Saturday, December 05, 2009

Winter Quiz

Whew! Finished! Dennis Cozzalio's Thanksgiving/Christmas quiz - a pleasure to fill in, but by god it's almost as much work as real classes! Anyway - here it is...

1) Second-favorite Coen Brothers movie.
A: Fargo (#1 - O Brother Where Art Thou)

2) Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible? (Question submitted by Peter Nellhaus)
A: I think I will say Tokyo Drifter - wide screen colors, the compositions and action - I think this is it.

3) Japan or France? (Question submitted by Bob Westal)
A: Japan. (France, of course, is the clear #2, or 3 if you will.)

4) Favorite moment/line from a western.
A: There are so many - always tempting to use Altman, but I think I'll say instead, the final Indian charge in Fort Apache - the devastating finality of it always gets me... as for lines - "When you have to shoot, shoot, don't talk" is hard to beat...

5) Of all the arts the movies draw upon to become what they are, which is the most important, or the one you value most?
A: I think films are too eclectic to say one is more important; I can say that novels are the most satisfying art form, and their satisfactions are the closest to those of films. Eclecticism again is important.

6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?).
A: I'm tempted to say, Donnie Darko, primarily by the maker - the best thing about the film is its ambiguity, its ability to tread the line between scifi and It's All In His Head - when Kelly makes things clear, the film diminishes... But instead I think I will say Juno - it seems to me that no one notices that the main character in the film is the Jason Bateman character - he has a story arc, he makes decisions, he changes - he is the only person who, in the end, behaves responsibly, intelligently, and honestly. Juno the character is a conceit and the baby a MacGuffin; the wife is a nightmare... he is demonized by the film, but that's wrong - he is the protagonist, and he behaves properly. I don't know if anyone involved in the film realized this, though.

7) Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem.
A: At one time, the answer was definitely Stanley Kubrick - he was one of the first directors I worshipped, but then I discovered other styles - through Altman, Hawks, classics in general, Cassavetes and Capra - and wrote Kubrick off, quite a bit. I don’t know if I can keep that up now though; I always end up enjoying his films when I see them. But I guess it’s still a good answer.

8) Herbert Lom or Patrick Magee?
A: Lom, I'd have to say.

9) Which is your least favorite David Lynch film (Submitted by Tony Dayoub)
A: Dune; I suppose I could say, Fire Walk With Me is my least favorite real Lynch film, though Dune is more Lynch than I would have thought.

10) Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
A: I would probably have to say Willis; maybe because I saw the Godfather movies within the last year. Though I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in the last year too, so...

11) Second favorite Don Siegel movie.
A. Siegel's work is a substantial gap in what I've seen. The answer has to be Dirty Harry, because I have seen it, somewhere long ago. #1 of course is Charley Verrick, which ain't gonna change...

12) Last movie you saw on DVD/Blu-ray? In theaters?
A: As of today, the answers are: Cabin in the Sky on DVD & Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans in theaters. For what it's worth, the last movie I saw Online is more interesting than either - Romance in a Minor Key - a magnificent 1943 German melodrama that seems completely out of its time and place.

13) Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-ray? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
A: A Touch of Zen would probably be the winner... or Blue Velvet.

14) Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse?
A: I'll say Eddie Deezen, at least for now - and because just looking at a picture of him brings back a flood of memories...

15) Actor/actress who you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything.
A: There are quite a few, favorite actors, actors with unerring instincts for good films, whatever... But having just taken a class on Nazi cinema, I am going to name the most memorable performer of the era - Ferdinand Marian. As far as he is remembered, it is probably for playing the title character in Jud Suss - which itself is a strange film - utterly vicious, except Marian steals the picture completely, making the character seem human... he was in a number of other films as well - Munchhausen, Romance in a Minor Key, La Habenera, and steals them all - he's like a German Basil Rathbone, usually playing sleek villains, but always making them way more interesting than the heroes. (Though that's one of the odder features of Nazi era films - the heroes are a decidedly bland crew. No one can give Marian a run for his money - in the American films of the time, those great Warner Brothers adventure films with Rathbone vs. Errol Flynn or Tyrone Powers, both sides get their due - Flynn and Powers hold their own against the bad guys. The Nazis only seem to be able to make interesting villains.) Anyway - he's really astonishing - and seems to be coming back to attention. There's a film about him supposed to be coming out next year - and closer to hand - I think you can make a pretty good case that Tarantino and Christoph Waltz modeled Hans Landa on Marian's Joseph Seuss Oppenheimer.

16) Fight Club -- yes or no?
A: No way - dumb and fake.

17) Teresa Wright or Olivia De Havilland?
A: De Havilland, I think

18) Favorite moment/line from a film noir.
A: This is tough to come up with one, so I will go a bit off the main track - it's a cut, at the end of The Asphalt Jungle - we see the police commissioner giving a speech about the crooks, saying Sterling Hayden's character is a hardened killer - Huston cuts to Hayden, dying, driving through Kentucky, wishing he had his life back... cue music, cue daylight...

19) Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a human or any other unsuccessful special effect(s)—see the wonderful blog Destructible Man for inspiration.
A: When in doubt, I think I will look for the most recent notable instance - in this case - Big Man Japan - the whole last 15-20 minutes is a surreal, Power rangers style fight, with plenty of dummy abuse along the way - it's - quite amazing, really...

20) What's the least you've spent on a film and still regretted it? (Submitted by Lucas McNelly)
A: I will say Failure to Launch, though in a sense I did spend 20 bucks on it, since it played on a bus ride, but I guess that makes it just an incidental expense. Just glancing at it, it was utterly fucking atrocious - the worst looking film I can remember seeing. The editing was so bad it hurts - shot/counter shot sequences don't match, don't come close to matching, there are way too many cuts, in the course of every freaking conversation, fast, random... Come to think of it I think I had to see it twice, both directions on the bus, and it offended me...

