Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Questions, questions.


God bless Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule's Dennis Cozzalio and his much-loved movie quizzes. His most recent, Dr. Zachary Smith's Lost in Space at the End of the Summer Movie Quiz, is online for anyone who wants to join in the fun.

1) Your favorite musical moment in a movie

At the risk of being completely unoriginal, the "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" sequence in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

2) Ray Milland or Dana Andrews

Milland, definitely, one of the great workmanlike actors. I'm being completely sincere when I say I think he's just as great in The Thing with Two Heads as he is in Billy Wilder's The Lost Weekend.

3) Favorite Sidney Lumet movie

Sadly, here's a great director of whose work I have seen embarrassingly little.... although I was really amazed with Before the Devil Knows You're Dead.

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

I was fairly certain that The Dark Knight would be a blast, but I was wholly unprepared for it being as great as it was.

5) Gene Tierney or Rita Hayworth

Smolderingly sexy and very potentially deadly Tierney all the way - the deciding factor being the canoe scene in Leave Her to Heaven. Shit gives me chills.

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

On DVD - Before Sunrise, a long-time favorite of mine, which I watched with my girlfriend who had never seen it before. In theaters - Elevator to the Gallows, at Film Forum's recent French crime series.

7) Irwin Allen’s finest hour?

You know, I really like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. It ain't great, but it's a nostalgic childhood favorite.

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

The poster for the Corman-produced The Killer Shrews, which depicts a big, wormy, phallic shrew's tail squirming over a bloodied woman's shoe, is a simple and direct in its ability to illicit terror as the one-sheet for Alien. The movie itself, though, is pretty silly. Fun, but not the least bit scary.

9) Chow Yun-Fat or Tony Leung

Not really a fair contest if you ask me - Yun-Fat is a wonderfully badass, charismatic action star, but I don't think he's ever reached the level of closely guarded and complex emotion Tony Leung has in movies like Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love.

10) Most pretentious movie ever

Lady in the Water.

11) Favorite Russ Meyer movie

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

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.”

Probably Rushmore.

13) Marlene Dietrich or Greta Garbo

Gotta be Dietrich.

14) Best movie snack? Most vile movie snack?

Best - turkey and swiss sandwich that I sneak in myself. Yeah, I'm bad. Worst - hard to decide between red Twizzlers and radioactive gunk-covered movie theater nachos.

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

I'm probably not the first person to note this, but I can very easily picture George Clooney palling around, drinking scotch, and pinching waitresses on the ass with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

16) Fitzcarraldo—yes or no?

A resounding yes - my favorite Herzog film.

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?

Carnival of Souls, The Last Waltz, and Harry Smith's Heaven and Earth Magic, for the purely selfish reason that I've always wanted to see them on the big screen (and in the case of Heaven and Earth Magic, to see it at all, period.)

18) What’s the name of your theater?

I love romantic, old-fashioned sounding theater names like "The Ziegfeld," "The Egyptian," "The Beacon," et al, although I'd hopefully play a mix of old-time studio product and more psychotronic cult films. In honor of Kenneth Anger, I might call my theater "The Hollywood Babylon."

19) Favorite Leo McCarey movie

Duck Soup

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

It's a tie between Jason Schwartzman in Rushmore and Fred Tuttle in Man with a Plan.

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

Without the slightest shadow of a doubt, Argento's Mother of Tears.

22) Michelle Yeoh or Maggie Cheung

Maggie Cheung fo' sho'.

23) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Overrated

Iron Man - I enjoyed it, but seemingly not quite as much as everyone else.

24) 2008 inductee into the Academy of the Underrated

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, which I think people will remember with a lot more fondness in the next ten years.

25) Fritz the Cat—yes or no?

In terms of influence and its place in history, an enormous yes - without it we'd never has seen Bakshi's later, more fiercely personal films (of which Heavy Traffic is my favorite), and without those, we'd likely never have seen "The Simpsons," "South Park," or indeed any adult-geared animation here in the West. Having said that, though, it's not exactly a great film - a little too boorishly crass and obvious in its satire for my tastes, although there are a handful of moments of brilliance throughout.

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?

As the great Gene Hackman once said, "There are no rules!" In all seriousness, though, I don't really think it is standard practice for most directors to ignore the rules. You look at a lot of films today of both the mainstream and indie variety and see a lot of them are the same; a checklist of cliches and second-guessed notions of what viewers want to see. What a great filmmaker realizes is that these rules are merely in place for hacks who lack the confidence to make a movie their own way - more guidelines than anything else. The films that deviate from the rules, and do it successfully, are the ones we end up remembering.

28) Favorite William Castle movie

The House on Haunted Hill.

29) Favorite ethnographically oriented movie

I'm going to say To Kill a Mockingbird, although I'm not really sure what this question means.

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

The Road - the novel left me unable to speak after I'd finished reading it, and I'd be hard pressed to think of a better filmmaker to helm it than The Proposition's John Hillcoat.

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


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

Scott Derrickson. Preferably literally entombed, and preferably before his remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still comes out.

33) Your first movie star crush

Ariana Richards in Jurassic Park.