Thursday, July 19, 2012

Headless eels, gay Marxists and the last temptation of Popeye.

I've finally found the time to complete my answers to the most recent movie quiz at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, this one administered by Sister Superior Clodagh. Who could forget Deborah Kerr's indelible performance as a repressed nun whose world is turned upside down when two crooks on the run from the mob (Eric Idle and Robbie Coltrane) dress in drag and hide out in the convent? Good times. As always, if you've never heard of SLIFR or Dennis' terrific quizzes, I highly recommend checking out both.

1) Favorite movie featuring nuns

The Devils

2) Second favorite John Frankenheimer movie

Seconds (har dee har har)

3) William Bendix or Scott Brady?

Having just been reminded of Kill the Umpire the other day, I'll go with William Bendix.

4) What movie, real or imagined, would you stand in line six hours to see? Have you ever done so in real life?

I've never waited more than an hour or so to see a movie, though I have driven four hours to get to a horror marathon. I might wait six hours for a world premiere, but one of the silver linings of the dominance of multiplexes is that you don't really have to wait very long to see anything these days.

5) Favorite Mitchell Leisen movie


6) Ann Savage or Peggy Cummins?

Ann Savage

7) First movie you remember seeing as a child


8) What moment in a movie that is not a horror movie made you want to bolt from the theater screaming?

 The scene in The Tin Drum where a severed horse's head is used to catch eels, then we watch in close-up as a character shakes the eels free and cuts off their heads. Eeaugh. It's a great movie, but I've never felt like revisiting it.

9) Richard Widmark or Robert Mitchum?

Robert Mitchum, of course.

10) Best movie Jesus

Willem Dafoe

11) Silliest straight horror film that you’re still fond of

Prometheus comes to mind.

12) Emily Blunt or Sally Gray?

I like Emily Blunt, but I'm not familiar enough with Sally Gray's filmography to give a fair answer.

13) Favorite cinematic Biblical spectacular

The Ten Commandments. It's sillier than Prometheus, but the visual effects still thrill me.

14) Favorite cinematic moment of unintentional humor

15) Michael Fassbender or David Farrar?

Fassbender. He's probably my favorite actor to break through in the last decade.

16) Most effective faith-affirming movie

The Thin Red Line. Jim Caviezel is a more persuasive messiah in this than when he actually played Jesus.

17) Movie that makes the best case for agnosticism

Birth. We're presented with a rational answer for the film's central mystery, but a lot of questions remain unresolved when the credits roll. It's a great exploration of why we turn to the supernatural in the face of the unknown and how, though reason usually prevails, there are still far more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt up in our philosophy.

18) Favorite song and/or dance sequence from a musical

The Air-otica number from All That Jazz.

19) Third favorite Howard Hawks movie

His Girl Friday

20) Clara Bow or Jean Harlow?

Clara Bow

21) Movie most recently seen in the theater? On DVD/Blu-ray/Streaming?

Theater: The Amazing Spider Man (zzzzz...) On Blu-ray: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Still hilarious.

22) Most unlikely good movie about religion

The Gospel According to Saint Matthew. One of the most compelling movies about Jesus, written and directed by a gay, Marxist atheist.

23) Phil Silvers or Red Skelton?

Phil Silvers

24) “Favorite” Hollywood scandal

The cocaine bust on the set of Popeye.

25) Best religious movie (non-Christian)

The Wicker Man

26) The King of Cinema: King Vidor, King Hu or Henry King? (Thanks, Peter)

I haven't seen enough of Henry King's movies to say.

27) Name something modern movies need to relearn how to do that American or foreign classics had down pat

When making a movie about an iconic character, concentrate on making that movie the best self-contained experience it can be, not on setting up the next installment in the franchise.

28) Least favorite Federico Fellini movie

If I were to rank the Fellini movies I've seen, Roma would be at the bottom of the list. But I like Roma.

29) The Three Stooges (2012)—yes or no?

Haven't seen it yet.

30) Mary Wickes or Patsy Kelly?

Patsy Kelly

31) Best movie-related conspiracy theory

The Shining is Kubrick's admission that he helped fake the moon landing.

32) Your candidate for most misunderstood or misinterpreted movie

The Fountain. A lot of critics dismissed its archetypal narrative and visual motifs as "New Agey," when it's actually quite the opposite.

33) Movie that made you question your own belief system (religious or otherwise)

The Last Temptation of Christ. I saw it when I was 12 and found it to be the most moving depiction of Jesus, and the closest to the Jesus I imagined and believed in - torn between his human and divine selves, tempted by nothing more than to live as a humble husband and father, filled with compassion and love for all people. When I thought about how much anger Christians had directed at the film (and how bad most church-approved movies about faith are), I realized that my fellow churchgoers and I were praying to a completely different guy. Between that and the church's positions on sex, gay people and whether man coexisted with dinosaurs, I stopped calling myself a Christian soon after, though I'm still cool with the Jesus that Kazantzakis and Scorsese believed in and brought to life so beautifully.

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