21) Van Johnson or Van Heflin?
A: Heflin, I think

22) Favorite Alan Rudolph film.
A: The Moderns.

23) Name a documentary that you believe more people should see.
A: I suppose there are a ton of these, but - let's say Clouzot's Mystery of Picasso.

24) In deference to this quiz’s professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone becoming stranded.
A: There must be a lot of good examples - since I've just seen the newest Herzog, though, I'm reminded of Wings of Hope - a documentary he made about a woman named Juliene Koepke, who survived a plane crash in the Amazon in 1971 - about the time he was shooting Aguirre there... she was stranded, but walked her way out of the jungle - Herzog takes her back and they retrace her steps... Aguirre, of course, is about being stranded in the jungle - most Herzog is about being stranded somewhere, a stranger in a strange land...

25) Is there a moment when your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation? If so, please share.
A: I can't answer this; nothing's coming to mind... not that it hasn't happened, but it's not coming to mind...

26) Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? (Submitted by Larry Aydlette)
A: Not that familiar with them, but Sheridan has had a couple moments I remember...

27) Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who?
A: Robin Williams?

28) Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why?
A: I avoided The Dark Knight for some reason - I'm not sure why; maybe I'm tired of "serious" superhero films.

29) Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambience.
A: Literally or figuratively? Oshima's Boy?

30) Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones?
A: Jones

31) The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever).
A: Another one I am having trouble answering, though I think there must be a lot of good answers... they'll come to me... so I'll go with an example from this year - Adventureland does a nice job of stopping the "nice guy abandons slutty girl because he's uptight" plot line cold in its tracks. As well as a variety of stereotypes about Nice Guys and slutty girls...

32) Second favorite John Wayne movie.
A: Fort Apache (after the Searchers)

33) Favorite movie car chase.
A: This meme went around a couple years ago... Nobody does chases better than Harold Lloyd - Girl Shy has the chase for the ages, including cars... though for just cars - I am very fond of the original Gone in 60 Seconds, partly because it's put together like a silent film - a series of obstacles, situations, settings, each set up and paid off for the cars, with pieces circling back around to each other, and the added fun of the radio reporter's interviews on the street ("he hit a boat?")...

34) In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic or not-so-classic film. (Submitted by Patrick Robbins)
A: How about Psycho? I thought at the time, that's what Gus Van Sant should have done...

35) Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon?
A: What? 99!!! not to mention Smile...

36) Favorite Andre De Toth movie.
A: This has to be Crime Wave, in the end

37) If you could take one filmmaker's entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
A: Another tough one - at least since it ought to be someone I've seen enough of to build up an antipathy. Chris Columbus comes to mind, though, wait a second, that included Gremlins, doesn't it? As a director, call it...

38) Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it.
A: Variations on this get asked all the time; they should be easier to answer... I have, though, just thought the classic example - well, "love" is a strong word... but... I hesitated to type these words... but... Batman and Robin - the first time I saw it, I was primarily offended by the thought of stealing a Marlene Dietrich routine for a crappy Batman outing. Worse yet, wasting Uma Thurman playing Marlene Ditrich... But then I saw it again and was quite smitten - mostly by Uma, who camps it up for all it's worth, like she's in the TV show - but the rest of it has a strange, rather enjoyable B movie energy, never remotely takes a minute of this nonsense seriously - I suppose it's more Rose Hobart in East of Borneo than Dietrich in - anything - but that's better than the "serious" versions of Batman people keep foisting on us....

39) Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)
A: Max

40) In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors? And which member would you most resemble, either physically or in personality?
A: I can't say this one moves me all that much.

41) Your favorite movie cliché.
A:This is the last question to answer - I'm going with one from the last movie I saw - Bad Lieutenant in New Orleans - the way cops always get a conviction from that One Magic Piece of Evidence - planted, found, whatever. Herzog and company mock the living shit out of it - the way the whole story winds itself up in one scene there, almost at the end - it's almost as funny as the Iguanas.

42) Vincente Minnelli or Stanley Donen? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
A: Very easy - Minelli, who has leapt into the forefront of my favorite directors, and gets more interesting with every film I see of his.

43) Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence.
A: I imagine something from Gremlins, though it's been too long since I've seen it to say what...

44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie.
A: The sister walks into the water in Sansho the Bailiff

45) If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? (Submitted by Bob Westal)
A: I should have a better answer for this - I'm going to say, all the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fans - that has always annoyed me to no end. If you're going to watch Chinese martial arts films, watch the real ones. Get Touch of Zen or Come Drink with Me or Once Upon a Time in China or something, leave the imitations alone. Or at least watch the Zhang Yimou's imitations - which are a lot closer to the real thing, thanks to Ching Siu tung...

46) Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson?
A: No idea.

47) Favorite eye-patch wearing director. (Submitted by Patty Cozzalio)
A: Were there any that didn’t? Fritz Lang?

48) Favorite ambiguous movie ending. (Original somewhat ambiguous submission---“Something about ambiguous movie endings!”-- by Jim Emerson, who may have some inspiration of his own to offer you.)
A: Another one I could probably come up with a better answer for, but in the interests of hitting Post, will take a recent example - Andrew Bujalski's endings are generally neatly unresolved, but somehow precise - Beeswax is no exception.

49) In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for?
A: The release of 35 Rhums, the James Whale, Alexander MacKendrick & Kiju Yoshida retrospectives at the Harvard Film Archive, as well as appearances by James Bening and Lisandro Alonso, and Criterion's Imamura box set.

50) George Kennedy or Alan North? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)
A: Kennedy.

The end! Happy Holidays!

No comments: