Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Every picture Quentin Tarantino makes reads on the screen like a love letter to the films he grew up with, even as its structure and visual style appear to fly in the face of what's considered "normal" for the average American moviegoers. I'm reminded of early Jean-Luc Godard (how's that for a bit of film pretension?), who ushered in the French New Wave by rallying against what was considered "mainstream" cinema by, in part, firmly embracing many of the tropes of the past. For Godard it was, among other things, the crime and gangster pictures of the 40s and 50s, including Hollywood greats like TOUCH OF EVIL and THE BIG SLEEP. For Tarantino, it's a global hodge-podge ranging from 70s blacksploitation to Asian wuxia to Godard himself.

The point being: Quentin Tarantino is going to make what he knows, and what he wants to see.

And INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is a whopper of a love letter this time: a Spaghetti Western wrapped in a "men on a mission" war flick, full of tiny anachronisms and homages - some subtle, some glaringly obvious - that pulled together speak to the power film holds over us, and one of the best movie experiences this year.

I've tried a number of times since seeing INGLOUROIS BASTERDS on opening day to write about it. In the meantime a tremendous flurry of arguments have erupted all over the web, some incredibly well thought out on both sides, some decidedly less so. It's been so much to take in and process that I found it once again beginning to influence what I wanted to talk about: the actual movie.

What to do? I decided to compromise a bit: instead of a standard review I opted for a bit of the old "cut-n-paste", taking a few thoughts here and there and each to stand on it's own. Consider it a "random review generator"...some scraps that, with a bit of prudent editing (something I never seem to do) and elbow grease could have been a standard review, but now looks something like this:
  • For a film well over two hours, and predominantly subtitled, none of my friends who saw the films remember it being long or, for that matter, subtitled.
  • Over at The House Next Door, Matt Zoller Seitz talks about the dialog as the real source of action in Tarantino's films, the "gunshots, car crashes and torture scenes" acting as visual punctuation to what's being said. The lengthy conversation in between Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and Pierre LaPedite (Denis Menochet) in Chapter 1: "Once Upon a Time in Nazi-Occupied France" brilliantly illustrates this point, with a technique Tarantino uses numerous times, both here and in his previous films.
  • In the scene, the tension is consistently ratcheted up as Landa dances around the issue of whether LaPedite, a dairy farmer, is hiding Jews in his house. Tarantino, knowing he'll get it back, diffuses the situation when Landa, asking if it's alright if he smokes (minutes earlier he had allowed LaPedite to smoke a small, cob pipe) reaches into his jacket and pull out an enormous, Sherlock Holmes style pipe (it's called a calabash). It's a big laugh in the film, and even LaPedite smirks. Without going into spoilers, a few seconds later the shit hits the fan, and that supposedly dissolved tension comes back, landing right in your gut.
  • It's a device Landa knowingly utilizes as part of his arsenal, but it's also a trademark Tarantino move - he does it again during the "drinking game" scene in the middle of the move - as well as in PULP FICTION most notably from his other films.
  • David Bowie's "Cat People" works better here than it ever did in the film CAT PEOPLE. or, for that matter, on any of his records. The few instances where Tarantino breaks with the time period - both in his musical choices and in his visual style, like the 70s exploitation introduction given to Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz (complete with narration by Samuel L. Jackson) - is fascinating because on paper it seems like it shouldn't work, yet never fails to do so.
  • If there's a misstep in the film, it's Mike Myers' casting. He's certainly not bad, but it's a small role that serves as an exposition device, and the baggage he brings from his other films take you right out of the movie. It's a mystery why when so much of the cast is made up of excellent German and French actors Tarantino turned to a Canadian comedic actor to play a British colonel.
I may post some more notes in the future, but I wanted to leave with a brief aside concerning the questions that have raging across Internet about BASTERDS, as some critics laud it while other bash, accusing it of, among other things, Holocaust Denial. I think the question of "war" films as entertainment and the responsibility film has to history is a great launch pad for discussion, but it's a question I'm ashamed to say I feel slightly disconnected to. My general philosophy concerning any film I watch boils down to two things:
  1. Did the filmmakers accomplish what they set out to do?
  2. Did I derive any pleasure from the viewing experience?
There's purposefully a lot of wriggle room there: there are dozens of movies I think are bad that I enjoy, dozens more that are good that I didn't like, and hundreds that are either bad and I didn't enjoy or good and I did. And regardless of the debate regarding the ethics of the film, for me INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS sticks its landing on every front.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Do the Right Thing (1989)

After the final image fades from Spike Lee's DO THE RIGHT THING, two seemingly disparate quotes appear: one from Dr. Martin Luther King, one from Malcolm X. One speaks out against violence, citing the morality of those faced with the choice of whether or not to exercise it. One advocates its use, stating it's no longer violence when used within the loose context of self defense. The quotes are followed by a photograph of the two famous activists, smiling with their arms around each other.

