Saturday, September 4, 2010

Professor David Huxley's Laborious, Licentious Spotted-Leopard Labor Day Film Quiz

I must admit to being quite the procrastinator.  In fact I should crown myself King of Procrastination...but hey, I can do that later.  You see, every now and again Dennis Cozallio, the great film writer over at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule, comes out with a 30 question quiz that is posted on his blog and sent out to all those web-based critics and cinephiles for completion at their leisure.  But that is just the problem - at our leisure.  I have never actually completed one before.  I have started them - with high hopes of posting it here - but have yet to complete one.  In fact there is one in some various stage of incompletion sitting in the draft section of this blog's dashboard right now.  But all this has changed, as here is my COMPLETED quiz in all its freakin' glory.

The original post from Dennis' site can be read here and you can post yr own answers there as well.. 

And here is the quiz and my answers.

1) Classic film you most want to experience that has so far eluded you.
This is an embarrassingly long list.  Children of Paradise; I Was Born But...; Shoeshine;The Conformist; Murnau's Nosferatu; Black Narcissus; Yojimbo; Red Desert; Limelight; She Wore a Yellow Ribbon.....(a lot to catch up on indeed).

2) Greatest Criterion DVD/Blu-ray release ever 
Fanny and Alexander and the Imamura boxset Pigs, Pimps & Prostitutes come immediately to mind, but my great love for the film would have to say a more recent release, The Red Shoes.

3) The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon?
Definitely The Big Sleep.  Definitely.  I could watch it every day.

4) Jason Bateman or Paul Rudd?
Why is this even a question.  Bateman is the far superior actor (and funnier too).

5) Best mother/child (male or female) movie star combo
Judy & Liza come immediately to mind, but only the first half is really worth discussing.  How about Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher.  The mother singing Good Morning, Good Morning while the daughter is dressed in a gold bikini sitting next to a giant space slug (and no, I am not talking about Liza).

But if you want fictionalized mother and child, then let's go to Mommie Dearest.  Oh wait, they aren't fictional.

6) Who are the Robert Mitchums and Ida Lupinos among working movie actors? Do modern parallels to such masculine and no-nonsense feminine stars even exist? If not, why not?To match Lupino I think you would have to go European and go with Huppert, Argento or Gainsbourg. Though they would not really be the contemporary Lupinos per se, they are as close as we have these days.  As far as Americans go, possibly Michelle Williams, but still only close, but no cigar.  These are all no-nonsense kinda gals, but it is a different time and different sensibilities - as well as different outlooks for what femininity is all about and Ida Lupino.

As for Mitchum, I think his type died out around the time men starting eating quiche.  We still have masculine stars (think Stallone, Jason Statham) but no one of that ilk with the acting chops of Mitchum.  Perhaps Bruce Willis when he's not clowning around or maybe even Russell Crowe or Michael Madsen or Javier Bardem.  Oh, I got it.....Mickey Rourke.  Probably not.

7) Favorite Preston Sturges movie
Sullivan's Travels.  Veronica Lake dressed all tomboyish - how can one resist?

8) Odette Yustman or Mary Elizabeth Winstead?
Judging from Death Proof and Scott Pilgrim, one must say Mary Elizabeth Winstead.  A grindhouse cheerleader and a hipster chick with pink, blue and green hair.  What more need be said?

9) Is there a movie that if you found out a partner or love interest loved (or didn't love) would qualify as a Relationship Deal Breaker?
According to Quentin Tarantino, I would have to say Rio Bravo.  My lovely wife of twelve and a half years finally watched said Rio Bravo a few weeks back and thankfully (mainly to her love of Dino) we are still married.  Now if only she would change her mind on The Night of the Hunter and A Clockwork Orange.

10) Favorite DVD commentary 
The Red Shoes has a slew of film historians (including Scorsese and Ian Christie) and quite knowledgeable film folks - and it has lovely Moira Shearer chiming in.  Also Black Narcissus is the one I am looking most forward to (Scorsese again).  Yeah, yeah, I know, I still haven't seen Black Narcissus (see question no. 1).

11) Movies most recently seen on DVD, Blu-ray and theatrically
DVD: Show People (King Vidor, 1928)
Blu-ray: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly (Sergio Leone, 1966)
Theater: Machete (Robert Rodriguez, 2010)

12) Dirk Bogarde or Alan Bates?
Bogarde is the man.

13) Favorite DVD extra 
Warner's King Kong boxset is full of fascinating docs and such.  Of course Kong is the film I am most nostalgic about because it is the first film I remember ever watching (on TV of course).  Also, Criterion's Brazil has a slew of fun and interesting extras - including a bastardized version edited behind Gilliam's back but never released.

14) Brian De Palma’s Scarface— yes or no?
I must finally come out and admit it - I have never seen De Palma's Scarface.  Hawks yes, but De Palma, not yet.

15) Best comic moment from a horror film that is not a horror comedy (Young Frankenstein, Love At First Bite, et al.)
The final shot in Sleepaway Camp.  Now that is pure cinema.

16) Jane Birkin or Edwige Fenech?
Birkin!  Birkin!  Birkin!

17) Favorite Wong Kar-wai movie
The obvious answer here is In the Mood for Love, but who wants to be obvious (even though it is true)?  I know I don't, so I am going with the final scene in Days of Being.  Of course this is just a strange long-past precursor to In the Mood for Love - so I suppose that is the obvious answer after all.

