and as long as you can keep files and software in synch (the latest version of Word has trouble opening files from - pre-2000? more or less...), all is well - but - unless you keep updating everything you have to the latest formats, it fades, in ways that a piece of paper in an envelope stuffed into a desk drawer will not fade, in 100, 120, 130 years. (We have one at home dated 1887, I believe...) And - film is obviously a more volatile format that paper, but it is still an object and it is there, even when the tools to make it work are not. (I refer you to the recently discovered color film from 1902 - an object that no one could use until someone created a projector to play it. I suppose, as long as you have means to reverse engineer the machines and software to run digital files, not much will be lost... but do I trust that?)

2) Without more than one minute’s consideration, name three great faces from the movies

A: Deitrich - Keaton - Karloff

3) The movie you think could be interesting if remade as a movie musical

A: How about Playtime?

4) The last movie you saw theatrically/on DVD, Blu-ray, streaming

A: Theater - Keep the Lights On...; DVD - Good Morning; Streaming - I haven't streamed a film in a while - other than shorts, for the Wonders in the Dark polls...

5) Favorite movie about work

A: This is a good question - there should be more movies about work. Some candidates? Fallen Angels - Blue Collar - Office Space... Fallen Angels is probably the winner, though - those Takashi Kinoshiro parts do something right.

6) The movie you loved as a child that did not hold up when seen through adult eyes

A: truth is, I didn't see enough films as a child to make any judgements like this. The ones I liked, I still like, even if they do seem less than they used to - Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, something like that. Still holds up fine.

7) Favorite “road” movie

A: Pierrot le Fou, probably. Obviously there are an awful lot of these, all with their own special appeal - O Brother Where Art Thou? Week End? It Happened One Night? etc. But Pierrot is probably the best of the bunch.

8) Does Clint Eastwood’s appearance at the Republican National Convention change or confirm your perspective on him as a filmmaker/movie icon? Is that appearance relevant to his legacy as a filmmaker?

A: It doesn't seem to have much to do with him as a filmmaker. It's almost like a different person - he's always been at least three people - celebrity, filmmaker, actor - the actor and celebrity sometimes seem to blur, just like the filmmaker and actor sometimes seem to blur - but the filmmaker and celebrity have almost nothing to do with one another - and that appearance was completely as a celebrity.

9) Longest-lasting movie or movie-related obsession

A: I don't know; they don't tend to go away...

10) Favorite artifact of movie exploitation

A: My junk obsessions don't run toward movies, really - they run to toys and books and such I liked when I was a kid. I suppose that's normal, and not being a movie watcher as a kid will do that. I do have a nice Marlene Dietrich picture, advertising a retrospective from 20+ years ago...

11) Have you ever fallen asleep in a movie theater? If so, when and why?

A: I don't believe so; it has been a close thing a few times, though I would have to think long and hard to remember those times.

12) Favorite performance by an athlete in a movie

A: It's kind of a tough question - given the week's events, I should say Alex Karras in Blazing Saddles - which is a good answer anyway. Though I have a soft spot for Terry Crews in Idiocracy (and his cool cameo in Inland Empire...)

13) Second favorite Rainer Werner Fassbinder movie

A: I think it is probably The Marriage of Maria Braun, these days...

14) Favorite film of 1931

A: Favorite film period: M. Quite possibly the best year in cinematic history

15) Second favorite Raoul Walsh movie

A: Thief of Baghdad?

16) Favorite film of 1951

A: Early Summer

17) Second favorite Wong Kar-wai movie

A: Happy Together? these days, I think that would be the answer...

18) Favorite film of 1971

A: McCabe and Mrs. Miller - so far my favorites from all three of these years are in my all time top 5.

19) Second favorite Henri-Georges Clouzot movie

A: Mysteries of Picasso

20) Favorite film of 1991

A: A Brighter Summer Day

21) Second favorite John Sturges movie

A: The Magnificent Seven

22) Favorite celebrity biopic

A: Does Che count? Carlos? I'm also incline to say Superstar...

23) Name a good script idea which was let down either by the director or circumstances of production

A: This sort of thing happens all the time - good scripts that just don't do anything... I don't know if that's what you have in mind though - I'm thinking films like Five Year Engagement - clever, well written, well acted, but with nothing to look at. You could close your eyes and get as much out of it...

24) Heaven’s Gate-- yes or no?

A: Haven't seen it; reserve judgment

25) Favorite pairing of movie sex symbols

A: Happy Together? might be, you know...

26) One word that you could say which would instantly evoke images and memories of your favorite movie. (Naming the movie is optional—might be more fun to see if we can guess what it is from the word itself)

A: Well, two - Ich Musst!

27) Name one moment which to you demarcates a significant change, for better or worse, on the landscape of the movies over the last 20 years.

A: Closing of the Harvard Square cinema last summer? it's emblematic of the past 20 years, I know that - this one might be more disturbing, because the theatrical landscape had stabilized - lots of places closed in the 90s, but things had stayed the same for the last 10 years or so. This closing is very ominous... the loss of all those theaters - mostly small, a lot of them either specialist theaters or art cinemas - changes things profoundly. It's hard to see what you want on film - though DVDs have done a pretty good job of supplying the films, you lose all the benefits of theatrical shows, and, obviously, of Film.

28) Favorite pre-Code talkie

A: Duck Soup or Trouble in Paradise

29) Oldest film in your personal collection (Thanks, Peter Nellhaus)

A: Oldest meaning, first one made? That's Fantomas. Oldest meaning, had the longest? VHS of Blue Velvet, I think....

30) Longest film in your personal collection. (Thanks, Brian Darr)

A: That also might be Fantomas, if it counts as one movie. Histoires du Cinema, if it doesn't (and the Godard counts as one movie.) World on A Wire is up there too...

31) Have your movie collection habits changed in the past 10 years? If so, how?

A: I buy a lot more now than I did 10 years ago. The answer to 27 above is probably related.

32) Wackiest, most unlikely “directed by” credit you can name

A: There are probably better answers, but the latter half of David Gordon Green's career would have been very hard to predict (even imagine) from the first half...

33) Best documentary you’ve seen in 2012 (made in 2012 or any other year)

A: I am faced with the shocking fact that I have seen exactly one documentary in a movie theater all year, and I saw it just last weekend - How to Survive a Plague.

34) What’s your favorite “(this star) was almost cast in (this movie)” anecdote?

A: Cary Grant in Bicycle Thieves?

35) Program three nights of double bills at a revival theater that might best illuminate your love of the movies

A: It's a Wonderful Life/Early Summer
Celine and Julie Go Boating/Inland Empire (gonna be a long night, that one)

36) You have been granted permission to invite any three people, alive or dead, to your house to watch the Oscars. Who are they?

A: James Joyce, Frank Capra and Jean-Luc Godard?

37) Favorite Mr. Chips. (Careful...)

A: Um -

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