Two quotes, seemingly at opposite ends of the spectrum, yet beautifully married and understood when placed in the context of Lee's colossal achievement: an empathetic look at racial tension and violence that doesn't pass judgment, but seeks to observe and understand. DO THE RIGHT THING was one of the films I had long held off watching - I was not a huge fan of some of the other Spike Lee films I had seen at that point, and the stream of accolades heaped upon it pushed me further and further away from seeing it. Now, 20 years after it first came out, I was worried about whether the experience, great as it could be, would feel "dated" or out of touch so many years later.

There are maybe a handful of films that, immediately upon seeing I wanted to go back in time to relive the experience again. With DO THE RIGHT THING, it was the shock at how powerful, how much in command the movie was - having mostly been exposed to his later films, I was completely caught off guard by how stylized the film was, how much in command Lee is with every frame, every tone and inflection in the movie, beginning right away with the unique opening credit sequence, where Rosie Perez dances to Public Enemy's "Fight the Power", the lighting, framing, and expression on her face slowly boiling in a foreshadowing of the tone and pacing the film proper would use:

And from the setting up a masterful first shout, the slow zoom out from Samuel L. Jackson's Señor Love Daddy, the DJ and chorus of the film:

His hat, lying on the console in front of him, is perfectly captured in the reflection of his sunglasses as the camera moves out. It seems like an obvious shot, meant to show off, but it also begins to set up the visual tone of the film, an idealized palette that belies the tensions running underneath. Plus, it's just so good I don't even care - among the many injustices to the film at awards time was the omission of Ernest R. Dickerson for cinematography.

For those unfamiliar with the film, I'll briefly sum up the action: The film takes place roughly over the course of an entire day and night in the Bed-Stuy section of Brooklyn, on one of the hottest days of the year. The neighborhood focal point is Sal's Famous Pizza, owned and operated by Danny Aiello in an Oscar-nominated role as Sal. Together with his two sons he's been serving pizza to the neighborhood for 25 years.

The other players in the drama circle around the block, but chief among them is Mookie, played by Lee himself in an incredible performance. Oddly, of all the great acting in the film I think Lee's stood out the most for me, but (alas), it was only Aiello who got a nomination. Mookie's trying to get his life together - he lives with his sister, a couple blocks away from his girlfriend and their young son, and he works as Sal's pizza delivery guy. Two seemingly innocuous and unrelated incidents occur near the beginning of the film, and the day goes on and the temperature rises, the result of those incidents culminate in a vicious act of violence, which in turns sparks the community into retaliating (sorry - I'm being as purposefully vague as I can). The next morning, two people meet who, the day before, had a very different relationship. The movie ends, and we see the quotes and photograph mentioned in the opening of this review.

If the above summary sounds eerily similar to Rodney King and the Los Angeles riots of 1992, bear in mind that DO THE RIGHT THING came out 2 years before that, and the echoes it shouts out relate to similar incidents that might not stand out as clearly in our mind, but certainly did to Lee. The movie is peppered with allusions to current events (Howard Beach, Tawana Brawley), other films - NIGHT OF THE HUNTER figures very prominently - not only in Radio Raheem's LOVE and HATE rings, but in his beautiful monologue about how they go together, again foreshadowing and sadly commenting on the violence and response to it later in the film's climax.

It would be a mistake, though, to think that the film gets bogged down in the message it's trying to get across. DO THE RIGHT THING is filled with tiny moments of beauty and love as it moves up and down the streets of the neighborhood, peeking in on the lives of its inhabitants. Mookie's sister Jade (Joie Lee, Spike's real-life sister), fussing with the hair of Mother Sister (Ruby Dee), the matriarch of the neighborhood. Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), the patriarch of the 'hood and his tender wooing of Mother Sister. Mookie's tender moment with his girlfriend Tina, seductively rolling ice over her body and whispering in her ear. Lee wants the viewer to know the neighborhood, to make it and its people a single organism you grow to care about so that, when the climax happens, it's all the more sad.

