Monday, December 14, 2009

Merry Quiz-mas: Time for another SLATIFR quiz.'s that time again.  Dennis Cozzalio of the fantastic Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule has asked the blogosphere to fill out one of his endlessly entertaining tests.  I usually feel like a dummy after getting through with these things, but that never tempers my enthusiasm in doing them.  Dennis has lobbed a whopping 50 question(!!) exam at us.  I hope I at least get it out of the infield.  Thanks again, Dennis, for such a fantastically fun exercise. My answers come after the jump...

      1)      Second-favorite Coen Brothers movie


2) Movie seen only on home format that you would pay to see on the biggest movie screen possible? (Question submitted by Peter Nellhaus)

Fellini's 8 ½

3) Japan or France? (Question submitted by Bob Westal)

France gets the edge for their modern (post 50's) output – from the stellar crime films of Melville to the stark and powerful realism of the Dardenne's.

4) Favorite moment/line from a western.

Boss and Charlie's conversation before the big shootout in Open Range. I just love the way Costner's Charlie lays it all out for Boss (Duvall); the violence that will occur and how the others will react once the violence happens.

5) Of all the arts the movies draw upon to become what they are, which is the most important, or the one you value most?

Literature --- Film compounds upon all the things that make literature (or stories) great (mood, characters, symbolism, metaphor, subtext, et al) by using light and shadows and photography to make beautiful art out of these very basic elements.

6) Most misunderstood movie of the 2000s (The Naughties?).

Michael Mann's Miami Vice

7) Name a filmmaker/actor/actress/film you once unashamedly loved who has fallen furthest in your esteem.

Edward Norton. He had a great role in Primal Fear – a throwaway movie starring Richard Gere – and he was fantastic in Spike Lee's 25th Hour, but I feel like he's this generations Anthony Hopkins…an actor who rests on his laurels and too often produces the same performance film after film. His mannerisms, his way of speaking and delivering a line…it all just feels stale now. When you see Anthony Hopkins in a movie it's quite clear he's doing Anthony Hopkins (it doesn't matter if it's something as different as Amistad or The Edge or The Human Stain), and the same goes for Norton…his characters never feel realized or fleshed out, they're just shells for Norton to show off his Nortonisms.

8) Herbert Lom or Patrick Magee?


9) Which is your least favorite David Lynch film (Submitted by Tony Dayoub)

Lost Highway. I was too scared of having my cinephile card revoked if I were mention Eraserhead…a film I really can't stand.

10) Gordon Willis or Conrad Hall? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)

Willis gets the nod thanks to his best Sven Nykvist impression with Interiors and for his great work in the The Goodfather.

11) Second favorite Don Siegel movie.

Coogan's Bluff. (The Beguiled and Escape From Alcatrraz are my favorites).

12) Last movie you saw on DVD/Blu-ray? In theaters?

DVD – The Limits of Control

Theater – Inglourious Basterds

13) Which DVD in your private collection screams hardest to be replaced by a Blu-ray? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)

Peter Weirs Fearless. Can someone explain to me why this film only exists in a shitty Pan and Scan, Snapcase version? It's a crime that this film – one of Weirs best, and one of Jeff Bridges' best performances – hasn't been given proper treatment on DVD.

14) Eddie Deezen or Christopher Mintz-Plasse?

Christoper Mintz-Plasse for his performance in Role Models.

15) Actor/actress who you feel automatically elevates whatever project they are in, or whom you would watch in virtually anything.

Actress – Catherine Keener: There's just something so sexy about her I just can't place it, and she's never not interesting to watch.

Actor – James Woods: Anytime I see the man pop up in a movie I become giddy. He's always doing something interesting or using some kind of odd quirk to make his characters overshadow the other actors he shares scenes with. Just watch how he immediately makes Clint Eastwood's ho-hum True Crime better, or how he elevates films like Cop and Diggstown. And watch how he does sleazy in Scorsese's Casino. He's always been one of the most unique actors in Hollywood.

16) Fight Club -- yes or no?


17) Teresa Wright or Olivia De Havilland?


18) Favorite moment/line from a film noir.

"Forget it, Jake, its Chinatown." I don't know if there's ever been a better ending at making the audience feel like they've just been rewarded for getting punched in the stomach.

