Thursday, December 7, 2006

Film questionnaire

Most questionnaire memes are pretty pointless but I couldn’t resist this one:

1) What was the last movie you saw, either in a theater or on DVD, and why?

The Stooge, because I’m reviewing the Martin & Lewis box for TCM.

2) Name the cinematographer whose work you most look forward to seeing, and an example of one of his/her finest achievements.

Christopher Doyle, Fallen Angels (Ashes of Time looks impressive but I’ve only seen it on video). Can’t skip Gregg Toland or John Alton.

3) Joe Don Baker or Bo Svenson?

Joe Don, if only because Walking Tall looked like it was filmed around my home town and because I can’t think of any Svenson films at the moment.

4) Name a moment from a movie that made you gasp (in horror, surprise, revelation…)

I’ve never actually gasped but closest might be In the Company of Men, the moment when Aaron Eckhart tells the woman that they were just kidding about the whole thing.

5) Your favorite movie about the movies.


6) Your Favorite Fritz Lang movie.

Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, possibly for the snobbish reason that I’ve seen the completely uncut restoration that’s STILL not on DVD. (The Kino disc is shorter.)

7) Describe the first time you ever recognized yourself in a movie.

Never? That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

8) Carole Bouquet or Angela Molina?

Don’t know either.

9) Name a movie that redeems the notion of nostalgia as something more than a bankable commodity.

Probably none but maybe Zelig or A Christmas Story. Also the Pennies from Heaven movie attempted that and I have high hope for the series which I bought but have yet to watch.

10) Favorite appearance by an athlete in an acting role.

None. Oh I’m sure I could come up with names but with very few exceptions they’re people I know because they’re actors and not because they’re athletes.

11) Favorite Hal Ashby movie.

Don’t care.

12) Name the first double feature you’d program for opening night of your own revival theater.

Breathless & Kiss Me Deadly.

13) What’s the name of your revival theater?

The Langlois. How's that for film buff arrogance? Couldn't be pronounced or remembered by most Americans and would have to be explained constantly.

14) Humphrey Bogart or Elliot Gould?


15) Favorite Robert Stevenson movie.

That hack? Another “who cares?”

16) Describe your favorite moment in a movie that is memorable because of its use of sound.

I’m a sucker for overlapping dialogue such as His Girl Friday or MASH. TV should be a natural for this but everything is so clear and separate now that at times it gets annoying. (And to digress further it’s really annoying on so many current dramatic cop shows that the writers can’t do anything better with big chunks of exposition than to spread it out among various characters. The end result is that everybody in the room sounds like they know the whole backstory but are just rehearsing a press conference.) & yeah I know this isn’t what the question was about but that’s how I’m answering. For pure sound I’d have to go with Rear Window or perhaps any Godard film.

17) Pink Flamingoes-- yes or no?

Yes, but Desperate Living more.

18) Your favorite movie soundtrack score.

Vertigo. Also Contempt, Citizen Kane, Crash (the Cronenberg one) and Once Upon a Time in the West. For purely nostalgic reasons I have to mention Star Wars.

19) Fay Wray or Naomi Watts?

Watts because of Mulholland Drive. Haven’t seen the new Kong.

20) Is there a movie that would make you question the judgment and/or taste of a film critic, blogger or friend if you found out they were an advocate of it?

No. Even though eccentric taste can be overdone (cf Chuck Eddy), refusing to consider anything would be pretty smug and actually not very fun. Showgirls is obviously very bad but Rivette’s praise makes me wonder if in fact it is an attack on the ravages of late capitalism. Almost certainly not but you never know. Kael used to claim that she never changed her mind about a movie and though she was clearly not telling the truth even thinking this is something worth saying is one reason she was a critic only worth reading in fragments.

21) Pick a new category for the Oscars and its first deserving winner.


22) Favorite Paul Verhoeven movie.

Definitely not Showgirls. Starship Troopers is still vastly underappreciated, probably because so many viewers take it at face value (actually a somewhat scary thought considering the fascist aesthetic that it toys with). His Dutch films I saw so long ago that I don’t have much memory of them.

23) What is it that you think movies do better than any other art form?

A complete, focused involvement. Theater always presents you with the reality of performance, reading requires a translation, TV is dwarfed by your home, etc. Now even though movies may do this better that doesn’t mean this is something positive, even if you’re not coming from a Brechtian perspective.

24) Peter Ustinov or Albert Finney?


25) Favorite movie studio logo, as it appears before a theatrical feature.

The 30s Universal with the airplane flying around the globe.

26) Name the single most important book about the movies for you personally.

Sarris’ The American Cinema. Not a book for thinking about the movies and one I haven’t even glanced into for years but when I was first starting to explore it was invaluable for sorting out that sheer volume of films.

27) Name the movie that features the best twist ending. (Please note the use of any “spoilers” in your answer.)

I admire Miike’s Dead or Alive just because anybody who says they knew that ending was coming is a flat-out, unquestionable liar.

28) Favorite Francois Truffaut movie.

Don’t know, haven’t seen any in years. Truffaut always struck me as a very good second-tier director. I remember Love on the Run as being a favorite but also The 400 Blows and Day for Night strong contenders.

29) Olivia Hussey or Claire Danes?

Neither but Danes if forced to choose.

30) Your most memorable celebrity encounter.

Possibly seeing how short Mick Jagger is while he was renting children’s videos at my store.

31) When did you first realize that films were directed?

I don’t know for sure and this is too late but I’m going with it anyway: I hated The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the first time I saw it; perhaps because it was projected onto a sheet in the dorm’s dining room or perhaps just because I wasn’t ready for it. In any case a year or two later I was a projectionist at the school’s theatre (actual screen this time) and went down at the start of the film as always to doublecheck the image and sound, something that can’t be done effectively from the booth. The opening scene of the vandalized graveyard was so clearly a comment on the actual film itself and the entire concept of the grotesque that I realized this wasn’t a mistake, whether conscious or not.