I can probably write an entirely different review of DO THE RIGHT THING, focusing on all of the minor characters (John Tuturro feels as much embedded in Lee's universe as he does with the Coen Brothers). It's the rare film that maintains its passion, its message undimmed a generation later, and the high-water mark of an expert filmmaker and commentator for our times. I can't say enough about how incredible this movie is, but this review is getting a little long, so I think I'll just leave, and watch DO THE RIGHT THING AGAIN.

Read Roger Ebert's Great Movie Essay about DO THE RIGHT THING here

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Holy Crap - Avatar Trailer

I'm in the middle of puzzling out my thoughts after seeing DO THE RIGHT THING for the first time last night. That'll pop up here either today or tomorrow, but in the meantime I can't stop watching the first trailer for James Cameron's AVATAR.

Holy Crap.

Click here for the 720p HD Trailer.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Basterds" Mania & the Old Film Preference

Everywhere you look the reviews, discussions, and images are flowing in for Quentin Tarantino's latest opus, INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. I have every intention of checking out the film Friday when it opens, and hopefully will write about here, too.

But that's in no way a given.

It's not that I don't expect to like INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. On the contrary, I'll probably love it. But for whatever reason - maybe it's the copious amounts of great reviews out there, maybe it's my own innate laziness - I've had little to no desire to write up any of the new films I've seen in the past few weeks.

A lot of it comes from discussions already had - the other day I had what would have constituted an hour's worth of conversation with a friend who disagreed with me concerning DISTRICT 9 (he loved it, I thought it was good but missed out on being great). I loved FUNNY PEOPLE, UP, and THE HURT LOCKER, and really enjoyed STAR TREK, but didn't really feel like I had anything to contribute to the conversations already taking place all over the Internet - I was happy to sit back and read it all, seeing what jibed with my thoughts, what didn't, and what was noticed that I missed from my own viewing.

(truth be told, I had started a review of DISTRICT 9, but lost it and didn't feel too much like recreating it)

But another reason, and this brings to to the second part of the post title, is that one of the things I love about movies is the sense of personal discovery - the finding of a treasure years after its discovery by everyone else. That, coupled with my natural "push-back" attitude whenever someone tells me I HAVE to like such-and-such because it's genius and I can't call myself a movie geek or other nonsense unless I've met the criteria of seeing this film or that film. That might be one of the reasons it took me so long to see RAGING BULL or why, to this day, I own but have yet to watch DO THE RIGHT THING. I don't doubt their genius (I was blown out of my chair (figuratively speaking since I was in bed) when I saw RAGING BULL finally last year), but I have my own timetable for discovering things, and my own mind to make up when I do.

So when it comes to the full-blown reviews, I'll most likely keep at my growing stack of DVDs, with some briefer comments about the newer films, unless one happens to get at me so much I'm forced to throw my two cents in.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Band of Outsiders (1964)

It's strange, but until watching BAND OF OUTSIDERS last night, my only exposure to Jean-Luc Godard was BREATHLESS (reviewed here), which kicked off Celluloid Moon's quasi "launch" back in January. Kind of a long wait between films, especially after the wonderful taste BREATHLESS left in my mouth, but that wait may have made my feelings toward BAND OF OUTSIDERS a little sweeter than they would have been otherwise.

Coming four years after his debut, and off of his first real flop (LES CARABINIERS), BAND OF OUTSIDERS feels like the younger, more accessible brother to BREATHLESS - an exuberant movie about youth and crime, embracing everything Godard loves about the classic American cinema of the 30s and 40s while at the same time continuing the cues and tricks that signalled the French New Wave was not a flash in the pan movement. The "jump-cutting" isn't the presence it was in his debut (I'm hard pressed now, only a day later, to recall any in fact), but Godard, again relying on cinematographer Raoul Coutard to shoot in a lovely, natural documentary feel, inserts his references in other, oftentimes more subtle ways. Lines of dialog, characters names, even the credits are lovingly crafted from his influences and friends at the time.