19) Best (or worst) death scene involving an obvious dummy substituting for a human or any otherunsuccessful special effect(s)—see the wonderful blogDestructible Man for inspiration.

The end of Umberto Lenzi's Nightmare City. At least Hugo Stiglitz made it out alive!

20) What's the least you've spent on a film and still regretted it? (Submitted by Lucas McNelly)

Well…I had a friend in college who used to work at a movie theater in Boise. I remember not paying anything to see Freddy Got Fingered and Blair Witch Project 2: Book of Shadows. I wanted my time back.

21) Van Johnson or Van Heflin?


22) Favorite Alan Rudolph film.


23) Name a documentary that you believe more people should see.

It's pretty popular among cinephiles, but I never get tires of recommending American Movie. It's a beautiful, hilarious, and sometimes poignant film about having a passion for what you feel like you were meant to do…in the case of Mark Borchardt it's making horror movies. One of the best docs of the 90's.

24) In deference to this quiz's professor, name a favorite film which revolves around someone becoming stranded.

I freaking love that first hour of The Black Stallion.

25) Is there a moment when your knowledge of film, or lack thereof, caused you an unusual degree of embarrassment and/or humiliation? If so, please share.

Doing these quizzes. Also…I remember when I was in 4th grade or so and a cop came to visit our class. All I could ask him about was how realistic movies like Lethal Weapon were. Every question was about a movie. I was like Chris Farley when he did his "The Chris Farley" show bit on SNL. The teacher had to tell me to stop asking questions about movies. I was known from that time on as the movie nerd.

26) Ann Sheridan or Geraldine Fitzgerald? (Submitted by Larry Aydlette)


27) Do you or any of your family members physically resemble movie actors or other notable figures in the film world? If so, who?

Some people think my brother Troy looks like Zac Effron. But I think that's more of a joke and the fact that he's over 30 and I'm 27 and when people see us together they think he's the younger one (some even think he looks like he just graduated from high school). He was blessed with youthful looks…I slouch and hunch over a lot…so I guess I could be mistaken for Paul Giamatti.

28) Is there a movie you have purposely avoided seeing? If so, why?

Napoleon Dynamite. When you work with high school kids for a living you hear the quotes all day long…after awhile you just convince yourself that you never want to see the movie. Plus, it never looked that appealing to begin with.

29) Movie with the most palpable or otherwise effective wintry atmosphere or ambiance.

Jokingly: Cliffhanger. Seriously: The Sweet Hereafter.

30) Gerrit Graham or Jeffrey Jones?

Ed Rooney.

31) The best cinematic antidote to a cultural stereotype (sexual, political, regional, whatever).

Pass. (I can't think of anything to write and I really want to get this posted.)

32) Second favorite John Wayne movie.

The Searchers

33) Favorite movie car chase.

To Live and Die in L.A.

34) In the spirit of His Girl Friday, propose a gender-switched remake of a classic or not-so-classic film. (Submitted by Patrick Robbins)

The Ocean films starring Sophia Loren and Catherine Deneuve as George Clooney and Brad Pitt's characters respectively.

35) Barbara Rhoades or Barbara Feldon?


36) Favorite Andre De Toth movie.

House of Wax is the only one I've seen.

37) If you could take one filmmaker's entire body of work and erase it from all time and memory, as if it had never happened, whose oeuvre would it be? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)

I don't know that I would because that would be too much like censorship…but in the spirit of participation (and not being a fuddy-duddy) I'd say those jerk asses that made the Crank movies. They should be making video games, not feature films.

38) Name a film you actively hated when you first encountered it, only to see it again later in life and fall in love with it.

A small little gem of a film called The Ice Harvest. Harold Ramis directed and it had a pretty recognizable cast, but I still think it's one of those films that not a lot of people have seen. I loathed this film when I first saw it, but a friend of mine praised it highly and convinced me to watch it again, and since I've seen it three more times. It's a darkly wry and violent noir picture, and it's certainly the best thing John Cusack has done since the 80's.

39) Max Ophuls or Marcel Ophuls? (Submitted by Tom Sutpen)


40) In which club would you most want an active membership, the Delta Tau Chi fraternity, the Cutters or the Warriors? And which member would you most resemble, either physically or in personality?

