Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Lawnmower Man, The Beaver Kid, and The Clumsy Waiter

It's time for another of the seasonal movie quizzes at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, this time courtesy of one Professor Peabody ("Quiet, you." - did the Professor actually say that, or was it a Simpsons-only line?). I'm shockingly late to turn in my answers this semester, but luckily, there is no due date, so I encourage you to head over to SLIFR and try it yourself if you haven't already.

1) Favorite Biopic

My favorite movie about a real person is Lawrence of Arabia. Biopics tend to be way too formulaic for me, so I generally prefer ones like I'm Not There and Mishima that purposefully break the mold.

2) Dyan Cannon or Tuesday Weld?

Tuesday Weld. Pretty Poison was actually filmed in the town and county where I live.

3) Best example of science fiction futurism rendered silly by the event of time catching up to the prediction

Any of the early-'90s virtual reality-themed thrillers that tried to paint cyberspace as a dangerous alternate reality capable of turning mentally challenged lawnmower men into all-powerful daemons or unleashing a wisecracking Russell Crowe into the world.

4) Annette Funicello & Frankie Avalon or Troy Donahue & Sandra Dee?

Annette and Frankie - my, was Back to the Beach in heavy rotation on HBO when I was a wee lad.

5) Favorite Raoul Walsh movie?

White Heat

6) Sophomore film which represents greatest improvement over the director’s debut

The Terminator has less flying piranhas than Piranha II, but is otherwise superior.

7) Ice Cube or Mos Def?

Mos Def

8) Favorite movie about the music industry

My first thought was Nashville as a default answer, but a quick glance shows that few have mentioned it so far, so perhaps it isn't considered a movie about the industry (it is, but it's about everything). So honorable mentions to Almost Famous and Phantom of the Paradise, respectively the sweetest and most acidic takes on the music industry.

9) Favorite Looney Tunes short

The ending of "What's Opera Doc?" shocked me when I was a kid.

10) Director most deserving of respect or upwardly mobile critical reassessment

I think Sam Mendes is one of the best new directors of the last 10 years, but he's also completely unhip, which hurts his cinephile street cred.

11) Ruth Gordon or Margaret Hamilton?

Oh, Maude!

12) Best filmed adaptation of a play


13) Buddy Ebsen or Edgar Buchanan?

I laughed the first time I read the story of how Ebsen was the original Tin Man but had to be hospitalized because of aluminum dust inhalation. Am I a bad person?

14) Favorite Jean Renoir movie?

I've only seen a few Renoir films so far, and while they were all inarguably brilliant, I have yet to truly fall in love with one. But The Rules of the Game is hilarious and, as I said, inarguably brilliant.

15) Favorite one-word movie title, and why

Alien. It sums up everything that fuels the movie's scares in the most elemental way possible.

16) Ernest Thesiger or Basil Rathbone?

I must admit that I didn't recognize the name "Ernest Thesiger." But after looking him up and realizing he played Dr. Pretorious in Bride of Frankenstein, that alone puts him ahead.

17) Summer movies—your highest and lowest expectations

Highest: That Inglorious Bastards will be as insanely entertaining as a decade of Tarantino's hyperbole promises.

Lowest: That Transformers 2, which will surely be the highest-grossing movie of the summer, will do anything other than further confirmation of my most pompous, elitist assumptions about the horrible taste of most moviegoers.

18) Whether or not you’re a parent, what would be your ideal pick as first movie to see with your own child (or niece/nephew)? Why?

I'm hoping that my daughter will be ready to go to the movies by the time Where the Wild Things Are is released. I think about this subject quite often. When my wife was pregnant with Luna, I read an article in the New York Times (I think) about how kids are becoming increasingly "platform agnostic" - a movie, a tv commercial and a video game on a cell phone all have the same value. So besides wanting to pass on my geekiness, I actually think it's important for parents to encourage an appreciation for movies, books and all stories that inspire curiosity and wonder.

19) L.Q. Jones or Strother Martin

Probably the closest call on this quiz. I'll go with Strother Martin - I was delighted by his performance in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when I revisited it a few weeks ago.

20) Movie most recently seen in theaters? On DVD/Blu-ray?

In theaters, Adventureland, which completely surprised me with its warmth and subtlety. On DVD, Brazil, which gets funnier and scarier every year.

21) Do you see more movies theatrically or at home? Why?

At home - we don't have much of a social life, but we have a pretty sweet home theater setup.

22) Name an award-worthy comic performance that was completely ignored by Oscar and his pals.

Though it's looking more and more like a one-off, Adam Sandler's performance in Punch-Drunk Love was the best of its year.

23) Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgens or Robert Pattinson & Kristen Stewart

To be fair, I haven't seen High School Musical 3 or Twilight, so who knows, they could be really good. Kristen Stewart showed surprising depth in Adventureland, so I'll go with her and Babyface Nelson.

24) Name a great (or merely very good) movie that is too painful to watch a second time (Thanks to The Onion A.V. Club)

I've never been able to rewatch Boys Don't Cry. The film's second half is brutal not just for the violence and simulated rape, but because Kimberley Peirce and Hilary Swank do a frighteningly strong job of putting you in Brandon Teena's shoes - I left the movie feeling violated and emotionally drained. I tried watching it once on cable, but when Brandon and Lana kiss for the first time I decided to change the channel and leave the movie on high note.

25) Beyonce Knowles or Jennifer Hudson?

I truly don't have an opinion. Hudson, because who doesn't like to root for an underdog?

26) Favorite Robert Mitchum movie?

My favorite movie featuring Robert Mitchum is Dead Man. His best performance, of course, is Night of the Hunter.

27) Favorite movie featuring a ‘60s musical group that is not either the Beatles or the Monkees

Blow-Up (featuring the Yardbirds)

28) Maria Ouspenskaya or Una O’Connor?

Maria Ouspenskaya

29) Favorite Vincent Price movie?

His performance in Edward Scissorhands was one of the first to make me teary-eyed. As far as leading roles go, Theatre of Blood is one of the best black comedies.

30) Name a movie currently flying under the radar that is deserving of rabid cult status.

Due to rights issues, The Beaver Trilogy is one of the few cult films left that can basically only be seen on seventh-generation bootlegs. And it's well worth the effort - check out this and other YouTube clips and you'll see what I mean. Sidenote: I've just found out, through the comments on that page, that Groovin Gary died in February. That totally sucks - RIP, Olivia Newton Dawn.
31) Irene Ryan or Lucille Benson (or Bea Benaderet)?

Lucille Benson

32) Single line from a movie that never fails to make your laugh or otherwise cheer you up. (This may be obvious, but the line does not have to come from a comedy.)

"Well, Wildcat was written in a kind of obsolete vernacular...Wildcat...wild...cat...pow...wildcat...I'm going to go."

33) Elliot Gould or Donald Sutherland?

Elliot Gould's performance in The Long Goodbye is one for the ages, but Donald Sutherland is maybe the most underrated '70s-era actor. MASH, Don't Look Now, 1900, Animal House, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ordinary People, Kentucky Fried Movie...

34) Best performance by a director in an acting role

David Cronenberg is frighteningly convincing as a killer in To Die For and Nightbreed. It's also fun to see him get killed by Jason Voorhees in Jason X.

35) Favorite Barbara Stanwyck movie?

Double Indemnity

36) Outside of reading film criticism or other literature about the movies, what subject do you enjoy reading about or studying which you would say best enriches or illuminates your understanding and appreciation of life, a life that includes the movies?

Good question. I read a lot of philosophy, particularly the existentialists. It's all in the mind, you know.


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