Godard's "outsiders" are Franz, Arthur, and the beautiful innocent Odile, who all meet in an English Language class. Franz and Arthur are two sides of the same coin: Franz is always thinking, always looking inward and debating, while for Arthur there is only the moment, the black and white of his wants and desires. They dream of the outlaw life: would-be gangsters on the lookout for a big score, mimicking the gunfights of Billy the Kids and wanting to go away to someplace, anyplace more exotic than where they are now. Odile, played by Godard's wife Anna Karina, is the shy flower, living with her aunt and a lodger, Mr. Stolz. She's the image of young beauty, trying to prove she's worldly and knowledgeable even as she betrays her naivete when asked to show that she knows how to kiss:

The basic plot is that these three come together when Odile lets slip that the lodger who stays with her and her aunt, a Mr, Stolz, has a bureau filled with money. Arthur is determined to steal the money with Franz and Odile's help. Things get complicated as Odile begins to regret throwing her lot in with Arthur, and the film moves along to its perhaps inevitable conclusion with a shootout, the band torn apart, and the inklings of a new life and a continuing story. But simply following the plot isn't what Godard intended, and indeed BAND OF OUTSIDERS works best as a series of wonderful diversions, rather than anything so serious as a crime film. So much of it has become the stuff of film legend, starting with the "Madison" sequence, which starts with the "Moment of Silence" - the sound is completely cut off as the three attempt (unsuccessfully, it turns out) to observe a moment of silence. But then we get to the famous dance sequence, where the entire world seems to stop as Odile, Franz and Arthur dance:

The music swells and cuts as the narrator (Godard) provides insight into the heart of each person. It's a lovely scene, at odds with what we think the movie's supposed to be about: why would three would-be thieves stop to dance? Ask Quentin Tarantino, who does the same thing in PULP FICTION and whose production company is called Band Apart which, incidentally, is the French title (spelled slightly different) for BAND OF OUSIDERS.1

And then there's the run through the Louvre. I think this moment, more than the Madison sequence, speaks to the unrestrained joy that Godard and others in the French New Wave were able to capture so delicately, timeless no matter when you see it:

Looking through the scenes again, I can't help but again comment on how spectacular BAND OF OUTSIDERS looks. Shooting on location, Coutard manages to convey a look that is both immediate in its realism and still maintain a sense of the unreal that lets you slip away into the fiction of the story. It's a aesthetic shared by his contemporaries, and it never fails to fill me with wonder whenever I see it done with this level of care and craft, like in BREATHLESS, and the films of Françios Truffaut and, over on our side of the pond, Nicholas Ray.

It may not have the impact and sense of importance that its older brother does, but BAND OF OUTSIDERS is still a treasure of a film, taken on whatever level you wish to bring to it. Criterion's release is excellent (as expected), and if you have a chance to watch it be sure to also check out the visual glossary, which goes through the film scene by scene, commenting on the various inside references and jokes Godard made a habit of inserting in his films.

I have an inkling my next Godard film is going to come a lot quicker than eight months...

1 I realize full well that the above has been a well-known fact for years. But since I only saw the film last night, and didn't know anything else about it, it was fresh and exciting to make that discovery. One of the benefits of being kep
t in the dark about certain films for whatever reason, I guess.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Look!! New Dedication?

Hi! Sorry for the lack of love over here - I've been spending a lot of time over at Geek Monkey, and the movie stuff I've been posting was getting lost in the shuffle between there and here. So I decided to make some changes, as you can see by the new look of the site.

Over the next few weeks this site will be seeing a lot more content, as I plow through the massive stack of Criterion DVDs purchased during what will be known throughout history as "the day Barnes & Noble lost their minds and gave us two weeks of 50% off all Criterion discs." You can see the front seat of my car after the first day's excursion:

I also have some articles coming, my entry for the Brian de Palma Blog-A-Thon for Cinema Viewfinder, and other assorted goodies. All this to stay: if you've visited the site and despaired for lack of content, be strong! Have hope! We're coming back!!


The SLIFR Summer '09 Quiz!

Quick Note: This was actually published on July 27th over on Geek Monkey, and it was my laziness that caused it to pop up today. Sorry!
Or Professor Severus Snape's Sorcerer-tastic, Muggalicious Mid-Summer Movie Quiz, as Dennis Cozzalio so warmly puts it. But due to a space limitation on the new format, I'll stick with the SLIFR Summer '09 Quiz. Taking these, and reading some of the wonderfully creative answers submitted by readers is always a hoot, and I'm just sorry it took me so long to get a chance to tackle this one. I had a blast on previous quizzes, as you can see here, here and here.