The Cutters. Daniel Stern's character because I'm always the one who looks like he doesn't belong.

41) Your favorite movie cliché.

The police Captain yelling: "I want your gun and your badge on my desk, and if it weren't for your reputation I'd have your ass out on the street issuing parking tickets! Now get out of my office!" The cop then investigates the case in spite of his Captain's orders and the cop's partner gets killed in the process leading to the Captain having sympathy and re-issuing the cop's badge and gun. Then the cop solves the case.

42) Vincente Minnelli or Stanley Donen? (Submitted by Bob Westal)

Got give the slight edge to Minnelli only because I just barely like Some Came Running more than Charade.

43) Favorite Christmas-themed horror movie or sequence.

Movie: Black Christmas

Sequence: Silent Night, Deadly Night 2. "Garbage Day!"

44) Favorite moment of self- or selfless sacrifice in a movie.

I have to copy an answer I saw another person give: Ed Harris in The Abyss.

45) If you were the cinematic Spanish Inquisition, which movie cult (or cult movie) would you decimate? (Submitted by Bob Westal)

I never understood the love for Peter Jackson's early stuff. I think Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, and Dead Alive (aka Braindead) are all horribly excruciating to get through. There bad in a way that low-budget, cult movies are supposed to rise above, and yet I've never been able to see the allure of these ultra violent yawn fests. But Jackson acolytes – and horror buffs in general – seem to think these films (especially Dead Alive) are some of the best of the genre.

46) Caroline Munro or Veronica Carlson?


47) Favorite eye-patch wearing director. (Submitted by Patty Cozzalio)

Easily the best question on here, and one that really made me think. I think I have to go with Fritz Lang because of the fact the man had a monocle and an eye patch. That's awesome.

An obvious one would be The Graduate. I also love A History of Violence and Miami Vice as recent examples.

49) In giving thanks for the movies this year, what are you most thankful for?

The blogging community for continuing to aide me in the ongoing quest to enrich my palette (especially in regards to world cinema).

Inglourious Basterds for making going to the movies fun again.

Sure 2009 may have not been the strongest year for movies, but I don't care…I'm always thankful for the opportunity to watch film and discuss it intelligently, regardless of the year's merits.

50) George Kennedy or Alan North? (Submitted by Peet Gelderblom)

George Kennedy!


  1. Kevin, you are an inspiration, sir, in many ways (I've gotta talk to you about your career in education someday soon), but right now mostly for reminding me that I've gotta get off my butt and get my questions posted. I gave myself a pre-Christmas deadline, and those days are quickly dwindling, especially since I've got plenty of other goodies I want to try to do on the blog as well.

    But to specifics:

    I agree about Ed Norton, unfortunately. In addition to those terrific performances you mentioned (Primal Fear, 25th Hour) I would add his brilliant work, especially in front of the Supreme Court, in The People vs. Larry Flynt. But too often, as you say, there's a Norton formula at work here, and I think he drank the Kool-Aid about his own gold-standard status a little too early and eagerly.

    What is the excuse for Fearless being so mistreated on DVD? I would have chosen it over several recent English-language choices made by the Criterion Collection.

    I used to do your Chris Farley act too, only sometimes I wouldn't wait for the public figures to come to me. I once burst in on a local attorney's office (small town, mind you) and grilled him on the absurdities of Al Pacino's behavior in ...And Justice For All, a movie that, now that I think about it, probably wasn't too concerned with details over Chayefsky-lite satirical punch anyway.

    And I love your description of that movie cliche. I think immediately of Frank McRae in 48 Hrs. I thought the man was gonna pop a vein in his head.

    Great George Kennedy pic too. Thanks for sweating this quiz, Kevin. It was worth it!

  2. Okay -- now that you've done this I have to see how many answers we were identical on...turns out it was eight.

    #9 - yup, LOST HIGHWAY is one I just don't get.

    #10 - Haven't seen INTERIORS, but I've not yet seen a Gordon Willis film that didn't look good (even THE MONEY PIT).

    #16 - Yup.

    #19 - from the two of us, was there really ANY other choice? THE NIGHTMARE BECOMES REALITY!

