Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Quiz is Due at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule...

One of the greatest of blogs that exists in the blogosphere is Dennis Cozzalio's Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule. Every now and then he hands out tests to his faithful readers. I'm looking forward to this one. You can see a previous example here. All of you should give it a go. None of these answers, of course, are definitive, but they're the best I could come up with at the present time. And once again I omit some of the questions because I have no idea how to answer them...

Favorite Biopic?

This is a difficult one since it is far and away my favorite subgenre of film -- I'll go with Quiz Show...even though I'm sure they took liberties with the actual story for dramatic purposes, but hey, what biopic doesn't?

Best example of science fiction futurism rendered silly by the event of time catching up to the prediction?

Gotta go with Blade Runner on this one.

Favorite Raoul Walsh movie?

Because I'm a big cheater I'll go with a tie: The Roaring Twenties and Colorado Territory.

Sophomore film which represents greatest improvement over the director’s debut?

well, the easy pick would be Pulp Fiction (Tarantino) or Boogie Nights (PT Anderson), but I'll go with Ridley Scott as his second feature was one of the most influential sci-fi/horror films ever made. Alien came after his so-so debut film The Duellists.

Ice Cube or Mos Def?

Mos Def. Have you ever seen that guy on Bill Maher's show? He's crazy. Also, his performance, even though it exists in an average action film, from 16 Blocks is an amazing piece of acting.

Favorite movie about the music industry?

Well I was thinking I would go with movies more about the art of making music, like Hustle and Flow or something along those lines (sorry most of my picks lean towards modern films), but then I though I thought about the brief scenes in Boogie Nights that are about the music industry and I just couldn't resist this:

Click here to view video

In addition that amazing scene I love when Dirk and Reed try to get the master tapes back from the record studio and they can't seem to grasp the idea that they signed them over to the studio when they signed their contracts. "YP, MP, I don't know your record lingo...all I know is, granted you own the tapes, but the magic, the magic that is on there...that is ours!" Such a great scene. "I know karate."

Director most deserving of respect or upwardly mobile critical reassessment?

Oh boy I'll get killed for this one...but I have to say Tony Scott. I think Quentin Tarantino said it best on the commentary track for the True Romance DVD that Scott is a director who makes films where you as the viewer know what you're getting; not only that he has a distinct look that is solely his -- aped by many other directors, but it is uniquely and unquestionably his look (I'm speaking of the rooms drenched in blue and the thickest cloud of smoke you've ever scene). The man can film people smoking like no one else and make it look arty as hell. I remember being the only one in the theater thinking Domino and Man on Fire were any good. The élan of those films are exactly what I mean by films that actually succeed in being entertaining that solely rely on style over substance. Sure, his films aren't groundbreaking or even necessarily memorable, but they are always entertaining and they are always a feast for the senses -- even if sometimes his visuals dizzy you into closing your eyes and rubbing your temples. The man can direct, people! It's time we all gave him his due.

Best filmed adaptation of a play?

I really should see more plays...but I'll go with Mike Nichols' adaptation of Wit, a play I read in high school and absolutely loved. The film was an amazing adaptation and just as powerful and moving as the play.

Favorite Jean Renoir movie?

The Lower Depths . Maybe not his best, but my favorite.

Favorite one-word movie title, and why?

Gummo. The title basically dares you to
not watch it. You don't think...oooh Gummo! That sounds like fun.

Summer movies—your highest and lowest expectations?

I don't know if this means in general or this year...I don't follow summer movies as closely as I used to, but I would say high expectations is definitely Michael Mann's Public Enemies (on a campier not it's hands down G.I. Joe). Lowest expectations: Terminator 4. "McG...McG!!!"

Whether or not you’re a parent, what would be your ideal pick as first movie to see with your own child (or niece/nephew)? Why?

Anything by Chaplin. The pantomime is a universal language, and I think kids, since they haven't been turned into cynics yet, can appreciate those films the way they are meant to be appreciated. You can throw Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd in there, too. This is why Wall-E works as such a great kids movie, too. It's essentially about getting across the emotion through pantomime the way Chaplin did.

Movie most recently seen in theaters? On DVD/Blu-ray?

Saw a lot at the Salem Film Festival. So I'll go with the best of that bunch, Atom Egoyan's Adoration.

Do you see more movies theatrically or at home? Why?

At home. Thanks to Brandon's set up it's more fun to watch a movie in the setting of a home theater than a regular theater with all of the usual distractions.

Name an award-worthy comic performance that was completely ignored by Oscar and his pals.

Cameron Diaz in two totally different kinds of comedies: There's Something About Mary and Being John Malkovich.

Name a great (or merely very good) movie that is too painful to watch a second time (Thanks to The Onion A.V. Club)

Tim Roth's The War Zone.

Beyonce Knowles or Jennifer Hudson?

Beyonce. Not even close.

Favorite Robert Mitchum movie?

It's predictable, conventional (my choice that is, not the movie), but hey, it's the best of the bunch : The Night of the Hunter.

Favorite Vincent Price movie?

Not a movie, but I have fond memories of him as Egghead from the old Batman show.

Name a movie currently flying under the radar that is deserving of rabid cult status.

I don't know that it's officially 'out' yet, but I just saw Jeffrey Goodman's brilliant neo noir The Last Lullaby at the Salem Film Festival. If people get out to see it, it will turn the man into a go-to director for these kinds of thrillers. It's really a brilliant film.

Single line from a movie that never fails to make your laugh or otherwise cheer you up. (This may be obvious, but the line does not have to come from a comedy.)

"We're adding a little something to this month's sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody want to see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired."

Sorry, I know that you only asked for one line, but that first line makes me think about the rest that follow, and well, they all make me smile.

Elliot Gould or Donald Sutherland?

Donald Sutherland. Especially for his role as X in JFK.

Best performance by a director in an acting role

Eric von Stroheim in Sunset Blvd. as Max von Mayerling

Outside of reading film criticism or other literature about the movies, what subject do you enjoy reading about or studying which you would say best enriches or illuminates your understanding and appreciation of life, a life that includes the movies?

I have an affinity for postmodern literature...authors like Rushdie, McEwan, Amis, Coetzee, Swift, Winterson, and the like. Since I went to school to study literature I usually find myself reading a lot of literary theory like Lyotard and Baudrillard; Umberto Eco's book On Literature is one of the best ever written on the topics of semiotics and why we interpret things the way we do. I also am intrigued by world cultures and their religions. So I read a lot of stuff that varies from Joseph Campbell to Thomas Merton. All of the above help me better understand myself and life, and allow me to view life through a variety of lenses.


  1. I'll take the quiz tonight -- looks like fun.

    I knew, knew, KNEW you were going to pick Tony Scott for that director question.

    Good call on Ridley Scott for the sophomore movie one...he was my first choice as well. Hmm, I also see we have the exact same thought with Vincent Price. Great minds think alike.

  2. What can I say? I love me some Tony Scott.