As always, feel free to answer them for yourself, and be sure to post them over at the eternally entertaining Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. That said, away we go:


1) Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.

PATHS OF GLORY. It's not as showy or full of those "Kubrickian" touches that mark his later films, but there's a humanity and an intimacy in the film making I keep coming back to over more popular films like 2001 or A CLOCKWORK ORANGE.

2) Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.

Oh, Lord...the flash-cut + the shaky cam = complete incoherence. 85% of the time it feels like an excuse to be lazy or an attempt to hide the inability to frame or block a scene properly. For every good example like the BOURNE films (which even there goes into a bit of overkill) you can line up at least a dozen offenders. So not only are we subjected to scenes that last less than a second, but even that second is so jiggly you'd think the camera was tied to a rodeo bull.

3) Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?

BUFFALO BILL AND THE INDIANS is one of those Altman films that, like THE LONG GOODBYE, keeps getting moved back and forth on my Netflix queue, consistently near, but never at, the top of the list. Maybe this is the shove it needs. In the meantime, simply because it's the one I've seen, BRONCO BILLY.

4) Best Film of 1949.

I'm going with THE THIRD MAN, although looking over the list I have a real soft spot for Robert Ryan in THE SET-UP.

5) Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?

Joseph Tura/Jack Benny in TO BE OR NOT TO BE.

6) Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?

Guess I should read these questions in advance. See my answer to question #2.

7) What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?

A rainy Sunday afternoon back around 1990...my friend and I drive to the local gas station/video rental store (does that happen anymore?)...at his insistence we rent SEVEN SAMURAI. I remember sitting on our basement on the floor transfixed, keeping the film for a month and incurring late fees only slightly less outrageous than my mother's fury upon having to pay for them when she tried to rent something for herself. It's one of the earliest memories I have of watching something that was considered "film" as opposed to just a movie, and retains a high spot on my list of beloved films.

8) Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)?

On the "freaky" scale Mr. Moto's off the charts...

9) Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).

I can watch THE GREAT ESCAPE again and again...off our shores I'd pick ARMY OF SHADOWS.

10) Favorite animal movie star.

Chuck the Wonder Dog from 1984's severely underrated ( in my mind only, I'm sure) UP THE CREEK. Is there another movie that borrows so liberally from every other 80s sex comedy yet still holds up in the laugh department? probably, but I love this film, thanks in no small part to the joyous bond between Tim Matheson's Bob McGraw and his faithful pooch Chuck. Why this doesn't have a DVD release along with the sublime Tim Robbins vehicle FRATERNITY VACATION is beyond me...

11) Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.

You can blame everyone for this, but whatever mechanics that put into motion the idea that sexuality in film elicits our strongest ratings and opposition while the vast majority of violence goes unchecked is ridiculous.

12) Best Film of 1969.

Possibly EASY RIDER, though my heart cries out for ARMY OF SHADOWS.

13) Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.

Fittingly, HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE in the theater; Jean-Luc Godard's MADE IN U.S.A. on DVD.

14) Second-favorite Robert Altman film.

NASHVILLE. I know, sacrilege, but there's something so watchable about M*A*S*H.

15) What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?

Dennis, do I get bonus points for saying Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule? No? Then I'm going with The House Next Door for online and Film Comment for print.

16) Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji? (Thanks, Peter!)

I admit I had to look up the names, but oooohh! Meiko Kaji...LADY SNOWBLOOD is a midnight movie favorite ever since they got a nice DVD release.

17) Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?

Am I crazy for preferring Jennifer Tilly? The older she gets, the crazier she gets, the hotter she seems to be in my mind. And BULLETS OVER BROADWAY is such a great, zany sexy performance.

18) Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.

Does THE THIRD MAN count for the scene on the Ferris Wheel? Is STRANGERS ON A TRAIN too obvious? Does any of this matter when you can chant "One of us!" along with the other FREAKS?

19) Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.

Probably THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON over anything Michael Mann's done. Mann seems intent on accentuating the "video" aspect of his HD video films (for better or worse), but Fincher showed with BENJAMIN BUTTON and ZODIAC that HD video can be as sumptuous and "film-like" as the real thing.

20) Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.