    #29 - The environment of Egoyan's film matches the feelings of the characters so perfectly. Although I am wondering if CLIFFHANGER 2 will surpass both of your choices...

    #30 - Yup.

    #43 - Again, were there any other choices that we could pick?

    #50 - George Kennedy is awesome.

    Other comments -- Your cop movie cliche is wonderful, that version of OCEANS 11 would be fantastic, and yeah, I guess I do look a little teensy bit like Zac Efron. I'm glad that one hasn't caught on too much, though.

  3. Catherine Keener just always seems to be so comfortable with herself on screen, I think that's what makes her so sexy. She projects this aura of total casualness, and she elevates even an utterly trashy, silly movie like The 40 Year Old Virgin whenever she's on screen. She's fun to watch because you never feel like she's acting; she's just there, hanging out and reacting naturally to what's going on. Of course, that's pure artifice, and of course she's acting, but that's the impression she projects. Good choice.

    I'd love to see that Loren/Deneuve Ocean's film. Soderbergh should've made that instead of a third Clooney/Pitt one.

    I've been surprised, in reading through all these quiz answers, how many people said "no" to Fight Club (which is much more complex and subtle than most of its supporters and detractors believe) and how many chose literature as the art that's most important to film. I guess a love of abstract and non-narrative film helps to put some perspective on what sets film apart from literature: the image, the photography!

  4. I also wanted to chime in here and agree with you all about Edward Norton. What happened to this guy? It's like he's lost the passion for acting or has failed to find material that challenges him anymore. He really needs to do a film with a bonafide auteur again, like Soderbergh, PTA, or Michael Mann (oh wow, would that be great!) that would challenge and get him out of his comfort zone.

    I am also right there with ya in regards to FEARLESS. I've recently gone on a Peter Weir binge and it really deserves a proper DVD treatment (same goes for Polanski's FRANTIC while we're at it!). Jeff Bridges is simply incredible in this film and for once, Rosie Perez didn't annoy the living hell out of me.

  5. Dennis:

    Thanks for the kind words. I was thinking of 48 Hours the entire time I was writing up the cliche scenario between police Captain and police officer, hehe. I failed though in not finding a picture of McRae. He was fantastic in that role.

    I'm glad you feel the same about fact, reading everyone's comments here I'm elated to know that so many people hold Weir's film in high regard.

    Thanks again for the comments and kind words. I'm looking forward to your answers.

  6. Oh...and I would love to talk education with you! I'll warn you...once I get started it's hard for me to stop, hehe.

  7. Troy:

    It doesn't surprise me at all that we agree on the horror stuff. You MUST see Interiors. Amazing movie.

  8. Ed:

    I love what you say about Keener. I think what you say there is indeed what makes her so alluring. She's like Linda Fiorentino in that regard: confident, naturally beautiful, and sexy in her confidence. Her performance in The 40 Year Old Virgin and the relationship storyline between her and Carrel is what made that movie stand out for me. She really carried the emotional parts of that film and made those scene seem genuine instead of awkward pieces that don't fit into the puzzle (see Leslie Mann's performance in Funny People as an example of this).

    As for Fight Club: It's such a more complicated answer than 'yes' or 'no', but I didn't want my answer to be too long. I love parts of the film, particularly the opening hour, but I just never went with the film once they got into the militia stuff. I know I'm in need of re-viewng, but I took Dennis' question to mean "do you think it's worthy of it's status among cinephiles"...and my answer would have to be no, because I just don't think it works as a complete film. It's not as dreadful as some other Fincher misfires (like Panic Room and The Game)'s clearly his most interesting experiment. At least of the one's I don't like (Seven being another one).

    I do remember your conversation piece with Jason well, and that's one of the reasons why I plan on taking another look at the film.

    Thanks as always for the comments, Ed.

  9. J.D.:

    It's great that we're all in agreement about Norton. He truly does need to be challenged. I know I may be alone on this one, but I always thought Rounders was a tad overrated, and that film's cult status has probably been the biggest culprit in inflating his ego.

    Also, I'm with ya on Frantic, another film that has been ignored far too long. Let's get these movies in their correct format, people! Hehe.

    Thanks as always for the comments.

