Last July, following his triumph of conceiving what may be my favorite name of a blog ever, cinephile Dennis Cozzalio devised this cinematic quiz-tionnaire for a post at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Though I am, as is often the case, way late to the party on this mini-meme, I’ve never let that stop me. Anyway, enough prelude.
- Second-favorite Stanley Kubrick film.
Second-favorite? Dr. Strangelove.
- Most significant/important/interesting trend in movies over the past decade, for good or evil.
The takeover of Hollywood studios’ production slate by the parents-with kids or “family” film genre. In the last few years I’ve been going to the movie theatre less and less often, mainly because there are fewer and fewer movies showing there that I’m interested enough to pay $12-$14 to see. Nothing whatsoever against parents, or kids — I love kids. However, I figure that as long as I don’t have children of my own, I should see as many grown-up movies as possible in case I do end up with kids somewhere down the line. Unfortunately the studios aren’t making movies for people like me anymore. They’re making Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Or, for the older end of their target demographic, Twilight.
- Bronco Billy (Clint Eastwood) or Buffalo Bill Cody (Paul Newman)?
I’ll go with Newman. Eastwood has been a lot more interesting in other roles.
- Best Film of 1949.
The Third Man. Its initial releases at Cannes and subsequently around Europe were in 1949, and it was just in the U.S. that it didn’t open until 1950.
- Joseph Tura (Jack Benny) or Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore)?
I’m sure I couldn’t say. Betraying my cinematic illiteracy, I must admit that I’ve seen neither To Be or Not to Be nor Twentieth Century.
- Has the hand-held shaky-cam directorial style become a visual cliché?
Maybe in some cases, but I think most of what the question refers to is simply the deployment of new, ultra-portable handheld cameras. To call this a “visual cliché” is an oversimplification: it assumes that the filmmakers went, “Let’s shoot with that shaky, indie-film handheld style because it’ll look all cool and hip and edgy,” which I think is rarely the case. Yes, these tiny new digital video cameras are far cheaper than shooting on celluloid, but that’s not the only reason to use them. They make it possible to achieve a “fly-on-the-wall” point of view, as though the audience is another person in the room with the characters, in a way that couldn’t be done previously. A good example of this is Rachel Getting Married (which I have blogged about previously): the camera becomes another wedding guest in the family’s country home, moving through crowded hallways amidst the bustle of caterers, relatives, musicians and such. The way we have to squeeze past people by the table at the rehearsal dinner amplifies the feeling of uncomfortable proximity when the champagne toasts stray into TMI territory. This couldn’t be done to equal effect without handheld DV cameras.
- What was the first foreign-language film you ever saw?
Aw hell, no way can I remember for sure. I remember a time when my parents took us to see Fanny and Alexander and it was completely lost on my young-kid self. That could have been it, but it also could have just been something that came on TV.
- Charlie Chan (Warner Oland) or Mr. Moto (Peter Lorre)?
Seriously? I have to choose between different white men who long ago ladled on both make-up and stereotypical affect to play Asian characters in ways that my contemporary viewpoint struggles to set aside? OK, fine, then I’ll take Lorre on the strength of his wonderful work in so many other movies.
- Favorite World War II drama (1950-1970).
I’ve been much more impressed by WWII films made more recently, but if I’m staying within the time perameters then I’d go with From Here to Eternity, soapy though it is. Pretty good soap, though.
- Favorite animal movie star.
Klaus Kinski [*rim shot*]. Other than him, I guess I’d go with Bart the bear.
- Who or whatever is to blame, name an irresponsible moment in cinema.
OK, how about RKO’s ruining of The Magnificent Ambersons.
- Best Film of 1969.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, but neither Midnight Cowboy nor Easy Rider did that much for me. I haven’t seen Z yet, but from what I’ve heard I suspect it might be my pick if I had. As it is, I’m left on Take the Money and Run.
- Name the last movie you saw theatrically, and also on DVD or Blu-ray.
Theatrically: Inglorious Basterds — very satisfying, well worth my $14. DVD: director’s cut (“bootleg version”, as they packaged it) of Almost Famous — liked it even more than I had before, and not just because of the bits that had been cut from the theatrical release version.
- Second-favorite Robert Altman film.
Probably Short Cuts.
- What is your favorite independent outlet for reading about movies, either online or in print?
The combination of Mike D’Angelo’s catch-all site and blog, and MaryAnn Johanson.
- Who wins? Angela Mao or Meiko Kaji?
Shame on me, I am insufficiently versed in early 70’s kung fu movies to render an informed opinion. If I have to take a theoretical shot at it, then I’ll say the winner would be whoever was first to draw an aim a loaded gun at the other, while standing 1) outside of kicking range, and 2) not beneath anything heavy that could be dislodged with a shuriken or similar projectile, resulting in it 2a)falling on her, or 2b) obliging her to spectacularly dodge said falling object, but in so doing allow her opponent to take cover.
- Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei) or Olive Neal (Jennifer Tilly)?
Totally NOT in the dark here. Props to Tomei for not only being a consistently terrific actress, but Olive was absolutely unforgettable.
- Favorite movie that features a carnival setting or sequence.
Hmm. I guess I don’t quite have the author’s particular yen for carnivals on film… I’ll say Wings of Desire.
- Best use of high-definition video on the big screen to date.
Although my favorite movie thus far shot on DV is (as you may have guessed) Rachel Getting Married, in the specific terms of cinematography achievement with DV, my hat goes off to Sin City.
- Favorite movie that is equal parts genre film and a deconstruction or consideration of that same genre.
Quibble if you like, but I’m saying This is Spinal Tap.
It’s a long quiz. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion in my next post, which will appear in a day or two.