Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Back To School Film Quiz, Fall 2010

It is September, and that means, it is time for School! I am, as usual, taking a class, for the sheer enjoyment of it, at the local night school - this time, as it happens, a class on The Vampire in Literature and Film. I may come to regret that - I am more or less unique among film bloggers [if you can consider this woefully neglected blog worthy of the term] in absolutely dreading the month of October. Halloween, among film bloggers, is like Christmas for the local Walmart - something you can start pimping about the middle of July and... I swear - I dread opening google reader this time of year - nothing but horror film posts... I am sick of horror films, and sick of reading about them, and it is barely September. And of course I am taking a class on horror films. Figures...

But that aside - here in blogland it is also time for School, and that means, time for another of Dennis Cozzalio's quizzes - this one, PROFESSOR DAVID HUXLEY’S LABORIOUS, LICENTIOUS SPOTTED-LEOPARD LABOR DAY FILM QUIZ... I hope I finish this before the end of October. Old habits die hard, and I am inclined not to read any of the other answers to these quizzes before I fill out (though not necessarily submit) my own - so if I want to read them (and I do, especially as it's a way of avoiding the horror film posts), I had better get cracking, eh?

[I've updated this a bit the day after - thinking about the Robert Mitchum question...]

1) Classic film you most want to experience that has so far eluded you.

A: I think the answer to this has to stay the same - 2 of them, Japanese of course - Humanity and Paper Balloons, and Mizoguchi's Story of the Crucified Lovers.

2) Greatest Criterion DVD/Blu-ray release ever

A: I am not sure - but I am tempted to keep it simple - say the two best films they have ever put out - M and Rules of the Game... It's not unreasonable - they are, after all, the two best films of all time, and Criterion issued two very fine packages.... I might pick another tack, though - the Criterion releases I am most grateful for would be the Pedro Costa set, or the recent 60s Oshima set - or, probably most of all - the Pigs, Pimps and Prostitutes Imamura set. Lang and Renoir would be released anyway, by someone, probably in a first rate package - providing a set of prime Imamura is what Criterion exists for.

3) The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon?

A: this is not a choice I’m inclined to make, though when it comes down to it, The Maltese Falcon wins, maybe just for being first.

4) Jason Bateman or Paul Rudd

A: Paul Rudd, I think

5) Best mother/child (male or female) combo

A: Like a couple other people here, I was thrown by the ambiguity of the question - on screen mother and child? or real life mother and child? If the former - I'll say Angela Lansbury and Lawrence Harvey in The Manchurian Candidate. If real world - Ingrid and Isabella...

6) Who are the Robert Mitchums and Ida Lupinos among working movie actors? Do modern parallels to such masculine and no-nonsense feminine stars exist? If not, why not?

A: I don't know. I'm not coming up with anything, anyway...

UPDATE: You know - I am going to update this. I'm not confident of the answer - but what about Benecio del Toro? it strikes me he wouldn't be out of place in a lot of Robert Mitchum films... for Ida Lupino - I can't say; it's been too long since I've seen anything with her to have a clear impression...

7) Favorite Preston Sturges movie

A: "the fish was a poem"... I'd have to say, The Lady Eve.

8) Odette Yustman vs. Mary Elizabeth Winstead

A: Who are these people? Why am I expected to care?

9) Is there a movie that if you found out a partner or love interest loved would qualify as a Relationship Deal Breaker?

A: Very unlikely. There are probably ways of liking or disliking a film that would earn my scorn, but hard to say any film would... [I have to add here - coming from a screening of Nosferatu for a class - in which more than one person giggled away like they were watching Chaplin - that would probably do it. I am inclined to be smug and note that they weren't laughing so much at the end, and what there was had a decidedly defensive tone.]

10) Favorite DVD commentary.

A: It's probably a Werner Herzog commentary - he is always a treat to listen to. Though - there's that Jimmy Stewart interview on Winchester 73, which may not be overwhelming - but it's Jimmy Stewart!... And - there's the Anchorman commentary, which was almost more fun (or something) than the film... But maybe I should say something different - I'm not sure this is anything really special, but I'm thinking about Tarsem's commentary on The Fall. I finally watched it (I've had it out of netflix since last fall, horribly enough) - I liked the film enough, but when I listened to the commentary, I think he convinced me the film was as good as it was beautiful - much smarter and more canny than I had thought. That's an effect I like when it happens - I remember the same thing happening when I listened to Almodovar's commentary track on Talk to Her - he turned a film I thought was a solid work into something close to the masterpiece. Both tracks took films I liked and pushed them toward films I loved...

11) Movies most recently seen on DVD, Blu-ray and theatrically

A: Well, I guess the answer right now is The Fall on DVD and The Tillman Story in the theater.

12) Dirk Bogarde or Alan Bates

A: Dirk Bogarde, of course - he is magnificent

13) Favorite DVD extra.

A: I could think about this for days, so I will cut to one I watched recently - Sterevich's The Mascot, on the old Vampyr DVD, is hard to beat...