  10. Ed:

    Now that I have more time to respond I've been thinking about what you said in regards to my pick as literature being the most important art of film. I think I should clarify my choice (which kind of has it both ways considering at the end of my answer I mentioned the importance of photography) since you raise a good point. I think that the basics of how to look at something stems from literature...from storytelling, and that with the evolution of photography and film we've learned how to explicate those particular art forms using what we know thanks to what literature has taught us about things like symbolism, metaphor, etc.

    I love abstract and non-narrative filmmaking, too, but I don't know if just looking at the image and knowing that it's cool is enough. Knowing why the images say what they say is why I like those kinds of films (the kind that don't have to spell everything out), and I think it goes beyond just the photography.

    I don't know if that makes sense, but I think that film compounds upon all that literature (or storytelling) has given us. So I guess I could change my answer, because like you, I think that photography is obviously important; however, I think that I place just a little more importance on how to read the shots and the ability to understand why when we look at something it means something beyond the surface. But the two are very close in importance.

    Thanks again for your insightful comment, Ed.

  11. So reading this I was especially excited to respond on Norton and Fearless, but now I see I'm just tagging on there.

    So ...

    I like the Ed Harris pick, and yet when I think of sacrifice and The Abyss, I think of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (a name I can never spell without looking up, by the way).

    As for the cliche, that's a great one. I'm ready for a movie where the cop pleads to have his badge taken from him. "Dammit, until you take my badge, how do you expect me to solve this case?!"

    And quit letting Ed convince you that Fight Club is anything but a "no."

  12. I think that the basics of how to look at something stems from literature...from storytelling, and that with the evolution of photography and film we've learned how to explicate those particular art forms using what we know thanks to what literature has taught us about things like symbolism, metaphor, etc.

    That's an interesting idea, but I don't really agree. The basics of how we look at something stem from... our eyes. Seriously. We don't need literature to tell us how to look; we look everyday. I think when we watch a film, we bring to that experience what we know about the visual world, the things we see everyday and the ways in which we look at each other and the objects around us. That, to me, has to be more important to the cinematic experience than what we know about narrative and storytelling. Maybe I'm just betraying that I'm not really a story guy at all.

  13. Jason:

    Glad you feel the same way about Norton and Fearless (have you and Ed ever thought about doing a "Conversations" piece on Peter Weir? That would be a fascinating read).

    I love your take of the movie cliche. I'm surprised we haven't seen that in some cop spoof.

    Oh, and Ed isn't convincing me of anything...hehe. I just know I need to see Fight Club again because it's been awhile.

    Thanks for the comment.

  14. Ed:

    I agree with you. I think I'm just putting more importance on one aspect than you are. I'm thinking about that connection between what our eyes see and how our brains dissect and process what we're seeing. You're right, on a purely visceral level we don't need storytelling or literature (and I admit I have a bias towards this since my undergrad was in Literature), but I think the context for why those visuals make us feel the way we feel is of equal importance.

    I think of Michael Mann in this regard. How would I know how to feel about his films if I didn't understand the type of story he was trying to tell. Understanding the storytelling motif of a Mann film, to me, seem integral towards understanding how his visuals, instead of dialogue, tell the story.

    When I read a book and there's a really good bit of exposition that makes me feel like I'm being placed somewhere I try to understand why the writer is writing that way. The aesthetic beauty of someone like Rushdie's writing (or perhaps the starkness that you would find in McCarthy novel) is certainly, on the surface, a pleasure to reads based solely on his mastery of the English language. But when I look deeper at what he's trying to say through the way he's writing it, and based on the type of storyteller he is...well then I begin to understand so much more about the multiple layers that exist within his novels.

    Okay...I think I'm done now, hehe. I should clarify (and I was assuming you know this about me) that I'm not trying to convince you to change your mind. I like these types of conversations. I should also state again that I agree with you on the importance of "seeing"...I just think there's something else, something of just a tad more importance, about how we learn to understand what it is we're looking at.

    One major difference in this whole thing may be that I'm not an artistic person at all, so my connection to things always stems from the literature based side of things...only then do I begin to re-read and dig deeper into what it is I'm watching or reading. I'm sure there's some kind of scientific explanation that explains that, hehe.

    Thanks as always for responding, Ed.