This is terrible - it was been almost a month since Dennis Cozzalio posted his (almost) latest quiz, Mr. Dadier’s Juvie-Ready, Tough-As-Nails Blackboard-Bustin’ Back to School Movie Quiz - and I am only now getting around to posting answers? I don't know what it taking me so long - it is shameful, and inexcusable - but I am, by god, going to take the shame, and post it anyway. I missed the last one, back in April - never posting any response. What is wrong with me? [Well - in April/May I was writing a paper about Ivan the Terrible for an actual class - that's almost excusable...] (And I missed the one before that too - the music one. What is wrong with me?) In any case - late as it is - I have to stop these bad habits, so here this one is. And with a bit of luck - I'll be bacl before the month ends to essay his Halloween quiz!
1) Favorite moment from a Coen Brothers movie
A: Donnie’s funeral in the Big Lebowski always floors me... But on a brighter vein - the recording session in O Brother Where Art Thou has it all - the singing, “damn, Tommy, I think you really did sell your soul to the devil!” - Clooney scamming an extra $10 ("Mert and Aloisius will have to sign X's, as only four of us can write") - it’s got it all.
2) Scratching The Ladykillers, Intolerable Cruelty and The Hudsucker Proxy from consideration, what would now rate as your least-favorite Coen Brothers movie?
A: The Man Who Wasn’t There, I think. Burn After Reading gets the edge - I like their madcap side. Hudsucker Proxy is not remotely in contention for their bottom three, though; it is a very lovely film. (Though also a collaboration - didn’t catch that point at first)
3) Name the most underrated blockbuster of all time
A: Do failed wannabe Blockbuster's count? Ishtar? Maybe for something really horrifying - Batman and Robin? I don't know why - it has a weird B movie energy, the actors seem to get the point (Uma Thurman especially). If it were 70 minutes long it might be a fun guilty pleasure...
4) Ida Lupino or Sylvia Sidney?
A: I'll say Ida Lupino.
5) Edwards Scissorhands—yes or no?
6) The movie you think most bastardizes, misinterprets or does a disservice to the history or historical event it tires to represent
A: Life is Beautiful - totally disgraceful.
7) Favorite Aardman animation
A: The creature comforts shorts are wonderful in themselves - but I think I must vote for The Wrong Trousers, in the end.
8) Second-favorite Olivier Assayas movie
9) Neville Brand or Mike Mazurki?
A: I may be stumped here...
10) Name the movie you would cite to a nonbeliever as the best evidence toward convincing them of the potential greatness of a favorite genre
A: Drunken Master II - kung fu; Jackie Chan.
11) Name any director and one aspect of his/her style or career, for good or bad, that sets her/him apart from any other director
A: Ozu's editing - crossing the line (ignoring the line), the graphic matches, the jokes, the disorienting directions, the pillow shots - no one else looks like him, no matter how they try.
12) Best car chase
A: Gone in 60 Seconds (the original)
13) Favorite moment directed by Robert Aldrich
A: All those feet in Kiss Me Deadly.
14) The last movie you saw in a theater? On home video?
A: Kind of depressing - looks like it's going to be Rock The Kasbah in theaters; Things to Come, at home.
15) Jane Greer or Joan Bennett?
A: Joan Bennett
16) Second-favorite Paul Verhoeven movie
A: Black Book
17) Your nominee for best/most important political or social documentary you’ve seen
A: The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On
18) Favorite movie twins
A: Paul Dano and Paul Dano in There Will be Blood, maybe?
19) Best movie or movie moment about or involving radio
A: When the truth is found to be lies and all the joy within you dies - more Coens - Danny gets his radio back in A Serious Man.
For a whole movie about radio - I am strangely fond of Tune in Tomorrow. No patch on the book, but a very likable thing. Peter Falk, you know.
20) Eugene Pallette or William Demarest?
A: A cruel choice to make - but - how can I choose? Pallette? that voice...
21) Favorite moment directed by Ken Russell
A: Um - he annoys me too much - though truthfully, the moments are what make his films. They're always amusing to look at in clips. Say -
I don't know if I can take the whole movie, but - most of them are full of scenes like this, really gripping in short bursts.
22) All-time best movie cat
23) Your nominee for best movie about teaching and learning, followed by the worst
A. Best = Kind of a wild card, but what about Henry Fool? Education of a poet, and all that...
Worst = how about Fight Club? take away the cheesy insanity, and it is a film about a mentor and pupil - and a pretty dumb film about it at that. Though it's worse with the cheesy insanity. Blech.
24) Name an actor/actress currently associated primarily with TV who you'd like to see on the big screen
A: I'd like to find out what Nikolai Coster Waldau would do in a movie; or Rory McCann. Or Sophie Turner. Being about the only TV show from the last 10 years I've actually watched...
25) Stanley Baker or David Farrar
A: Stanley Baker, for Accident if nothing else.
26) Critic Manny Farber once said of Frank Capra that he was "an old-time movie craftsman, the master of every trick in the bag, and in many ways he is more at home with the medium than any other Hollywood director, but all the details give the impression of a contrived effect."
What is the Capra movie that best proves or disproves Farber's assertion?
And who else in Hollywood history might just as easily fit his description?
A: I suppose quite a few Capra films fit this - especially in the late 30s - Mr. Deeds and Lost Horizon and You Can't Take it With You, Meet John Doe. All of them pull out the stops on the style, but also the preaching - they wear on you. I have to agree with the good side of Farber's comment - I think Capra really was the great American master director - and specifically in synthetic style: he understood everything about filmmaking, he used everything at his disposal. Photography, sound, acting, stories, music, editing - everything, and used everything the parts offered - so deep focus, tight shots, moving cameras, sequence shots, fast cutting, set design, lighting design - everything. There are other directors who did this - Lang, Hitchcock, Kurosawa - but I don't think even they were as good at everything, or as able to exploit everything the way he did. And most comparably great directors - Ozu and Mizoguchi, Murnau, Eisenstein, Dreyer, Hawks, Renoir, etc. - tended to work in a somewhat narrower style. He used everything - to good effect, but sometimes - yes - it's all a bit too clean, too smug about its skill and its messages.... it becomes heavy (which is fatal, almost, to later comedies, like You Can't Take it With You or Arsenic and Old Lace).
But then again - when it works: It's a Wonderful Life, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, Platinum Blonde, American Madness - by does it work. Calling those films contrived is completely beside the point - "contrived" starts to mean something like the same thing as "fiction" - a story, told a certain way, to convey ideas and emotions - everything is contrived. They have emotional depth, they have ideas, they have a complex way of looking at the world, and all of it is conveyed through Capra's mastery of the medium. So - when he doesn't quite get it, Farber has a point. When Capra does get it - the films are just masterpieces.