Sunday, August 31, 2008

Lumet, Lazarescu, Ringwald


Another season, another movie quiz at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. This one comes courtesy of interstellar explorer and fop Dr. Zachary Smith. Read on, and take the quiz over at SLIFR if you dare, you bubbleheaded booby.

1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie

Awesome Mix Tape #6 serving as a perfect Greek chorus to a drug deal gone terribly wrong at the end of Boogie Nights.

2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews

The Man with X-Ray Eyes.

3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie

Dog Day Afternoon, easily. Lumet's always great at directing actors, but the heavyhandedness that occasionally creeps into otherwise great movies like 12 Angry Men and Network is totally absent in Dog Day Afternoon. It's a pitch-perfect character study, one of the most entertaining movies ever made, with an ending that breaks my heart.

4) Biggest surprise of the just-past summer movie season

I can't honestly say there were any surprises. While I enjoyed all of the big movies I'd been highly anticipating to varying degrees, this summer really lacked an out-of-nowhere sleeper for me to get excited about. And, as an art house projectionist, I can't remember a summer in at least five years with such a dearth of interesting indie counterprogramming. I did love Encounters at the End of the World, but that's Herzog, so hardly a surprise.

5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth

Rita Hayworth

6) What’s the last movie you saw on DVD? In theaters?

On DVD, Amelie - I've been testing out different movies with my one-year-old daughter (she loved the Amelie-as-little-girl opening, but lost interest with Audrey Tautou). In theaters, Encounters at the End of the World (still thinking about that poor, crazy penguin).

7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?

Gene Hackman cursing God as he does a parallel bars routine in the upturned bowels of the Poseidon.

8) What were the films where you would rather see the movie promised by the poster than the one that was actually made?

The teaser poster for Jaws 2, with the sun setting over a blood-red sea, is far creepier and more atmospheric than anything in the movie.

9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung

Tony Leung

10) Most pretentious movie ever

Pretentious is one of the most horribly misused terms in talking about movies. I might not like all the movies of Michael Haneke or Oliver Assayas, but they're still intelligent and coherent enough to be worthy of argument. A truly pretentious movie is Aria - a murderer's row of directors making shorts scored to famous arias for NO APPARENT REASON.

11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, but I really need to see more.

12) Name the movie that you feel best reflects yourself, a movie you would recommend to an acquaintance that most accurately says, “This is me.”

You're asking someone who personalizes the movies he watches to an unhealthy degree. I think of of the reasons that Blue Velvet is my favorite movies is because it's like watching my psyche projected onto the screen. Make of that what you will.

13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo

Marlene Dietrich

14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?

Best - Reese's Pieces. Most vile - any form of malted milk balls.

15) Current movie star who would be most comfortable in the classic Hollywood studio system

When Vanity Fair did that Hitchcock gallery earlier this year, Naomi Watts made an absolutely perfect Tippi Hedren.

16) Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?

Absolutely!

17) Your assignment is to book the ultimate triple bill to inaugurate your own revival theater. What three movies will we see on opening night?

Pretension alert: lately I've been realizing that most of my favorite movies - and, by extension, my cinematic ideal - are movies that render the divide between high art and pop meaningless. So, three movies that do just that: Psycho, Chinatown and Altman's Popeye.

18) What’s the name of your theater? (The all-time greatest answer to this question was once provided by Larry Aydlette, whose repertory cinema, the Demarest, is, I hope, still packing them in…)

Well, I already used the Vista. I'd love to be the one in charge of programming the Mohawk, an old movie house that my town is gradually raising funds to renovate. I think I'd keep the name.

19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie

Duck Soup

20) Most impressive debut performance by an actor/actress.

Malcolm McDowell in if...

21) Biggest disappointment of the just-past summer movie season

Well, Mamma Mia! was terrible, but I can't say I was disappointed, exactly...

22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung

Maggie Cheung

23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated

The Death of Mr. Lazarescu

24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated

Smiley Face

25) Fritz the Cat —yes or no?

Not really.

26) Trevor Howard or Richard Todd

Trevor Howard

27) Antonioni once said, “I began taking liberties a long time ago; now it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules.” What filmmaker working today most fruitfully ignores the rules? What does ignoring the rules of cinema mean in 2008?

I think the most meaningful examples of this today don't happen in alternative cinema, but in mainstream films that deviate from the rules in meaningful ways. Three of the best films of the past few years - There Will Be Blood, Zodiac, No Country For Old Men, The Dark Knight - were partly defined by their defiance of expectations. And the response to their left turns, particularly in the case of No Country For Old Men, continue to reverberate not only in the cinephile community but among everyday moviegoers who were genuinely shaken.

28) Favorite William Castle movie

The Tingler

29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie

One of my favorite things about the work of Jim Jarmusch is its unspoken study and celebration of cultural diversity in microcosm. Down By Law is probably the best example of this.

30) What’s the movie coming up in 2008 you’re most looking forward to? Why?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Fincher's coming off Zodiac, and the trailer's a beauty.

31) What deceased director would you want to resurrect in order that she/he might make one more film?

That's sort of a sad question, isn't it? Reminds me of the ending of A.I. Hey, let's go with zombie Kubrick's Napoleon.

32) What director would you like to see, if not literally entombed, then at least go silent creatively?

It's reassuring to see so many people citing Brett Ratner before I did. Just rewatched Red Dragon - only Ratner could take that cast and source material and make something so hacky.

33) Your first movie star crush
I wish I had something cool to say, like I was really into Anna Karina at five. But really, Molly Ringwald.

2 comments:

Jenny said...

can I just say I can't wait to read your panning of cannibal holocaust? I knew a guy who absolutely worshied that movie and said it was some sorta commentary on cultural exploitation or what not. Ack. that said, the soundtrack's sorta neat.

Bemis said...

I'll add it to the list of movies to look at. Short version: just because something tells you it's deplorable shit as you're watching it doesn't make it any less deplorable or shitty.