UNFORGIVEN. Instead of deconstructing the entire Western genre, Clint Eastwood, deconstructs the character he brought to life in the Leone movies and countless others. When we see Will Munny at the end of the movie, shaking in the rain and threatening to kill everyone, he's completely unhinged by the violence that's occurred around him, and it tears apart the cold and callous shell of an anti-hero Eastwood excelled at playing for so long - he's now just an old man who wants to go home. Damn this makes me want to watch UNFORGIVEN again...

(Five minutes later...) Damn. maybe BREATHLESS though...I could make a case for that.

21) Best Film of 1979.

MANHATTAN. It forever hovers in my Top 10, making occasional stops in the Top 3.

22) Most realistic and/or sincere depiction of small-town life in the movies.

WHAT'S EATING GILBERT GRAPE springs most immediately to mind.

23) Best horror movie creature (non-giant division).

The "Thing" from John Carpenter's 1982 remake, although a case could be made for Belial, Duane's "brother" in BASKET CASE (1982 also...what a great year for monsters).

24) Second-favorite Francis Ford Coppola film.

Depending on my mood, it switches between THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER PART II, each one flip-flopping over the other.

25) Name a one-off movie that could have produced a franchise you would have wanted to see.

Someone remake Clive Barker's NIGHTBREED so it's more closely aligned with the novella and spin some sequels off that sucker. So much squandered potential there. After seeing the "Straight Up" Director's Cut of PAYBACK, I'd also love to see further adventures of Parker, uh, I mean Porter.

26) Favorite sequence from a Brian De Palma film.

My favorite "recent" De Palma sequence is hands down the wonderful "Bolero Heist" sequence from the beginning of FEMME FATALE.

27) Favorite moment in three-strip Technicolor.

THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD when Robin approaches Prince John, the deer carcass slung across his shoulders. It may not be an obvious choice, but the contrast between the sumptuous feast, the dreary grey castle walls, and the sudden flash of emerald green as Errol Flynn strides in has been implanted in my head since the first time I saw it as a child.

28) Favorite Alan Smithee film. (Thanks, Peter!)

Untouched I'd have to go with MORGAN STEWART'S COMING HOME, which I watched incessantly as a kid. Re-touched and re-edited it's a draw between DUNE and THE INSIDER, both of which I love in their unedited versions.

29) Crash Davis (Kevin Costner) or Morris Buttermaker (Walter Matthau)?


30) Best post-
Crimes and Misdemeanors Woody Allen film.

SHADOWS AND FOG gets a small edge over VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA. Kafka mixed with Brecht, and shot by Carlo Di Palma? Yes, please!

31) Best Film of 1999.

BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, although THE IRON GIANT was the best at making me cry, and THE MATRIX was the best at making me jump up and down like I was a kid again.

32) Favorite movie tag line.

So many to choose from, but how about this: "To know Lloyd Dobler is to love him. Diane Cort is about to know Lloyd Dobler" - SAY ANYTHING

33) Favorite B-movie western.

I have no idea if this was a "B" picture or not, but I love THE PROFESSIONALS. Anything with Woody Strode, actually.

34) Overall, the author best served by movie adaptations of her or his work.

Who knows...In terms of a winning record of books vs. films, I'd go with Harper Lee. One great book, one great film. If, however, by "best served" you mean "most faithfully adapted" or at least "adapted in such a way that works great as film" I'd say J.R.R. Tolkein's doing okay. And of course I'm referring to the wonderful Ralph Bakshi LORD OF THE RINGS...why, what'd you think I meant?

35) Susan Vance (Katharine Hepburn) or Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard)?

Susan Vance...that laugh...

36) Favorite musical cameo in a non-musical movie.

Elvis Costello, Courtney Love, and The Pogues all in Alex Cox's STRAIGHT TO HELL which, if you'll allow, could also function as my answer to question #33's favorite B-movie Western.

37) Bruno (the character, if you haven’t seen the movie, or the film, if you have): subversive satire or purveyor of stereotyping?

Not having seen the film, I'll guess a bit of both.

38) Five film folks, living or deceased, you would love to meet. (Thanks, Rick!)

Hal Wallis, Ray Harryhausen, Stan Laurel, Orson Welles, and Stan Winston, but only if John Favreau were around to mediate and pick up the tab afterward.

Monday, August 10, 2009

De Palma Blog-a-thon!

Trust me: this is going to get interesting!