14) Brian De Palma’s Scarface— yes or no?

A: Not really. Hawks', absolutely.

15) Best comic moment from a horror film that is not a horror comedy (Young Frankenstein, Love At First Bite, et al.)

A: This question (and its opposite) are going to drive me crazy. I imagine every time I see a joke in a horror film, I will remember this quiz. GOd. Well - I am resolved to post tonight - so I am going to contradict my earlier remark about laughing during Nosferatu and say, Orlok's comment to Hutter - "Your wife has a beautiful neck." Which after all is pretty amusing...

16) Jane Birkin or Edwige Fenech

A: Jane Birkin - I mean, my god, she was married to Serge Gainsbourg! she's in a bunch of Rivette films! she and Charlotte were definite contenders for question #5 above!

17) Favorite Wong Kar-wai movie

A: Fallen Angels

18) Best horrific moment from a comedy that is not a horror comedy?

A: I don't know if this is precisely what you have in mind by "horrific", but - Donnie's death in The Big Lebowski...

19) From 2010, a specific example of what movies are doing right…

A: Movies are doing anything right? Not that I can see... Maybe that's too nasty - but - okay: 2 things. First - Lucas McNelly's Kickstarter campaign, for Up Country. Or, I suppose, the whole idea of programs like kickstarter - microbudget movie making, crowd funding - it's more interesting than anything else going on.... And second - that great big new Metropolis - if all the movie world does right is preserve its past, I guess that would be a good thing too. You could put the Film Preservation Blogathon in this category as well. Between them - preserving the past, and finding new ways to go forward - that's about all I feel very enthused about right now.

20) Ryan Reynolds vs. Chris Evans

A: Again, I have a hard time pretending to care.

21) Speculate about the future of online film writing. What’s next?

A: A superb question. I don’t know. I suppose there will be online film writing (and reading, one hopes) - but I don't really know where it will be, what it will look like - I think twitter and facebook and the like have taken a big chunk out of film writing - siphoning off a lot of people and material that might have been written up at more length 3-4 years ago - or not. My RSS reader is always full - it's not as if there isn't a lot of writing being done about films. I wonder if it will be more and more necessary, though, in the future, to use visual aids in writing - clips and pictures and the like, becoming requirements for being read? On film - it's not unreasonable.... This isn't much of an answer - I suppose the problem is that I'm answering a question about reading online film writing, more than about writing. People will write - but how will they be read? Probably clicking through from twitter or facebook or something to something - blogs or notes or something - supporting longer pieces and multimedia. That's the best I can come up with.

22) Roger Livesey or David Farrar

A: This is one of those questions that exposes a vast gulf in my film watching history.

23) Best father/child (male or female) combo

A: Again - fictional father daughter? This is obvious: Chishu Ryu and Setsuko Hara in Late Spring. Real life? A lot of possibilities - the Mastroiannis for example. (Chiara probably should be the answer to he mother/daughter as well.) But I think I have to answer the Hustons - pick whichever set you want.

24) Favorite Freddie Francis movie (as a director)

A: Wait - did you edit this question after posting the quiz? I'd answered The Elephant Man, but now I find this "as a director"... I don't think I can answer that.

25) Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth?

A: Again, almost too close to call, but if forced, I would probably take The Awful Truth - it gets everything just about right.

26) Tina Fey vs. Kristen Wiig

A: Fey, I think

27) Name a stylistically important director and the best film that would have never been made without his/her influence.

A: Another good question - I think I will say Fritz Lang - and say every serial killer film, 3/4 of the crime dramas, and all the police procedurals, 90% of the science fiction, all the Orson Welles you can't pin on John Ford, but most of all, High and Low.

28) Movie you’d most enjoy seeing remade and transplanted to a different culture (i.e. Yimou Zhang’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.

A: This should be easier than it is - I've certainly thought about films that would work better somewhere else before... A lot of the best examples I can come up with have already been done - "someone ought to make a version of Red Harvest in Japan!" or " A western version of Yojimbo!" or The Good, The Bad and the Ugly in Manchuria, that sort of thing... So anyway - here's one that occurred to me a couple years ago - how about Children of Paradise, set in the Wild West? I think you could do something with that.

29) Link to a picture/frame grab of a movie image that for you best illustrates bliss. Elaborate.

A: Bliss - interesting. Well - one has choices - I'm tempted to say this one -

- For the green stripe that passes all the way across the screen? And seeing Kinuyo Tanaka happy, for once...

But I really have to post this:

...which should need no elaboration. Who wouldn't want to be in that picture?

30) With a tip of that hat to Glenn Kenny, think of a just-slightly-inadequate alternate movie for a famous movie. (Examples from GK: Fan Fiction; Boudu Relieved From Cramping; The Mild Imprecation of the Cat People)

A: Well - though it is a fine picture, I think "It's a Surprisingly Influential Life" might have been remembered longer with a pithier title...

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