18) Best horrific moment from a comedy that is not a horror comedy
White Chicks - from beginning to end!!

19) From 2010, a specific example of what movies are doing right…
Wait a minute, isn't it all going to Hell in a handbasket?  Seriously, it does seem so sometimes.  The blending of video game and movie spectacle, the obnoxious, cinematography-killing 3D boom, the juvenile idea of needing to make everything so awesome that story and (real) style go out the proverbial window (Inception was enjoyable, but its need to be something akin to awesome, stops it from going to the levels it could have in Nolan's past), the fact that Jennifer Aniston just keeps making bad romcom after even worse romcom (somebody stop her before its too late!).

But yeah, I suppose (to not be such a Negative Nellie) there are good things still going on.  Though the blurred line between indie and studio is almost fading away completely, there are smaller indie films making the most of what they have.  Recently such films as Anton Corbijn's The American, Debra Granik's Winter's Bone and Michael Winterbottom's The Killer Inside Me are fine examples of what can be done when story and style mix to near-perfection and we go back to cinema instead of spectacle.  Hopefully this trend (Wendy and Lucy, Goodbye Solo, Rachel Getting Married, The Wrestler) will continue and the sappy, audience pandering of the so-called indie world (all those Little Miss Sunshiney movies) will go where they should - to mainstream factory moviemaking.

20) Ryan Reynolds or Chris Evans?
Reynolds has proven again and again he is a talented actor.  He just needs someone else to pick his movies for him.  Evans on the other hand, well let's not go all negative here.

21) Speculate about the future of online film writing. What’s next?
The main problem with online film writing is that anyone with the ability to tap a keyboard can pontificate about cinema.  The good thing is that it gives a venue for all of those (myself very much included!) who would have no other outlet otherwise.  Now all we have to do is weed through the muck to get to all the good stuff.  Luckily (for the most part) we know where the good stuff is and who is saying it.

As far as the future goes - I suppose as more and more print publications go under and go cheap, more and more quality film writers will be finding a home online.  We are probably going to get a lot more podcasting, but I don't think that is going to stop all of us from using written (typed) language to get our collective points across.

22) Roger Livesey or David Farrar?
How many times do I have to admit to having not seen Black Narcissus yet!?  I'm still choosing Mr. Farrar though.

23) Best father/child (male or female) movie star combo
Walter and John Huston (or John and Angelica) would be the best answer - at least from a powerful acting standpoint, but there is another duo one must end up going with.  Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg.  The mere fact that this father/daughter combo made a music video in 1984 (when Charlotte was a mere 12 years old) called Lemon Incest, where they sang provocatively ambiguous lyrics to each other while lying around on a big leather-clad bed.  It's French so it's okay.

But then if you want the best father/child characters then we would have to go back to John Huston, with Faye Dunaway in Chinatown.  Why is it all about incest with me?  Oh well forget it Jake, it's Chinatown.

24) Favorite Freddie Francis movie (as Director)
It is in deed awful beyond belief, but one must go with Trog, just for Joan Crawford - even if it was the saddest way to end a career.  Though I do like the makeshift Pepsi commercial (pictured below).

25) Bringing Up Baby or The Awful Truth?
The first (and so far only) time I tried to watch The Awful Truth was on TCM one night and about twenty minutes in a snowstorm took out the power.  I figured this was some sort of omen so I have not attempted to watch it again.  Oh yeah, and I love love love Bringing Up Baby.

26) Tina Fey or Kristen Wiig?
Tina Fey is quite funny and sexy to boot, but Kristen Wiig is more so of both.

27) Name a stylistically important director and the best film that would have never been made without his/her influence.
One wants to say Sergio Leone and his influence on modern filmmakers such as Quentin Tarantino.  Without Leone, there would be no Kill Bill or Inglourious Basterds.  But of course without Kurosawa there would have been no Leone and hence.....

But then again, we can't let Scorsese out of this debate.  Without him, where would Paul Thomas Anderson be?  Richard Linklater?  Of course, without filmmakers like Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti and Michael Powell, where would Scorsese be?

28) Movie you’d most enjoy seeing remade and transplanted to a different culture (i.e. Yimou Zhang’s A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop.)
Pulp Fiction in Soviet Russia.  You know what they call a Quarter Pounder in the west?  Nyet!  Nyet!  Why even think about the decadent western world with its fast food and reliance on capitalism!!  I'm telling Stalin!!

29) Link to a picture/frame grab of a movie image that for you best illustrates bliss. Elaborate.
The final shot in Chaplin's City Lights.  I think for anyone who has seen the film, it speaks for itself. 

 The entire final scene can be seen here.

30) With a tip of that hat to Glenn Kenny, think of a just-slightly-inadequate alternate title for a famous movie. (Examples from GK: Fan Fiction; Boudu Relieved From Cramping; The Mild Imprecation of the Cat People)
A Timeclock Grapefruit; The Man Who Did Not Shoot Liberty Valance (but did shoot the deputy); 2001: Apace with Odd Seas; My Life with The Kill Bill Cult; The Procrastination of Jesse James by the Dullard Robert Ford (given to me by my friend Max); The Afternoon of the Gatherer; N (that one is for M).....


Mike Lippert said...

I did one of these once because I thought it would be a quick post for the day and it turned out it took me longer to do than a regular post. I do enjoy them though and may even to this one. Can't really argue with anything you've said.

KEVYN KNOX said...

Yeah, it took me the whole day (on and off) to finally come up with everything.