Tuesday, August 11, 2009

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.

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